Ryan O’Hearn – Royals | First Base, 329th
O’Hearn gives me a bit of a Matt Olson vibe after a tremendous 44-game sample in the majors last year during which he hit .262/.353/.597 with 12 HR in 170 PA. It’s not a perfect comp as Olson was off the charts in a 53-game run back in 2017 (.259/.352/.651, 24!! HR in 216 PA), but O’Hearn also won’t cost what Olson did after his second half debut. Olson went 124th on average and peaked as high as 71st while O’Hearn has peaked at 268th and probably won’t push into the top 200 even with a surge.
If you liked the full price version of this profile last year, you should love the bargain bin iteration this year. Honestly, I love both. Olson is still pricey, going around 107th in a weak 1B market, but I’d be down to buy him for 1B and then slot O’Hearn in my CI slot several rounds later.
Jimmy Nelson – Brewers | 275th
I’ve already expressed my interest in Nelson in article and podcast form (well, multiple podcasts). Missing all of 2018 has definitely depressed his price and it will jump up with a healthy Spring Training, but like O’Hearn I don’t think it’ll ever get to a level where I wouldn’t still be interested in buying. Let’s say he looked incredible in a handful of spring starts and rose 100 picks, that’d put him around 175 which would have him around Nathan Eovaldi and Dallas Keuchel. I have Nelson ranked higher than Keuchel so I’d have no problem with this. I doubt his draft price will jump that much anyway as any surge will likely still keep him outside the top 200.
Trevor May – Twins | 266th
The signing of Blake Parker does cut into May’s chances of becoming the lockdown closer for the Twins, but I’m still willing to draft him. The 29-year old righty missed all of 2017 with Tommy John Surgery. He returned in late-2018 and put together a fantastic 25 innings of work with a 3.20 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 30% K-BB rate (powered by a 35% K rate).
He has increased his swinging strike rate every year in the majors, peaking with last year’s 15% mark. His velocity was all the way back in his 2018 sample, too, setting a new high at 94.1 mph. With this kind of swing-and-miss, he has the kind of profile worth drafting even if isn’t getting all the saves. Seven of his 24 outings went over an inning last year and he could feasibly push over 80 innings and log 100 strikeouts in the process. If he’s named closer over Parker, we’ll monitor the price this spring.
Jackie Bradley Jr. – Red Sox | 224th
JBJ is one of those guys I love watching and it can cause me to overdraft in him fantasy, especially because his primary value comes from defense. Things went great in 2016 when I bought on his short 2015 sample (123 wRC+) and got rewarded with a full season of 118 wRC+, 26 HR, and 9 SB, but he’s had just a 90 wRC+, 30 HR, and 25 SB in 1076 PA since then. That aforementioned defense should give Bradley at least 500 PA. I’d like to see the Red Sox allow him to run more, too. He was tremendous on the bases last year, going 17-for-18 and he’s 47-for-53 over his career. Jason Collette really likes JBJ for 2019, too.
Willians Astudillo – Twins | Catcher, 250th ADP
It’s hard not to love Astudillo and I’m hardly alone, but the cult following around the portly utilityman hasn’t surged his fantasy price. Of course, that probably has to do with the fact that he appears ticketed for Triple-A to start the season. Jason Castro is slotted in at starter and Mitch Garver will handle the backup duties (though they could be more of a 55/45 split).
Astudillo played 3B, 2B, CF, and LF with the Twins last year so he could be a strong bench bat who bounces around the diamond. His minor league track record says he an empty batting average (.103 career ISO), but he popped a .193 ISO at Triple-A last year and a passable .161 in his 97 MLB PA. Let’s see if he can finagle a bench spot with the club and if so, he’s an ideal C2, but if he is slated for Triple-A to start 2019, it’s a likely pass until he gets called up.
Who’s your favorite of this quintet? Who’s your favorite outside the 200 at large? (ADP is here, make sure to set to 12/25/2018 as the start date to match the output I was using)