Last week I did an article on American League players I really like. I highlighted guys I REALLY like.
A bit of an explanation here. These are players I really want to watch or have on my fantasy team. In some cases, the player is on the list for his defensive prowess and won't help offensively. I'll try to note that.
There are lots of stars left off my list for one reason or another. Because a player is a star doesn't mean he's on my list.
Of course, I welcome your criticisms or comments regarding the list.
Andrelton Simmons - This is one of the most exciting players to come on the scene in a long time. He is one of several shortstops from Curacao that have made an impact. Simmons is a brilliant defender, a good hitter and a capable base stealer. His power is coming.
Craig Kimbrel- The guy is an amazing reliever. He has half of last season's saves already. He doesn't walk many hitters or give up game-changing home runs. He isn't striking out guys at the same rate this season, but I still like him going forward.
Brandon Beachy - Injuries have hurt him, but I think he's coming back to be one of baseball's good pitchers. Elbow surgery has become more common, as we know. Beachy is the type of guy that can come back even stronger.
Giancarlo Stanton - He should do an ad as the most powerful hitter in baseball. I've seen some of his shots that are still flying. He can be beaten on a slider down and away, but he'll get better at that. A real force. My concern is that no team on the planet should ever pitch to him until he is protected in the lineup.
Adeiny Hechavarria - A top-drawer defensive shortstop, I believe the Blue Jays made a huge mistake including him in the package with Miami. Hechavarria can't hit yet. However, his defense saves runs and ultimately, games. He's a terrific shortstop.
JOSE FERNANDEZ - I was totally blown away when I saw how calmly and coolly he went through his repertoire and carved up the Diamondbacks. He doesn't strike out hitters - he gets them to pound the ball in the ground, saving his arm with fairly moderate pitch counts. A real stud.
Nathan Eodvaldi - I tried to alert my readers about Eovaldi when I first saw him with the Dodgers. One of the better arms in the game, Eovaldi is getting his command in order. When the project is complete, he'll be a huge winner with command and control.
CHRISTIAN YELICH - Watch out - when he arrives on the Marlins their offensive weapons will expand and every hitter will improve. He, Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Jake Marisnick will be an awesome foursome. Yelich and Stanton are the two main cogs for me.
ON THE CUSP:
NEW YORK METS
MATT HARVEY - I saw his first major league start against Arizona and I was effusive in my scouting report. He has a magic arm with command and control. Misses bats, but throws lots of pitches. I like everything about this guy, but especially his outstanding mound demeanor.
ON THE CUSP:
Domonic Brown - I warned in my reports that the Phillies rushed Brown. No doubt about it, but he is older now, more mature and more open to listening to coaching. His swing is shorter and he's a real force.
Anthony Rendon - I have called him a “professional hitter" in the past. That's what he is. He just puts the barrel of the bat on the ball and gets base hits using the entire field. And he'll still get better. Rendon has hit his entire life.
Stephen Strasburg - I think the issue of him pitching to contact and not going after the strikeouts has hurt his fantasy value. Yes, he may be throwing fewer pitches and he's very effective. Going forward, I want to see him put hitters away quicker in counts.
BRYCE HARPER - Critics can say what they will, but I think he's a terrific pure hitter. Wait until he finishes his physical development. There's more to come. Now injured, Harper could one day challenge for a home run and RBI championship. A game changer.
ALFONSO SORIANO - I may be in the minority, but I believe Soriano is a very dangerous hitter. Have you ever seen him golf a low pitch out of the park? Great wrists and hands make him a lethal low-ball masher. Soriano may be declining or may be too expensive for some tastes, but he's a guy I want everywhere.
ON THE CUSP:
Joey Votto - Of course, I love to watch Votto hit. There are times he disappoints in obvious RBI situations, but he's the real deal and one of the finest hitters in the game.
Jay Bruce - I keep waiting for that one monster season that I am confident he has in him. It wants to come out. So far, it appears this could be it. His average is higher than ever and the home runs are coming. Just an outstanding player.
Aroldis Chapman - With his stuff, he should be unhittable. However, there are times he gets too much plate and he gets hit. I like the velocity and his pitch mix - and I like him at the end of games.
ON THE CUSP:
JEAN SEGURA - This may be the biggest steal of the year. He is an outstanding defensive shortstop, not to mention a shortstop with power. He can hit for average, steal bases and take over a game. I'm a buyer.
Ryan Braun - I've never wavered in my opinion of him. When he's healthy he is an awesome power hitter. I worry about the thumb injury, but he'll come back. Any issue with a hand can be troublesome. He'll be Ryan Braun for a long time - provided he's permitted to play the game.
Khris Davis - Davis is a pure hitter with power. He can't build his career sitting on the bench. If Davis ever gets sustained chance - 500 at-bats or more, he can put up the numbers. He has a sweet swing, no doubt.
Starling Marte - He's put it all together and he's on his way to being a star. He can now make contact, hit the outside pitch and run his way to a nice batting average. The power will come, but the steals are real.
ANDREW MCCUTCHEN - It doesn't get much better. McCutchen is the leader of a surging team, and I think he can get even better. He can do it all with energy. I want him anywhere I can get him. There may be some times he scuffles, but he'll get out of it soon.
ON THE CUSP:
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
MATT CARPENTER - He flew under the radar, but I've always liked him. He makes contact and can be very dangerous with men in scoring position. Like so many players, all he need was a chance.
CARLOS BELTRAN - The reports of his demise were far from true. He's still a very dangerous hitter with power. He smells RBI. I just hope he can run enough to play defense. When I saw him early this season in Phoenix, he looked very tentative in the outfield. but the man can flat out hit. Put him on your team and smile.
Adam Wainwright - He never gets the credit or the mention of the highest ranked pitchers, but he certainly should. Everything moves when he pitches. I would start a rotation with him or add him on. I'd really take him on any team I own.
Trevor Rosenthal - He has an outstanding power arm. He can start or close, but I'd close with him. The Cardinals are probably the best in baseball at developing players and pitchers and the work with Rosenthal isn't over. In fact, it's just beginning.
Yadier Molina - A great catcher made himself into a very fine hitter. It doesn't get much better behind the plate than with Molina.
ON THE CUSP:
PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT - I've always liked everything about him. The power is obvious, but what about stealing bases and fabulous defense? Goldschmidt is the real deal.
Aaron Hill - The D-Backs are a much better team when Hill is playing. Last year was not a fluke. Two cycles were not a fluke. A bit of a pull hitter, Hill has all the markings of a fine, fine player.
DIDI GREGORIUS - Gregorius is a true magician at shortstop. He has to be watched consistently to be appreciated. His bat will continue to improve. The D-Backs made a great decision trading for him, as he can anchor an infield for years.
PATRICK CORBIN - Corbin has a unique ability to stay calm and cool on the mound and get himself out of trouble. To me, that's the sign of a very good pitcher. Every pitcher has a hiccup or two. Can he escape? Corbin can with great command and control. He's for real.
WILIN ROSARIO - The first time I saw him a few years ago, I literally sat up in my seat. He has so much raw power it's scary. He can barrel a ball with a short, quick stroke. Hitting in Colorado is a dream for him. And us.
Carlos Gonzalez - I always try to figure out how he hits such majestic home runs with such a short stroke? He isn't a huge guy at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, but he is really, really strong.
Nolan Arenado - The guy will ultimately play third base in Colorado for years and years. He's just beginning a journey as a true power hitter in a power hitter's haven. Sit back and watch as he gets better and better for the next few years.
Jordan Pacheco - All he does is hit. He hits the ball wherever it's pitched, and he can really find those Colorado gaps. He doesn't have a full-time position, but he can come off your bench and help - just as he does for the Rockies.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
YASIEL PUIG - An amazing body fuels his power and speed. I love to watch him hit. Nobody has figured him out yet. I saw him early and I raved about him. As it turns out, my comments may have been under stated. I think he will fuel a fantasy team to victory.
Clayton Kershaw - He has added so many secondary pitches to his dominant fastball that he's clearly capable of controlling any game he starts. He can stop a losing streak and right the ship. I'll take him, thank you.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Pablo Sandoval - We all know that Sandoval swings at any pitch in any location. The amazing part is his ability to reach the ball and put it safely in play. A switch-hitter, Sandoval has power to all fields. Once he gets on a roll, he is very difficult to stop. Without Sandoval, the Giants look like a much weaker team. I do think his weight will limit his success and longevity.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Yonder Alonso - He's a solid, line-drive hitter. He plays in a tough park for home runs, but his swing is so solid and he's such a hard worker, I think an increase in homers is on the way. I think we'll see a jump in his power numbers over the next two years.
Rymer Liriano - He hurt his arm and is out for the year following Tommy John surgery. When he returns I think it will be difficult for him to get back the stroke he was creating. It might take some time. I'm patient with him, because I've seen the damage he can do as a barrel of the bat hitter.
Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff and on MLB.com