By Jim Higgins
I want to start another new segment on this blog, focusing on potential keepers that can be found on the waiver wire. But since Spring Training just started and most leagues are still scheduling their drafts, I figured it would be a good opportunity to talk about some potential keepers that can be picked up during the last rounds or your drafts or for $1 at the end of the auction. Those who took a flyer on Aaron Hill last year will know how great of an asset that can be.The idea will be to identify one player per team, and to go through these lists on a division-by-division basis. I will alternate between NL and AL clubs but being a Padres fan and being most familiar with the NL West, we will start there.
Arizona – Conor Jackson – 1B/OF
I fully expected and banked on a Conor Jackson breakout last season. Unfortunately those plans were quickly derailed by some random disease that only affects people in Arizona. Talk about bad luck. But if Jackson is fully over this illness, it is quite easy to accept the fact that he may have that breakout year this year. If Jackson’s outburst in the Dominican Republic this winter is any indication, he should be good to go and should be easy to get on the cheap. It also looks like he will have multi-position eligibility too, which is always a plus.
Colorado – Carlos Gonzalez – OF
Gonzalez is the perfect example of the post-hype prospect ready to break out. He has shown his skills at the major league level but has not quite put it all together at this point. Don’t get me wrong, 13 HR and 16 SB in 278 ABs is great, but he needs more ABs. Hopefully that performance last year has earned him more of a full time gig and with more ABs we will see better numbers. Get this guy now while his playing time is still up in the air and once he fully breaks out, you will be glad you got him on the cheap.
Los Angeles – James McDonald – P
I personally try to avoid young pitchers because they are so volatile but McDonald is another great buy-low, post-hype option. His numbers last year in LA were ok, and there are some things he can improve (the 1.59 K:BB ratio would be one, the 1.49 WHIP would be another) but if you look past his MLB stats and look at his MLEs, you will see this is a power pitcher who can average a 9.0 K/9. There will be some growing pains (he’ll be 25 this season) but you’ll be glad you stuck them out once this skill set finishes developing.
San Diego – Chase Headley – 3B
I need to preface this section by saying even though I am a Padres guy I actually believed, and still do, that Kevin Kouzmanoff will end up being a better 3B than Headley. For my sake I hope I am wrong as I went out and got Headley on the cheap this offseason in hopes that he will bring his bat to life now that he’s not so worried about screwing things up in LF. Those playing for a title in 2010 while trying to stash guys away for the future need to remember two things about Headley – he will be OF eligible this year because of all the time he spent in LF last year but he may not be 3B eligible right away because he hasn’t played enough games at the hot corner to qualify for the position to start the season.
San Francisco – Nate Schierholtz – OF
The NL West is loaded with (what I think are) numerous under-the-radar OFs, and in Schierholtz’s case, he is one of three or so position players on the squad under age 28 with fantasy relevance. The other two or three are already on keeper league squads so Schierholtz wins this nomination by default. If you just look at his numbers from last year, Nate (I am tired of typing his last name) has a long ways to go in terms of being major league ready with his bat but his MLEs suggest he could provide a little bit of power and a little bit of speed. If he wins the RF job outright and gets the bulk of the ABs, he should show a huge improvement in his numbers.
Ok, that’s it for the NL West but I will be back with more potential keeper bargains. And as always, if you disagree with this list or want to discuss another prospect, let me know about it in the comments. And don’t forget you can catch Keeper Experts on Twitter (@keeperexperts).