Baseball season is underway! You likely want to settle in and see how the fantasy baseball team you drafted performs the first month before making a knee-jerk reaction to change it, but it never hurts to stay on top of things and get ready for some inevitable changes to improve your squad. Here are five hitters to keep an eye on before your league mates get a bead on them.
Moran was a solid Marlins/Astros prospect but fizzled due to some unrealized power potential in his first five minor-league seasons. A major swing plane adjustment transformed him into a Triple-A masher in 2017 (.308/.373/.543; .390 wOBA and 13 wRC+ in 338 plate appearances) and his move to Pittsburgh was overshadowed as he was a “lesser” piece in the Joe Musgrove-Gerrit Cole deal. Well, the Pirates are a streaky bunch and they are desperate for a 3B who can field the position. He should keep the job in 2018 and finish in the Top 25 among 3B.
He didn’t arrive with too much fanfare last season, but Nimmo was surprisingly effective as a leadoff hitter (.318/.434/.477 in 54 plate appearances in the 1-hole in 2017) and he finished with a .379 OBP in 69 games for the “Amazins.” A capable batting eye will come in handy in OBP leagues and while 20 homers is likely out of reach, 15 HR/10 SB season with plenty of built-in scoring opportunities makes him viable in just about any format. When Michael Conforto comes back, he may be more restricted to a bench role, but if we’ve learned anything from the first few games of 2018, it’s that players can get injured.
Lowrie’s 2018 production comes down to one thing – staying on the field. He’ll be 34 years old on April 17 but he’s very capable of 10 HR, 60 runs and RBI, and a slash north of .260/.335/.400. He had a monster 2017 campaign (.347 wOBA, 119 wRC+) and this lineup hasn’t lost any of its potency. If he can get to 130 games, he’s going to help your team, especially with walks and doubles, and be worth the addition to your crew. One of Lowrie’s strengths is his versatility, and his balanced splits help him stay in the lineup, if he’s not on the M*A*S*H report.
Delmonico was a fun player to roster in DFS last season, and made a great component in White Sox stacks along with Matt Davidson, Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu. His numbers in the 43 games he played for Chicago showed he can be an offensive force of his own (.369 wOBA, 132 wRC+ in 166 PA). He was never considered a top prospect (for the Orioles, Brewers or in the Windy City), but his dad coached for the University of Tennessee, where he was a bat boy. So the lefty slugger-in-the-making has been around the game, and that kind of pedigree is always a plus – even if it’s an intangible. Current projections have him in a platoon, but he did hit a couple homers against left-handers last season in just 31 AB, and he’s still off most people’s radar in deeper leagues.
Might as well throw in a guy with power upside at a thin position, right? Alfaro is the third-best prospect in the Phillies’ system, but he’s getting chances right away in 2018 and could easily be a Top 15 fantasy catcher if he shows even modest development of his tools this season. It helps that he’s a solid defensive catcher. He’s already posted a .291/.338/.457 slash in 136 major-league plate appearances, and he’s got the requisite power to hit 15-20 homers for Philly. Expect improvement on his raw skills and some regression in BA and BABIP (an unsustainable .410 thus far in the bigs) – but make sure Alfaro is owned in NL-only leagues and on your radar for shallower formats.