If you have played fantasy baseball the last 2-3 years, you know who the top 20-40 picks will be in your draft. The smart owners are the ones who can predict who is due to "break out" or come back to form after a season or two of mediocrity. Here is my list off players flying under most mock draft radar screens.
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Daniel Hudson (Arizona Diamondbacks) He isn't even listed in the top 50 in many of the so-called "expert's"magazines. This guy was lights-out the last six weeks of the season and helped me win two leagues. In 2010 he had an ERA of 2.45, 84 Ks and a low WHIP. Plus, he is the number one starter for the Diamondbacks.
Brian Matusz (Baltimore Orioles) Stud in the last part of the season for the Orioles. If that continues, you can get him cheap and reap the rewards (should go in the middle rounds). I like how Showalter is pushing him; now if the Orioles could get out of the A.L. East, he would have top 10-15 potential. Matusz is a lefty with all the tools.
Kyle Drabek (Toronto Blue Jays) Watched him pitch against the Binghamton Mets in the Eastern League where he won honors as the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. Yes, it's a big step up from AA, but the Blue Jays traded Shaun Marcum to make room for Drabek. Watch him in the spring and if he looks good, take him as a late round flier.
Chris Young (New York Mets) A down right stud when healthy, but there in lies the problem. Young is switching teams, going from San Diego and coming to the Big Apple, so I'm thinking a change of scenery can't hurt, right? Young is worth a late round flier and a healthy year could win you a championship. He is definitely worth the chance.
Jake Peavy (Chicago White Sox) He will go later in drafts because of the injury bug the last few years. A healthy Peavy means top 20-25 potential and that is the definition of a sleeper. Give him a look.
A.J. Burnett (New York Yankees) Yankee fans do not like him and most of the fantasy world thinks he is a washed up head case, so here's your chance. Great stuff and potential top-25 pitcher with that offense. He will work with a new catcher this year, so this could be a subtle factor that may turn him around. Take a chance on him if he is still there in the last seven rounds of your draft.
Brad Lidge (Philadelphia Phillies) Lidge flies under the radar because of his erratic monthly splits the last two years. To me this is a no brainer—just look at the starters on this team. The Phils will be in many close games, which means huge save chances. If Lidge is 75 percent effective, you will get 30-plus saves.
Joe Nathan (Minnesota Twins) Nathan was once a top-five closer who missed all of last year with an injury. Out of sight, out of mind for some fantasy owners, so he will slide in drafts. Watch preseason games and news reports to see if he is healthy; if so, grab him and plug in 35 saves.
Matt Thornton (Chicago White Sox) Somebody has to close for the Chicago White Sox and Thornton has the numbers. 82K in 60 innings with eight wins. Target him in the late rounds.
J.J. Putz (Arizona Diamondbacks) Arizona needs a closer and Putz is their man. A couple injury-plagued seasons have hindered his production. Arizona is likely to improve, so he is definitely worth a flier in the late rounds.
Chris Perez (Cleveland Indians) Great relief pitcher no one has heard of because he plays for the Tribe (Check out our interview with "Pure Rage Perez"). I added him in several leagues early last year when Kerry Wood went down and reaped the benefits. A slight drop in his BB and some improvement by the Indians makes Perez a top-ten closer SLEEPER!!
Written exclusively for www.thefantasyfix.com by John Marino
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