Last week, we looked at some pretty good players who seem to be undervalued in mock drafts this year. This week, we can look a bit deeper, and look for some nuggets that are reserve squad fodder in a lot of leagues who I think will get some playing time and even be able to contribute in deeper formats and might even latch onto--or sometimes hang onto--full time jobs.
Tyler Flowers (C, White Sox): As it stands, Flowers is the Opening Day backstop for the Pale Hose. He is also coming off a career high 136 at-bats, playing behind A.J. Pierzynski and his career year. The .213-7-13 line there is a lot of what seems to be scaring owners off, but I look at Flowers a lot like I look at George Kottaras: if these guys can manage 450 at-bats, they can each hit close to 20 dingers at a marginal price. Baseball is loaded with catchers like this who seemingly come out of nowhere to clobber the ball. Kelly Shoppach. Mike Stanley. Rod Barajas. I have only seen Flowers go to a mock 23-man roster once so far and that likely should not be the case. He is more than worth a late gamble, especially as a #2 backstop.
Brandon Crawford (SS, Giants): I was bullish on Crawford last season and the dude came through with a decent enough .248-4-45 season over 435 at-bats in his first full season. OK, so in most leagues that will not help a lot but Crawford does hit line drives and does have his hot streaks. And, well, I have not seen his name come up once in any draft yet. Crawford will play, barring anything unforseen, as he is among the best defensive shortstops in the Show (I am happy to have him on my Strat-O-Matic team, where defense makes a huge difference) and I just have this Frank White/Ozzie Smith feeling about Crawford: that once he settles in, he can learn to be a solid hitter. If you are scratching your head, go look at the lines those guys put up in their first couple of seasons.
Scott Sizemore (2B, Athletics): Anyone even remember Sizemore was slated as the Opening Day third sacker last year when he wrecked his knee and missed the entire season, a season where his mates came out of nowhere to win 94 games without him? Well, as much as I like Jemile Weeks, I think a very solid--and typically underrated--Oakland infield of Brandon Moss, Sizemore, Jed Lowrie, and Josh Donaldson will emerge as the mainstays as Oakland challenges to defend their division title in what now might be the toughest in baseball despite the presence of the Astros. Sizemore has never played a full season, but his 162 game mean extrapolated is .239-14-71 with 30 doubles. I actually think he can add 20 or so points to the average, meaning in a deep league Sizemore becomes a solid MI option.
Michael Saunders (OF, Seattle): I got Saunders as a reserve pick in Tout Wars last year and all he did was hit .247-19-57 with 21 swipes. That is pretty good production from a reserve pick who cost me nothing at the auction. Saunders is slated to start in right field at Safeco this year, but I have not seen him picked before the 20th round in anything so far. I actually think Saunders can deliver similar power/speed numbers and boost his RBI and average totals now that a full season of starting is under his belt (word is that Saunders has been working with a private hitting coach during the off-season). As a fifth outfielder, those power/speed numbers could be a boon. In a deep AL-only format, or NFBC draft-and-follow format, he could be equally huge.
Luke Gregerson (RP, Padres): Over four years, Gergerson is 11-14, 2.92 with 288 whiffs over 280.2 innings. Add in 89 walks and 223 hits and you have a 1.112 WHIP, so the question is what does this guy have to do in order to get a closing gig? Well, Gregerson is tossing behind Huston Street, a modicum of health. You want to have Gregerson when Street has to take a hike.
Brett Wallace (1B, Astros): True respect has to be earned, but you have to wonder about Wallace, drafted in the 42nd round by Toronto in 2005 (he went to ASU instead), then in the first round by the Cardinals in 2008. The Cards traded Wallace to the Athletics as part of the Matt Holliday swap and Oakland turned him right over to those same Jays (for Michael Taylor) who finally traded him to the Astros. At just 25, I am not sure if attitude gets in the way of Wallace's improving, but he is only 26, and on a team that has more position openings than the Kama Sutra. He also has a minor league line of .307-63-241 over 401 games, and I think if he just knows he is starting every day--be it at first or third, or even DH--Wallace will settle in and show he can hit in the Majors as well.
Mark Buehrle (SP, Blue Jays): Everyone thinks the Jays are the team to beat in the AL going into 2013 and that alone suggests the dependable Mr. Buehrle should grab his usual 12-14 wins. Over 13 years, Buehrle has averaged a 14-11, 3.82 mark pitching 223 innings with a 1.27 WHIP. True, his mean whiffs are only 127, but in context that is not so bad for a fifth or sixth starter, and the one thing we need from our teams is dependability. No way Buehrle does not deliver that. Yet I seem to be grabbing him in the 23rd round or so all over.
Trevor Rosenthal (RP, Cards): Rosenthal made a splash at the end of 2012 with St. Louis, whiffing 25 over 22.2 late-season innings. Rosenthal came through the Minors as a starter however, and somehow among Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, and Joe Kelly, the 22-year-old will emerge as the go-to guy by mid-season. Over 48 minor league starts, Rosenthal was 22-14, 3.53, with 298 whiffs over 285.1 innings (237 hits, 98 walks and a 1.17 ratio). Just a feeling about this guy, but a good one. I think he is poised beyond the rest of the Cards pitching pack.