Chad and I go back to playing Varsity Baseball. The guy dedicates his life to following Baseball and Fantasy Baseball, and he knows the minor league players like the back of his hand. Take note and don’t sleep on this guy when it comes to those bold predictions. He was a part-time writer for BEAST DOME back in the 2012 season under the wunderchad



By Chad Kaplan

Most dedicated fantasy players knew who Kyle Schwarber was before his June call-up last season. He was a top prospect with an exciting bat. But he only had 311 minor league at-bats coming into 2015, and was by all accounts a terrible catcher, so the prevailing assumption was that he would spend most, if not all, of 2016 in AA working on his defense behind the plate and getting more at-bats. But as we know, injuries to Miguel Montero and Jorge Soler, along with Schwarber crushing AA pitching, led the Cubs to give him a shot as a part-time catcher, part-time outfielder, and interleague DH. Schwarber made the most of this opportunity and showed his power translated to the big league level, much to the delight of fantasy owners everywhere. He now enters 2016 as the clear number 2 fantasy catcher (behind Buster Posey).

So this article is about identifying the next Kyle Schwarber. I’m not going to waste your time talking about Corey Seager, Byron Buxton, Tyler Glasnow, or Lucas Giolito, rookies everyone expects big things from in 2016. Instead, I’ll be identifying three under-the-radar guys to monitor. Guys whom you probably won’t get much of a fight over when they get called up to the majors this season, but whom I expect to provide significant fantasy value this season when they do.


After Houston non-tendered Chris Carter this winter, first base is wide open. It’s expected that Jon Singleton will begin the season as the starter, but I don’t expect that to last long the way Reed hit last season and how he looks this spring. Across two levels in 2015, Reed hit .340/.432/.612 with 30 homers. The one concern the Astros had with him coming into the spring was his weight and by association his defense. But Reed showed up for spring having lost a significant amount of weight and has made several highlight-reel-worthy plays in the field already. With Singleton struggling in each of his last two stints in the majors, expect Reed to get the call if Singleton gets off to a slow start. And even if he doesn’t, expect Reed to be up before June 1st and immediately contribute to your home run total.

Jorge Alfaro – C – PHI

Among Phillies prospects, J.P. Crawford gets all the buzz. So many of your opponents might go “Who?” when you pick up Alfaro later this season. At catcher right now, the Phillies have Carlos Ruiz, who isn’t a good player anymore, and Cameron Rupp, who will never be. At some point, one or both will either be hurt, traded, or otherwise useless, and Alfaro will get the call to show off the power that made the Phillies insist on him as part of the Cole Hamels trade. An ankle injury limited his production last year and eventually ended his season prematurely, so take last season’s numbers with a grain of salt. This is a catcher with 20-home run power if given an everyday job, especially since he’ll be playing half his games at Citizens Bank Park which favors right-handed power.

Robert Stephenson – SP – CIN

Cincinnati’s top prospect added a devastating new pitch to his repertoire last season: a change-up/splitter hybrid that baffled AAA hitters. This, combined with a mid-90s fastball and a very sharp curveball, allowed Stephenson to put up a very impressive 3.35 FIP in 2015. His at-times shaky command is all that’s keeping Stephenson from being a star. He’s the rare pitcher with the body of a workhorse and the electric stuff to be a strikeout-per-inning guy very soon. He’ll being the season in AAA, but will likely be the first man called upon if any of the Reds’ starters gets injured. And once he’s up, it’s tough to see him ever giving back the spot.




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