Five to Watch – Prospects

FANFOOD_FB2014_5toW_ROOK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are hundreds of websites where you can get information to help you prepare for your upcoming fantasy baseball draft and season. It seems like every one of them offer rankingscheat sheets and draft guides.

In order to dominate your league you need to be familiar with a few of them. Check them outpick your favorites and have fun with your research. We will help you with our FANFOOD Fantasy Baseball Tools and new features, the FANFOOD 5 to Watch and FANFOOD goes 2 for 2.

During Spring Training, we offer 5 players from each position for you to watch and consider for your FB team. They will be ones that you may be able to find later in your draft or even off the waiver wire as the season progresses.

Once the season begins, FANFOOD goes 2 for 2 and discusses two upcoming starting pitchers scheduled for two starts. They will be our weekly picks for your team to stream (if that is your strategy).

So who are the FANFOOD 5 to Watch? Are they ones to target? Are they sleepers, studs or duds? The answer is yes and the answer is no. Simply put, they are the players that we find interesting at each position, ones you need to keep an eye on this spring before your fantasy baseball draft.

 

That all said, let’s get to it with our next 5, this time it is the prospects, followed by some helpful links and a great BBQ recipe, BBQ Fried Pasta

 

Welcome to the final 5 to Watch, let’s wrap it up with some more top prospects for 2014.

We’ve already talked about some of them at each position. Jose Abreu (1B), Xander Bogaerts (SS), Travis d’Arnaud (C), Kolten Wong (2B), George Springer (RF), Gregory Polanco (CF), Matt Davidson (3B), and Cody Allen (RP) could all make an impact on fantasy baseball teams this year at their respective positions.

We think there are five more you should watch this spring, and if all goes right, they are the prospects who have the best chance at offering positive fantasy contributions during the 2014 season.

 

5 to Watch quick links:

[C] [1B] [2B] [3B] [SS] [OF] [SP] [RP] [Prospects]

 

FANFOOD 5 to Watch – Prospects

 

 

1. Billy Hamilton

ADP #61

 

There is so much written about the speedster from Cincy. While I think he is probably not in the top 75, you can’t argue with the amount of SBs he will provide for your team. That is if he sticks with the club all year. He is one to watch this spring to see if all the bunting drills he is perfecting pays off. Right now he has the CF job and leadoff role locked up, but keep in mind they haven’t even played any spring ball yet.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds (ADP: 67.1): You’ve read plenty about the legend of Hamilton’s speed by now, and saw first hand last September what he’s capable of when given even a small opportunity (7-for-22, 9 R, 13 SB). I’m not going to beat around the bush on this one: I’m all-in on Hamilton as a full-time regular in ’14. While I don’t believe the average and on-base percentage will be world beating, it’s not crazy to think he can hit .260 with an OBP around .310. That will make him a valuable fantasy asset. I’ll set the floor for his stolen base total at 80, and that may even be too conservative. His defensive value should buy him plenty of time to figure it out with the stick. Bid with confidence.

source | Yahoo Sports
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Hamilton and his otherworldly speed have a chance to be big time assets, especially in the roto game, but with major questions surrounding his hit tool, I’m skeptical about how much the 22-year-old will drag you down in the other categories, and I’m even more skeptical about him dragging down the Reds in real baseball. If he’s struggling to reach base at a .300 clip (a definite possibility), I wonder how long the Reds will allow him to stick at the top of the order. And if they felt they needed to replace him at leadoff, would they bump him to the bottom of the lineup, or send him back to Louisville? Truthfully, I wanted to rank Hamilton lower, but all things considered, 100 steal potential is just too damn sweet to ignore. Grey has a more positive outlook on Hamilton, and he slots him at #24 in his outfield rankings.

source | razzball
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Jon Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that in the wake of Shin-Soo Choo agreeing to a deal with the Rangers on Saturday, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty reiterated that the plan remains to have Billy Hamilton start in center field. Jocketty also noted that if the season began today that Hamilton would serve as the Reds leadoff hitter. The organization loves his game-changing speed and believe he has adapted well to the outfield defensively. As long as he can get on base at a reasonable clip, he will be a huge difference maker in 2014 fantasy leagues.

source | rotoworld
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Reds manager Bryan Price is not concerned about the ballclub putting too much pressure or responsibility on speedster Billy Hamilton this season. Hamilton impressed during his September callup last year, swiping 13 bases across 13 games and just 19 at-bats. The speedster is in line to open 2014 as Cincinnati’s center fielder — an opportunity that could result in a bevy of steals for the 23-year-old. Hamilton may not hit for a high average — he batted just .256 in 504 Triple-A at-bats last season, after all — but even moderate on-base ability could allow him to lead the game in thefts. The professional-baseball-record holder for steals in a season (155 in 2012), Hamilton is a threat to run every time he reaches first base.

source | MLB.com
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As the Reds’ projected leadoff hitter, he should get plenty of plate appearances and stolen base opportunities, and his speed could allow him to improve his batting average by way of frequent infield hits. Of course, there is the risk that he doesn’t hit well enough to keep the leadoff role or maybe even his job, but Hamilton’s 70-plus steals potential is literally a game-changer, making him worth drafting among the top 20 outfielders in Roto leagues.

source | CBSsports.com
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“I do everything fast,” Cincinnati’s speedy outfielder said, not wasting a moment before launching into an answer. “You can tell I talk fast. I eat fast. I want to get everything done. I feel like I’ve got to be moving every time I’m doing something.” Only 13 steals into his big league career, the 23-year-old center fielder has run all the way to the top of the Reds order. Hamilton will be getting everything started for Cincinnati this season. He takes over for Shin-Soo Choo, who had one of the best seasons by a leadoff hitter last year and left as a free agent. The Reds considered other options for the top spot, but none panned out. So Hamilton — with only 13 major league games on his statistics sheet — gets a chance to show he can do some record-setting things while covering the 90 feet that separates the bases in blink-of-an-eye times. “It’s like more of a dream come true, something I’ve really wanted,” Hamilton said. Back in Cincinnati, they’re already wearing “Run Billy Run” shirts and waiting for the first time he reaches base and gets the entire ballpark on its feet and focused on his feet. Fans got a preview of what he can do during one blur of a month last season. Hamilton got his first promotion to the majors in September. The Reds decided to use him as a pinch-runner late in games to try to steal a big run. He’d already led five minor leagues in stolen bases and set a professional record by swiping 155 bases in 2012 at Single-A and Double-A. He quickly became a sensation, helping the Reds reach the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. He led the majors with 13 steals in September, getting caught only once. He was thrown out in his final attempt by Mets catcher Juan Centeno. That month showed him he could outrun even the best catchers in the majors. “That helped me out a lot,” Hamilton said. “That gave me much confidence. It showed me what it would be like to be up there every day. So it gave me a little motivation to want to get to that level and stay there. My confidence this offseason has been great.” Last September, he started three games and went 7 for 14 with a pair of doubles and six steals. He swiped four bases in his first career start in Houston. The question is whether he’s ready to handle major league pitching on a regular basis. Hamilton has played only one season at Triple-A. He batted .256 and had an on-base percentage of only .308 last season at Louisville. (By comparison, Choo’s on-base percentage was .423.) He also stole 75 bases in 90 attempts. Ready or not, it’s his job.

source | ESPN
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

ABRHHRRBISBBAOBPSLGOPS
390599532760.244.300.313.613

source | KFFL
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2. Masahiro Tanaka

ADP #88

 

All reports out of NYY camp is that he is the real deal. Just keep in mind that he plays in homer friendly new Yankee Stadium, and against the AL east. There is a good reason why many teams wanted his services and why the Yanks showed him the money. He is definitely in the top 100, and could very well be your fake team’s ace come season end.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

Masahiro Tanaka said he signed with the Yankees because they “gave me the highest evaluation and are a world-famous team.” We assume that giving Tanaka the “highest evaluation” means that New York offered the most money. The Yankees doled out a seven-year, $155 million contract to the Japanese sensation on Wednesday. The contract included an opt-out clause after four years and a full no-trade clause. The 25-year-old went 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over seven seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball. He’ll front the Yankees’ rotation next year and be a valued commodity in spring drafts.

source | rotoworld
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The hype surrounding Tanaka swelled to epic proportions after it was announced in December that the Rakuten Golden Eagles would post their superstar right-hander, allowing him to sign with a big league team. Tanaka overwhelmed his Japanese League opponents in 2013, finishing the season with a perfect 24-0 record, a 1.27 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and a 183-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 212 innings. After reaching a deal with the Yankees in January, the 25-year-old will enter 2014 with immediate ace potential.

source | MLB.com
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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he expects pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to be a No. 3 starter. “He has a great deal of ability,” Cashman said. “We could be getting more than a three. Maybe it’s a two. Maybe it’s even a one at some point.” Cashman added that fans should be patient with Tanaka, and detailed how tough it is to come over to the United States and dominate immediately. The previous Japanese pitchers who have come to the United States typically have a tough time getting on board with throwing schedules. In Japan, pitchers are encouraged to throw as much as possible when they aren’t starting. Daisuke Matsuzaka butted heads with the Red Sox over the issue, and the Yankees already experienced something similar with Kei Igawa. The Yankees reportedly told Tanaka that they would adjust to his throwing needs. The team takes this approach with all their players. The pitching sessions are different depending on the pitcher.

source | CBSsports.com
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New York Yankees C Austin Romine was very impressed with SP Masahiro Tanaka during his live batting practice session Friday, Feb. 21. “I think he threw a split and I had to turn around and ask what the pitch was,” Romine said. “I’ve never seen a ball move like that before. I haven’t had the chance to catch him yet, but from a hitting standpoint, like I said, I’m glad he’s on our team.” Tanaka threw 25 pitches in five rounds of batting practice.

source | ESPN New York
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New York Yankees SP Masahiro Tanaka will receive $22 million in each of the first six seasons of his deal and $23 million in 2020. Tanaka can opt out of the deal after the 2017 season. The Yankees were the only team to offer Tanaka seven years, with the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros all offering over $100 million.

source | AP Sports
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

WSVIPHERBBKERAWHIP
12018017071491593.551.22

source | KFFL
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3. Taijuan Walker

ADP #244

 

There is a ton of talk about Taijuan. And the so called “experts” have been talking for a couple of years now.  He has a secured job in the M’s rotation and the stuff to stick around. He will frustrate you at times this season, as will any SP that you select in the late rounds, but his upside is huge. I can’t think of another pitcher worth a pick after your draft gets past the 20th round.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

An electric arm, a pitcher friendly home park, and an improved roster make Walker an intriguing late round target. Seattle has a solid history of producing quality pitchers, so I’m willing to take a flier hoping for a K/9 north of 7.5 and ERA south of 4.00.

source | Yahoo Sports
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Walker appears to be safely entrenched in the M’s rotation, and based on last year’s workload, he should be able to throw in the neighborhood 190 IP in 2014. The 21-year-old’s front-end repertoire is ready for an extended look in the bigs, and while it’s reasonable to anticipate some inconsistencies during his rookie season, it’s equally plausible that Walker could post a Jose Frenandez-type breakout year. Grey has him at #61 in his SP rankings, and a special Taijuan Walker fantasy if you so desire. Here’s the good news, he has a repeatable delivery and his command gets better as he gets comfortable at a new advanced level. Another point in his favor: his command problems come because of how nasty his fastball is. He throws so hard the ball just sails up on him. There’s gonna be moments when he’s ownable everywhere, but I expect a very up and down year for him in 2014.

source | razzball
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After reporting to camp with a sore right arm, Taijuan Walker has received clearance to throw his first bullpen session on Monday. And the Mariners’ top pitching prospect can’t wait, which is part of the reason he was delayed in the first place. Walker threw so much in preparation for camp that he arrived with some tenderness in his shoulder. “It was just a little soreness, but I’m fine. I’m ready to go,” Walker said Sunday. “I think I started a little early. I wanted to try to get a head start, but that’s not going to happen.” A touted Mariners prospect, Walker has posted a 3.49 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP and a 9.7 K/9 rate in his four seasons as a Minor Leaguer. He impressed after getting called up to the big leagues last year, winning his debut and completing the campaign with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 15 innings (three starts). Capable of posting a quality ERA with plenty of strikeouts, the talented 21-year-old is expected to open 2014 in Seattle’s rotation.

source | MLB.com
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Taijuan Walker is a name you need to know. The 21-year old’s physical makeup has been compared to Dwight Gooden’s. Standing 6-foot-4 with a basketball build and a mid-to-upper 90s fastball, Walker has the stuff to be a true ace.

source | Yahoo Sports
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With a rotation spot already locked up, Walker is a safer bet for the short-term than most pitching prospects this time of year. He’ll come up against an innings limit in the second half, but with a sparkling pedigree and favorable home park, he’s a sleeper in all formats to start out.

source | CBSsports.com
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

WSVIPHERBBKERAWHIP
10015013262571513.721.26

source | KFFL
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4.  Carlos Martinez

ADP #245

 

If you watched the MLB postseason last year, you saw a lot of carlos and his filthy stuff. Now he gets to do it more than 1 inning at a time with the Cards. He is one to watch to see what the health (or lack there) of Garcia is and who they tab to be the 5th starter.  If he breaks camp in this role, there is no reason he will make it all the way to pick #245, because you will be watching and draft him for your team much earlier.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

Carlos Martinez, RHP, Cardinals: After watching him pitch damn near every night in October, you’re probably thinking that this guy can’t possibly still be a prospect. Oh, but he is. He’s a prospect, indeed, and he’s one you’ll want in fantasy, thanks to some of the filthiest stuff imaginable. Martinez would rank considerably higher if he were in position to be starting games for St. Louis this year, but as it stands, it appears more likely that he’ll be used out of the bullpen. The 22-year-old will still be given a chance to compete for a rotation gig during spring training, and if he secures one, he’s more like a top 5 prospect for 2014 instead of a top 20 guy.

source | razzball
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Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist confirmed Tuesday that Carlos Martinez will be used as a starter this spring. Martinez is in a crowded race for the final few spots in the Cardinals’ rotation. The 22-year-old right-hander has electric stuff and will be worth owning in standard mixed fantasy leagues if he wins a starting job.

source | rotoworld
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Martinez wrapped up a six-start winter ball stint that allowed him the chance to get some work as a starter. The work, Martinez hopes, will help expedite the build-up process in Spring Training, where he will be competing for a spot in the starting rotation. “I’m working hard right now and hopefully with all my hard work, I’ll be in it,” Martinez said through his translator and business manager Alexy Hernandez. “I wanted to get more experience as a starter and pitch to more quality guys to get the experience that I needed. I wanted to work on certain pitches that I’ll use as a starter before I come in and compete for that spot.”

source | MLB.com
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St. Louis Cardinals SP Carlos Martinez will be in the group throwing two innings during live sessions this spring, meaning he’ll be in the same group as the starting pitchers, according to pitching coach Derek Lilliquist. “We’re keeping all our options open,” Lilliquist said.

source | St. Louis Dispatch | Rick Hummel
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

WSVIPHERBBKERAWHIP
6089823433813.441.29

source | KFFL
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 5. Andrew Heaney

ADP N/A

 

As we learned from how the fish used Jose Fernandez last year, one has to think that they won’t be afraid to throw Heaney out there every 5 days this year. While we are not saying that you should this year for your fake team, he is one to keep a close eye on and consider for your last roster spot or the occasional spot start throughout the year. He probably will go undrafted in your league and that is about right, but who knows? He has the stuff that can help you this season. Stream at your own risk.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

Andrew Heaney, LHP, Marlins: The Marlins have shown a willingness to promote prospects as soon as they’re ready for the highest level, and Heaney will be ready in 2014. He’s unlikely to bring the sort of impact that Jose Fernandez brought in 2013, but that’s an unreasonable expectation of anyone on this list. Heaney posted a sub-2 ERA through 19 outings in 2013, and I suspect he’ll get a shot in Miami before long.

source | razzball
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Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that the Marlins will give top prospect Andrew Heaney “a long look” in spring training. Brad Hand, Tom Koehler and Brian Flynn are considered the main competitors for the fifth spot in the rotation, but it wouldn’t be beyond the Marlins to surprise everyone and throw their top prospect into the fire. After all, they did it just last year with Jose Fernandez. Heaney has made just six starts above A-ball but posted a 1.60 ERA with 89 strikeouts over 95 1/3 frames last season. “We are never shy [about going with a prospect] if the person earns it, to give him the job,” president of baseball operations Mike Hill said. “If he’s the best pitcher, he’ll be there…. We really haven’t had a lefty in our rotation since Scott Olsen left us. But it’s all about getting people out.”

source | rotoworld
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Last season fantasy owners were caught off guard when the Miami Marlins opened the season with Jose Fernandez in their rotation. This season we should all vow not to be taken by surprise by the franchise once again.There’s no question that Heaney will get an opportunity, at some point, but is he truly prepared to follow in Fernandez’ footsteps? To an extent it’s not a fair comparison, as expecting anyone to replicate Fernandez’ success would be a major mistake. Fernandez had thrown more innings in 2012 (138.1) as compared to Heaney in 2013 (95.1). That alone tells us that Heaney likely won’t be able to work as deep into the season, capping his 2014 upside.

source | MLB.com
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“His fastball sits 90-92 MPH and he is able to spot it to both sides of the plate allowing the pitch to move up a grade. The command is actually quite impressive and he is therefore able to get plenty of swings and misses with the pitch. The slider is another plus pitch that sits 83-84 MPH. When I had a chance to see him in the Arizona Fall League for three innings, both the fastball and slider were working very well as he notched six strikeouts. However, the pitch that made me stop and shake my head was his change-up. I had heard it was inconsistent and still emerging. However, for those three innings, it was impressive. If he can find consistency, that’s three potential plus pitches with very good command.”

source | Prospect 361 | Rich Wilson
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

WSVIPHERBBKERAWHIP
7015015465531023.901.38

source | KFFL
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5 to Watch quick links:

[C] [1B] [2B] [3B] [SS] [OF] [SP] [RP] [Prospects]

 

FB2014 Player Links:

 

 

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BBQ Spiced Fried Pasta

 

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds bow tie pasta
¼ cup avocado oil
½ cup BBQ dry rub, divided
Oil for frying

 

PREPARATION

Cook pasta according to the directions on the package.
When pasta is done, a little firmer that al dente, drain and rinse well and drain again.
When pasta is drained and somewhat dry, place in a large bowl.
Drizzle avocado (or olive oil) over the pasta a little at a time and stir between drizzles to make sure the pasta is completely covered.
Sprinkle half the BBQ dry rub over over the oiled pasta and gently toss to coat the pasta with the rub. Use your hands if it is easier.
Pre-heat oil to 350 degrees
Working in batches fry the seasoned pasta until golden brown and crunchy, about 6 minutes.
When done remove from oil and drain.
While still hot sprinkle a little more BBQ dry rub on the fried pasta.
Repeat with each batch of pasta.
After cooking store in an air tight container for up to a week.

 

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