Back in November I discussed bargain shopping in Houston and how there are still a few hidden gems that would make for strong selections at the tail end of your draft. Well, today, we’re going to look at another perennial cellar-dwelling team and see what kind of fantasy gold can be found. Funny thing, though, is that these Royals — these, more often than not, punching bags of the AL — are looking pretty darn good lately and there’s going to be quite the battle to obtain a number of their players’ services in fantasy drafts this year.
Now obviously, there are key names like Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Joakim Soria and even Mike Moustakas who will be strongly coveted in drafts this year. But, for the first time in what seems like forever to my colleague Jeff Zimmerman (known Royals addict), the Royals are actually loaded up with fantasy help beyond a small handful of players. Here’s a look at some decent late round options you might have before you come draft day.
Johnny Giavotella, 2B — While technically he is competing with Chris Getz and…hold your laughter until the end…Yuniesky Betancourt for the starting gig, most agree that the job is basically his to lose. Manager Ned Yost is a big fan and so long as he [Giavotella] continues to hustle and out-perform those two tomato cans, then he should get the nod and hit out of the 2-hole this season. He doesn’t have a whole lot of pop in his bat but he’s displayed strong on-base skills in the minors, good plate discipline and the potential for double-digit steals back in the minors. Think of him as a poor man’s Dustin Ackley and grab him late to fill any middle infield holes you may have.
Lorenzo Cain, OF — For those that don’t remember, Cain was a key piece that came back to K.C. in the Zack Greinke trade. At 26 years old, he’s been around for some time now, but had been unable to crack the Brewers Opening Day lineup, mostly due to his somewhat disturbing minor league K-rate. His walk rate helped his OBP numbers, but when you’re striking out 23% of the time in Double-A, there needs to be a change before advancement is a possibility. Fortunately, he’s made the adjustments and kept his K% under 19% for the last two seasons. If he beats out Mitch Maier and Jarrod Dyson for the starting center field job, which he should, then he could be a great late round flier in AL-only leagues and as a good plug and play candidate in deeper mixed leagues. He should have a decent average, double digit steals, and maybe even good runs scored if he can graduate form the 8-hole in the order.
Salvador Perez, C — The Royals love this guy so much that they just handed him a 5 year, $26.75M contract. If you can disregard some power at the position and need a boost in batting average, he’s going to be a great option. Think of him as a younger version of Yadier Molina. For a little more detail, check out this post I wrote on him back in December.
Luis Mendoza, SP — Talk about not even on the radar…Mendoza doesn’t even show up on a 525 player deep ADP report. Here’s a guy who bounced around a few organizations and looked pretty terrible, but not only landed in Kansas City, but thrived for the first time in his professional career. While in Triple-A Omaha, Mendoza spent a substantial amount of time with pitching coach Doug Henry who completely revamped his mechanics. The results were incredibly positive as Mendoza went on the be the best pitcher in the hitter-friendly PCL last year, posting an ERA of 2.18 in 144.1 innings. Even better is that according to Pitch F/x data, he went up roughly 3-4 mph on his fastball. The K-rate is pretty low which is usually unappealing in fantasy, but if he continues to lower the walk rate and can keep the ball in the yard, then he just might be worth a last round look. Of course, he’s still competing for one of the two open spots in the Royals rotation, so keep him on your radar this spring.