Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2013: Rookies Worth a Late-Round Draft Pick

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2013

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 19:  Trevor Rosenthal #64 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches in the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants in Game Five of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium on October 19, 2012 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Betting on rookies in fantasy baseball is a dangerous proposition that can make you look like the smartest person in the world or like you have never managed a roster in your life. 

The crop of 2013 rookies certainly looks strong on paper, though we have no idea if teams are going to give them a chance to start the season in the big leagues. Call-ups can completely reshape the way we view a rookie class. 

Last year at this time, no one was talking about Bryce Harper being in Washington by the end of the season. At the end of April he gets called up and then wins National League Rookie of the Year. 

As you are filling out your draft boards right now, wondering what to do in the back half of the draft, make sure to keep these rookies in mind. 


St. Louis Cardinals P Trevor Rosenthal

Rosenthal is already on the radar after a huge September and then in the postseason with the Cardinals. He finished the regular season with 25 strikeouts and just 14 hits allowed in 22.2 innings pitched. The postseason was even better, as he posted 15 strikeouts in 8.2 innings. 

I will throw out the caveat of small sample sizes when trying to properly evaluate how good Rosenthal will be in 2013.

However, one big reason to love Rosenthal this season is because of his potential versatility. The Cardinals can put him back in the bullpen and know that he will be dominant because his stuff is so good. His fastball sits in the high 90s in relief and a knee-buckling curveball. 

However, the best role for Rosenthal is in the rotation. He will lose a little off the fastball just to pace himself, but everything about him suggests he can start. His delivery is easy and fluid. He has two plus pitches already, with a still-developing changeup that will determine his ceiling. 

If the Cardinals let Rosenthal throw 150-160 innings, he could post an ERA around 3.50 with 140 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.10. If he has to go back into the bullpen, he could end up taking over the closer's role if Jason Motte struggles. 


Tampa Bay Rays OF Wil Myers

Myers, along with Eric Hosmer, was supposed to be the face of the Kansas City Royals. For reasons known only to the front office, they decided to ship their best prospect to Tampa Bay for a solid starter and a good reliever. 

The Rays get exactly what they need in Myers: A potential middle-of-the-order bat with no service time that is ready to start in the big leagues right now. 

Betting on rookies is all about finding playing time. We know the Rays are going to stick with Myers, through good times and bad, because he is a big part of their future and they have no one better in the system to take his spot. 

While it will take Myers time to develop into the star that everyone believes he can be, he could easily hit .260 with 20-25 home runs with 500 at-bats in 2013.

His power numbers spiked in the minors last season with 37 home runs across two levels and that was really the last piece of the puzzle for him to become an elite prospect. 


Cleveland Indians SP Trevor Bauer

The Indians' biggest need this offseason was starting pitching. They needed more than one arm to plug into the rotation, but in Bauer they got the potential top-of-the-rotation starter they have lacked since trading Cliff Lee in 2009. 

Bauer's brief big-league debut with Arizona last season did not go as well as anyone hoped. He struggled with his command and sequencing in 16.1 innings before being sent down to Triple-A. 

However, and this is extremely important to remember, Bauer is just 22 years old. He is less than two years removed from being the No. 3 pick in the draft. For all the problems he had with Arizona last season, the stuff is still there. 

The Indians do need to get Bauer to focus on pitching and less throwing, because he looked like he was trying to strike everyone out. 

If this makes it sound like I am down on Bauer, I'm not. He might end up starting the season in Triple-A, just to get some more seasoning and work on a few things, but with the Indians desperate for pitching, it won't take long for him to get the call.