With pitchers and catchers set to report to camp less than three weeks away and the football season winding down, baseball begins to re-enter many of the sports fans minds throughout the country. As baseball returns to us so does fantasy baseball and with it comes “Sleepers” that may not rate very high on some fantasy baseball rankings, but can catapult your team from 3rd in the division to your league championship. Due to the lack of television coverage of both collegiate and minor league baseball many top rookie players come into new seasons as “Sleepers”. This piece should lend some assistance with that, highlighting the top 5 rookie second basemen who should be noticed when it’s time for fantasy baseball drafts to begin.
Top 5 Rookie Second Basemen
1. Chris Getz – Chicago White Sox
2. Matt Antonelli – San Diego Padres
3. Matt Macri – Minnesota Twins
4. Luis Valbuena – Cleveland Indians
5. Luis Cruz – Pittsburgh Pirates
#1 Rookie Second Basemen – Fantasy Baseball 2009: Chris Getz, Chicago White Sox
Chris Getz is a major league ready, set to start on opening day, rookie second baseman for the Chicago White Sox. Currently this left-handed hitting, righty throwing rook is listed at the top of Chicago’s depth chart at the second base position. In 10 games last season with the big league club, Getz went 2-7 with an RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base. While in a much larger body of work during ’08 (111 games) with the Sox triple-A affiliate Charlotte Knights, Getz hit an impressive .302 with 122 hits, 11 homeruns, 24 doubles, a triple, 52 RBI, 60 runs scored, 41 base-on balls and 11 stolen bases.
Chris Getz hits for contact extremely well, not so much in the power department however, he has good speed on the base paths and should be a productive player in his rookie season.
2009 Prediction for Chris Getz: .270 average, 12 HR, 61 RBI, 66 runs, 23 doubles, 20 stolen bases, 51 base-on balls in 121 games.
#2 Rookie Second Basemen – Fantasy Baseball 2009: Matt Antonelli, San Diego Padres
Matt Antonelli is a pretty good all-around baseball player; the rookie second baseman is a solid hitter, who shows some pop and has a superb eye at the dish. In 21 games with the San Diego Padres in 2008, Antonelli recorded 11 hits in 57 at-bats with his first major league homer, three runs batted-in, two doubles, five walks and six runs scored. In 128 games of action with Padres triple-A affiliate, the Portland Beavers, Antonelli only hit .215 with just 97 hits in 451 at-bats, including seven homeruns, 19 doubles and four triples. He also drove in 39 runs and scored 62 times, but his most impressive stat was the 76 base-on balls that he drew.
In 2007, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus named Matt Antonelli the best second basemen prospect in the minor league. His well discipline game and patience at the plate should translate into good things for Antonelli, eventually, on the major league level.
2009 Prediction for Matt Antonelli: .253 average, 9 homeruns, 42 RBI, 43 runs, 19 doubles, 10 stolen bases and 55 base-on balls in 85 games.
#3 Rookie Second Basemen – Fantasy Baseball 2009: Matt Macri, Minnesota Twins
Matt Macri is a highly touted, rookie infielder who plays second base as well as third, who possesses light-tower power and a good glove to go along with it. This right handed-hitting and throwing rookie second baseman played in 18 games with the Minnesota Twins last season and racked up 11 hits in 34 at-bats including his first big league, big fly and a double with four runs batted-in , two walks, a steal and three runs scored. In 89 games with the Twins triple-A club, the Rochester Red Wings, Macri hit .259 with 81 hits, 11 homeruns, 48 RBI, 24 doubles, four triples, 26 base-on balls and 35 runs scored.
Of Matt Macri’s total 81 hits, 39 were of the extra base variety, which shows off his tremendous power swing and ability to drive the ball deep. With the lack of heavy hitters in Minnesota, it is very likely that Macri will display his ability to hit the long ball with the Twins this season.
2009 Prediction for Matt Macri: .249 average, 17 HR, 57 RBI, 41 runs, 23 doubles, 4 stolen bases and 40 base-on balls in 97 games.
#4 Rookie Second Basemen – Fantasy Baseball 2009: Luis Valbuena, Cleveland Indians
Luis Valbuena is the rookie second baseman who was acquired by the Cleveland Indians on December 10, 2008, in a three-team deal with the Seattle Mariners and New York Mets involving J.J. Putz, Franklin Guiterrez and six other players. Valbuena demonstrated very good hitting and defensive tools in the minors; Scout.com even referred to him as “an unpolished Carlos Baerga. With the Mariners last season in 18 games, Valbuena recorded 12 hits in 49 at-bats with two doubles, one run batted-in, four walks and six runs scored. With the Mariners triple-A team, the Tacoma Rainers, Valbuena hit for a remarkable .303 in 128 games. In 452 at-bats Luis Valbuena put up 137 hits with 11 homeruns, 21 doubles, 2 triples, 60 RBI, 59 base-on balls, 18 stolen bases and scored 84 times.
Valbuena is a fine hitter, with terrific speed despite his stocky build and has a decent glove; however this probably won’t become evident in the majors until mid-season, he’ll probably begin the ’09 campaign in triple-A.
2009 Prediction for Luis Valbuena: .295 average, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 29 runs, 10 doubles, 10 stolen bases and 20 base-on balls in 50 games.
#5 Rookie Second Basemen – Fantasy Baseball 2009: Luis Cruz, Pittsburgh Pirates
Luis Cruz is a very talented, versatile rookie second baseman who should get a decent amount of playing time in 2009 for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In ’08, Cruz appeared in 22 games with the Pirates recording 15 hits in 67 at-bats along with six runs scored, three runs batted-in, three doubles, three walks and a stolen base. Cruz also split time last season between the Pirates double-A (Altoona Curve) and triple-A (Indianapolis Indians) affiliates where he combined for a .279 batting average with 138 hits in 494 at-bats. Cruz also hit nine homers with 61 RBI, 34 doubles, a triple, 22 base-on balls and five steals.
Luis Cruz has a good approach at the plate and excellent speed in the field, if given the opportunity he should make some noise for the Pirates in 2009.
Don’t get me wrong, none of these guys will put up Jeff Kent-type numbers in 2009 and might not ever throughout their careers, but if you’re looking for the top 5 rookie second basemen for the ’09 season and a fantasy draft, there you have them, this is the cream of the crop.