When most fantasy baseball novices run out to their local newsstand and throw down hard-earned greenbacks on overpriced glossy magazines with $8.95 cover prices, I spend hours flipping through issue-after-issue of Baseball America building my knowledge-base of prospects that could help me win my league.
Call me a nerd if you want. I've been called worse.
But, it's been proven year-after-year that cheap talent helps win Championships.
I'm about to let you in on five little secrets that could spell the difference between the bubbly and the basement.
Think Jay Bruce, 2009.
Rasmus is more of a complete package than Bruce, as he is capable of swiping some bases. He stalled a bit last year but looks poised to make the team at some point this year.
He could have a similar impact to Bruce's with the Reds last year. Plus he's an excellent keeper candidate.
Marquez won 15 games for the Yankees Double-A Trenton Thunder in 2007.
He regressed somewhat last year, posting a pedestrian 8-8 record, but Marquez has an outside chance of cracking the White Sox starting rotation, if not out of Spring Training then at some point during the season when inevitably dinosaurs like Jose Contreras and Bartolo Colon are bound to break a fingernail or two.
Marquez doesn't possess overpowering stuff, but he locates well and doesn't give up a lot of hits. Plus he's only 24.
LaPorta is the real deal.
He's got 30-HR potential and in his first two seasons of professional baseball, LaPorta hit 34 HR in just 477 at-bats.
If you are looking for a prime keeper candidate, and a possible mid-season call-up that can change the face of your team, LaPorta is your guy.
At this time last year, Schafer was the poster boy for HGH abuse.
Now, a year later, Schafer is in the mix for the starting CF job for the Braves.
For the spring, Schafer is hitting close to .400, with stellar defense. If he can wrestle away the starting job from a cast of characters which includes Gregor Blanco and Josh Anderson, he could post some nice fantasy numbers.
Look for a .280 15 HR 70 RBI 20 SB, but with a chance to put up much better numbers.
There's no doubt than Sanchez makes contact.
Sanchez should be the starting first baseman for the Marlins and could surprise with a Joey Votto-type season in 2009.
The 25-year old converted third-baseman has a lifetime average of .305 in four seasons of Minor League action.
If Sanchez can stay healthy and net 500 ABs, look for a .285 20 HR 85 RBI season, give or take a couple of jacks.