Every fantasy owner is looking for the next sleeper in preparing for their 2010 drafts. One guy who I think can outperform his expectations, and possibly have a breakout season, is Pirates outfielder Lastings Milledge. Milledge has been traded twice in his career already, so there are reasons to doubt he will ever become the superstar he was projected to be when he was a minor league prospect.
Milledge will start the 2010 season as the starting left fielder for the Pirates, He has power and speed, and could be a surprise member of the 20-20 club in 2010, if all goes right for him. Milledge turns 25 in April, so he is at a crossroads in his MLB career. How he performs in 2010 will be huge in determining whether he will reach his potential or not. The Pirates will give him every opportunity to show the skills he has.
In today's Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Pirates beat writer Rob Biertempfel writes:
A make-or-break season may be on the horizon for Pirates left fielder Lastings Milledge.
"I know this is going to be an important year," Milledge said Thursday. "I'm expecting a lot out of myself. I've been putting in the work, because I think this year could set up the rest of my career."
"A lot of people said there were some makeup (issues) with him," Russell said. "He had a lot to overcome. He came in with a great attitude, worked hard and make progress.
"He realizes that it doesn't stop, so he's worked hard this winter. He's hungry — you can see it."
In 244 at bats in 2009, Milledge went 4-21-7-.279-.323-.373. Bill James projects him to go 11-60-22-.284-.340-.413 in 2010. I think he could be closer to his 2008 stats in Washington where he went 14-61-24-.268.
Milledge certainly has an opportunity to shine in Pittsburgh, where the expectations are not as high, and the media not as rough as his previous two stops in the majors.