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Bernie On The Scene: NL Non-Stars I Like for 2013

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.

Last week, I featured American League non-star players I like for the 2013 fantasy season. Many are players I may target for my own teams after my usual spring training review.

This week, I am focusing on similar players in the National League.

The list is not exhaustive - I have not included everyone. These are just the guys I have on my preliminary watch list at this time.


Ryan Wheeler - 3B - The Diamondbacks like his bat. He is learning how to hit big league pitching. The team may decide to get a veteran third baseman to replace Wheeler and his platoon partner Chris Johnson. At this point, I like Wheeler's left-handed, line-drive hitting bat.

Johnson began the Arizona portion of his career on a high, but he tailed off badly. The issue? Can either of these guys play in a platoon or do either/both have to play regularly to be effective?

Adam Eaton - OF - Eaton got all the playing time in center field during the last couple weeks of this season. As the offseason begins, Chris Young is vulnerable to being moved. If he is traded, the job will belong to Eaton.

I like Eaton's speed and his bunting ability. He can hit some line drives, but getting on base will be the challenge. When he gets on, he steals, but don't look for much in the way of home runs.

Eaton will be a low round mixed-league option.

A.J. Pollock - OF - It seems to me that Pollock slots behind Eaton. If the D-Backs jettison Young and either Gerardo Para, Justin Upton or Jason Kubel, Pollock will be next on the depth chart for playing time. Or, the D-Backs could end up trading Pollock and/or another outfielder, including Eaton.

I don't see much fantasy value in Pollock. I guess he can hit for average, but I put him on the list as a low, low bench option in an NL-only league.

Bottom line: I think the D-Backs will trade one or two outfielders to get a shortstop, a pitcher or a third baseman.

Wade Miley - LHP - Miley is a professional pitcher. He knows how to pitch. He has good command, a vast repertoire and the ability to mix his pitches very well.

He may not set strikeout records, but his mound demeanor is that of a winner. Miley pitches in a tough home park for pitchers; Chase Field is very hitter-friendly. However, I do look for Miley to continue building on his successful 2012 season.

Patrick Corbin - LHSP - I don't view Corbin in the same class as Miley. I think he is a bit behind in all phases of pitching. I do, however, think he will improve over the course of the season. I see him as a back end of the rotation starter with good command and improving control. The same Chase Field issues come into play for Corbin.

I am not bullish at all on Trevor Bauer or Tyler Skaggs to begin 2013. My evaluation of them may change after spring training.

ALERT: Watch shortstop Chris Owings in spring training. I have a hunch about him. If the D-Backs do not make a deal for an everyday shortstop, I think he'll be playing shortstop in Phoenix before 2013 ends. Watch for my Arizona Fall League reports on Owings.


Andrelton Simmons - SS - I believe he's won the shortstop battle with Tyler Pastornicky. Simmons hit .289 with three homers and 19 RBI. It's his batting average that gives him a bit of value as a low-end shortstop option. Especially on an NL-only team. I thought he would steal more bases. He didn't. Pastornicky got hurt and hit only .243 for the Braves.

I think both get better in time. They may battle again in spring training. Watch carefully.

Jose Constanza - OF - Constanza is a small, left-handed hitting outfielder with no power. He will add a solid batting average and speed to your lineup.

I think his appeal is in his ability to steal bases. However, he is still learning that craft and I'm not sure he'll win an outfield job this coming spring. If he's hanging around on draft day, he may be worth a bench flyer.

Kris Medlen - RHSP - I almost didn't include him because I think he's a star. I've always liked him. Medlen will give you every category and he should go off your board quickly. Just think of the Braves pitching if Brandon Beachy comes all the way back. It's almost scary.


Steve Clevenger - C - I've written about him before. I think he's the best hitting catcher on the Cubs, but he might not be playing because of Welington Castillo. Clevenger has a line-drive bat. He could be hurt a bit in Wrigley Field where the winds play tricks. However, if you need a back up catcher, take a look.

Welington Castillo - C - Based upon what I saw and heard in their last road series here in Phoenix, it appears the Cubs want Castillo to be their full-time catcher. They traded Geovany Soto because they felt Castillo was at least his equal, if not better. I totally agree. His .265 over the last part of the season was solid. He also hit five homers in his 190 plate appearances.

Castillo should be there for you in your draft. Not many fantasy players are trusting Cubs hitters. So, you may want to take a flyer - especially if he's your second catcher, but watch to see what the club does with Clevenger.

Anthony Rizzo - 1B - Rizzo has found a new stroke in Chicago. He has shortened a once long swing and looks now to hit the right-center gap. I like what I've seen. I don't put him at the top of the first base heap, but I certainly won't pass him up in a late round if he's on the board.

Consider he hit 15 homers in a half season of big league at-bats. He also hit for a nice .285 average. I like his upside. Don't fear regression, I think his mechanics are in the correct gear.

ALERT: I will be keeping my eye on outfielder Matt Szczur during spring training and the AFL. I really like his bat and his speed.


Zack Cozart - SS - I believe Cozart to be a better hitter than we have seen to date. Ultimately, I think the Reds will have a decision to make between Cozart and the very impressive Didi Gregorius. I think one of them will move over to play third base. I just don't think it will happen to begin 2013. Although, with the Reds' early departure in the postseason, they may take some risks.

Cozart can hit better than .246. However, his 15 homers and 35 RBI weren't too shabby. The homers may justify a move to third base. Watch spring training to see how the Reds handle the left side of their infield.

Didi Gregorius - SS - I like everything about his guy. I'll write more about him in my Arizona Fall League notebook.

For now, however, I am very bullish on his offense in addition to the speed and defense he brings to the club. I'm not sure we'll see him in April, but he was recalled in September this year and he may make the team out of spring training. It would be premature in my opinion.

Don't let the other guy grab Gregorius. He'll be a factor in Cincinnati at some point within the next season or two.

Devin Mesoraco - C - Since the Reds were knocked out of the postseason, wouldn't it be a good idea for them to turn the corner and give the starting catching job to Mesoraco? Yes, Bernie, it would. Will they? We're talking Dusty Baker here folks.

Yes, he hit only .212 in 184 plate appearances covering 54 games. Ryan Hanigan hit .274, but he hit only two homers with his built in home field advantage. Mesoraco hit five in a much more limited role.

I've seen Mesoraco hit. I think he will flourish if given a chance.

Daniel Corcino - RHP - Despite giving up the farm to get Mat Latos, the Reds still have some good prospects. Gregorius and Corcino are among the best. Again, Corcino will have to be given a chance. Is he ready for prime time?

He's thrown 426 minor league innings after spending his 2012 campaign at Double-A Pensacola where he gave up only 111 hits in 143.1 innings pitched. He is walking too many (4.1 BB/9IP) but his strikeout rate is good (7.9 K/9IP).

I am very, very bullish on Corcino. Don't sleep on him if you have a chance to grab him in a keeper league.


Jordan Pacheco - 3B/1B - Pacheco can hit. He's a line drive gap hitter with a beautiful swing and excellent plate discipline. The problem? Where does he play defensively? I don't think he's as bad a fielder as some have portrayed him. I like him at third base.

If you've followed me for any length of time, you've read my glowing scouting reports on him. This season he hit .309 with five homers, 54 RBI along with 32 doubles and three triples. He also stole seven bases while being thrown out twice.

Pacheco should be drafted early and he should have dual eligibility.

Wilin Rosario - C - I have never written about Pacheco without an accompanying mention of Rosario. They are joined at the hip for me. Both can hit, and both are defensively challenged.

The Rockies should not be impatient with Rosario behind the plate. He isn't making strides as quickly as they would like.

All we care about is his offense. This guy hit 28 home runs and didn't get much publicity. Believe me - I noticed. I've been screaming about him for three or four years now. He also drove in 71 runs and stole four bases. As a catcher. Don't wait. Grab him.

Tyler Colvin - OF - If the Rockies could convince Todd Helton to retire, they could play Colvin at first base. He would make a good option for that position. He had a nice season for himself.

Regardless of Helton, I think Colvin will hit only against right-handed pitching.

He plays in Colorado. He hit .290 with 18 homers and 72 RBI. What's not to like? He could ultimately have dual eligibility. Buy him as an outfielder only and be surprised if he gets playing time at first base.

The Cubs blew it when they traded him and D.J. LeMahieu to Colorado in the Ian Stewart deal.

I will not be drafting/paying at auction or selecting any Rockies pitchers e ven Drew Pomeranz who I really like. Coors Field is just too tough a place to pitch.

HOUSTON ASTROS - moving to the American League

An entire new crop of players will now be eligible in AL-only leagues. There are several Astros worth considering, but I don't like their chances in the American League West. As a consequence, I am highlighting only three:

Jose Altuve - 2B - Altuve will make an attractive second base target in AL-only leagues. He can hit for average and has some pop in his bat. He'll also steal a base. I think it will be rough going for the Astros in the American League. However, he is one bright spot to watch. He'll be facing some very tough AL West pitchers, but he should be able to hit in the mid-to-high .280's. More importantly, he'll steal and hit a couple of home runs.

Carlos Corporan - C - If he gets to play, he can hit. I view him the same as I view the Cubs' Steve Clevenger. They have to play on a regular basis to get their stroke down. Corporan also has some power in addition to being a good hitter for average. He can drive the ball off the sweet spot of the bat.

Jarred Cosart - RHSP - I think it would be foolish for Houston to expose Cosart to the American League West this early in his career. He only has 354 innings of minor league ball under his belt.

He is pitching in the Arizona Fall League and I'll be watching. If he performs as expected, the Astros may be tempted to give him a call. I may want him as a low draft bench option to stash for late in the year.


Luis Cruz - SS/2B - Few new players impressed me this year as much as Luis Cruz. When Dee Gordon went down, Cruz was available. He stepped in and did a fantastic job for the Dodgers. I think he has sent Gordon to the bench or to the trading block for now.

Cruz can hit for power and for average. He has outstanding bat control. I look for him to have a role with the club next season. I also look for him to perform up to the standard he set in 2012 when he hit .297 with six homers and 40 RBI.

Stephan Fife - RHSP - I'm wary of any Dodgers pitcher because I have no idea how the pitching staff will shape up next season. However, after they spent a fortune on "star" players, it might just be a guy like Fife that helps the Dodgers turn the corner.

Fife started five games and wound up with an ERA of 2.70. That may be a bit deceptive because he gave up 25 hits and walked 12 in 26.1 innings. The runners just didn't score. To be viable, his 4.1 BB/9IP has to be reduced.


Donovan Solano - 2B/3B/SS/OF - Solano played all over the place for Miami and went to the plate a surprising 316 times in 93 games. Overall, he hit .295 for the season with two homers and seven stolen bases among his statistics.

Solano might see most of his time at second base, as that's where 58 of his games were played. Interestingly he played 10 games at third base and left field - and that makes him eligible at those positions in most leagues. I think he has solidified a spot on their club. The team needs help and he is among those that can contribute. He's a nice late draft selection, but just don't expect power from Solano.

Justin Ruggiano - OF - Ruggiano really took off after he left Tampa Bay. Here are his team and league splits:

With Tampa Bay =.248 with four homers and 13 RBI in 111 plate appearances in 2011
With Miami = .313 with 13 homers and 36 RBI in 320 plate appearances in 2012

If he can stay healthy with Miami, there is no reason he can't put up some nice under the radar numbers. Ruggiano was one of the only bright spots for a very poor Marlins club. At 30 years old, his best may be here.

Steve Cishek - RHRP - If closer Heath Bell is the next overpaid Marlins player to be moved (his contract may prohibit that, however) then Cishek's value will soar. I still think he will get his share of closing opportunities in Miami. Cishek is a great candidate to stash on your roster. He may well be overlooked in your draft. Bell may be out of gas and the luck may be running out.

This past season, Cishek threw 63.2 innings out of the bullpen. He got 15 saves and carried a 9.2 K/9IP. Bell on the other hand, threw 63.2 innings and got 19 saves. Worst case - Cishek is there for you when Bell implodes, but he may simply win the job outright .

Nate Eovaldi - RHSP - Don't look at the 2012 numbers when evaluating Eovaldi. Look at the stuff. (4.30 ERA over 119.1 innings pitched.) His composite WHIP with both the Dodgers and Marlins was 1.508. His record was 4-13.)

I saw him with the Dodgers and I thought he had a fantastic arm. He just hasn't learned to command his pitches. That might come this year. He will be pitching with less pressure than with the Dodgers. Eovaldi might be a mid-to-late rotation starter.

You may want to stash him on your roster and use him after he adjusts and gets his act together. He's got outstanding potential.


Carlos Gomez - OF - Hello Bernie, is that you? You can't stand Carlos Gomez. Yes Bernie, that's true. But I like the stolen bases (37). And the surprising home runs (19). Can he repeat? Remember Bernie, this is Carlos Gomez.

Jonathan Lucroy-C

Lucroy was a .320 hitter with 12 home runs. That isn't too bad for a guy that missed a chunk of the season with a hand injury.


Matt Harvey - RHP - Harvey showed an ability to pitch in the second half of the season. When I saw him in Phoenix he was almost unhittable. The problem? Harvey pitched in bad luck. The team doesn't score a whole lot and it came back to bite Harvey.

He will give you a chance for a quality start with some strikeouts and low ERA and WHIP. In his first full season, Harvey fashioned a 2.73 ERA in 59.1 innings pitched. He had a 1.146 WHIP on his way to a 3-5 record.

I like Harvey a great deal. If the Mets bats can come alive, he can become a big winner. Don't sleep on him.

I also like Zack Wheeler's chances of coming to the big league club at some point during the season. I think it will be later than sooner. However, the Mets have so much need on the mound, he may be rushed. Watch his progress carefully. The same can be said of Jenrry Mejia.


Darin Ruf - OF/1B - Ruf had a surprisingly good 37 plate appearances for Philadelphia. That included a tidy .333 average and three home runs. The Phillies need outfielders. I don't think Dom Brown is safe in their system.

Juan Pierre isn't a given. Shane Victorino is gone. John Mayberry may get playing time. So that leaves Nate Schierholtz and Ruf as guys to watch this spring training.

Carlos Ruiz - C - Ruiz is far from a star, but he's a good player. He's a bit streaky, but I still think he can hit enough to be considered in your draft. Ruiz hit a very loud .325 but few people noticed. He also had 16 homers and stole four bases.

I don't think he walks enough, but I do like Ruiz as a catching option in mixed leagues. Don't overlook him. Most of your league will. He doesn't have the reputation of Buster Posey or other higher profile catchers.


Brock Holt - SS - I have no idea what the Pirates' plans are for Holt. I know that he has hit well in his career. He has a .327 career minor league batting average. He can also steal a few bases. Holt has no power. He plays for a club that faded badly, but the offense could possibly score some runs next season.

Holt is a better hitter than Clint Barmes. We'll see how the Pirates handle the offseason. They need lots of help, but most of it relates to the pitching staff.

Starling Marte - OF - The Pirates are very high on Marte. He had a good spring, but didn't break camp with the club. He was recalled late and hit .257 with five homers, 17 RBI and 12 stolen bases.

If the Pirates want to win, this is one of the guys that can help. He's 24 years old and it should be his time to shine.

Note: Marte is a .303 lifetime hitter in the minors. Don't expect home runs, but the average and the stolen bases are attractive.


Matt Carpenter - 3B/1B/OF/2B - Carpenter is one of those guys with the ability to play everywhere on the diamond. He can certainly gain eligibility at both corner-infield spots, not to mention the possibility of playing second base and the outfield. That's a huge factor.

He hit .294 with six homers and 46 RBI - numbers you would certainly take from a guy that may be a spare part on your bench. He may not get 400 at-bats, but he'll make the most of each.

Daniel Descalso - 1B/2B/3B/SS - Descalso is finally getting a chance to play. He's the type of hitter that makes things happen. The bonus? He has some power in his bat. He can hit the gaps or knock the ball out of the park.

Descalso has some quickness and can steal a base. While I don't like his batting average, I do like the fact that he will be eligible at several positions next season. He's a marginal, end of the draft guy because of his versatility. Not much more though.


Yasmani Grandal - C - We haven't seen the best of Grandal yet. He's just getting started. I would not hesitate to draft him or pay for him in an auction. The guy can hit. He averaged .297 with eight homers in his first full year in the majors.

I wouldn't count on lots of home runs, but he can offer some gap doubles.

Yonder Alonso - 1B - Alonso is a line-drive hitter with a tremendous work ethic. He will put on a good at-bat almost every time. He consistently drives the ball, and managed to rack up 39 doubles. The park in San Diego is perfect for his swing.

Alonso won't get the attention of many other first baseman on draft day, but he will give you some RBI and a .275 average if you need a first baseman late in the draft.

Logan Forsythe - 2B - Forsythe doesn't have any one great tool that will help your fantasy team. He can offer steady batting average and some RBI. However, I think he'll get better and better with time. Forsythe is the type of guy that will get his uniform dirty day in and day out. He's the type of guy that I like to root for on my fantasy team.

Clayton Richard - LHSP - If he's healthy, Richard can be a very tough. He is getting better all the time. He is usually economical with his pitches and has a good "feel" on the mound.

Richard won 14 games for a mediocre club. They won't be as mediocre next year because the young guys now have experience.You can use 14 wins, right? He's now their ace. Probably even if Cory Luebke returns healthy after surgery.

Cory Luebke - LHSP - He should return from surgery strong and ready to go. It may not happen early in April or May, but don't forget about Luebke on draft day. I won't.

Brad Boxberger - RHRP - Boxberger has the stuff to close. I don't know if he'll get the chance, but he has enough velocity and a couple of solid pitches he can use at the back end of the bullpen. I think he is worth watching to see how the Padres use him.


Marco Scutaro - SS/2B - How could the Red Sox have ever let him go? This guy just makes things happen. How could Colorado let him go? He hit .362 for San Francisco.

With players like Hunter Pence and Panda hanging around in the lineup, Scutaro should make an impact. I think you can do worse than Scutaro in the middle-infield spots.

Gregor Blanco - OF - If he gets on base, he can steal. I like that quality in his game. He's sneaky fast. He can also drive the ball. Beware, Blanco struck out over 100 times this past season. I consider a low draft choice and probably NL-only at that.


Adam LaRoche - 1B - I don't know about you, but I don't consider LaRoche a star. I do think he has elevated his persona with a fantastic season. LaRoche had usually been passed over in most of my leagues. That won't happen anymore. Those 33 regular season home runs are far too valuable.

I watched LaRoche when he spent a year in Arizona. He seemed to go through the motions. He got hurt. Maybe Washington is the right place for him.

Ross Detwiler - LHSP - Detwiler was a tremendous help to me in one of my NL-only leagues. He snuck up on lots of people and has the ability to pitch to a low ERA and with the Washington offense, he should win games.

Don't look to him to help your strikeouts. Detwiler has an average of about 5.8 K/9IP, but the WHIP is good (1.223) and he knows how to pitch. He could be a sleeper for you.


Reds fans will just have to get used to seeing Dusty Baker in the dugout. He's coming back to manage the club. For two more years.

I don't know that the Orioles have too much to repair over the winter. Their pitching is improving and the offense hit well. They have to decide between Nate McLouth and Nolan Reimold in left field.

I like Brian Matusz out of the bullpen. At least until he shows he can command his pitches and stay out of the middle of the strike zone.

If the Rays lower their payroll as they have hinted, I question their ability to remain competitive. They have hitting needs that will require money.

The Mariners have a few shortstops that could be attractive on the trade market. They include Brendan Ryan, Nick Franklin and Carlos Triunfel. Maybe they will try to trade the underachieving Dustin Ackley and use one of the shortstop candidates at second.

Oakland will probably look for a third baseman in the offseason. They certainly have some pitching and outfield help to offer.

Have we seen the last of Manny Ramirez?

Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff. I tweet every day from the Arizona Fall League. You can also read my scouting opinions on under the Voices column.

My Arizona Fall League Notebook begins this week.