Ask Rotoman: 10 Valuable AL Guys Not on a ML Roster on Opening Day — Maybe

Hi, My draft is on this Sunday & it is an American League ONLY draft. You have been of much help in the past & I was wondering if you could again help me out AGAIN? Could you give me a list of 10 players that will have an impact this year in fantasy baseball that will not be on a opening day roster? “Minor Key”

Dear Minor:

I have no idea if I can give you 10 from the American League, and even though you don’t care about the National League, I think I should list some of them, too. Tomorrow. For now, let’s go through the AL rosters and see what we come up with:

AL

Yorman Bazardo had a good run with the Tigers last year. His father died just as Spring Training was getting under way and he’s behind in his work. He’s a control pitcher whose rates haven’t changed dramatically as he advanced, which is a good indicator of major league success. Too bad he doesn’t have a better punch out. Okay, I admit it, I like his name.

Clay Buchholz on the other hand has an arm, plus he has a no hitter already. You have to like that. The Red Sox trip to Japan creates interesting possibilities for roster management and I’d be lying if I said I’d thought them all through. Buchholz is the youngster and at the back of the rotation, if he’s in the rotation. It wouldn’t be a surprise if was sent down for a few weeks at the start of the season.

Anthony Swarzak has a great arm but is a little lacking in experience. He’s certainly not going to start the season in Minnesota, but depending on how things work out he could end up there. The Twins are not super aggressive with promotions, usually, but Swarzak is further along than most. There is a chance he’ll get a shot this year, and that means he could contribute.

Kevin Mulvey went to the Twins in the Johan Santana deal. Unlike Swarzak, he didn’t spend 50 games on the bench last year after testing positive for recreational drugs. He’s not as dominant an arm as Swarzak and doesn’t have near the ceiling, but if he doesn’t make the Twins rotation out of camp he’s likely to get a shot at it before Swarzak does.

Gio Gonzalez struck out 185 guys in 150 Double-A innings last year, and while he walked a fair number of guys (57) he kept the ball in the park, didn’t allow many hits, and got the job done. He’s way young and the A’s aren’t in a big rush to hurry him along, but stuff happens and he’s close to ready.

Nick Adenhart doesn’t have Gonzalez’s heat, but he’s got a well-rounded set of pitches and he’s learning to use them. He’ll start the year in the minors, but if anything disrupts the Angels’ rotation he’s likely to get a trial. Good luck.

On the hitting side…

Jarrod Saltalamacchia has a lot of major league at bats, but he’s not a good catcher and the Rangers went and signed Ben Broussard to play first base. His bat should work in the major leagues now, but it makes sense for the Rangers to send him down to either get better as a backstop or tackle a new position.

Carlos Quentin has been slow coming back from shoulder surgery, and Jerry Owens will almost certainly be the White Sox left fielder on opening day. This opens up the possibility that the Sox could option Quentin to get some regular playing time. While an extended spring training gig is an option, Quentin’s not really hurt badly enough for the DL. Let him play!

Wladimir Balentien has a double and a homer in his three major league plate appearances. He’s shown good patience and an aggressive bat in his career overall. The Mariners clearly think he needs some more time, though he made big strides last year. Presumably they think their pennant run this year will be helped more by Ibanez and Wilkerson, but when they drop out of contention Balentien will be the guy who comes up and impresses. That’s my prediction.

Evan Longoria is not only a hitter but also a first rate defensive player. He’s having a big spring, but the Rays may decide to have him start the year in Triple-A because he’s young and perhaps they don’t want to start his career clock and salary just yet. But he’s ready now, and will be the top Rookie prospect not in the AL at the start of this year if he doesn’t start the season in St. Pete.

Brandon Wood doesn’t have a place to play right now and should start the season in Triple-A. He’s got huge power, but he has struck out an alarming amount of the time in the minors. Some scouts think that’s going to be a problem, others say he’ll be fine. There’s a good chance he isn’t going to get a real chance in the majors this year, but an injury or trade or two could open up an opportunity mighty quick. And when he plays he’ll hit home runs. Fer sure.

That’s 10. I’m sure I missed some good ones. Like Luke Hochevar, who is going to start the year in Triple-A, but he’s not really ready anyway. David Price was the No. 1 in last year’s draft, and is supposed to be ready soon. Jeff Clement will start the season playing in Tacoma, but if the Mariners trade Johjima after they fall out of the race he could be the starter at any time. That’s 13. I’m out of here.

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