Bold Fantasy Baseball Statements: Initial Draft Leftovers!

Jordan GillisContributor IMarch 17, 2010

MARYVALE, AZ - MARCH 01:  Manny Parra #26 poses for a portrait during the Milwaukee Brewers Photo Day at the Maryvale  Baseball Park on March 1, 2010 in Maryvale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Today while looking over Mock Draft Central’s ADP list I got inspired by the guys who were not getting drafted.

In a 12 team league that has 25 man rosters, 400 players will get drafted. So just to be safe I started pouring over players who ranked below 450 in the average draft position.

Now these are not guys you should be drafting, unless, I guess they are your favorite player, you lost a bet, or you happened to name your team after the player. These guys should be strictly placed on your watch list, and picked just in case for reasons such as:

  • Someone on your roster gets injured.
  • Someone on your roster gets benched.
  • You drafted a team of keepers and youngsters and failed to get players that produced.
  • Your buddy has one of these previous issues, and you have a player you can dump to stick it to your buddy.

The last one I don’t actually recommend, but its fun to think about. Let the list begin!

SP – Manny Parra – Milwaukee Brewers – Rank: 483

Manny deserves better than this, he is the last SP on the list, and he is just barely ahead of Ken Griffey Jr.

However, last year Manny Parra had a 6.36 ERA, gave up home runs like it was his job (1.22 HR/9), and walked more batters (4.95 BB/9)….wait for it…there is more, he won 11 games last year! The wins category does not exist in my world, but I needed to find something positive to say.

Here is the situation with Parra. He strikes out lots of hitters, last year had issues keeping the ball in the yard, had even less uncharacteristically control, and has poor defense behind him.

Yet, all four Fan Graphs projections have serious regression to the mean (for Manny Parra this is a good thing). They all suggest Manny Parra can toss another 150 innings, get some decent strike outs, walk less, give up less home runs, and perhaps be fantasy useful.

Parra has wicked stuff, and if he can get hot, he will turn in some very positive starts for you. So if your pitching staff is weak, and you see Parra string a good start or two together, pick him up!  

He will be the type of player you need to look at small sample sizes to see great things, but even in those cases there is value.

C – Jason Kend…. I’m just kidding, next!

OF – Michael Saunders – Seattle Mariners – Rank 453

Michael Saunders is likely headed to Tacoma to torch AAA pitching for at least a little while. The Mariners went ahead and got Milton Bradley, Eric Byrnes, kept Ryan Langerhans, and saved Ken Griffey Jr to take turns in left field (maybe not so much Griffey, but possibly).

With that in mind we are not talking about a solid group of potentially amazing players here. Milton Bradley is feast or famine, Byrnes has everything to prove and probably will not have much to show, and Langerhans has good defense but only a flash in the pan offensively.

It is not hard to conceive a few injuries here, a few fights, lack of production, or a future trade for something from the Royals out of this group. If any of those things happen, Saunders is likely ready to bring his game to a full time gig.

Last year Saunders had to fight for every at bat and looked very poor doing it. However Saunders has a great bat, and he dominated AAA last year.

There are no guarantees that Saunders can put it all together at the Major League level, or that he will even get an opportunity to. But the projections systems show some promise, a slightly above average hitter in a half season of at bats. Possibly some homers, some speed, etc. He is a year away from being something really special, or yesterday's news, but since its free to watch players, mark him down.

SS – Mike Aviles – Kansas City Royals – Rank 445

Mike is slightly ahead of 450, but he counts for not being drafted. Last year KC GM Dayton Moore did the Mariners a favor by trading for Yuni Betancourt, and thus taking playing time away from Aviles.

Aviles is a super duper short stop that has an amazing glove. The nice thing about being a short stop is that he does not have to have a great bat to have some value.

Aviles will never hit double digit homers (check that Bill James seems to think so), but he is capable of being an average hitting short stop, assuming he gets a chance to play. So if you draft a short stop who is likely to get injured, Aviles might just be a great fill in at the right time.

At worst, he hits below average and blends in with the rest of the short stops who play with their gloves for value. But he is capable of being a decent hitter and filling in, in a pinch.

3B – Andy LaRoche – Pittsburgh Pirates – Rank 456

LaRoche is a talented player.

He crushed the ball in the minor leagues, he was a top prospect for the Dodgers, was coveted in trade rumors, and has a brother who plays in the Majors as well. This year Andy gets the starting job as 3B for the Pirates, and if he can stay healthy, and hit like he is designed to do, projections have him hitting league average.

Typically average is less than exciting, but remember we are taking players from the scrap heap here, so average has merit. Being average also means that you can have flashes of being really bad and really good.

LaRoche is a hot month, a few lucky bounces, and a game winning grand slam away from being the Pirates’ lone All Star, and he is just that for your fantasy team as well.

All the projections have him getting burned by defenses with a BABIP below average for hitters, and projections have him at 15 homers this season. If LaRoche can over achieve and hit 20 homers, and turn that .270 BABIP into a .290 BABIP, all the sudden you have Troy Glaus, Scott Rolen, or even a Gordon Beckham like production.

Obviously having your ceiling just creep the bottom of the fantasy level starters of 3B is not the greatest compliment in the world, but a free hitter who hits well, is one you need to be watching.

RP – Takashi Saito – Atlanta Braves – Rank 467

The list of bold predictions ends with a former closer, luckily he just might save the article.

That was a reach, but watching Saito might not be. The Braves signed Saito and Billy Wagner to be their eighth and ninth inning guys.

If your league counts holds, Saito is probably in draftable territory. If not, you are patiently waiting for Wagner to either collapse, or go down with an arm injury.

Saito is two years removed from being a 39 save closer for the Dodgers, but he is in the position to be a solid pick up in most leagues. By time May comes around, you will be mad that you passed on Brad Lidge who is back to his relief ace ways, and/or crying about the collapse of your closer X as it happens every single year.

Luckily you read this article and flagged Saito to come in and fill in some innings.

Saito still has ability according to the projections, and if the Braves give him the opportunity, you should be jumping all over the chance like Jose Canseco jumping on a chance to promote himself.

Saito is good for striking guys out, getting them out, not walking many, or giving up homers. He is 40 years old, but if given an opportunity, he could get 15 saves in a half season, which might push your team at some point this season.

This is it for my bold predictions in spring training. I do not expect anyone to agree with me on any of the points, but I do expect you to give me full credit when you are forced to pick one of them up and he has a hot week for you.

Actually no, take full credit, who am I kidding? Its almost April!

Quick shots: Honorable mentions!

  1. 481 – Julio Lugo STL SS/2B
  2. 473 – Luke Hochevar KC SP
  3. 452 – Ian Snell SEA SP
  4. 442 – Jeremy Heredia BOS OF
Jordan Gillis is a writer from South Dakota wishing he was located in or around Seattle. You can keep up with Jordan's passions at his baseball blog Fantasy By The Book and follow him on twitter @FantasyBtB.


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