Every season fantasy baseball league owners are excited to pick up the most promising rookies in their drafts and auctions. For those that play fantasy baseball, rarely does the performance of those rookies match the initial excitement. However, each season inevitably brings a glimpse at the future stars of major league baseball. As the 2013 MLB season wraps and our anticipation grows for a brand new playoff format, we take a look some of the young players who had an impact this season and briefly think about their MLB futures.
The National League features many great young players that are just have not accumulated enough playing time to contend for the fantasy or MLB rookie awards. Khris Davis, Evan Gattis, Hyun-Jin Ryu and others are not on this list but should be looked at closely by fantasy owners going into the 2014 fantasy drafts. Here are some tips to play fantasy baseball:
The National League Contenders
Matt Adams, St. Louis Cardinals – 311 PA .284/.334/.505 17HR, 44 runs, 51 RBI
Adams does not have a full time position with the St. Louis Cardinals and that only makes his numbers look all the better. He clearly has fantastic power and if the Cards find a full-time role for him he would immediately become a top sleeper for the 2014 season.
Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies – 506 PA .268/.302/.406 10HR, 49 runs, 51 RBI, 2 SB
Arenado has been a disappointment for most fantasy owners. He has been stellar defensively and that will keep him on the field until his bat catches up. He is a nice sleeper for savvy owners who know his potential and have noticed his second half improvements in batting average, slugging, and far fewer infield flies.
Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates – 117 IP, 10 wins, 7.67 K9, 2.15 BB9, 49.1 GB%, 3.22 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
Cole is a future ace that seems to improve with every start. He has great strikeout potential to go with an outstanding ability to induce ground balls. The Pirates play in a pitcher’s park and the team has been emphasizing defense and defensive positioning. Those factors make most Pittsburgh starters better and they move a pitcher like Gerrit Cole to the top of the starting pitcher rankings. By the time the Pirates emerge from the playoffs Cole should be the unquestioned ace of the team.
Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins – 172.2 IP, 12 wins, 9.75 K9, 3.02 BB9, 45.1 GB%, 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP
Jose Fernandez was considered a top pitching prospect before this season but was also thought to be at least another year in the minors from his major league debut. The Marlins (at least partially to improve the public perception of the team) chose to allow Fernandez to make the team out of Spring Training. He has done nothing but excel. He already looks like the ace he was projected to be and is a top contender for the Jackie Robinson Award.
Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals – 173.1 IP, 15 wins, 8.78 K9, 2.96 BB9, 38.4 GB%, 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
Shelby Miller already looks like a veteran front-line starter. If not for a certain Cuban outfielder he would almost certainly be a cinch to sweep the ROY Awards. Miller has very good control that has held up through the entire season. He did come back to earth a bit in the second half of the season but will be an extremely important part of the Cardinals future rotation.
Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers – 428 PA, .322/.393/.538 19HR, 66 runs, 42 RBI, 11 SB
With less than a hundred plate appearances in the minors before this season you had to have a ton of faith in the Dodgers scouts or work hard at analyzing Cuban to USA stat translations. Or maybe you just got lucky. Either way Puig has been a boon to the Dodgers and fantasy owners. He has done it all – bat for average, hit for power, score runs, drive them in and even steal bases. Many Dodger fans credit him with sparking the Dodgers into their playoff run. He is a almost without a doubt the Jackie Robinson Award winner for the National League.
Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves – 180.2 IP, 13 wins, 8.32 K9, 2.24 BB9, 38.3 GB%, 3.09 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
Teheran has helped lead the Braves back to a division title and perhaps another streak of pitching dominance. It seems like Teheran has been around forever but that is because the Braves signed him when he was just 16-years old. He has been well worth the wait this season. He has dominated with his mid-90’s fastball and excellent command.
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Jon Williams writes for a variety of sports sites.