A few days ago, we analyzed the 2010 fantasy baseball pitcher sleepers to watch in 2010. Today, we take a look at the more important side of the equation–fantasy baseball hitters sleepers.
Unless you like to mortgage the present for the future, or play in a deep keeper league, most of us don’t want to pick sleepers who won’t be up in the majors until September. Hence, the players you see in all italics below will be definites for starting the 2010 fantasy baseball season in the majors and with starting roles. Keep your eyes on these guys as your 2010 fantasy baseball draft comes closer to see if they are going to stick in the bigs to start the season.
Austin Jackson, Tigers , OF — Jackson will get a chance to show his stuff early as a starter for the Detroit Tigers. He’s the key player in the trade that sent Curtis Granderson to the Yankees. Jackson rose through Double-A and Triple-A last year with a .285 and .300 average with 43 stolen bases. If you are looking for steals, Jackson could be a nice late round addition in mixed leagues.
Jason Heyward, Braves, OF — Heyward is regarded as the #1 newcomer in the 2010 season. In fact, many have Heyward ranked ahead of fireballer Stephen Strasburg. He’s a prototypical right fielder with a great on-base percentage of .408 last year. Many regard Heyward as having all-star upside to carry on his 6′ 5″, 240 pound frame. He’s certainly got off to a great start going 8-18 with 6 walks.
Buster Posey, Giants, C — A preseason favorite to join BallparkBob’s All Name Team, Buster Posey will be a backstop for the Giants this year, although he’ll likely share the job with Bengie Molina. Eli Whiteside was Molina’s backup last year but with a .244 lifetime average, he won’t stick long with Posey biting at his heels.
Carlos Santana, Indians, C — Another lock for the All Name Team, Santana dominated pitchers last year at Double-A Akron, whacking 23 homers with 97 RBI and a .290 batting average. He’s also a great contact hitter with more walks than strikeouts last year. Lou Marson, acquired from the Phillies, is still the starter, but expect Santana to get to the Show late in 2010 and be the starter in 2011 if he can improve his defense.
Alcides Escobar, Brewers, SS — When the Brewers traded J. J. Hardy to the Twins, it was clear that Escobar was at the top of the depth chart. No doubt, Alcides Escobar will be Milwaukee’s opening day starter. Escobar stole 42 bases at Triple-A last year and 4 during a brief appearance in September with the Brew Crew. He hit .298 last year, but won’t help you any in the power department. He’ll hit at the tail end of the Brewers lineup this year, but could move up in the future if he improves that on base percentage. If he struggles at the plate, his glove will keep him in the Milwaukee lineup.
Brett Wallace, Blue Jays, 1B — Brett Wallace, the key player in the Matt Holiday trade, and then ironically also in the Roy Halladay deal, will get a late season chance this year with the A’s. He hit .293 with 20 homers and 63 RBI in 2009 at three minor league stops. Wallace is easy to recognize; he’s a big pear-shaped guy. He won’t be with the Jays until 2011.
J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays, C — J.P. Arencibia will have to wait his time behind John Buck and Jose Molina in Toronto. Arencibia had a good year at Las Vegas last year with 21 homers and 75 RBI. The Jays picked him in the first round of the 2007 draft. With his power, he’ll likely get a call-up sometime in 2010.
Desmond Jennings, Rays, OF — Desmond Jennings had a super ’09 season in the minors with a combined .318 average, .401 on base, and 52 stolen bases in 59 attempts. Tampa Bay has already sent Jennings back to Triple-A to start the season. The Rays, however, have built a team that can compete with the big money Yankees and Red Sox on a shoestring budget so Jennings could get his chance with the Rays this year.
Scott Sizemore, Tigers, 2B — Scott Sizemore is coming off of a serious injury from the Arizona Fall League, but is ready to go. At 25, he’s one of the oldest member of our newcomer sleeper team. Sizemore was .308 with 17 homers and 21 stolen bases in the minors last year. Sizemore will be the starting second baseman on opening day for the Tigers this year.
Justin Smoak, Rangers, 1B — Justin Smoak is a switch hitter with adaquete power. Smoak hit .290 with a .410 on-base percentage last year in the minors. His defense is outstanding, even if he doesn’t have the pop that many first basemen can deliver. Smoak will likely start the year in the minors and be a late season call up.
Chris Carter, Athletics, 1B — Chris Carter is a power hitter who hit 64 homeruns over the past two seasons. Carter was the MVP of the Texas League last year, as he added a .337 batting average. Carter has played mostly first base in his career, but he could get a shot as DH or in left field this year. When the Athletics traded Brett Wallace, they were clearly giving Carter the nod as their future. Carter may push Daric Barton for the starting first base job, but more than likely he’ll have some more time in the minors for seasoning.
Michael Saunders, Mariners, OF — Michael Saunders entered the 2009 season after shoulder surgery, started in Triple-A, and made it to the majors in July. The Canadian will likely be the fourth outfielder in the Mariners rotation.
David Freese, Cardinals, 3B — David Freese started the year with the Cardinals, but was quickly sent down. Freese, 27, hit .313 with 12 homers and just 1 steal last year in the minors. It’s important that Freese perform well in spring training to earn the third baseman job that manager Tony LaRussa has said is his club’s biggest need for 2010. Expect Freese to hold on to the job, but he may be on a short leash if he doesn’t perform quickly as the Cards also have Allen Craig waiting in Triple-A.
Ian Desmond, Nationals, SS — Ian Desmond came up to the Nats last year and hit 4 homers in just 82 AB’s. That’s after hitting just 7 all year in the minors where he was better known as a base stealer with 21 on the season. Desmond has potential, but when the Nats signed Adam Kennedy, it all but punched Desmond’s ticket to the minors for most of 2010, thus killing most of his fantasy baseball value.
Brandon Allen, Diamondbacks, 1B — Brandon Allen got a call up last year and struckout 40 times in 104 AB’s. He also hit 4 homeruns with a dismal .202 batting average. Of course, when you whiff 40% of the time, it’s tought to have much of a batting average. The D-Backs must have thought Allen was not ready yet though when they acquired Adam LaRoche for first base.
Michael Brantley, Indians, OF — Michael Brantley is a one-dimensional player, but a player with a lot of steals can be very valuable and that’s what Brantley will give you. Brantley swiped 46 bases last year in the minors, then stole 4 in 112 MLB AB’s. The Indians brought in Russell Branyan which may send Brantley back to the minors where Cleveland will win by delaying the beginning of his future arbitration.