KEEPERS: 2013 Dynasty reload—NL OF

This is the seventh of a 10-column series designed to help owners playing in keeper league (KL) and dynasty formats address their weak spots over the next three to five seasons. Through mid-January, we'll be putting forth by-position lists of our favorite players and prospects who could 1) be relatively available in your leagues; and 2) earn double-digit dollars sometime between 2013 and 2015.

Our filter uses the following criterion:

  • Player must be growth-age—27 years old—or younger as of April 1
  • Player must have earned less than $10 in 2012
  • Player must have accumulated at least 100 AB above A+ ball

As we noted in last week's AL version, you need offense from your OF to win, period.  And while most of the established OFs in your league are attainable only at a prohibitive price, there are always plenty of unestablished options that will cost you less—or may even still be free agents.  From last year's NL reload list, high-upside hitters like Jason Heyward and Bryce Harper enjoyed their first $10+ seasons, as did more stop-gap alternatives like Tony Campana and Tyler Colvin.  Mirroring our 2012 collection, the 2013 list includes players who could have long careers as well as some borderline candidates. 

Per our projections, Starling Marte's (OF, PIT) current plate skills will leave him struggling to hit .250 in 2013.  Poor patience is his biggest issue, and a ct% near 70% in 2012 won't help.  But Marte's 5 HR and 12 SB in 167 AB were supported by a 110 PX  and 198 Spd.  This and a .303 career minor league BA suggest that his athleticism will prevail over the short-run, and allow some time to hone a better approach. At age 24, he may never become a star, but he should be profitable while you wait and see.  He would have to fall apart not to get 400+ AB in 2013.

Chris Young's departure opened up CF for  Adam Eaton (OF, ARI), whose career .355 BA  and 85% ct%, along with a career-best 44/11 SB/CS in 2012, impressed the Diamondbacks.  Eaton owns just gap power, but also enough speed and instincts to swipe at least 20 bags a season with more experience. He showed little sign of being overmatched at the MLB level in an 85 AB year-end trial (14% bb%, 147 Spd, .270 BA). Eaton doesn't have huge career upside, but our projections suggest he could be profitable from the get-go.

With his team reportedly still in the market for free-agent OFs, Domonic Brown (OF, PHI)  is a borderline entry here. Once considered a five-tool prospect, Brown has struggled with injuries seemingly forever—and hasn't been healthy enough or with enough AAA traction to earn more than an MLB shot for the past two years.  His plate approach remains solid, as suggested by double-digit bb%s and an 80% ct% over his last 371 MLB AB.  But a .235/.268 BA/xBA combo was nothing special this past season, and that budding plus power has shown up recently only in brief flashes.  Flyer material only.

Like Brown, Travis Snider (OF, PIT) is a marginal option.  Working in his favor is a clear playing time shot with his new club.  But Snider hasn't been able to produce anything that looks like his recent AAA numbers at the MLB level over the past two seasons.  And worse during this same period, his GB% has soared while his once elite MLB PX looks very average.  At age 25, he has time to rebound, but PNC park isn't particularly friendly to LH batters.

Oscar Taveras (OF, STL) could be a year away, but he's showing signs of being ready sooner—and some believe he's even money to break camp with the Cards.  After crushing low-A pitching to the tune of .386/.444/. 584 in 308 AB in 2011, Taveras skipped a level to AA, where he led the league in batting and xBH.  He's just come off a Dominican Winter League campaign in which he posted a .318/.382/.514 line.  As suggested, Taveras is a hitting machine by way of some very good contact with plus power and just enough patience.  His current skills are worth a flyer this year while you wait on some enormous upside.

Newly converted-from-SS Billy Hamilton (OF, CIN) is projected to get a late-season cup of coffee at best. And in spite of world class speed that has produced a jaw-dropping 258 SB between A and AA over the past two seasons, his other skills need more development time. That said, the powerless Hamilton recorded a 14% bb% in 2012, suggesting that he has a plan at the plate. And if the Reds decide to bring him up in August, he could run his way to $10+ in just a couple of months.

Both Lucas Duda (OF, NYM) and Logan Morrison (OF/1B)  were profiled in our 1B Reload effort as natural first basemen that both qualified in the OF and who had earned $10+ previously in 2011.  Both had shown solid skills in their brief MLB time prior to last season; both have plenty to prove in 2013.

Utility players Jordany Valdespin (2B/OF, SD) and Alex Amarista (2B/OF) were mentioned in our 2B Reload column, though both may see significant OF time in 2013, particularly the toolsy, but erratic and temperamental Valdespin, who was recently suspended for two weeks for "insubordination" during Dominican League play.  Amarista will battle for AB wherever he can find them in San Diego.

Missed our cut, but worth mentioning:

Jose Tabata (OF, PIT):  Another Pirates OF on the spot in 2013.  Still owns a 137 Spd and 43 SB between PIT and AAA Indianapolis in 2010, but nothing close since then.  Was healthy in 2012, but zero power and without speed/SBO, looks like a bench player.  Best chance is to run early in effort to steal AB from Travis Snider.

Brett Jackson (OF, CHC):  Plus power and speed, the outstanding question being whether he'll make enough contact to take advantage of them at the MLB level.  Struck out in 59 of 120 MLB AB while recording a 166 PX, suggesting that it won't happen in 2013.

Rymer Liriano (OF, SD): Scuffled with a .250/.335/.377 line at AA San Antonio in 187 AB prior to putting up decent numbers at A+.  Power upside began to flash in the Arizona Fall League as his ct% ticked up again.  A 38/10 SB/CS says this part of his game is coming fast; we may regret listing him below the fold.

Brian Goodwin (OF, WAS): Put up a .319/.434/.537 line in A ball but then struggled with contact after skipping a level to AA. Impressed Arizona Fall League observers with his power, speed and patience even through continuing ct% issues. Keep an eye on his return trip to AA.

Gary Brown (OF, SF):  Thought of as a moderate-power, base-running lead-off type prior to 2012, but mediocre AA season now raises questions.  His 7 HR, 33/18 SB/CS and .279 BA (538 AB) don't look ready for prime-time.

Alex Castellanos: (OF/2B, LA):  Showed impressive tools at AAA, as suggested by .328/.420/.590 line with 16 SB and 17 HR in 344 AB.  But he was then buried after just 23 unimpressive AB in LA.  At age 25, could use a trade, still worth keeping tabs on.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis (OF, NYM):  Will he really open as the Mets' starting CF?  Defense looks OK, but atrocious contact, average power and speed say he won't hold it.  Only his age (25), athleticism and opportunity make him watchable.

Tyler Moore (OF/1B):  Will have trouble breaking into lineup built to win now.  Elite power looks real, but it's blunted by poor patience and contact.  He'll need injuries and improvement to be more than just slightly intriguing.

Corey Brown (WAS):  Another WAS OF prospect who might be higher on our list on another team.  Can hit for power and defend reasonably well at three positions, though he struggles against LHP.  Was given only 25 AB in 2012 in spite of having 1000+ AB at AAA.

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.