A list of the best players in baseball aged 23 and under accordingly to their positions. If you were going to start a team of young players yet to reach anything close to their prime, this would be what it looks like. I have singled out each position individually as well as added a starting pitcher and a closer. Because for fantasy purposed we are not interested in just bats, we want it all. If own or can get any of these players in a keeper league, now may be your last chance (if you have any chance at all). A cheaper option for keeper league owners may be to lock up one of the players "next in line".
Catcher- Salvador Perez (23) His slow start this year has scared away fantasy owners but he did the same thing last year before finishing on a tear hitting over .300 with 9 home runs and 41 rbis in his final 211 at bats. If he could translate even half of that to a full season you are looking at fantasy baseballs number 1 catcher for keeper leagues. A bonus for H2H league owners is that he starts a ton of games behind the plate and does not need as much rest as other catchers. A catcher with this type of bat who is constantly in the everyday lineup card is a real treat to fantasy owners.
-Next in line: Mike Zunino (23), Gary Sanchez (21), Jorge Alfaro (20)
First Base- Jonathon Singleton (22) A bit of a reach here as recent 23 yr old graduates Freeman, Hosmer and Rizzo were eliminated from this list, and Singleton is still in the minors but he should be up next month and holding down the first base job in Houston for years to come. He brings a plus hit tool and plus power with him and could be another Freddie Freeman or Eric Hosmer type of option which is a .300 hitter with 20-25 home runs a year making him a great target for keeper leagues. He also brings a great eye to the plate which will pay dividends on OBP leagues.
-Next in line: Dan Vogelbach (21), Domonic Smith (20), Matt Olsen (20)
Second Base- Anthony Rendon (23) Might eventually get moved to third base long term but for now he has second base eligibility and he probably will for next year too, so you should take advantage of that. So far through 23 games he is hitting .275 with 3 home runs, 13 runs and 15 rbis while playing all over the infield. We should see those numbers improve once he settles in on a position and be an annual guy who approach .300 batting average with 20 plus home runs a year. Those types of numbers at 2B should see Rendon shoot up the positional rankings and challenge for the top spot as soon 2015.
-Next in line: Kolten Wong (23), Jurickson Profar (21), Rougned Odor (20)
Short Stop- Xander Bogaerts (21) Typical of most young hitters Bogaerts isn’t exactly setting the world on fire in 2014 but he is only 21 years old. What he is doing is showing an incredible feel for the strike zone which is rare for anyone his age, much less doing that at the MLB level. He is a future 25-30 home run a year hitter who will be in a great lineup every year and put up those types of numbers at a premium, premium position in short stop. This guy is going to be a Super Star and if you play in a keeper league and do not own him the chances are you never will. He is that good.
Third Base- Manny Machado (21) As a 20 yr old Manny Machado took baseball by storm in 2012 and showed why he is a once in a decade type of a prospect. His elite defense will not help you in fantasy but it will keep him locked down at a premium position for many years to come. His bat is all you care about for fantasy leagues and it is going to be special. He may never lead the league in home runs but he should have plenty of 25-30+ home run seasons and be a yearly candidate to hit over .300, while scoring a lot of runs and recording a lot of RBI’s.
Left Field- Bryce Harper (21) What was in the water in 1992? Another 21 yr old on this list and he may be the best of the bunch. It can be hard for fantasy owners and writes alike to temper their expectations with a guy like this. I have seen plenty of 40 home run/30 steal projections for Harper this year but the truth is those types of numbers are going to take time. It is certainly a possibly down the line and if anyone can do it now it would be a guy like Harper but that is just an unreasonable expectation. Plus im not sure he will ever run that much to begin with. What he can do is be one of baseball’s best run producers for the next decade while averaging 30 home runs a year in due time.
Center Field- Mike Trout (22) Hi, I am Mike Trout and I am the most physically gifted baseball player ever... You disagree? Check my stats and oh yeah, I am going to get better. A large claim to make about any 22 year old and I am certainly not the first person to do it but Mike Trout is just special. On the 20-80 scouting scale Trout is one of the only players in the history of baseball to get 80s in all five categories. He will be an annual 40-40 threat for the next decade, could lead the league in any category at anytime will go down as the greatest player to ever play the game.
Right Field- Yasel Puig (23) This guy is the craziest on the field baseball player I have ever seen and I cannot take my eyes off of him. On a nightly basis is liable to run you out of an inning, make a bonehead play in the outfield or strikeout on three pitches with no real plan of attack but when he does do something special (which is also on a nightly basis) you are left stunned and speechless. His raw power at the plate is only rivaled by Giancarlo Stanton and his speed is off the charts. Yasiel Puig is truly an incredible talent that is going to be a nightmare for opposing pitchers to face for a long, long time.
-Next in line: Will Myers (22), Gregory Polanco (22), Oscar Tavares (21)
Starting Pitcher- Jose Fernandez (21) His fastball/curveball combination rivals anything I have ever seen. They are both elite pitches that when commanded (which he continues to get better at with every start) are pretty much unhittable. He is the best pitcher in baseball to me, yes I would take him over Clayton Kershaw or Yu Darvish and like my chances. His competitiveness on the mound is what you want out of a pitcher and he is the face of the entire city Miami, a town Lebron James also calls home. Fernandez is special, special player with the talent and desire to be great. That is all you can ask for.
Closer- Trevor Rosenthal (23) A great starting pitcher in the minor leagues, Rosenthal has found a home pitching in the 9th inning. Off to an early season struggle now is the perfect time to trade for him in keeper leagues. He is one of the rare closers in baseball worth a keeper spot and should rake up plenty of strikeouts and saves over his career. There is a lot of talk about the Cardinals eventually move him into the starting rotation and if they do that it only enhances this closers value in fantasy leagues where even elite closers are really just two category contributors.
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