I stole this idea from the Yahoo! Sports Columnists who posted their lists on Friday. This is not a top ten to draft list. This is a list of the guys I want to own in almost every draft this year. Guys I will draft far ahead of their ADP, that will I spend the extra dollar to own for the 2012 season.
Brandon McCarthy - I love Brandon McCarthy. He was always expected to be a very good MLB starter. He just kept getting hurt and when he was healthy he failed to deliver. Then he read Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game and decided he needed to get more groundballs and more strikeouts. It is a great story, but more importantly he succeeded. Oklahoma City pitching coach, Terry Clark, helped him make a mechanical change.
Watching video of McCarthy's extreme overhand motion, Clark realized that the pitcher's arm was pronating at the moment of delivery, and the pressure was twisting his scapula. "It was really ugly," says Clark. "He's lucky his scapula was the only thing that broke." Clark had McCarthy drop down to a more natural three-quarter arm angle, like Halladay's. McCarthy's whole motion became a study in minimalism. Less right arm, more back leg. No more falling off the mound toward first base.Do what it take to grab this guy while you still can. He has greatly improved skills, mechanics that should help him stay healthier in addition to helping him get more outs. There seem to be very few believers out there. Maybe because you thought the Athletics had traded their best starter away. They didn't.
B.J. Upton - I loved him as a prospect and he disappointed and I avoided him for a few years. However, it looks like he has begun to put things together. He finished the 2011 season impressively, with what seemed to be a better approach. This comes as he approaches Free Agency for the first time. A contract year, improved skills and a better approach come together for a career year.
Alex Gordon - Despite his obvious improvement at the end of the 2010 season and his breakout 2011 season, Gordon is still being drafted later than he should. Maybe it has something to do with being one of the older young guys on the Kansas City Royals. It could be that his initial disappointments have turned potential owners off. Either way, I think he will hit for a great batting average, 25-30 homers and 20 steals.
Logan Morrison - The knee injury this spring is annoying but not dissuading me from drafting him. I see a player who has the skills to hit .300 and the power to blast 30 homers out of any park. Morrison ran into some bad luck with the broken hand in 2009 (which sapped his power in 2010) and the unfair demotion last season. He only needs to get a full season of at-bats to reach 30 homers, with some skill improvement it could be more. He hits like Joey Votto and you can get him 10 rounds later in a lot of drafts.
Curtis Granderson - Everyone is assuming that Granderson won't repeat his amazing 2011 season. Maybe he won't. I see an already great player in his prime who took some advice from a great batting coach that allowed him to tap into his full potential. I think a 30/30 season is a cinch. In my eyes he is more likely to go 50/50 than Matt Kemp.
Rex Brothers - I am absolutely certain you have heard about Kenley Jansen. You have at least read (if not been convinced) that Jansen will at some point snatch the closer job of the Los Angeles Dodgers away from Javy Guerra, who has done nothing to lose his job at this point.
Rex Brothers has every ounce of ability that Jansen has and is as likely (if not more so) to take the Colorado Rockies closer job from Rafael Betancourt. Betancourt has been a great reliever for a long time. He has been given the opportunity to close in the past and has always blown it. Maybe that's just coincidence or maybe it is a lack of guile or something.
Alexi Casilla - Maybe you have forgotten the lofty expectations once placed on Casilla's shoulders. Between disappointing seasons and injuries, it is easy to understand why you may not even have him on your cheat sheet. He dominated in the Dominican Winter League, batting .336 (runner-up for the batting title) and as of Sunday he was batting .357 in the Grapefruit League. He says he is in a better mental state than last season and his confidence is soaring. If he can stay healthy I expect great things.
He isn't afraid to take a walk and is an excellent contact hitter. He has more discipline at the plate than you may realize. He rarely swings at pitches out the strike zone and again, makes excellent contact. That and his speed is a recipe for a better batting average and with some BABIP luck I think he could hit over .300 this season. In a neutral park he could probably hit ten homers, but we'll be happy with whatever he provides as long as he comes through with the 30 steals. Draft him as your MI and reap the benefits.
Jed Lowrie - This is a tough player to evaluate because of the injuries and the variety of skills he has shown and then not shown at different times. He has looked like an above average defensive player, he has also looked like a below average defensive player. He has shown the ability to hit for power and to hit for average. He is a very intelligent player, he just finished his degree in political science from Stanford University. Unfortunately, injuries have sucked up a lot of the time he should have been developing into one of the better fantasy shortstops in the game.
The good news is that Lowrie is still just 26-years old and just entering his prime years. He is finally healthy coming into the 2012 season. He has swung a hot bat this swing - batting .348/.464/.609 as of yesterday. He fouled a ball off his foot and will miss just one game that he was not likely to travel for anyway. I think he'll hit for a strong batting average, get on base a ton and slug 20-plus homers. That is an awesome return on a late-round shortstop.
Luke Hochevar - The pedigree is first rate. He was expected to be an ace. A real ace, not just the number one starter by default. He has shown us flashes in the past and then failed to deliver the following season. Check out these numbers from after the All Star Break - 79.1 IP, 3.52 ERA, .222 BAA, 68 strikeouts, 24 walks and 6-3 record in 12 starts. That may not be an ace but it is a massive improvement. You can draft him extremely late so the risk is minimal.
Jason Heyward - Last but not even close to least is The New Kid, Jason Heyward. The 2011 season was obviously a disaster for the young Atlanta Brave. Few realize that Heyward first hurt his shoulder in April, he played through it but re-aggravated it and even though his numbers sunk he kept trying to play through it. Probably because he did not like how he had been labeled injury-prone after the 2010 season. The shoulder injury warped his swing and he got into bad habits and finally with everything out of whack he was sat on the bench to watch someone else do his job.
This off-season he changed his diet, improved and increased his workouts and came into camp a lean mean machine. He worked hard with the team coaches and Chipper Jones to get his swing back and they think they have it. He struggled the first two weeks of the Spring season (as did most of the Braves) but has hit a couple of massive blasts since the team started winning spring games. He can hit for average and power and steal bases. He is in a solid lineup and he is a crucial cog. I love him a lot, at least more than you.