Written by: Paul Auber
Greetings to everyone following Fantasy Assembly. This week I’ll be giving you those players I think you should know at the corner infield (1B/3B) position. In last years Rookie of the Year voting, three corner infielder from the National League (Cody Bellinger, Josh Bell and Rhys Hoskins)and two from the American League (Yuli Gurriel and Matt Olson) finished in the top five in votes received in their respective leagues. I included Hoskins since he qualified as both a first baseman and an outfielder.
As I’ve done with my last two posts, I’ll give you three players who have a very good chance to make their teams opening day roster. Next you’ll get three players who more than likely will contribute this year, and finally three players you might want to add in the minor league portion of your draft (if you have one) or just grab and stash on your reserves for next year. This week I’m also going to add a tenth player whose future position is still to be determined, but you might want to think about adding him as well.
OPENING DAY POSSIBILITIES
1) Miguel Andujar: 3B NY Yankees – Barring a last-minute acquisition, Andujar is penciled in as the starting third baseman for 2018 following the trade of Chase Headley to San Diego. He hit over .310 at both AA Trenton and AAA Scranton. He shows extra base potential as evidenced by his 36 doubles and 16 home runs combined over both levels. His above average hitting and power are not his only strength. He is considered to have one of the strongest arms in the Yankees system which should keep him firmly entrenched at the hot corner for years to come.
2) Ryan McMahon: 1B Colorado Rockies – The Rockies are debating to re-sign Mark Reynolds who hit 30 home runs and had 97 runs batted in. Colorado will give McMahon a chance to prove he belongs in Spring Training. He hit a combined .355 with 20 home runs and 88 runs batted in between AA and AAA. With most Pacific Coast League hitters I would say be wary of the numbers. With the exception of 2016, McMahon has shown both consistent averages and power. If his numbers in Albuquerque are any indication of his true potential, he should enjoy a “Rocky Mountain High”.
3) Colin Moran: 3B Pittsburgh Pirates – Depending on how your league determines position eligibility, Moran only qualifies at first base in most leagues. He was acquired from Houston in the Gerrit Cole trade and is scheduled to be the Pirates primary third baseman in 2018. Moran lost two months last year due to a concussion and facial fracture which allowed Alex Bregman to further entrench himself as the primary third baseman in Houston, thus enabling the Astros to make Moran available to trade for a pitching upgrade. Moran hit 18 Home runs with a .308 average for Fresno in the Pacific Coast League. Are those numbers league inflated ? Reports have it that Moran adjusted his swing to develop more power. For the sake of my beloved Bucco’s, I hope that’s true.
PROBABLE MIDSEASON CALL UPS
1) Nick Senzel: 3B Cincinnati Reds – Senzel is expected to arrive sometime this year despite having only played 57 games at AA last year. He also is blocked at third base by Eugenio Suarez who hit 26 home runs and had 86 runs batted in last year. Senzel’s strength is his advanced approach to hitting and is project to be a .300 hitter in the major leagues. He’s hit over .305 at every level he’s played and although not a 30/30 type player he shows some power and speed. Senzel has also played some second base and first base in the minor leagues and this versatility should ensure he sees some meaningful time in Great American Ballpark.
2) Christian Arroyo: 3B Tampa Bay Rays – Arroyo was acquired as part of the Evan Longoria trade this off-season. Many thought he would step right in and replace Longoria, but both Rotoworld and Roster Resources project Matt Duffy as the starting third baseman in Tampa this year. Duffy missed all of last year with a torn Achilles and although his career showed promise early on, he’s been unspectacular the last several years. Arroyo has hit well at all minor league levels he’s played with the exception of the South Atlantic League. He hit a disappointing .194 in 125 at bats for the Giants last year, but fortunately he’s only 22. Arroyo also has played second base and shortstop in his career and this versatility is what probably gets him to the show this year.
3) Jake Bauers: 1B/OF Tampa Bay Rays – Bauers played first base and the outfield for AAA Durham last year. He could potentially be a 20/20 player in the mold of Kevin Kiermaier. None of Bauers’ tools rate as above average. He’s not someone who’s going to WOW you. Brad Miller is currently projected to man first base and with a good spring training, the 22-year-old Bauers should find his way to Tampa sometime around late May or early June.
LOOKING to 2019
1) Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: 3B Toronto Blue Jays – Guerrero Jr., The son of recently elected Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero is probably one of the most highly regarded prospects in baseball. EVERY fantasy publication, web site, blog or what ever will tell you Jr. is THE player you want on your fantasy team for the future….WHY ??? Unlike his father, who never saw a pitch he wouldn’t swing at, Vlad Jr. is a selective hitter. Between 2 levels of A ball last year he combined to hit .323 with 13 home runs and 76 runs batted in along with 76 walks. All that at age 18. Guerrero is projected to be a perennial All Star and possible future MVP. Some publications project him to crack the Blue Jays lineup sometime in 2019. If he tears through AA and AAA this year, it’s not beyond possibility. My guess is he’ll get his call up sometime in late May or early June of 2020.
2) Michael Chavis: 3B Boston Red Sox – Chavis is another player blocked at his primary position, this time by 21 year old Rafael Devers. Chavis projects to have more power than Devers and is just a year older. Chavis hit 31 home runs with 94 runs batted in between High A Salem and AA Portland. Having depth is always a good problem to have, and the Red Sox may have to look at Chavis at a different position. Chavis is a right-handed batter and with his power and the tempting Green Monster, he should find his way into Boston’s lineup soon.
3) Josh Ockimey: 1B Boston Red Sox – Ockimey is another power hitting prospect in Boston’s pipeline. He was named to the Carolina League All Start team last year where hit 11 home runs and 63 runs batted in to go along with a .273 batting average. When I see Ockimey bat, all I can think of is a young David Ortiz. He sprays the ball to all fields and is projected to continue developing power. Boston resigned Mitch Moreland to a 2 year contract this off-season so I expect to see Ockimey sometime late 2019 or mid 2020 at the latest as long as he continues to progress.
WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THIS GUY ???
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls…..I give you …..
Brendan McKay: 1B / Left Handed Pitcher Tampa Bay Rays – Like it says above, What do you do with this guy. Like Shohei Ohtani of the LA Angels, McKay projects as a legitimate prospect at both first base and pitcher. As the fourth overall pick in last years draft, Tampa selected McKay with the agreement that he would be given a legitimate shot to both pitch and play first base. In college at Louisville McKay went 32 – 10 in three seasons as a pitcher and hit 28 home runs and 132 runs batted in with a .328 batting average. The Rays started him off at rookie level Hudson Valley of the New York Penn League. In six starts he went 1 – 0 with a 1.80 earned run average and also hit .232 with 4 home runs and 22 runs batted in. MLB.com rates him as the number 1 first base prospect, the number 5 left handed pitching prospect, and the number 25 prospect overall.
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