Leonys Martin an overlooked fantasy baseball sleeper on Texas Rangers

      January 22, 2013 @ 18:45:15 PDT


So many rotisserie baseball players are salivating at the prospect of prospect Jurickson Profar occupying a roster spot on their fake squads. Others can't wait for third baseman Mike Olt to get his shot, whether it's with the only organization he's ever known or, eventually, some other MLB club.

The Texas Rangers' farm system remains, so I've read, one of the best in the biz.

But the player on their 40-man who probably intrigues me most isn't on roto managers' minds, at least not yet. He's not among the 92 outfielders who have come off the board at Mock Draft Central in the 124 drafts that have taken place in the past four days. No one pulled his name in the lone AL-only draft to go down in that time.

Maybe that'll change after pitchers and catchers report. After all, this Cuban, 25 in March, finished each of the past two seasons as their No. 4 prospect, according to Baseball America.

Or maybe it won't. He didn't make much of an impression while he was with the parent club last season, served as a reserve who started in 13 games, eight of them coming just before the All-Star break. This center fielder, who throws right-handed and bats left-handed, hit a meek .174 with three stolen bases in his 52 plate appearances.

This spring, however, Leonys Martin's opportunity will probably have arrived. Texas is unwilling to bring in a high-priced outfielder in order to make up for the free-agent loss of Josh Hamilton. The front office would probably prefer to spend most of whatever money is remaining in its 2013 budget on pitching, if the right openings present themselves.

The Rangers wish that Martin was more polished defensively. His bat is unproven at the game's highest level, and his plate discipline needs to improve. Ron Washington may have to platoon him with Craig Gentry. Engel Beltre, another of the franchise's lauded minor leaguer, will press him for this starting job.

Physically, though, Martin has the gifts to be a very good fielder, according to BA's scouting reports. He has a swing that the club feels generates power naturally. The organization wants him to concentrate on maintaining his line-drive stroke instead of swinging for fences. He has plus speed. He's said to learn quickly. If he makes the opening-day roster, the Rangers will protect him by placing him in the nine-hole, where they brought along Elvis Andrus in a similar fashion.

And by virtue of Martin's prospective playing time alone, he could easily end up being a nice reserve in deep mixed leagues and a third, fourth or fifth outfielder in AL-only formats. He has the skills to bat in the .270s or better and steal 20-plus bases from his position in the order.

But no one wants him, I guess - yet.

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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