I hope everyone is enjoying their Memorial Day. We can never say enough good things about the men and women who have served and are currently serving this country and protecting our freedom.
Today marks the begging of the Roto Watch List, which will be a weekly feature intended to identify some less owned players that may have fantasy impact in the near future. Owned percentages for both Yahoo! and ESPN are in parenthesise.
Carlos Santana, C, CLE (Y! 8%, ESPN 1%)
One of the top prospects in baseball (Keith Law ranked him behind only Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg this preseason), Santana just keeps on hitting in the minors. His line is now .311/.446/.571 with 11 home runs and 39 walks to only 33 strikeouts. He is the complete package as a hitter with both power and plate discipline.
The only real knock on his game is his defense behind the plate. Then again, Victor Martinez is still behind the dish despite not being considered a very good catcher. As far as hitting is concerned, Victor Martinez is a good comp, but Santana could end up being even better than that. If you missed on Buster Posey, add Santana now. he should be up in the next couple of weeks.
Maicer Izturis 2B/3B/SS, LAA (Y! 18%, ESPN 22%)
Last season, Izturis impacted fantasy teams by hitting .300 with eight home runs, 65 RBI, 74 runs scored and 13 stolen bases. He did all that in only 387 at-bats. With Brandon Wood on the DL (not to mention stinking it up at the plate), Izturis is in line for more playing time and could help out fantasy owners once again with his good plate discipline and position flexibility.
Neil Walker, 2B/3B, PIT (Y! 1%, ESPN 0.1%)
Walker was the eleventh overall pick in the 2004 draft at the age of 18. Now 24, it has been a long and at times disappointing trek to becoming a Major League regular. Pirates Manager John Russell has announced that Walker will be the team's new everyday second baseman, which adds position flexibility to Walker's potential fantasy value.
This season at triple-A, Walker was hitting .319/.391/.564 with six home runs and ten stolen bases. However, almost all of his damage was done against right-handed pitching (.390 AVG, .446 BABIP vs RHP). According to minorleaguesplits.com, Walker is a career .251 hitter against left-handed pitching. That should limit his potential to hit for AVG.
Walker is more of a deep league and NL-only flier, but he could provide a little pop and speed for teams in the need.
Roger Bernardina, OF, WAS (Y! 1%, ESPN 0.2%)
When Bernardina began his professional career, it was in the Expos system. Never a big prospect, Bernardina had shown signs of improvement at the plate in 2008, but a broken ankle cost him just about all of the 2009 season. At triple-A this season, Bernardina was hitting .377/.426/.541 with seven stolen bases in nine attempts. Bernardina has always had speed; he stole 41 bases in 120 games in 2008 and was listed by Baseball America as the fastest baserunner and best defensive outfielder in the Nationals system.
At age 26, Bernardina is no longer a prospect, but he has a chance to get a lot of playing time with the Nationals this season if he can hit enough. Speed never slumps, so as long as he can get on base, he should be a cheap source for fantasy teams in need of stolen bases. This is no sure thing, however, as Bernardina tends to strike out too much for his skills set.