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Regan's Rumblings: On the Fringe

David Regan

David Regan is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner, including the 2015 Baseball Article of the Year.

If you're in 10-team mixed leagues, several of these guys may never see your roster this season, but give it a read anyway. We'll be touching on a handful of guys on the fringe of securing a roster spot or in some cases, of accruing more playing time and thus, more fantasy value…


Omar Narvaez (CHW) – You're not alone if you're asking “who?” right about now. 2016 No. 10 overall pick Zack Collins is the likely long-term catcher for the White Sox, but for now, it's Geovany Soto and Narvaez who are expected to man the position this season. Narvaez totaled 289 at-bats across three levels last season and recorded just three home runs without stealing a base, but in 101 at-bats in Chicago, Narvaez hit a respectable .267/.350/.337 with a solid 14:14 K:BB. The lefty swinger was also 7-for-21 versus southpaws, so he knows what he's doing at the dish. The veteran Soto was limited by knee injuries last year, and given his age (34), Narvaez could see enough at-bats to have value in deeper leagues, particularly those that use OBP as a category.

First Base

A.J. Reed (HOU) – Yulieski Gurriel is atop the Houston depth chart, but Reed has the opportunity to hit his way onto the roster this spring, per manager A.J. Hinch. Expectations surrounding Reed were sky-high last season after he destroyed the upper levels of the minors in 2015 to the tune of .340/.432/.612 with 34 home runs. Reed then hit just .164/.270/.262 in 101 at-bats with the Astros, though in various Triple-A stints, he did hit .291/.368/.556. Gurriel hit a modest .262/.292/.385 in 130 at-bats last season for the Astros, so this could be wide open despite the Astros having handed Gurriel a $47.5 million contract last July.

Second Base

Nick Franklin (TB) – A career .219/.288/.371 hitter in 802 plate appearances, Franklin has yet to fulfill the promise he showed way back in 2010 when he slugged 23 homers and swiped 25 bases as a 19-year-old in Low-A. He's had some solid performances at the minor league levels since that season, but it's yet to translate. As we head into spring training, the Logan Forsythe trade leaves a gaping hole at second base. Brad Miller is another candidate, though Franklin could also see time at multiple positions, and with a big spring, even win a regular spot outright. Franklin's .270/.328/.443 slash in 191 PA's last year was by far a career best, and he even added six stolen bases. The upside is 20 homers and 15 steals.


Ketel Marte (ARI) – Marte of course came over with Taijuan Walker in the Jean Segura deal, and he joins a crowded middle infield group that includes Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed, and the likely (but not guaranteed) starter at second base, Brandon Drury. Marte hit just .259/.287/.323 in 466 PA's for the Mariners last season, but just the year prior, he'd batted a solid .283/.351/.402. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, but Marte is still just 23 and if he can garner regular playing time and get his OBP more in the .330 range, 25 stolen bases is a reasonable estimate. Watch the shortstop battle this spring, and if Marte's winning, he could be a source of cheap speed.

Third Base

Rio Ruiz (ATL) – Adonis Garcia is expected to open as the team's third baseman, but Garcia is far from secure as the long-term option after batting a modest .273/.311/.406 with 14 home runs in 562 PA's last year. Garcia showed nothing throughout his minor league career to indicate that a huge step forward was coming, so Ruiz should get his shot at some point in 2017. He made his MLB debut in 2016 after batting .271/.355/.400 in Triple-A, and though his power numbers have always been modest, Ruiz has always walked more than 10 percent of the time while striking out at a respectable rate. It's possible that, given he doesn't turn 23 until May, Ruiz will eventually develop 25-homer power, but that's far from certain at this point. I do think he has a legitimate chance to win the third base job this spring, however.


Tyler Collins (DET) – With Cameron Maybin now in San Diego with the Angels, the Tigers' center field job is wide open, and Collins is the leading candidate to fill the role. The 26-year-old batted a modest .235/.305/.382 with four home runs and a stolen base in 151 PA's with the Tigers last season. In the minors, he's stolen as many as 20 bases and hit up to 21 home runs, but over the past two seasons in 850-plus PA's, Collins has hit a modest 17 homers with 16 stolen bases. He also batted just .214/.274/.323 in Triple-A last season (281 PA), so it's hard to get excited about anything Collins brings to the table other than the potential to get a bunch of at-bats. He's probably best-served as a platoon/4th OF type, but maybe he's ready to surprise.

Dalton Pompey (TOR) – Pompey's star was skyrocketing back in 2014 when he went from High-A to the big leagues in the span of just over two months. Across the minors that year, Pompey hit .317/.392/.469 with 43 steals, but since that time he's floundered, gathering just two MLB plate appearances last season after batting .270/.349/.353 in Triple-A. Pompey may never hit many more than 10 home runs, but he does have the potential to steal 30 bases, and even though he's scuffled the last two seasons, Pompey has put up Triple-A BB%'s of 12.2 and 10.5 the last two seasons. Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista have two outfield slots on lockdown, so Pompey will battle the likes of Melvin Upton Jr. and Ezequiel Carrera for playing time this spring. Signs seem to point to Pompey opening in Triple-A, but that could change with a strong March.

Jurickson Profar (TEX) – Profar will reportedly be on the good side of a left field platoon with Ryan Rua to start the year, but it's easy to see him winning this job outright despite some struggles with left-handed pitching. The former No. 1 overall prospect in some publications, Profar has been set back by shoulder issues that appear to have sapped some of his power, but he's still just 24. Profar batted .239/.321/.338 overall last year with five home runs in 272 at-bats while striking out a shade less than 20 percent of the time. As a 19-year-old in Double-A back in 2012, Profar batted a strong .281/.368/.452 to earn a big league promotion, but it's been all downhill since. Still, on name only, he's worth investing in in deeper formats, as Rua isn't exactly Babe Ruth out there.

Starting Pitcher

Mike Montgomery (CHC) – Montgomery has some competition for the No. 5 slot in the form of Brett Anderson, and if Anderson shows what he did in 2015 (180.1 innings, 3.69 ERA), he'll likely get the job. Montgomery overall had a 2.52 ERA (3.06 as a starting pitcher) last year in 100 innings while averaging 93.6 mph with his fastball and posting an 8.3 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. Control issues and his success as a reliever may well relegate him to a bullpen role to start the year, but I can see him making 20-plus starts due to injuries, particularly given Anderson's unsure medical history.

Mike Clevinger (CLE) – Clevinger is reportedly in line for a bullpen role, though the current money is on him opening in Triple-A as a starter. Still, he's interesting because he's likely next in line for a spot should someone go down, and a report this week had his fastball touching 100 mph, which is pretty rare this early in camp. Clevinger allowed RH hitters to bat .301 against him last season, and combined with a 4.9 BB/9, his ERA checked in at 5.26. The warts are certainly there, but you can't teach velocity.

Joe Musgrove (HOU) – Musgrove is on the outside looking in in terms of the Houston rotation, but he should still spend a fair amount of 2017 in the big leagues. His 91-93 mph fastball and above average slider point to a No. 5 starter. Also, some of his minor league BB/9 rates are impressive (1.07, 0.36, 1.17 etc), which is elite control if I ever saw it. He's not a candidate right now to be drafted in 12-team mixed leagues, but I can certainly see him making 25 big league starts with a sub-4.00 ERA and 150 strikeouts.

Relief Pitcher

Jake Barrett (ARI) – Soon-to-be 40-year-old Fernando Rodney tops the Arizona closer depth chart, so he's always a candidate for an injury or rapid decline. Rodney though has made 67 or more appearances for five consecutive seasons, so he could certainly hold up for another campaign. If that doesn't happen, Barrett, Enrique Burgos, and Randall Delgado would all be likely competitors, but my (current) money is on Barrett. His 3.44 ERA, 5.1 BB/9, and 1.39 WHIP are far from closer-worthy, but the 94.5 mph fastball and 10.2 K/9 are more than adequate. Barrett obviously must improve his control, but the upside is there.

Ryan Pressly (MIN) – With Glen Perkins' recovery from shoulder surgery off to an already rocky start this spring, Pressly looks to be next in line behind Brandon Kintzler as the Twins' closer. Pressly has seen his average fastball velocity climb from 93.3 mph to 95.1 mph since 2014, and last year he posted a 3.70 ERA, 8.0 K/9, and 2.8 BB/9 in 72 games. Those aren't elite ratios for a closer by any means, but the Twins' bullpen depth chart is a certifiable mess, so there's no reason Pressly can't emerge as a potential ninth inning option at some point.