2014 Outlook: Professional baseball's only 30/30 man last season, and an individual who hit the fifth-most home runs (37) among pros en route to coming within three homers of becoming the minors' first 40/40 man in at least 50 years, Springer is one of the most tantalizing fantasy baseball prospects thanks to his elite combination of power and speed. Those abilities should fuel his fantasy value once he reaches the majors, though as a high-strikeout hitter (26.5 percent career rate in the minors), he might be susceptible to streaks and an overall low batting average initially, as he adjusts. Springer can draw a walk, however, with a 12.2 percent pro rate, so he'll be a more attractive stash in leagues that reward those or on-base percentage. He'll come to Houston Astros camp with a chance at a starting job, though as he's not currently on the 40-man roster, he's much more likely to be one of 2014's most attractive midseason call-ups.
2014 Outlook: Known more for his defense than offense, Pollock nevertheless has the kind of speed that can drive fantasy value, having totaled 67 stolen bases in 302 career minor league games and 12 in 112 contests thus far at the big league level. He also is adept at making contact, a plus because it diminishes the risk to a fantasy team's batting average (or resulting on-base percentage). Pollock should get the bulk of the at-bats in center field thanks to his defensive prowess, but he's not a high-upside, surefire mixed league asset.
2014 Outlook: A converted shortstop, Lake lacks the long-term ceiling of fellow Chicago Cubs Starlin Castro and Javier Baez, which is why he was moved to the outfield when he finally arrived in the majors last summer. Lake got off to a hot start, batting .324 in his first 34 games, but after that, opposing pitchers quickly learned that he was a free swinger who struggled against breaking balls, and he hit just .223/.291/.351 thereafter (30 games). It's the latter stat line that's closer to his true value, as Lake managed pedestrian .271/.322/.411 career minor league rates, as well as 23.5 percent strikeout and 5.9 percent walk rates, that make him look like a streaky bet. NL-only owners can take their chances, but he's a weaker choice for those leagues that use on-base percentage over batting average.
2014 Outlook: A contact hitter with decent speed, Span is a player with a limited downside yet one also lacking in any real upside. From 2011-13 combined, his 11.4 percent strikeout rate ranked 23rd, his 9.1 percent miss rate on swings fifth; he also paced the majors with a .273 batting average on non-competitive pitches (those considerably outside the strike zone) in 2013. Those result in healthy enough ratios to make him a consistent 20-steal candidate, the primary threat to that entering 2014 the presence of a talented fourth outfielder in Nate McLouth fighting for his at-bats. Span should be an NL-only asset, but he's only a fringe bet in mixed.
2014 Outlook: He was the No. 2 overall pick from the 2009 amateur draft, but Ackley's star has faded in four-and-a-half pro seasons since; his .297 career wOBA ranks in only the 12th percentile among players with at least 1,000 plate appearances since his big-league debut in June of 2011. He's also in a fight for at-bats, with Robinson Cano on board to man his natural position of second base, meaning Ackley's best-case scenario has him earning either the starting left or center field job, his more probable role being that of a utility man. That said, Ackley did appear his former disciplined self at the plate following a June stint in Triple-A last season, the result a .304 batting average and .374 on-base percentage after the All-Star break. Should he extend that into the spring, he might land enough playing time to warrant mixed-league middle-infield status -- he'll still qualify at second -- and if he can secure a top-third lineup spot, his on-base percentage might make him an intriguing sleeper in formats that utilize that category or runs scored.
2014 Outlook: For the first time in his career, Parra was a regular, which on the surface should be a good thing, until you realize all the extra plate appearances came against lefties. Parra had 463 plate appearances against right-handers, hitting .297 with 10 homers. This was basically what he did the previous two seasons while in a platoon. In 200 plate appearances facing lefties, Parra hit an anemic .198 with zero homers. You'd have been better off with the higher average and fewer runs and RBIs. Because he plays such great defense, Parra is perfect for simulation games where you can set a lineup versus lefties and righties. In traditional fantasy, he's just an emergency fill-in for mixed leagues.
2014 Outlook: One of the top prospects in baseball, and arguably one of the safer rookie candidates thanks to his high-average potential, Taveras' chances at a regular gig with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014 have taken a hit in the past calendar year. Though he showed continued minor-league mastery in Triple-A in 2013, batting .306/.341/.462, a high ankle injury limited him to just 46 games and led to eventual surgery. In addition, the Cardinals added Peter Bourjos this winter, giving them three viable starters to choose from between center and right field and affording them patience with Taveras. Taveras will presumably begin the year in Triple-A, making him more in-season pickup than immediate fantasy asset, but he'll be an NL-only stash and a top dynasty-league prospect nevertheless. And as he should hit for a good average with some power immediately, he'll warrant an instant pickup in all formats once he arrives.
2014 Outlook: Jay's numbers aren't extraordinary in any one regard -- including his defense -- and it's for that reason he's more of a counting-numbers option tied to playing time than a guy whom fantasy owners should be excited to select. He's a viable NL-only outfielder, but his greatest value comes in leagues with daily transactions: He's a .300/.360/.417 career hitter against right-handed pitchers, his numbers against them showing minimal variance during his four big league seasons. Jay might lose a chunk of at-bats in 2014 with defensive whiz Peter Bourjos on board and Allen Craig moving to the outfield, so keep careful tabs on his usage during spring training.
2014 Outlook: Hamstring and wrist issues dogged Bourjos for much of 2013, leading to September surgery for the latter, but in his defense, the St. Louis Cardinals might not have as aggressively pursued him in trade if there were lingering concerns entering 2014. He'll give his new squad quality defense and quickness on the base paths, traits granted more valuable on the diamond than in fantasy, but relevant in NL-only formats nevertheless. Bourjos' defense is good enough to assure him a near-everyday role in center field, and with it, he might yet accrue enough at-bats to reach the 30-steal plateau.
Stephania Bell: A fracture last June caused Bourjos to miss two months but the wrist never fully healed and he underwent surgery to insert a pin in September. By the way he was running around this spring, one would never suspect he'd been injured. Now if he can just stay healthy.
2014 Outlook: Although he traded one pitcher-friendly ballpark (O.co Coliseum) for another (Citi Field) this winter, Young experienced a modest boost in fantasy appeal as a result of his trade, if only because he's now on a team with more opportunity in the outfield. He'll compete for a starting role, at worst settling for a platoon gig, which might be enough to fuel his counting numbers and drive his homers and steals to near-20/20. Young is a major batting average liability who is only marginally better in on-base percentage, and in points leagues, he's a less attractive pick. But NL-only owners can pick him to round out their outfields, hoping for the requisite at-bats to fuel his homers and steals.
2014 Outlook: Rushed to the majors ahead of Christian Yelich when injuries created a need in the Miami Marlins' outfield, Ozuna was somewhat overmatched at the plate during his rookie campaign of 2013. A power hitter in the minors -- he averaged 23 homers per year from 2010 through 2012 -- he struggled to drive the ball, his ground ball rate near 50 percent, and had significant issues against right-handers. A thumb injury ended his season in August, and while he faces minimal competition for a starting job this spring, the Marlins might choose to give him more seasoning in Triple-A. NL-only owners are the ones who can speculate on his power potential, but with a strong spring, he could quickly become quite the bargain candidate.
2014 Outlook: Ticketed as Jacoby Ellsbury's successor in center field for the Boston Red Sox, Bradley should not elicit hopes from his fantasy owners of Ellsbury-like fantasy production. "Ellsbury lite" might be the fairest comparison. Bradley isn't quite Ellsbury in terms of batting average or home run production, and he's not nearly as fast, with 10/25 numbers his likely ceiling, at least initially. Bradley does provide more potential in terms of defense and on-base ability, however, and in leagues that weigh on-base percentage and/or walks, he's especially intriguing. As things stand, he should receive enough playing time to crack the mixed league radar, but he's of most worth as a mid-to-late pick in AL-only formats.
2014 Outlook: Olé! After being cut by the Kansas City Royals this winter, Bonifacio latched on with the Chicago Cubs, who will use him as a utilityman, an important role considering the team's weaknesses at second and third base. He might not ever score regular at-bats with the Cubs, but should sneak in enough playing time to provide NL-only owners with a healthy number of stolen bases.
2014 Outlook: Groin, hamstring and oblique issues have cost Cain considerable time the past two seasons, and as 2014 dawns his playing time is in question following the offseason acquisition of Norichika Aoki. Cain should make the Kansas City Royals out of camp, but his role could range anywhere from a fourth outfielder to their starting center fielder, the former locking him in as a late-round AL-only pick, the latter perhaps putting him on the mixed-league radar. Cain is a capable speedster with a hint of power; he's a possible 10/20 player if he can stay healthy and capture a regular role.
2014 Outlook: Stubbs' arrival in Colorado might have fantasy owners dreaming of a return to his 20/30 ways, but understand that despite the benefits of Coors Field, he's joining a team that has competition for at-bats in its outfield and is sure to mix and match. Fantasy owners should follow suit. He has a career OPS 144 points higher against left-handers (.796) than right-handers (.652), and he'll be a far more attractive choice at Coors Field, where even the most strikeout-prone can gain points on their batting averages. The sum of these parts is more NL-only than mixed league asset, but if your league affords daily transactions, you might squeeze additional value.