Minor Developments: More potential impact rookies

Rob Steingall
Yahoo SportsFebruary 17, 2014

Let’s continue our spring training look at rookie eligibles  who could find themselves fantasy relevant early in the 2014 season.

[Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

Andrew Heaney, SP, Marlins: After the success Jose Fernandez had last season, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Marlins to give Heaney a look in the early going, and rumors are already swirling around such a move. The lefty features a mid-90s fastball that can touch 97, a plus slider, and developing changeup that has above-average potential. The Marlins are starved for an impact lefty starter, and Heaney certainly fits the bill. He could hit the ground running with an enticing strikeout arsenal once he reaches the majors.

Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Astros: It seems like Singleton has been a known commodity for a while, but now carries a negative stigma after being busted for marijuana use, earning a 50-game suspension last season. He had a tough year at Triple-A (.220, 6 HR, 31 RBI), but the skills are intact. His plus power and quick bat make him a future middle of the order hitter. He should begin the year back at Triple-A, working to regain his confidence and improve his approach against lefties, but could be up by June with a hot start.

Maikel Franco, 3B, Phillies: Franco burst onto the scene last season (.302, 31 HR, 103 RBI), shooting up prospect lists and putting himself on the fantasy radar. Franco boasts plus power and a hit tool that should allow for a solid average. He could move across the diamond to first base if Ryan Howard has trouble staying healthy, or stay at third if Cody Asche doesn’t pan out. In his prime, Franco could be a 30-homer threat, making him a name to target in dynasty formats.

Wilmer Flores, 2B/3B, Mets: His major league debut was uninspiring last year (.211, 1 HR, 13 RBI), but the scouting reports and his minor league track record suggest better days are ahead. Flores projects to have above-average power, but needs to learn a bit more discipline in order to further improve as a hitter. He’ll earn some reps at shortstop this spring, and while he’s not the most fleet of foot, his bat could be a fantasy asset there. 

Jake Odorizzi, SP, Rays: Following the news of Jeremy Hellickson’s elbow surgery, Odorizzi looks to be in the driver seat for the fifth spot in the Rays’ rotation heading into spring. His arsenal doesn’t blow you away, but it’s deep, featuring three secondary offerings to go along with a low-90s fastball. Expect solid ratios and modest strikeout totals from the young righty this year. He reminds me a lot of Mike Leake, and should be on the radar of AL-only owners on draft day.

Rafael Montero, SP, Mets: While fellow prospect Noah Syndergaard gets much more publicity, it could be Montero who earns the first shot at the starting rotation in ’14. Montero has plus-plus command of his arsenal, which is probably his greatest strength as a pitcher. He throws his fastball in the low-90s, along with an average slider and changeup that keep hitters off balance. Montero won’t be a superstar, but should provide solid ratios and strikeout totals for fantasy owners, even in the early going.

James Paxton, SP, Mariners: While teammate Taijuan Walker gets more attention, Paxton is no slouch prospect. He looked strong in his major league debut last season (24 IP, 1.50 ERA, 21/7 K/BB), featuring a big fastball (94.9 average) and devastating curve. Paxton made lots of positive improvements with his delivery last season, and will look to build off that as he tries to claim a rotation spot out of spring training. He’s a target for those in AL-only and deep mixed formats in search of cheap strikeouts.

Matt Davidson, 3B, White Sox: Being traded was the best case scenario for Davidson, who now has a shot to open the year as the White Sox third baseman with a strong spring. His power is legit, and should play right away at U.S. Cellular Field, with 25-30 home runs within reach as he matures. A long swing and strikeout tendencies could limit his average though, meaning there should be some growing pains. Temper expectations but there is plenty of value given assuming regular playing time.