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2023 fantasy baseball: Which young players are set to break out this season?

Fantasy managers are extremely impatient in all sports. You might think that the fantasy baseball community would have learned that one day’s box scores tell us nothing and that even the best prospects can take years to develop, but, well… no. Baseball managers are, generally speaking, as impatient as everyone else. Most of us are ready to kick any player to the curb after back-to-back 0-for-4s.

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But this is clearly a disastrous way to approach the game. Player development takes time and, for most, it also requires some degree of failure. If your expectation for every young prospect is for them to be instant and overwhelming success, then almost everyone is going to let you down. Today, we’re highlighting seven emerging players, each of which has a clear opportunity for a major price jump in 2023.

What would it mean to have a list of breakout candidates that doesn’t include Cruise? He struck out at an abysmal rate as a 23-year-old rookie (34.9 K%), but he also showed off his equally abysmal 30/30 rebound. Cruz is a shortstop built like a power forward (6-foot-7, 220), and he hits missiles when he makes contact:

He slashed .233/.294/.450 with 17 bombs and 10 steals in 87 games for the Bucs last year, scoring 54 runs. In a full season, Cruz has certainly been able to feast on the four standard hitting categories. If he can keep his average in the .245 – .255 range, he could offer second round fantasy value.

When May is walking, her stuff is dirtiest:

He has now been almost two full years out from Tommy John surgery and is no longer in rehab mode. His spring has been excellent and he certainly seems ready to pick up where he left off in 2021 after he opened the season in spectacular fashion (23 IP, 35 KS, 0.96 WHIP). It’s not hard to see ace potential in May, so he deserves access to a small (or large) draft.

Green’s arsenal is almost unfair. He can top 102 mph with his fastball and he features a wicked slider, a pitch he threw 40.9 percent of last season:

Perhaps the most promising note we can give you on Green is this: He was nearly flawless in his sixes after the break last season, allowing just four earned runs, one homer and eight walks in 35.1 innings while striking out 51 batters. If we get 150 innings from Green this year, he can score more than 200 runs.

why yes we do Doing We want to continue to push Abrams whenever we can. At 22, he certainly isn’t a finished product, but he has excellent pace and will likely bat in the Nationals’ lineup to start the season. Abrams stole 42 bags in 114 minor league games while maintaining excellent OBP (.385 career) and the occasional pop. If he can only develop into a league-average hitter, he can certainly swipe over 50 bases in his best years. Consider him a category specialist worth hiding late in your draft.

If Cabrera can stay healthy (which is not a small If), he may be a star. His arsenal is outstanding and he has already tasted big league success, going 6-4 with a 3.01 ERA and 9.4K/9 last year. Cabrera is a priority target for anyone starting pitching in the opening round. He is a potential difference-maker at a low-risk draft value. You won’t find many pitchers with high ceilings in his ADP neighborhood (225-245).

Spencer Torkelson and Riley Green, 1B and OF, Detroit Tigers

We won’t try to convince you that Torkelson was secretly good last year, because, um… he was a mess. But he had little luck with the ball-in-play (.255 BABIP) and displayed serious power in the minors (35 HR, .514 SLG in 156 games). There’s a reason why he was a top-five prospect entering 2022. Plus, for what it’s worth, he was a renowned collegiate hitter at Arizona State, slashing a ridiculous .337/.463/.729 in his three seasons. He’s a good bet for recovery.

Both he and Green (and various other Tigers) should benefit from the new park dimensions in Detroit. Like Torkelson, Green was widely considered an elite prospect entering 2022, with excellent on-base skills (.372 career OBP in the minors) and clear 20/20 upside. He’s not the sort we should be giving up on at 21 after a relatively quiet debut season.

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