Over the next few weeks, the Rotoworld staff will take a look at some players whose value is on the rise headed into the 2015 season. We'll break them down by division. The National League East and Central have already been taken care of. Now it’s time for the NL West ...
Corey Dickerson, OF, Rockies
Dickerson had some late-round sleeper appeal in drafts last spring, but the air was let out of the balloon when he found himself optioned to Triple-A just a week into the season. However, the outfielder was back up shortly after that and began playing so well that the Rockies had no choice but to keep him in the lineup regularly. Dickerson finished the season with a sparkling .312/.364/.567 batting line with 24 homers, 76 RBI and eight stolen bases.
He hasn’t done much against lefties so far in his career, as Dickerson sports a .236/.297/.386 batting line against them. That means he’s going to sit some versus southpaws in favor of Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes. However, he’s still a good bet to tally more plate appearances in 2015 than he did in 2014, meaning a run at 30 homers and 100 RBI could be within reach.
A.J. Pollock, OF, Diamondbacks
It’s a shame injury got in the way of Pollock putting in a full season in 2014, because he was fantastic when he was able to stay on the field. The former first-round pick was batting .316/.366/.554 with six homers, 15 RBI and eight steals over 192 plate appearances before breaking his hand in late May. Pollock was on the shelf for three months and wound up finishing the campaign with a .302/.353/.498 batting line with seven longballs and 14 stolen bases.
Pollock has never had a ton of power, as his high-water mark both in the minors and majors is eight bombs. However, he’s certainly helped out by his home park and the seven longballs over just 287 plate appearances this past season suggests there could be double-digit home run pop in his bat. Pollock is also probably a shoo-in for 20+ steals in 2015 if he can stay off the disabled list, making him an appealing option in fantasy leagues.
Dee Gordon, 2B, Dodgers
Gordon and his wheels had fantasy owners’ attention upon his arrival in the majors, but he was so weak with the bat his first few years that he never earned an everyday job over the course of a full season. So what did Dee do? He bulked up last offseason, and the result was a guy you were not longer able to simple overpower. Gordon stormed out to a .292/.344/.398 batting line with 43 stolen bases before the All-Star break, earning himself a trip to the Midsummer Classic.
He faded to a more pedestrian .284/.300/.348 line in the second half, but Gordon still finished with a league-leading 64 stolen bases while scoring 92 runs, making him a two-category dynamo. The 26-year-old might not hit .289 again, but he’s still going to run wild and is slated to again hit atop a powerful Dodgers lineup.
Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies
Dickerson wasn’t the only Rockies outfielder to delight fantasy owners this past season, as Blackmon joined him as a top-15 outfielder. No one could get the former second-round pick out early on, as he came out of the gate like gangbusters with a ridiculous .352/.385/.614 batting line to go along with nine homers, 29 RBI and eight steals over his first 38 games. He predictably cooled a bit after that but still had 10 homers and 20 stolen bases the rest of the way.
I’m a bigger believer in Dickerson’s bat, particularly from a power perspective (Blackmon never hit more than 11 homers in any season in the minors, while Dickerson had a high of 32). However, unlike Dickerson, Blackmon has shown he can handle lefties and, thus, should stay in the lineup pretty much every day. He’s also a big threat on the basepaths. It’s hard not to like this five-category threat, even if he might regress a bit in 2015.
Jesse Hahn, SP, Padres
I could have easily put Andrew Cashner or Tyson Ross in this space, but I’ll go with a guy who is a little more off the beaten path. Talent has never been lacking with Hahn, but he flew a little under the prospect radar because the Rays brought him along slowly after he had Tommy John surgery before throwing his first professional pitch. The 25-year-old made up for lost time in 2014 after a trade sent him to the Padres, as he skipped Triple-A and then went on to post a 3.07 ERA and 70/32 K/BB ratio over 73 1/3 frames with the big club.
Hahn’s fastball sits comfortably in the low-90s, but it’s his curveball that is a standout pitch. The right-hander has displayed pinpoint command at each of his pro stops and has consistently struck out around a batter per inning. The big cherry on top, of course, is that he gets to make his home starts at Petco Park. Hahn doesn’t figure to cost you a premium draft pick next spring, but he could deliver premium results.
Yusmeiro Petit, SP, Giants
Petit reached the majors at a ripe 21 years of age back in 2006 with the Marlins after posting fantastic numbers in the minors, but he’s only recently started having success at the big league level. The right-hander was used by the Giants as a swingman this past season with great results, putting up a 3.69 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and superb 133/22 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. His success continued in the postseason, as he held a 1.42 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 13/4 K/BB ratio across 12 2/3 frames.
Slated to turn 30 this weekend, Petit gets by on deception and pinpoint control rather than stuff, as his fastball struggles to crack 90 mph on a good day. He can also be homer-prone even at spacious AT&T Park given his extreme flyball tendencies. There’s probably going to be peaks and valleys with Petit, as he’s likely to have the occasional blowup outing since he relies so much on command. However, there could be some mixed league value here if he’s part of the Giants’ rotation, and as of this moment it looks like he will be.
Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers
There might not be a more intriguing prospect from a fantasy perspective than Pederson. The former 11th-round pick dominated at Triple-A in 2014, sporting a .303/.435/.582 batting line with 33 homers, 78 RBI, 30 stolen bases and 106 runs scored. It’s worth noting that he played at a launching pad in Albuquerque and was also in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. However, it was hardly anything new for Pederson, who is a career .302/.405/.524 hitter in the minors and who has averaged 24 homers and 29 steals in his three full minor league seasons.
Of course, the rub with Pederson is that he currently doesn’t have a starting job. The Dodgers, at the moment, have Carl Crawford in left field, Yasiel Puig in center and Matt Kemp in right, with Andre Ethier also still around. However, there’s no doubt that they’ll deal at least one and possible two outfielders this offseason. The club prefers to have Puig at a corner outfield spot, as they waited forever before sticking him in center this past season. Pederson is their long-term center fielder, and he’s likely to get the job sooner rather than later.
David Peralta, OF, Diamondbacks
Peralta is a fascinating guy. He gave up on pitching after two unsuccessful years in the Cardinals organization before giving the outfield a try in independent ball. He eventually caught the attention of the D’Backs, who signed him to a minor league deal in 2013. Peralta batted .349/.375/.567 that year in High-A and then .297/.359/.480 at Double-A in 2014 before Arizona decided he was ready to skip Triple-A and go to the majors. The 27-year-old held his own with a .286/.320/.450 batting line, eight homers and six steals over 88 games with the big club. Peralta is a wild card since he doesn’t have much of a track record, but he’s in a nice hitter’s park and appears to have a bit of pop and speed.
Chase Anderson, SP, Diamondbacks
Anderson wasn’t on the radar going into 2014 after putting up a 5.73 ERA at Triple-A in 2013. He wound up blowing away all expectations, though, earning a promotion after six excellent Double-A starts before holding his own in 21 outings with the big club. Anderson’s 4.01 ERA with the D’Backs wasn’t anything to write home about, but his 105/40 K/BB ratio over 114 1/3 innings is something that should have your attention. The soon-to-be 27-year-old’s fastball hovers around 90 mph, but he sports an excellent changeup that he uses to get swings and misses. Anderson has likely earned a spot in Arizona’s 2015 rotation and could have some deep league value.
Yasmani Grandal, C/1B, Padres
Grandal appeared to rush his way back from a 2013 ACL tear, as he was ready for Opening Day but couldn’t start back-to-back games for a while and wound up hitting just .210/.299/.364 in the first half. He looked to get his legs underneath him in the second half, though, improving to a .242/.356/.440 batting line which included a .291/.408/.519 line with four homers in September. Most of Grandal’s starts down the stretch came at first base, and it’s possible he could man that position going forward. It’s always appealing to have a guy with catcher eligibility who plays a different position, as it prevents plenty of wear and tear.
Joe Panik, 2B, Giants
Things got so bad for the Giants at second base last season that they even gave the artist formerly known as Dan Uggla a shot at one point. Eventually, though, they turned to Panik in late June and the former first-round pick ran away with the job. Panik provided a steady glove at the keystone and more than held his own at the dish, batting .305/.343/.368 over 73 contests. There’s not much upside with Panik, as he has very little power and didn’t steal a single base with the Giants in 2014. However, he was a career .296/.365/.403 hitter in the minors and notched double-digit steals each of his first three years on the farm.
Rymer Liriano, OF, Padres
Liriano has always oozed tools, rising steadily through the Padres’ system and rebounding from 2013 Tommy John surgery to bat .291/.362/.473 with 14 homers and 20 steals between Double- and Triple-A in 2014 to earn a promotion to the majors. The 23-year-old struggled in his first taste of the big leagues, batting just .220/.289/.266 while striking out 39 times across 121 plate appearances. Liriano might not begin next season in the majors, as it certainly can be argued more seasoning is in order. However, there’s loads of upside here, so keep him in mind even if he begins the year back at Triple-A.