Other than boasting one of the elite aces of Fantasy Baseball in Zack Greinke, the Royals have another significant thing working in their favor: opportunity. It makes for a lot of question marks, but if you're patient, you could score some Draft Day steals as the cream rises to the top.
The Royals figure to have some interesting position battles at second base (Chris Getz vs. Alberto Callaspo), third base (Alex Gordon and Josh D. Fields) and shortstop (Yuniesky Betancourt and Mike Aviles). We project last year's incumbents to win the battles at this point, but even the losers figure to hold decent value in AL-only leagues on Draft Day.
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Greinke, closer Joakim Soria and the emergence of the following breakout candidate are the only real sure things on the board from Kansas City. However, it will be interesting to watch how things might play out.
Breakout: Billy Butler, 1B
Butler will be on the board for awhile at the very deep first base position, but he could be due for a serious breakthrough and crack the elite status -- like Pablo Sandoval did a year ago. Butler's 2009 line of a .301 average, 21 homers, 93 RBI, 78 runs (.362 on-base percentage and .492 slugging percentage) is very good, but not quite great for his position. His second-half suggests he is ready to slug with anyone in baseball, though. Butler went .314-13-55-41 (.385-.540) after the break for a Royals team that plays in a big ballpark and doesn't offer much of anything in the way of lineup protection. If you liked the value of Kung Fu Panda a year ago, Butler could be the next to make that significant step to the Fantasy elite.
Bust: Scott Podsednik, OF
We didn't have the guts to project, or even hint at Greinke suffering a Cy Young hangover, so Podsednik is the pick for the Royals' bust. He enjoyed a renaissance with the White Sox last season and earned a free-agent contract with the Royals, who are slotting him as their regular left fielder to start the season. Assuming Jose Guillen, Rick Ankiel and David DeJesus all stay healthy -- and Fields challenges for at-bats like we believe he can -- Podsednik might not stay a regular for long. There has to be a reason Podsednik was off so many Fantasy radars for years. Heading to Fantasy purgatory in Kansas City doesn't figure to do him any favors.
Sleeper: Alex Gordon, 3B
This is blind stubborness on our part. We cannot give up on the one-time elite third base prospect. It is very easy to forget Gordon was once more highly regarded in scouting circles than the likes of former third baseman Ryan J. Braun and currently elite Fantasy third baseman Evan Longoria. Gordon was plagued by a hip issue last season and should be far more healthy this season. Also, he figures to get a push from the equally disappointing Fields in spring training. Gordon is just now entering his prime at age 26 and could finally breakthrough as a must-have Fantasy third baseman. He might not even get drafted in many standard Head-to-Head leagues.
| ||Pos.|| |
|1||Scott Podsednik||LF||1||Zack Greinke||RH|
|2||David DeJesus||RF||2||Gil Meche||RH|
|3||Billy Butler||1B||3||Kyle Davies||RH|
|4||Jose Guillen||DH||4||Brian Bannister||RH|
|5||Rick Ankiel||CF||5||Luke Hochevar||RH|
|6||Alberto Callaspo/Chris Getz||2B||Alt||Robinson Tejeda||RH|
|7||Alex Gordon||3B||Top bullpen arms|
|8||Yuniesky Betancourt/Mike Aviles||SS||CL||Joakim Soria||RH|
|9||Jason Kendall||C||SU||Juan Cruz||RH|
|Top bench options||RP||Kyle Farnsworth||RH|
|R||Josh D. Fields||3B||RP||Matt Herges||RH|
|R||Willie Bloomquist||UTL||RP||Roman Colon||RH|
|1||Aaron Crow||23||RH SP||Independent League||High Class A|
|He spurned the Nats and spent a year in the Independent League, a La Hochevar, but he could come quickly.|
|2||Michael Montgomery||20||LH SP||High Class A||Double-A|
|His age and the Royals' patience could keep him down in the minors, but he should be fun to watch in 2010.|
|3||Mike Moustakas||21||3B||High Class A||Double-A|
|If Gordon falters again, the Royals might be inclined to consider Moustakas their third baseman of the future.|
|4||Eric Hosmer||20||1B||High Class A||High Class A|
|The 2008 first-round pick progressed to high Class A last season, but he still figures to need a full year there.|
|5||Tim Melville||20||RH SP||Low Class A||High Class A|
|Once projected to be a first-round pick, Melville restored his prospect status with a solid pro debut season.|
|Best of the rest: Wil Myers, C; John Lamb, SP; Daniel Duffy, SP; Chris Dwyer, SP; David Lough, OF; Kila Ka'aihue, 1B; Jeff Bianchi, SS; Carlos Rosa, RP; Johnny Giavotella, 2B; Tyler Sample, SP; Blake Wood, SP; Sam Runion, SP; John Bannister, RP; Adrian Ortiz, OF; Luis Coleman, SP; Juan Abreu, RP; Dusty Hughes, SP; Keaton Hayenga, SP; Carlos Fortuna, SP; Kelvin Herrera, SP; Henry Barrera, RP; Derrick Robinson, OF; Jose Bonilla, C; Salvador Perez, C; Gilbert De La Vara, RP; Yowill Espinal, SS; Jason Taylor, 1B; Joe Dickerson, OF; Matt Mitchell, SP; and Geulin Beltre, OF.|
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