Got a draft coming up? Don’t forget about these guys as all of them have the skills and abilities to be solid contributors at the big league level and on your fantasy baseball team. Every player isn’t guaranteed playing time, but if these players do what they’ve done in the past with the bat you have to think they will receive enough playing time to be valuable.
Chris Nelson, 3B, Colorado Rockies
Lost in the tumultuous Rockies season was the tremendous second half performance by Nelson, who was one of the better players on that team and will look to continue building on that performance. People forget that Nelson was a top prospect coming up, as he was selected 9th overall in the 2004 MLB amateur draft. Nelson took longer than most prospects to reach the major league level, but he’s definitely locked into the Rockies lineup now.
2012 first half: 18 R, 5 HR, 23 RBI, .255 AVG, 1 SB.
2012 second half: 27 R, 4 HR, 30 RBI, .344 AVG, 1 SB.
Nelson is a player you can get very late in drafts and could be a tremendous value if he can perform more like he did in the second half of the 2012 baseball season.
Alejandro De Aza, OF, Chicago White Sox
De Aza is a great story, a minor league journeyman who stuck it out for eight years across several different levels but finally cracked the White Sox roster in the 2011 season. He brings skills that many teams could use with his speed, fielding ability and work ethic. In 54 games during the 2011 season, De Aza impressed the White Sox front office with a .329 batting average, 12 stolen bases and a great plate discipline (only 34 strikeouts in 154 at bats). You could do worse than De Aza in drafts, as he is a player that will pretty much guarantee 20-plus stolen bases, a batting average above .280, plus some home runs and plenty of runs scored.
2012 season: 81 R, 9 HR, 50 RBI, .281 AVG, 26 SB.
Jordan Pacheco, C/1B/3B, Colorado Rockies
Pacheco is an incredibly versatile player that should find a way into the Rockies line-up regularly. He can play catcher, first base and third base right now, which is incredibly valuable to the Rockies. Pacheco is a bit of a late bloomer, but he actually had a very successful rookie season in 2012 for Colorado. No, he’s not Bryce Harper or Yoenis Cespedes, but there’s plenty to like with the bat. Todd Helton is not getting any younger either and don’t be surprised to see Pacheco play first. All it takes is one injury and Pacheco is in the line-up full-time. For keeper league owners, Helton’s contract expires at the end of the 2013 season and that could do wonders for Pacheco.
2012 season: 51 R, 5 HR, 54 RBI, .309 AVG, 7 SB.
Pete Kozma, SS, St. Louis Cardinals
Its easy for players to be overlooked in such a deep farm system and very few people knew who Kozma was when he got called up to replace Rafael Furcal towards the end of the 2012 season. It's funny how people forgot about him because he was the Cardinals first round pick in the 2003 MLB amateur draft. He’s only 24 years old and is looking to become the regular at shortstop for the Cardinals in the future. Rafael Furcal only has one year left on his contract and with his injury history; I don’t see the Cardinals re-signing him. This is Kozma’s chance to prove he can be the next shortstop for the Cardinals. As you can see below, Kozma did a pretty nice job in the playoffs and towards the end of the regular season for St. Louis.
2012 season: 11 R, 2 HR, 14 RBI, .333 AVG, 2 SB
2012 playoffs: 8 R, 1 HR, 7 RBI, .214 AVG, 1 SB.
He might be small in stature, but Kozma has some pop in his bat as evidenced by this towering home run against the Astros. Just click the video tab and have a look at Kozma’s moonshot.
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