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Friday, February 20, 2015

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: YASMANI GRANDAL C/1B LOS ANGELES DODGERS

2015 fantasy baseball drafts are already well underway and yours truly will once again fall back on my tried-and-true method regarding picking for value when it comes to the catcher spot.  In the Experts League where we play only one backstop, I have never reached for a top guy like a Buster Posey or earlier with Brian McCann as solid as they are.  Instead its all value when it comes to my catcher and this has led me to some huge bargain performances over the years.  While I already resigned myself to the fact I won't own Posey, McCann, Carlos Santana, and the other top names there, I can visualize the handful of guys who will make it onto my roster.  One such case is Los Angeles Dodgers catcher-eligible and now first baseman Yasmani Grandal who is setting himself up to be a fine sleeper.  The former top catching prospect for the San Diego Padres (12th overall pick back in 2010 by the Cincinnati Reds), Grandal has weathered a PED suspension when caught up in the whole Biogenesis mess to once again put himself on the map as a growing impact player at a thin catching position.  Showcasing a bat that hit for a .300 average in the minor leagues, Grandal has flipped the script as a major leaguer since he made his debut in 2012.  Instead of putting up more friendly averages, Grandal has instead tapped into his burgeoning power that resulted in 8 home runs in only 192 at-bats in his 2012 debut to go with a swell .297 average.  After a .216 wipeout which included the 50 game suspension in 2013, Grandal came back with 15 home runs in only 377 at-bats last season.  That was accompanied by an ugly .225 batting average as Grandal struck out a crazy 115 times.  Be that as it may, the Dodgers were all too happy to buy low on Grandal and have plans for him to be their everyday catcher and sometime first baseman in 2015.  So with that said let's see what a full season of Grandal could bring as the new season arrives shortly.

As we said earlier, Grandal was a guy who put himself on the map as a prospect by hitting for average on the farm.  Grandal proceeded to bat .301 in Double-A back in 2011 and followed that up with a tremendous .335 mark in 2012 at Triple-A.  Grandal struck out at a 14 percent clip in 2012 and he was at a solid enough 17 percent during his debut with the Padres that season later on.  However that number rose toward a ridiculous 26 percent mark in 2014 which accounted for the ugly batting average.  Going by his career track record, that 26 percent K rate is looking like an outlier and it suggests Grandal has much more to give when it comes to his average.  It would not be a shock to see Grandal push the average back up to around .260 or even .270 this season as he gains more experience against major league pitching.  Going nicely with the average is the power which has been very impressive.  At 26 years old, Grandal is now reaching his power heights which makes his 15 home run output last season not much of a shock.  Grandal is simply following the physical growth that most hitters have as they develop and age and that means a run at 20 home runs in a full season is very likely.  When you combine the 15-20 home runs with around 65 RBI and a .260 average all for the price of a late round pick, the value is looking swell.

When you put it all together, Yasmani Grandal is a terrific option for those of us who wait on drafting their catcher.  The upside is sizable and the bat is increasingly looking legit.  Take advantage of the discount and enjoy the top 5-7 output among all catchers this season.

2015 PROJECTION:  .263 19 HR 65 RBI 56 R 2 SB

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