Week 1 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Purely Premature Pickups

The first week of fantasy baseball is one of the most stressful. There are no real numbers to go on except last season and spring training. With the wealth of minor leaguers breaking into the show, you don’t even have last season to go on. Regardless, the first week still counts as much as the rest of them. Let’s take a look at some brand new faces to familiarize yourself with and a few old ones to brush up on.

Jackie Bradley
April 1 2013 Bronx NY USA Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley 44 grounds to the pitcher advancing two men during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium Boston won 8 2 Anthony Gruppuso USA TODAY Sports

Jackie Bradley Jr. (Owned in 34% of Yahoo Leagues): Bradley has been the talk of fantasydom all spring as the 22-year-old batted .419 with two homers, four doubles, a triple, two steals, 12 RBI, 10 walks, and 13 runs – earning himself a big league starting job despite never playing above AA. He’s the 31st top prospect in the country coming into 2013 after batting .315 with a .911 OPS, nine homers, 63 RBI, 90 R, 42 2B, and 24 steals in just his second season in the minors. There’s a lot to be excited about, particularly how much this guy gets on base (87 BB in 128 games). He may be very inexperienced but he is definitely worth the pickup.

Jedd Gyorko (42%): Gyorko is another young player who will be making his Major League debut as the Padres open against the Mets. It’s not hard to be excited about a guy who hit 30 homers, drove in 100, and scored 80 in 126 minor league games last season. He has batted over .300 every season in the minors and put up four homers and 12 RBI in spring training. He will start at third with Chase Headley out and then move to second, giving him eligibility in two fairly shallow positions.

Hyun-Jin Ryu (49%): It’s very hard to predict how foreign pitchers will fair in their first Major League action. Ryu, who went 16-4 with a 1.82 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 8.7 K/9 in Korea just two seasons ago, looked very solid this spring as he put up a 3.29 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 27 K over 27 IP. He plays on a good team that should provide plenty of run support and could very well be a very early favorite for Rookie of the Year.

Domonic Brown (45%): I know, we’ve all seen Brown far too often on pre-season lists, only to see him bat .230 and last less than two months in the Majors. I also know that spring training stats are one of the worst predictors of regular season performers. That said, Brown is a 25-year-old former 4th top prospect who put up a .356 BA, seven homers, 17 RBI, and 24 runs this spring and I’m not willing to discount that. I expect the Phillies to have a big turnaround this year on the backs of a healed up Ryan Howard, Michael Young, and maybe even good ol’ Chase Utley, and I think Brown will fit in behind those guys nicely.

Aaron Hicks (13%): Hicks is another top prospect going straight from AA ball to a AAA-level Major League team in the Twins. Last season he batted .286 with 13 HR, 61 RBI, 100 R, 32 SB, and 11 3B in the minors. He played himself into a starting job batting .370 with four homers, six doubles, 18 RBI, 18 runs, and three steals this spring. If you like Jackie Bradley, I don’t see what’s not to like about Aaron Hicks, an early Rookie of the Year contender as far as I’m concerned.

Jose Fernandez (19%): In most situations, I would definitely shy away from a 20-year-old who has never pitched above A+ ball. At the same time, most 20-year-olds don’t go 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA, 0.925 WHIP, and 10.6 K/9 in their first 25 games. Say what you will about the Marlins, they do a good job of developing young pitchers after trading away the entire team. While I wouldn’t run out to pick up Fernandez immediately, I would definitely take a look at his first start on April 7 against the Mets.

Emilio Bonifacio (54%): I’m a big fan of Bonifacio and his injury history is the only thing that separates him from the top base stealers in the league. As far as I’m concerned, he’s as good as they come after stealing 30 in 64 games last season and eight in 24 games this spring. He will play third while Brett Lawrie recovers from his rib injury and then move to second. If he can stay healthy, he can steal 60+.

Dayan Viciedo (49%): So, a 23-year-old rookie hits 25 homers, drives in 78, scores 64 and is only drafted in 49% of leagues the following year? Viciedo is legit, having hit 20 homers in two straight seasons before coming up to the big leagues (20 homers in just 343 at-bats in 2010) with the ability to hit close to .300 despite a .255 BA in his rookie campaign. I think Viciedo is as good as someone like Josh Willingham or Josh Reddick and should be owned as such.

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