It’s show time in the high-stakes Fantasy baseball market in Las Vegas and after the first week drafts, I have the list of the top rises based on ADP from previous results on March 9th. I’ll include my player profile written on ScoutFantasySports.com to help show how we felt about each player before spring training.
Leonys Martin (OF)
Seattle gave Martin only 56 at-bats in April to prove his worth. He hit .111 with no HR, no RBI, and four SBs, which led to a long trip to AAA. In the minors, Leonys delivered the type of bat Fantasy owners hoped for in the majors. He hit .306 with 11 HRs, 39 RBI, and 25 SBs over 360 at bats. His K rate (24.2) showed risk at AAA, which was a step below his career number in the majors (22.2). Martin continues to have a low walk rate (5.7 at AAA and 6.4 in his major league career). Last year in the minors and majors, Martin had growth in his average hit (1.609 and 1.636), which points to more strength in home runs going forward. HIs swing path tends to be ground ball favoring (45.5 percent in the minors in 2017 and 48.5 in his major league career) leading to a short fly ball rate (31.6 percent in his major league career). With Detroit being in transition in a couple of spots in their starting lineup, Leonys should be the best option on the team to hit first or second in the batting order. His batting average won’t be in an impactful area, but a run at 30+ SBs with 15+ HRs is well within reach with 500+ at bat. Player to follow this spring as his price point will be favorable this draft season.
Draft Value: In the early draft season over the winter, Martin was a mere backend flier in the high-stakes market. He had an ADP of 467 on March 9th. With the Tigers stating that Martin would be given a chance to bat leadoff, his ADP jumped to 332 in the nine drafts in the NFBC opening weekend. If you are looking for late speed, Leonys is a possible out while having upside in power as well. Martin is player of interest by the Scout Fantasy team in deep leagues.
Matt Harvey (SP)
Over the last two seasons, Harvey lost more than two mph off most of his pitches. Batters crushed his four-seam fastball (.330 with 15 HRs allowed over 206 at-bats) and his curveball (.370 BAA). His slider (.228 BAA) and changeup (.241 BAA) still offered an edge, but Matt pitched behind in the count to too many batters. His walk rate (4.6) was well below his elite levels in 2013 (1.6) and 2015 (1.8) while his K rate (6.5) is fading to soft tosser territory. Harvey served up 21 HRs in 92.2 at-bats (2.0 per nine). His troubles were magnified against lefties (.331 with 12 HRs over 172 at-bats). There has been any offseason news giving a Fantasy owner hope if a rebound in 2018. For now, we have to place our decision on his success or failure in spring training. His failure and lost value came on the heels of TJ surgery, and a bum left shoulder last year. His price point is free so a wise gambler might be rewarded with a season of value.
Draft Value: Harvey showed enough life this spring to create a slight buzz in the high-stakes draft season. Over five games in March, Matt has a 4.50 ERA with 18 Ks over 20 innings. His ability to get swing-and-misses is the key to him drawing more interest late in the draft season. Harvey had an ADP of 386 on March 9th while coming in with an ADP of 292 last weekend. If you get beat at starting pitching, and you are looking a late arm with ace upside, Matt looks like your top option in 2018.
Jorge Soler (OF)
The middle of the order cupboard in Kansas City looks empty, but someone will emerge to be a productive bat. Soler was once considered a top prospect. He’s lost his way over the last three seasons. When glancing at his 1,013 at-bats in the minors (.286 with 52 HRs, 179 RBI, and 18 SBs), a Fantasy owner should be able to see the upside and potential of Jorge. He has 32 HRs and 89 RBI over 403 at bats at AAA, but Soler struck out 24.5 percent of the time with a huge walk rate (14.7). In the majors, he’s yet to produce a winning season. Over 779 at-bats, Jorge hit .244 with 29 HRs and 104 RBI. HIs K rate (28.2) in the majors needs a lot of work with a slight step back in his walk rate (9.3). In AAA in 2017, he had a tremendous HR/FB rate (28.2) supported by his previous minor league resume. With the Royals last year, Soler only hit .144 with two HRs and six RBI over 97 at bats. Post-hype type player who won’t draw a lot of attention on draft day unless he has a great spring training. Possible breakout player with a chance at 20+ HRs and 80+ RBI.
Draft Value: There’s a lot to like here, and the general public has been trailing in the possible upside of Soler in 2018. His ADP started to rise in March with each home run hit over the fence. Jorge is 13-for-52 this spring with six HRs and 11 RBI pushing his ADP to 355 last weekend, which is an improvement of 92 drafts slots since March 9th. Excellent value in deep leagues and I expect him to work his way into playing time in shallow formats by mid-summer.
Delino DeShields (OF)
When looking at DeShields career resume, one stat stands out. His run rate (54) has been special over his major league career pointing to a huge run total with 550 at-bats with the Rangers. His K rate (24.8) remains too high for his skill set while still taking a high number of walks (10.0). Over a 58-game stretch with starting playing time starting in late April, Delino hit .298 with 39 runs, two HRs, 17 RBI, and 17 SBs in 178 at-bats. After the All-Star break with sporadic starts, Deshields hit .250 with four HRs, nine RBI, and ten SBs in 180 at-bats. He played better against righties (.277 with two HRs and 16 RBI in 256 at-bats). Leadoff type batters with 50+ SB ability while not being dead in the water in home runs. Delino needs the Rangers to commit to him in 2018, which mean not signing another free agent outfielder. This year he’ll jockey between leadoff and the bottom of the order with his speed playing well. His minor league resume (.267 over 2,177 at-bats with 40 HRs, 247 RBI, and 262 SBs) paints him as a neutral hitter with double-digit power and 50+ SBs plus impact runs and improvement in his RBI.
Draft Value: A player with 50+ stolen base upside is a unique piece to the puzzle in the high-stakes Fantasy market. DeShields owns that skill set while opportunity held back his draft value over the winter. The Rangers will give Delino a chance to bat leadoff out of the gate while not adding any other viable options to steal playing time in centerfield. This combination pushed DeShields inside of the top ten rounds in 15-team leagues in the high-stakes market last week. He had an ADP of 217 in January, 195 on March 9th, and 127 over the last nine drafts in the NFBC main event. The top Fantasy owners in the country know where to find the best speed outs, so don’t try to finesse him on draft day if your team is trailing in speed.
Jason Kipnis (2B)
Kipnis maintained a high AVH (1.782), but he made much weaker contact (CTBA – .294). His K rate (19.0) fell in line with his career average while his walk rate (7.5) regressed for the fourth straight season. Jason missed the first three weeks of the year with a right shoulder injury. He struggled over his first 19 games (.155 with no HRs and six RBI over 71 at-bats). Over his next 47 games, Kipnis hit .262 with eight HRs and 20 RBI over 183 at-bats. A hamstring issue cost him another seven weeks with two trips to the DL. Over his last 82 at-bats, Kipnis hit .232 with four HRs and nine RBI. His swing came up empty too many times against lefties (.207 with three HRs and 14 RBI). Jason did have a career-high FB rate (44.1 – 33.1 in his career) while his HR/FB rate (10.1) came in at his career average. The loss of speed was tied to his lack of health. I’m torn on the long-term status of his shoulder. His major resume says .270 with 15+ HRs and 20+ SBs. His possible drop back in form could lead to a lower spot in the batting order. With a good spring training report, a top of on order opportunity could be waiting for him setting the stage as a possible value pick.
Draft Value: I don’t own any shares of Kipnis in 2018 despite his price point in the early draft season. His health was a concern for me entering spring training, but Jason played great in March (.429 with six HRs and 12 RBI over 42 at-bats). Kipnis now has an ADP of 204 with a high of 183 and a low of 235 over the nine drafts in the NFBC main event last week, which is a gain of 64 draft slots in just about two weeks. Jason played well enough where he may very well bat leadoff for Cleveland when the regular season starts.
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