While not everyone has the patience to stick around for an entire fantasy baseball draft, the final few rounds are what truly separates the champions from the rest of the league.
Sure, you can feel good about grabbing Mike Trout and a few others before letting the computer autodraft for you. However, you will miss out on some valuable players who are certain to be available in the final few rounds. In auction drafts, there are potential stars that could be had for just a few dollars of your budget.
These late additions represent very little risk but could end up being breakout stars like Josh Donaldson from a year ago. Each player has gone after the 140th pick in snake drafts and for less than $6 in auction drafts, according to ESPN.
Khris Davis, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
While Khris Davis is showing up on a number of lists of this sort, it is for good reason. The Brewers left fielder has impressive power, and it is going to be on display much more now that he has a full-time job.
Last season, Davis played in 56 games and slugged 11 home runs in just 136 at-bats. His 12.4 at-bats per home run would have ranked second in the majors if he had enough at-bats to qualify.
This spring, he has continued to display this kind of power with deep shots like this one:
Davis will get the start on Opening Day, and he will be given the chance to show what he can do over the course of a season. Based on what we have seen in the past, he could easily top 20-25 homers and provide your fantasy team with a cheap source of power.
Anthony Rendon, 2B, Washington Nationals
While his spot in the lineup is yet to be determined, you can be certain that Anthony Rendon will make an impact no matter where he lands. His manager, Matt Williams, explained all that he can do while considering putting him in the No. 2 slot, via Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:
If you look at it, Anthony is probably that prototypical two hitter. Hits the ball the other way. Gets on base. He’s got the ability to drive a run. You get in that situation, your eighth hitter gets on, you bunt him over with your pitcher, you get a couple of shots at him. He’s got all those capabilities.
What he really does is lengthen the Nationals lineup, which already featured a number of quality hitters. Rendon will get a chance to either drive players in with regularity on be the one on base before Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and others get to the plate.
While he only hit .265 last season, he showed his pure hitting ability in the minors, and it should translate to success in the majors once the 23-year-old player gets comfortable.
He has already gotten off to a strong start to 2014 with a .324 batting average and .395 on-base percentage in spring training. Once the games start to count, he should be able to keep this up as he posts solid numbers for a position without much depth.
Yordano Ventura, SP, Kansas City Royals
Last season, we only got a taste of what Yordano Ventura could do. He posted a 3.52 ERA in three starts toward the end of the year, but it left fans wanting more.
Fortunately, we will get plenty more of the 21-year-old pitcher after the team announced that he would get the fifth spot in the rotation. This is thanks to an impressive spring training that featured a 1.77 ERA in 20.1 innings and an 18-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
He beat out Danny Duffy for the final spot in the rotation, who had nothing but good things to say about his teammate, via Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star:
Duffy is not the only one amazed at Ventura's stuff. Bernie Pleskoff of MLB.com provided his scouting report:
Ventura can throw heat while throwing hitters off with a dominant curveball. After seeing what a young pitcher like Jose Fernandez could do at a young age, there is no doubt that the Royals starter can provide similar production.
Russell Martin, C, Pittsburgh Pirates
This is a name that most baseball fans know by now, but it is tough to find catchers nowadays. While Buster Posey and Yadier Molina remain the most obvious names, there is a quick drop after the top.
Instead of spending money or an early draft pick on a middling producer like Brian McCann, fantasy owners would be much smarter to wait a little longer for Russell Martin.
The veteran saw his batting average drop last season, but he still slugged 15 home runs while earning MVP votes in his first season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The lineup should continue to improve around him, giving him better pitches and more RBI opportunities.
Additionally, Martin's ability behind the plate will ensure that he gets as many starts as possible while he is healthy. In leagues that lock to start the week, this is extremely important.
In 2014, you can expect the catcher to post a solid on-base percentage with 15-20 home runs, which is about as much as you can hope for with most players at the position. Unless you can get a top guy, Martin is worth the wait.
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