Theo Epstein is one lucky son of a gun. Who among us would not love to get paid to create the best team of baseball players possible? While most of us will never get paid millions for it, bleacher creatures, statistical junkies, and fair-weather fans alike can test their general manager talents and prowess by playing fantasy baseball.
With spring training already underway, fantasy general managers will be finishing up their research soon as time for their draft draws near. There are a number of different strategies that people employ, some more successful than others. Whether you tend to go for the best available player, best by position, pitchers first, batters first, or all Yankees, all the time there is one thing that every fantasy GM looks for- the elusive diamond in the rough.
Diamonds in the rough are those guys that are not real well-known yet. Whether it is because the club has been hiding them in the farm system or the player quietly shined in a brief call up the prior season, these guys are now slated to start (or at least play a whole lot) and produce. Recognize who these guys are and you can find some real steals in the later rounds of your draft.
The following are some guys to watch for in the middle to later rounds of your draft:
Gordon Beckham, 2nd, Chicago White Sox: Beckham received his call up in June of last season and spent the season bouncing between 3rd and short stop throughout the season. A little inconsistent at times, the 23-year-old still managed to hit for a pretty decent average, stole a few bases, hit a handful of home runs, and did not strike out too often. After playing most of last season, he is expected to do even better this year. Even if he just maintains last year’s numbers, he will still be a valuable player at a notoriously weak position.
Neftali Feliz, SP, Texas Rangers: Anyone with a 100+ mph fastball is going to be dangerous; the only question is where the Rangers decide to use him. They gave him some time at reliever last year, but are expected to have him in the starting rotation this year. The key for Feliz will be continued improvement on his control (he did have some issues with walks in the minors), not being overused, and getting sufficient run support from his teammates. There is no telling where he will be used so don’t expect him to be your number one or two just be ready for him to play like one.
Jason Castro, C, Houston Astros: Finding a decent fantasy catcher is tough. If this guy does not start the season with the job, keep an eye on him- he’ll get it soon. While he is no Joe Mauer, Castro has the potential to hit pretty well having hit .300 with 10 home runs, 73 RBIs, and even a few steals in Single and Double A ball last season. There is a chance he will start the season in AAA, so if you do not draft a good catcher be sure and keep an eye on this one.
Beer: Samuel Adams Imperial White Ale– whenever you mention Boston (Theo Epstien’s team) you have to talk about a beer from that town. Imperial White is the White Ale on steroids. Like the While Ale, it is light and refreshing with a bit of a fruity flavor to it. It just has a lot more of a kick to it to help keep you warm during the early months of the season while the weather is still cold (10.3 %ABV). Any beer that is illegal in any state jus rocks (Imperial White is illegal in Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana and South Carolina).