Rotoworld's High Impact Rookies
Jason Heyward, OF, Braves
He's off to a roaring 10-for-22 start in Grapefruit League play and has his sights set on Atlanta's Opening Day right field gig. If he cracks the Braves' initial 25-man roster it won't be to sit on the bench. The kid's going to play.
Stephen Strasburg, SP, Nationals
The young right-hander owns a power fastball that reaches into the triple-digits and a nasty slider that has enough speed and break to confuse the best major league hitters. Comb the waiver wire for him this summer unless he's available on draft day.
Scott Sizemore, 2B, Tigers
Sizemore, a fifth-round pick back in 2006, hit .308/.389/.500 last season with 17 home runs, 66 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 130 games between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo. He's ready for the big time and may find himself regularly near the top of the Tigers' batting order this year. We have him hitting .271 with 12 homers and 18 stolen bases in our award-winning Rotoworld Draft Guide.
Neftali Feliz, RP, Rangers
We're fairly certain that he's going to open the year in the bullpen as a setup man and middle reliever, but that doesn't mean the Rangers will leave him there all season. He's in the club's long-term plans as a starter and his transition to the rotation could begin by mid-summer.
Brian Matusz, SP, Orioles
Spring stats should always be taken with a grain of salt, but he's been collecting strikeouts at will in O's camp this month and we're optimistic about his chances of success in the AL East this season. The 23-year-old is going to get lit up plenty against baseball's best lineups, but he has a good head on his shoulders and happens to own a decent level of job security, which are rare qualities amongst the under-25 crowd.
Alcides Escobar, SS, Brewers
He batted .304/.333/.368 with one home run, 11 RBI and four stolen bases in 125 major league at-bats last season and .298/.353/.409 at Triple-A Nashville before his late-season call-up. Escobar isn't a big power guy, and might never be, but he's slick on the basepaths and Milwaukee will stick with him even if he struggles early on.
David Freese, 3B, Cardinals
That limits Freese's value, but he should not be written off completely. He hit .300/.369/.525 with 10 homers and 37 RBI in just 56 games at Triple-A Memphis last year and was 10-for-31 (.323) during a short stay in the majors. If La Russa and Co. let him out of his cage, Freese will warrant ownership in all NL-only leagues and even some mixed formats. The Rotoworld Draft Guide projects him to hit just under .270 this season with 17 home runs and 61 RBI.
Wade Davis, SP, Rays
Davis is immensely talented and posted a 2.72 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in nine starts last season for Triple-A Durham. He has shown a great ability to tally strikeouts in bunches during his six years of minor league ball and that should carry over eventually to his major league performance. The Rotoworld Draft Guide likes him to throw 183 2/3 innings this season with a 4.17 ERA and 180 strikeouts.
Aroldis Chapman, SP, Reds
The Cuban left-hander has already registered two impressive relief outings, but it will be interesting to see what kind of tricks he has up his sleeve as a starter. I've said it before and I'm going to say it again: The Reds are paying Chapman like a major leaguer and will not hesitate to promote him if he shows any kind of dominance in the minor league ranks. We've heard all about his triple-digit fastball and intimidating mound presence; now it's time for him to go out there and pitch. Inspiring, no?
Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants
The club clearly fell in love, and told Bumgarner as he entered spring training this year that he will have an opportunity to claim the final spot in the major league rotation. Bumgarner has been shaky in Cactus League play thus far, but his main competition is Todd Wellemeyer, who rattled off an ugly 5.89 ERA and 1.77 WHIP in 28 appearances (21 starts) last season for the Cardinals. Needless to say, we expect Bumgarner to open the year in San Francisco and to enjoy a decent level of success.
Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers
Jackson has great range in center and should be a demon on the basepaths this year in the American League Central. Batting leadoff in a lineup that boasts sluggers like Johnny Damon, Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez, Jackson could top 100 runs if only a few things go right.
Ian Desmond, SS, Nationals
Cristian Guzman is doing his best to fend the youngster off for the Nationals' starting shortstop gig, but Desmond has hit 12-for-30 this spring with a home run, 11 RBI and three stolen bases. He's clearly the better option, and Riggleman certainly knows that, but upper-management has been cautious about pushing the 24-year-old too quickly through the system. Whatever happens as March turns to April, we're sure to see Desmond in a big league uniform this season. He'll probably be a starter in the District of Columbia by early July.
Logan Morrison (1B - Marlins)
Jon Niese (SP - Mets)
Daniel Hudson (SP - White Sox)
Justin Smoak (1B - Rangers)
Mike Stanton (OF - Marlins)
Jason Castro (C - Astros)