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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: JEREMY HAZELBAKER OUTFIELDER ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

More often then not, we find more than a few cases of previously unknown fantasy baseball hitters or pitchers who come out of nowhere with a hot first week or two and who then become highly sought after adds in respective leagues.  9 out of 10 times, these players fade back into oblivion like when Gabe Kapler first came up and had a big first week or Chris Shelton and his monster April.  The early 2016 fantasy baseball season has brought a few such potential cases and we are not talking about highly regarded prospects like Trevor Story.  Instead we are talking about someone like Jeremy Hazelbaker who finally made an Opening Day roster at the advanced age of 28 for the Cardinals this season and so far has taken advantage of some early playing opportunities to hit .526 with 2 home runs and 2 stolen bases in 23 at-bats.  That includes a 4-for-4 day that Hazelbaker put up Monday afternoon for the Cards which got the hype meter moving upwards again.  So what is going on here?  How legit is what we are seeing out of Hazelbaker and is he worth our time?

Well the first issue here that is in Hazelbaker's favor is that he is St. Louis property and we all know how high the success rate is of players coming out of their system.  And while Hazelbaker is clearly a late bloomer given his age, what he is doing early on is a continuation of a big spring where he hit .304 with 3 home runs and 4 stolen bases.  Those are obviously very attractive power/speed/average tools but again a small sample size.  It has been a rough journey for Hazelbaker after he was originally a fourth round pick of the Boston Red Sox and then went through some truly awful years in the minors that got him released outright.  The Cards gave him another shot though and had to be surprised to see him hit .300 or better both at Double-A and Triple-A with 13 home runs and 18 steals.  Again Hazelbaker is showing some very appealing power/speed ability and that alone makes him one to check out.  There is a lot of crowding in the outfield and first base spots for the Cards though as Stephen Piscotty, Matt Holliday, Randal Grichuk, Matt Adams, and eventually Tommy Pham are all involved.  That means Hazelbaker has to continue hitting in order to keep playing but so far, so good there.  Right now the best course of action is to ignore the age and decent possibility Hazelbaker will turn back into the Quad-A player he had previously shown and instead enjoy this run however long it may last.  After all we don't see guys who can hit for average, power, and speed head down the pike all that often. 

 

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