Rookies are sometimes hard to pick in their first season. Some experts can pick up on the Mike Trouts of the world, but it is way easier to go after someone after they show they can perform in the majors. There are several players in my book that need to go early come draft time and these players will make a difference on your team any day of the week.
Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston Red Sox:
Middlebrooks was a force to be reckoned with in only 267 at-bats in 2012. He hit 15 home runs and drove in 54 runs in limited plate appearances. He also stole four bases and hit .288.
The 24-year-old worked out the kinks of his glove and became a pretty solid infielder, but his real flaw was the devastating strikeout. He struck out 70 times in 75 games and failed on multiple occasions to just move the runner along with less than two outs.
The young third baseman also needs to be more patient with only 13 walks and a .325 OBP. This number would jump to one of the best in the bigs if he would just draw a couple more walks each week.
If everything pans out correctly and his wrist stays healthy, then Middlebrooks should be able to put up monster numbers at Fenway Park. He could potentially be a 35-100 player if he can stay on the field.
Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels:
This one is really a no-brainer.
Mike Trout came in second for MVP voting and was a nearly unanimous pick to win Rookie of the Year. As a 21-year-old rookie, he really put on a show for most of the 2012 season. He hit .326 with 30 home runs and 83 RBI. His OBP was a staggering .399 and he stole 49 bases.
The most staggering stat was his 10.7 WAR which really helped the Angels win some guys throughout the season. He won games with his glove and bat on multiple occasions.
There is no way he can duplicate all these numbers in 2013, but he will be on the radar in the first and second rounds. He can do everything for a fantasy team and that is what makes him so valuable, especially in a keeper league.
Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore Orioles:
Machado is the lone player on this list who is still technically a rookie, but played in 51 games in 2012 and put up some pretty solid numbers.
The 20-year-old had 18 extra-base hits in 191 at-bats. He hit .262 and had an OBP of .292, so he needs to be more disciplined when it comes to pitch selection. He is the third baseman of the future for the Orioles and will likely be the full-time starter for a long time to come.
The best thing to do with the young player is to draft him in the fifth round or later and keep him stashed away as a keeper for years to come.
The upcoming season will be a tough one for the young right-handed slugger. He will have to get readjusted to the pitching style of the American League and will have to deal with all the media attention that will come if he struggles.