Fantasy baseball sleepers, undervalued - OF
The power growth many expect from the desert gnat won't arrive in 2013 - that's probably a few years down the road. But his gap punch makes for a nice complement to his upside of consistent .300 clips and 30-steal seasons. He was making his mark in his debut stint last summer before he broke his right hand.
Sure, 'Zona has insurance in Gerardo Parra and, to an extent, Tony Campana in case Eaton must revisit the farm, even to start the year. But all things equal, Eaton seems most likely to have a hold on PT. He's excelled at taking a walk at every level of professional play; his aggressive but smart game should make his transition smoother than most speedsters' - perfect for a fourth or fifth option in a mixed league. -TH
The 10 homers he hit in 2011 were knocked down to four in a nearly equal statistical sample last year. But what Jay didn't offer shouldn't strip the extremely stable profile he's developing elsewhere; he's the best leadoff option in a potent lineup and finally cashed in on his speed in the column fantasy owners care about.
When filling out five-fly-catcher lineups, someone like Jay, turning 28 in March, hardly excites but most certainly stabilizes a squad's batting average, thanks to his acceptable batting eye and liner- and grounder-leaning distribution. With solid leather and stability versus southpaws, he's an almost guaranteed 500-plus at-bats of a clip boost. -TH
In both 2009 and 2010, Gutierrez played in 150-plus games, batted a combined .264, hit a total of 30 home runs and swiped 41 bases in all. He's played in 132 major league contests since. Roto managers will quickly dismiss him as an injury-prone mess.
It should be noted that the right-handed batter missed much of 2011 because of a debilitating illness, not an injury. In Gutierrez's effort to prove that he was ready to return last spring, he may have overdone it and invited the torn pectoral muscle that wiped out most of his first half. Naturally, once he returned, he sustained a concussion. Why not just give up, Guti?
The 30-year-old enjoyed his first healthy offseason in a couple of years, however. He was able to play winter ball in Venezuela, where he batted .349 with three home runs in 86 at-bats. The center fielder is still a valued, plus defender. Gutierrez should also benefit a bit from the drawn-in fences at Safeco Field. He could easily be a nice mixed-league supplement or profitable addition to an AL-only roster. -NM
The Twinkies have a mixture of All-Star-caliber major leaguers and Quad-A wannabes in their projected lineup. Parmelee, 25, has a shot to prove that he's not one of the latter because he's expected to begin the season as Minnesota's right fielder, a position he began to play regularly to close out last season. He could round out a deep-mixed roster or provide a cheap presence in an AL-only manager's outfield.
Parmelee's MLB lifetime numbers (.265/.336/.440 in 298 plate appearances) are representative of his abilities in a full campaign. He's gained good control of the strike zone and makes regular contact (80 percent or better), and he has the power to hit 20-plus bombs. Minnesota has little reason (i.e., no depth) not to give him a long - long - look in right field. And if you're really concerned about his PT, then rest assured that he's the likeliest in-house option at first base, should the Twins trade Justin Morneau. -NM
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous publications, and recognized as a finalist in FSWA's awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he's on The Reality Check with Glenn Clark every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. He hits the airwaves every Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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