Bernie on the Scene: Young Hitters I Want on My Fantasy Team (AL)

Bernie on the Scene: Young Hitters I Want on My Fantasy Team (AL)

This article is part of our Bernie on the Scene series.

Today I'm featuring six American League hitters under the age of 25. Each of them is worthy of consideration as fantasy selections. In the American League, players such as Rafael Devers, Luis Robert, Vladimir Guerrero, Bo Bichette, Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez are all under the age of 25. Each is a remarkable talent.

Young rookies like Spencer Torkelson, Bobby Witt, Julio Rodriguez and Wander Franco are each under the age of 23. They are the next wave of great stars. The players I feature below have a chance to sustain success and help fantasy managers. However, I don't consider any to be in the "star" category quite yet.

Luis Arraez, INF, OF, Minnesota Twins, Bats: Left, Age 25

Luis Arraez was signed out of Venezuela by the Twins for $400,000 just after his 16th birthday. Smaller and lighter at the time of his signing, Arraez has since added strength to his frame. He is now listed at 5-10, 175 pounds.

The left-handed hitting Arraez plays third base and left field for Minnesota. Generally, he gets is at-bats against right-handed pitching. Hitting at or near the top of the order is the best spot for Arraez in my opinion, because he makes consistently good contact. In fact, he struck out only 48 times in 479 plate appearances last season. In a league that values on-base percentage, Arraez is a good addition.

Basically Arraez is a singles hitter, raking where they are thrown, using

Today I'm featuring six American League hitters under the age of 25. Each of them is worthy of consideration as fantasy selections. In the American League, players such as Rafael Devers, Luis Robert, Vladimir Guerrero, Bo Bichette, Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez are all under the age of 25. Each is a remarkable talent.

Young rookies like Spencer Torkelson, Bobby Witt, Julio Rodriguez and Wander Franco are each under the age of 23. They are the next wave of great stars. The players I feature below have a chance to sustain success and help fantasy managers. However, I don't consider any to be in the "star" category quite yet.

Luis Arraez, INF, OF, Minnesota Twins, Bats: Left, Age 25

Luis Arraez was signed out of Venezuela by the Twins for $400,000 just after his 16th birthday. Smaller and lighter at the time of his signing, Arraez has since added strength to his frame. He is now listed at 5-10, 175 pounds.

The left-handed hitting Arraez plays third base and left field for Minnesota. Generally, he gets is at-bats against right-handed pitching. Hitting at or near the top of the order is the best spot for Arraez in my opinion, because he makes consistently good contact. In fact, he struck out only 48 times in 479 plate appearances last season. In a league that values on-base percentage, Arraez is a good addition.

Basically Arraez is a singles hitter, raking where they are thrown, using the entire field. He does, however, favor his pull-side. Because of his pull-side power, Arraez has been compared to a young Carlos Baerga. But for me, he doesn't have the power of Baerga. Not yet.

Eloy Jimenez, OF/DH, Chicago White Sox, Bats: Right, Age: 25

The Chicago Cubs signed both Jimenez and Gleyber Torres as International free-agents out of Venezuela in 2013. Both have since been traded. They traded Eloy Jimenez to the White Sox in 2017 along with Dylan Cease, Bryant Flete and Matt Rose for pitcher Jose Quintana. It has to be one of the worst trades in Chicago baseball history.

Jimenez appearance on this portion of my article may surprise readers. Don't I consider Jimenez a star? No, I don't. Not yet. In fact, he has been a disappointment. And he has suffered injuries that have cost him time on the field.

Jimenez has a world of potential. But I have seen times of lackluster to almost lazy effort. I have seen times when he has sparkled at the plate. His inconsistency is alarming. When he first appeared in the Arizona Fall League in 2016, I was impressed. He hit four homers in 15 games. Not bad. In his rookie year of 2019,  Jimenez hit 31 homers, drove in 79 runs and scored 69 runs in 122 games. He struck out 134 times in his 504 plate appearances. Not bad. Good, in fact. I thought I was seeing a true slugger come to fruition.

In 2021, injuries began to derail Jimenez. He played only 55 games, hit 10 homers, drove in 37 runs, and his season was mostly lost. He finished with a batting average of .249.

This season, Jimenez is out of the lineup again. This time, he has a strained hamstring. But he wasn't hitting before he left with the injury. He had only one homer in his first 11 games. When healthy, at 6-4, 240 pounds, the right-handed hitting Jimenez should be a threat at the plate. He should bring fear to pitchers. I'm not sure that's the case. And I think he is heavier than the listed weight.

Gleyber Torres, INF, New York Yankees, Bats: Right, Age: 25

Torres was in the 2013 Chicago Cubs International free-agent class from Venezuela, with Jimenez. The Cubs signed Torres for $1.7M.

In 2018, the Cubs sent Torres to the New York Yankees along with three other players for pitcher Aroldis Chapman. Torres has had a mixed big-league career with the Yankees. In fact, he began with them as an All Star in both 2018 and 2019. But things then changed.

Consider that Torres hit 38 homers in 546 plate appearances in 2019. Juiced ball? Could be. Probably. He drove in 90 runs. He hit .278/.337/.535/.871. He got some MVP votes. Last year, in 516 plate appearances, the same Torres hit nine home runs. He drove in 51 runs. He hit .259/.331/.366/.697.

Torres can play all over the infield, but now he isn't playing every game. He's part of a mix-and-match Yankees infield that includes DJ LeMahieu and Isiah Kiner-Falefa at second base and shortstop. Josh Donaldson is generally playing third, again limiting chances for Torres. As a result of the multiple player approach in the infield, Torres is usually the odd man out.

Limiting his playing time is hurting Torres. He's not hitting well for average, but he still does have three homers in only 79 plate appearances. He has struck out 13 times. My hope for Torres is a trade. Maybe to a club like the Reds, who could use infield help. Their park is perfect for him. Scouting Grade: 50

Steven Kwan, OF, Cleveland Guardians, Bats: Left, Age: 24

Kwan received a $185,000 signing bonus, which is proving to be quite a bargain.

He spent parts of three seasons in Cleveland's development program, but he really starting gaining steam in his 2021 season. He played for AA Akron and Triple-A Columbus last year, and hit a combined .328/.407/.527/.934 in 341 plate appearances. I began becoming really interested in Kwan when I saw him this year in spring training.

At 5-9, 170 pounds, Kwan is a tough target for pitchers. He has incredible bat control, superb eye-hand coordination, and he knows the strike zone. Kwan takes pitchers deeply into counts, and he's extremely selective at the plate.

Making hard contact to all fields, Kwan can pull the ball or go opposite field with great feel for the barrel. He is not a home run hitter, but he can certainly hit the gaps and use his fine speed to get his share of doubles and an occasional triple.

Andrew Vaughn, OF/1B, Chicago White Sox, Bats: Right, Age: 24

As the third overall pick in the draft, Vaughn earned a signing bonus of $7,221,300.

At 6-0, 215 pounds, Vaughn has an average baseball frame, with strength throughout. While he won't be looking to take a walk, he clearly won't get himself out swinging at bad pitches out of his own hitting zone. His patience, bat control and plate discipline are superb. He can feast on fastballs. If anything, he may have a bit of difficulty with change-ups, but even those pitches won't alter his hitting plan.

Vaughn uses the entire field, and pitchers may have a difficult time finding "holes" in his swing. For that reason, he can be trusted to produce with men on base or in any position in the White Sox lineup. Vaughn is currently on the IL with a hand contusion. Without speed in his game, Vaughn won't be stealing many bases. Scouting Grade: 55

Abraham Toro, Seattle Mariners, 3B/2B/1B, Bats: Both, Age 25

Toro is listed here because he's an intriguing player with upside remaining. Drafted by the Houston Astros in the fifth round in 2016 out of Seminole State College in Oklahoma, he received a $250,000 signing bonus. That was below the slot figure of $344,300. Along with pitcher Joe Smith, Toro was traded to the Mariners in 2021 for pitchers Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero.

Toro is a solid, 6-0, 225 pounds with some pop in his bat. He really has equal results from both sides of the plate. He gets strength from a thick lower body. He's probably a better overall athlete than his lack of range and movements on the field indicate.

I was impressed with Toro during spring training this year, as was Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. He hit with authority and won a job. But now he's off to a bit of a rough start. Toro has always been known more for his good hit tool, as opposed to power potential or defensive prowess. In addition, he is slow afoot.

With the ability to make contact and spray the ball around, Toro is a candidate to keep his role on the young Mariners club. But he'll have to pick up the pace as a more dependable hitter if he wants to make the impact his profile might suggest. Scouting Grade: 50

HEADING HOME:

Suddenly, and without warning, the Arizona Diamondbacks have become watchable. Yes, the teams the D-backs beat recently were weak, but wins are wins. And believe me, they play hard for manager Torey Lovullo.

The top of the D-backs rotation is very solid with Madison Bumgarner, Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen. Each has some fantasy relevancy. Speaking of Bumgarner. The stare down he received from umpire Dan Bellino was beyond weird. It was uncalled for.

Bellino was checking Bumgarner's hand for sticky substance while staring directly into Bumgarner's eyes. Bellino never looked down at Bumgarner's hands. The scene got very ugly, and Bumgarner was ejected from the game. The video is worth watching if you can find it. It is unlike anything I've seen in the game. 

The Mets are fun to watch. Their ninth-inning comeback victory when they were down 7-1 heading to the ninth was exciting to watch. They won the game 8-7, with a total team effort.

How much money will Aaron Judge receive on his next contract? Will the Yankees pay him what he thinks he is worth? Stay tuned. If he stays healthy, Judge could break the bank.

How big of a steal was Nolan Arenado for the St. Louis Cardinals? He hits in a mediocre offense that has trouble scoring runs. If not for Arenado, the Cardinals might be in serious offensive trouble. But the man is still outstanding-on both offense and defense.

Jazz Chisholm from the D-backs to the Marlins for Gallen in July 2019 at the trade deadline. Would you have made that trade if you were the Diamondbacks? There were concerns about whether Chisholm would hit. The Diamondbacks needed pitching. So far, both teams can claim success from the trade.

Yes, I am worried about Trevor Story. Did every team in baseball stay away from signing him for so long because he was a "Coors only" hitter? He's really struggling in Boston.

With MLB making money off gambling, and with fans gambling on every aspect of baseball games, being an official scorer is a very important job. People will win or lose money on the judgment of the official scorer. Hit? Error? Frankly, I don't like gambling entering the world of baseball. And believe me, it is getting a bigger and bigger hold on the game. Money speaks.

Thank you for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff and for reading my work at Forbes. Have a great week.

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only MLB Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire MLB fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bernie Pleskoff
Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.
MLB: Prospect Mailbag 5/26/22
MLB: Prospect Mailbag 5/26/22
Yahoo DFS Baseball: Thursday Picks
Yahoo DFS Baseball: Thursday Picks
DraftKings MLB: Thursday Breakdown
DraftKings MLB: Thursday Breakdown
Mound Musings: The Endgame Odyssey Continues – American League
Mound Musings: The Endgame Odyssey Continues – American League