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Sunday 21st Jan 2018

The final week of the season is here, but the Hotpage will continue as we spend the off-season looking at the various minor league levels and leagues, identifying some players we like or not, coupled with the Top 250, which is projecting a November publication. Of course the Winter Meetings and other Hot Stove stuff will be covered, so we can have some fun during the off-season, following the game(s) we love.

For now, it is awhile till Draft Day, but who are some names I am thinking about in terms of 2018? And, if you follow me, and the site, there will indeed be a lot of baseball mocks and analysis throughout the off-season.

So, last week we took a look at a cluster of players I am going to avoid next year. This time, how about some names that intrigue?

Matt Olson (1B, Athletics): Talk about coming out of nowhere, Olson has been a home run machine, belting 24 over just 189 at-bats this season. A first-round pick in 2012, Olson banged 124 homers in the Minors over 689 at-bats with a good .364 OBP over that spread. What is reassuring about Olson's future to me is he had 21 at-bats last year, with a similar average and OBP to his totals of this year despite no RBI or homers during that stint. Oakland has some good and interesting young players in their clubhouse, and right now Olson leads the pack.

Alex Wood (P, Dodgers): A second-rounder out of Georgia, Wood was selected by the Braves and then swapped to the Dodgers as part of a largely ignominious eight-player swap at the deadline in 2015. L.A. is good at securing and developing pitching talent, and though the now 26-year-old does carry injury risk, he has developed into a front-line starter but maybe can be had for less than ace dollars. His 15-3, 2.71 season with 150 whiffs over 141.3 frames pretty much tells the story.

Luis Severino (P, Yankees): I am pretty sure Severino will get a lot more attention than Wood, but he is going into a third season with a good 13-6, 3.03 ERA to go with 221 strikeouts over 187.3 innings with a 1.05 WHIP. The 23-year-old is poised to be the next big thing in pitching in the American League, methinks.

Zack Godley (P, Diamondbacks): Probably lowest on the radar of the masses among the three starters noted here, Godley, 27, still has some major upside. A 288th overall pick of the Cubs in 2010 and then received by Arizona in exchange for Miguel Montero, Godley stepped into the rotation this year, delivering 158 strikeouts over 149 innings with an 8-8, 3.20 line including a 1.11 WHIP. Godley, along with Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke, could comprise the best top three starters in the league next spring.

D.J. LeMahieu (2B, Rockies): LeMahieu always scored high on my Top 250 lists, but he always seemed to be a sort of poor man's Wade Boggs. You know, hits well, gets on base, but doesn't seem to produce enough all-around offense to rate high in too many leagues save maybe in OBP leagues. Well, if I can get him at a lower price or later round, and blow my money or high picks on power and speed, the second sacker fits right in.

Tommy Pham  (OF, Cardinals): Raise your hand if you thought Pham would pass by Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk on the depth chart? Well, a .310-22-71 season with 23 steals and a .410 OBP is pretty hard to deny. Pham, drafted by the Cards in 2006 (#496 overall), has simply hung in there and learned his job. With 65 walks (113 strikeouts), Pham looks to have earned a full-time slot and could be another undervalued hitter, while realizing a bit of a jump in numbers with a full complement of games in 2018.

Marcell Ozuna (OF, Marlins): .308-36-118 in the shadow of Giancarlo Stanton, and in the outfield with Christian Yellich. At 26, Ozuna could get better, and hitting around Stanton, he will get some good pitches to look at.

Avisail Garcia (OF, White Sox): Kind of the American League counterpart to Ozuna with a monster .331-18-80 season over 130 games, also at age 26, just like Ozuna. I like to think this troika of outfielders could be copped say rounds 5-7 in a standard 15-team draft, allowing me to focus on some pop and pitching elsewhere for my first four rounds.

Remember to go to the Tout Wars site for our Friday picks. And, tune into the Tout Wars Hour on the FNTSY network, hosted by me, with Justin Mason and featuring Lord Z every Thursday night at 9 PM ET. 

Follow me @lawrmichaels.

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