Fantasy Baseball 2013: 15 Breakout Hitters You Can Grab in Later Rounds

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Fantasy Baseball 2013: 15 Breakout Hitters You Can Grab in Later Rounds
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
They are calling Josh Rutledge "Baby Giambi"

Every year some players outperform preseason predictions for them. For example, we saw Mike Trout, Edwin Encarnacion and Chase Headley climb to the top of the fantasy rankings in 2012 while being drafted in the later rounds.

Here's my attempt of finding gold without reaching for a player. Most of these players on this list will be available from the 10th round on.

 

Catchers

Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies

Rosario hit .270 with 28 home runs in 117 games last season. A performance like that put him just inside the top 100 of the final rankings. While that doesn't necessarily make him a sleeper in 2013, he still might be shadowed by the top guys. Rosario will be around the 10th catcher taken, and that's a great spot for a guy who can belt 30 bombs.

Keep in mind that no catcher hit 30 homers last season, and Rosario led the MLB at the position with 28. And he turns 24 in February.

 

Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

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Preseason knee surgery forced Perez to play in just 76 games in 2012. But when the young catcher returned, he put up great numbers. The 22-year-old hit .301 with 11 homers and 39 RBI.

Perez's name will farther down the cheat sheet than Rosario's. In fact, players like Russell Martin, A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Avila will most likely go before Perez. There's no need to overvalue Pierzynski when you can get Perez later. Of all qualifying catchers, there were only three who hit .300 or better last year. Perez can do that in 2013.

 

First Basemen

Mike Olt, Texas Rangers

Olt hit just .152 in 16 games with the Rangers last season, but he's just 24 years old and offers a lot of pop. Olt blasted 28 home runs in 95 Double-A games a year ago. The problem with projecting Olt is determining when he'll be called up. It looks like age finally caught up to Michael Young last season and Mitch Moreland is certainly no long-term solution. My guess is that Olt will start in Triple-A and get called up by the end of May—if he isn't traded.

If Olt can get 600 plate appearances, he's capable of hitting 30 home runs. Plus, he could eventually gain 3B and OF eligibility, which is a nice bonus.

 

Yonder Alonso, San Diego Padres

Alonso moved from one of the best hitter parks to one of the worst, and his numbers reflected that. He hit .273 with nine homers, which is subpar at the first base position. Alonso did show progression throughout the season, though. He hit 22 points higher and doubled his home run total in the second half of the season.

Alonso will be 26 years old at the beginning of the season and should continue to mature as a hitter. A .285 average and 15 home runs is attainable for Alonso in 2013, especially since the fences will be moved in at Petco Park.

 

Matt Adams, St. Louis Cardinals

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In 91 plate appearances with the Cardinals last year, Adams hit .244 with two home runs. That doesn't tell the whole story, though.

Adams mashed in Triple-A, hitting .329 with 18 homers. In fact, he's produced at every single minor league level.

Adams will most likely begin the year in Triple-A, but he'll be the first to replace Allen Craig when he gets hurt (there's no "if" anymore regarding Craig). Adams could also see his fantasy stock rise if he gets traded. If he's dealt to another team, he could start Opening Day.

 

Second Basemen

Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals

Wong made the jump from Rookie Ball to Double-A in 2012 and hit a combined .291 with 10 homers and 26 stolen bases across the two levels. Wong turned 22 years old a couple of months ago, but he plays well beyond his years. Marc Hulet of Fangraphs quoted a scout saying, "He is head and shoulders above his peers in how he handles himself and answers questions, as if he has played 10 years in the big leagues."

And even though he only reached Double-A, the Cardinals have no great options at second base. Daniel Descalso hit .227 and Skip Schumaker hit .276 last season. Wong is hitting .329 in the Arizona Fall League, and he'll be playing second for the Cards by July.

 

Third Basemen

Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

Machado was thrown right into the mix last season as a 20-year-old and produced right away. In 51 games, Machado hit .262 with seven home runs. Now it looks like Machado will break camp as the team's starting third baseman.

There's a lot to love about Machado. He's young, plays great defense and has tons of upside. His plate discipline and power will improve with more time. Machado is worth drafting in 2013 because he's capable of putting up a 15/15 season, which only three third baseman did last year. He might also get SS eligibility (his natural position), and that would make him extremely valuable.

 

Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres

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The Padres didn't trade Chase Headley last year, and that left Jedd Gyorko in the minors. And now, Jack Moore of CBSsports.com has indicated that the Padres will not trade Headley in the offseason either. All of this doesn't bode well for Gyorko, but the Padres have experimented with him at second base. Logan Forsythe and Alexi Amarista aren't the future, so Gyorko could come up as a middle infielder.

One thing is for sure; Gyorko can flat-out rake. He hit a combined .309 with 30 home runs between Double- and Triple-A in 2012. Gyorko will have a chance to make the team out of spring training, but if he doesn't, he should be called up shortly thereafter. The power may not project in Petco Park (see Yonder Alonso), but he's still valuable with the batting average. Plus, if he gains 2B eligibility, he'll be a nice offensive option.

 

Shortstops

Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta Braves

Simmons played in 49 games last season and hit .289 with three homers. I think Simmons will have a breakout year in 2013. Don't be fooled by the three homers last season. He has the potential to get up to the double-digits. He has always made good contact, so don't expect the batting average to go down at all.

Simmons is in line for a .290 batting average with 10 homers this year. While that might not seem like much, there were just two shortstops (Derek Jeter and Ian Desmond) who hit .290-plus with 10-plus home runs in 2012. Simmons only stole one base last season, but I would expect much more than that in '13.

 

Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies

Rutledge flew under the radar last season. He was owned in just 52 percent of ESPN leagues, but the shortstop hit .274 with eight homers and seven steals in 73 games. With Troy Tulowitzki coming back, Rutledge won't be left out. MLB Depth Charts lists him as the Rockies' starting second baseman.

Rutledge will eventually have 2B and SS eligibility, and that makes him quite a bit more valuable. With a full slate of games scheduled, Rutledge will have the opportunity to hit 15-plus homers with 15-plus stolen bases. That feat was pretty rare for middle infielders a year ago. Just four second basemen and two shortstops reached that plateau in '12. And if that wasn't enough, he plays his home games in Coors. Enough said.

 

Jed Lowrie, Houston Astros

Lowrie was on pace to have a monster year in 2012 until an injury derailed his season. In 97 games, Lowrie only hit .244, but he had 16 home runs, 42 RBI and 43 runs scored. Even though he missed 65 games, Lowrie still ranked tied for fourth of all MLB shortstops with 16 homers.

The biggest concern with Lowrie is his health. His 97 games played in 2012 was a career high. His injury last season was a freak accident, and he hasn't had any recurring injuries, so that would suggest he's been very unlucky. His health might be a risk, but he's a top-10 shortstop when healthy.

 

Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers

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Segura made his MLB debut last season and hit .258 with seven steals. With 45 games under his belt, Segura will be in for an improved 2013 campaign. Segura was one of the main pieces for the Brewers in the Zack Greinke deal, and he'll show why he was touted as a top prospect in the Angels organization.

He's not going to provide more than a handful of home runs, but his assets are his batting average and stolen bases. In Double-A last year (for both the Angels and Brewers farm teams), Segura hit a combined .304 with 37 steals. If Segura can get 500 or more plate appearances, expect the youngster to swipe 30-plus bags with a .290 average.

 

Outfielders

Jon Jay, St. Louis Cardinals

Like Jed Lowrie, Jay has had a hard time staying on the field. In two of his three MLB seasons, Jay has missed significant time. But when he actually does remain healthy, he shows promise. Last season he hit .305 with four home runs and 19 stolen bases in 117 games. I expect Jay to have a breakout year in 2013. He showed what he's capable of and now he just needs to stay healthy.

He's good for batting average and that won't dip too drastically—if at all—because his BABIP was right in line with his career numbers. He has the potential to hit 10-plus home runs (he did in 105 games in 2010) and his steals are a nice addition. Overall, Jay is a guy who can hit .300 with 10 homers and 15 steals, which is valuable in deeper leagues.

 

Wil Myers, Kansas City Royals

Myers doesn't need an introduction like many of the other players on this list. MLB.com lists Myers as the third-best prospect in baseball, and he was named Baseball America's 2012 Minor League Player of the Year. Myers was sensational, hitting a combined .316 with 37 home runs across Double- and Triple-A.

Myers is MLB ready—he has been. The only problem here is figuring out Myers' arrival. He'll definitely have a chance to start the year in the MLB, but the Royals might choose to keep him in the minors until June, so they can avoid Super Two status. Either way, when Myers arrives, he's going to produce. Even if they decide to hold him back, he might be worth drafting and keeping on your bench.

 

Adam Eaton, Arizona Diamondbacks

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Myers gets most of the hype, but Eaton deserves just as much attention. The speedy youngster got his feet wet last season, compiling a .259 average with two home runs and two steals in 22 MLB games.

Before being called up, though, Eaton was dominating Triple-A pitchers. He hit .381 with seven home runs and 38 steals. Eaton's stock skyrocketed once the D-backs traded Chris Young to the A's. Now he has nobody blocking his path. According to MLB Depth Charts, Eaton will be hitting leadoff, which should give him a boost in runs scored. Eaton has the chance to hit .275 with 10 home runs and 25 stolen bases in 2013.

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