Fantasy baseball nuggets: Jose Bautista, LABR, Phil Hughes, etc.

      February 28, 2014 @ 13:32:52 PDT

I haven't exactly targeted Jose Bautista in any of my drafts yet. (I mentioned that Ray "Baseball Guys" Flowers sparked a Twitter debate about the choice between Joey Bats and Alex Rios a few days ago, and many of the respondents, including Tim and I, said that they'd opt for Rios.)

I'll say this, though: I may be revising my stance on the slugger. In his first spring training plate appearance of the year, on Wednesday, Bautista hit a bomb out of Bright House Field.

One mega-positive event doesn't deduct his medical history, but it does suggest that his surgically repaired wrist won't be an issue in 2014. I may not buy Bautista, but I'm a touch more open to the idea.

Choosy QBs choose Choo in red zone

Nothing but positive reports from Texas Rangers camp about the chemistry developing between Russell Wilson and Shin-Soo Choo. Choo looks like a bit of a bargain in 2014, considering the year he had with Cincy. He should score at least a dozen TDs in this high-powered offense.

LABR: this weekend

The auctions for USA TODAY/Sports Weekly's longtime industry standard Leagues of Alternative Baseball Reality take place on Saturday (AL) and Sunday (NL) in Phoenix. SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio will broadcast the events.

The fields for the two -only leagues are kind of fierce, as usual. I rep KFFL in the AL-only league. I'm open to suggestions about strategy.

Tim represented KFFL in the LABR Mixed draft, which took place a couple of weeks ago.

Keith's top 45 prospects

Keith Hernandez (the real one, not the phony from Seinfeld) has put together his list of Top 2014 Fantasy Baseball Prospects. The second set of them, on Nos. 16-30, went up the other day. Don't forget to check out Nos. 31-45, too. We'll post the final 15 next Wednesday.

Hughes holstering slider

Believe it or not, Phil Hughes has become an intriguing fantasy option again. The Minnesota Twins Effect on the right-hander probably won't be as profound as the Pittsburgh Pirates Effect was on A.J. Burnett, who fled the New York Yankees and their homer-happy yard a couple of years ago, but it should be pretty good.

Hughes discussed his decision to subtract the slide piece from his 2014 arsenal. I'd noticed when I projected him that he resorted to that pitch somewhat frequently last year, unlike in previous seasons.

I'm classifying this as another pro. Checkmarks in the pros column don't correlate to specific constants in the equation for a projection, but they can influence us to be a touch more forgiving (or unforgiving) when determining weights for particular seasons. Little things add up.

Paul Sporer (Baseball Prospectus) also likes Hughes in 2014. Paul produces the "Starting Pitcher Guide." If Paul likes a pitcher, then we should listen. Howard Bender (Fangraphs) beat Paul to the punch in the Fantasy Baseball Analysis Draft, though, scooping up Hughes in the 22nd round. That's a mixed league, by the way.

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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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