2023 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: 21 players to watch during the World Baseball Classic

The World Baseball Classic is back for the first time since 2017, with the first game scheduled for 11:00 pm ET Tuesday between the Netherlands and Cuba, the tournament’s two most exciting teams. None of them are likely to destroy it all, but if any of them make it into the final four, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Cuba is led for the first time by MLB players like Luis Roberts and Yoan Moncada (along with former MLB star Yoenis Cespedes), while the Netherlands team continues to be backed by Aruba and Curaçao stars like Xander Bogerts and Vladimir Balentien. Other teams, of course, have much bigger names at the top of the list, with the Dominican Republic, Japan and the United States coming up with some of the best players in the league.

  • Five Bold WBC Predictions

And the Japanese team boasts some of the best non-league players in the world. The tournament will be the first opportunity for most American baseball fans to see some of the biggest stars in the Japanese Professional Baseball League and the Korean Baseball Organization, and that’s what excites me the most. And that’s what fantasy players should be most interested in.

Before today’s first game, let’s take a quick look at what you should be looking out for as you watch the tournament that runs until March 21st. For the most part, we’ll focus on guys you probably don’t know. a lot about foreign league stars and prospects getting to play on the big stage, but I also have a list of eight MLB players who have something to show for in the tournament.

Here’s what to watch on the WBC:

Non-MLBers to watch

  • Munetaka Murakami, DH, Yakult Swallows (Japan) – Murakami was unanimously named the Central League MVP by winning the Triple Crown of the Japanese Professional Baseball League and setting the single-season home run record for a Japanese-born player. At 22, he hit .318/.458/.711. His 1,169 OPS was better than any of Otani’s seasons in Japan. Murakami has just signed a three-year contract that will send him to MLB after the 2025 season when he is just 26 years old. The ZiPS projection system sees Murakami as a 30-year-old light striker with some speed and a potential Fantasy creator.
  • Yoshinobu Yamamoto, SP, Orix Buffaloes (JP) – Yamamoto is the current two-time Pacific League MVP and he has led the league in ERA, wins and strikeouts for several consecutive seasons. Yamamoto is probably the best pitcher outside of American professional baseball and has a 90 second pace despite being small at 5ft 10in and has managed to throw over 190 innings in a straight season which is an impressive feat in any league. . not to mention one with a schedule of 141 games. Yamamoto could be sent after this season and is looking to land a contract that dwarfs the $75 million deal Kodai Senga received this offseason from the Mets.
  • Rocky Sasaki, SP, Chiba Lotte Marines (Japan) – If the average American baseball fan has heard of any of the Japanese stars, it’s because of Sasaki’s historic performance last season. Last season, he had his first perfect game in Japan since 1994, hitting 19 batters in the game, including 13 in a row. He then pitched eight perfect innings before being ejected from the game, recording 52 consecutive strikeouts, 31 of them by strikeout. Sasaki is only 21 years old and can hit triple figures with his fastball and is now considered the best pitcher in the world. The problem is, he’s probably further than either of the top two because he’s likely to have to give up a significant amount of money to sign with an MLB team before he turns 25, and considering he’s young a pitcher who has never thrown more than 130 pitches in a season, which means there’s still a lot of uncertainty in that profile.
  • Ivan Herrera, C, STL (Panama) – Herrera got a cup of coffee in the majors last season and could be ready to back Wilson Contreras this season. He’s a decent hitter, with great plate discipline and enough power to make a difference in shallow position, but he’s unlikely to make a big difference to Fantasy until there’s a trade.
  • Sal Frelic, CF, MIL (Italy) – Frelic is Scott White’s 50th prospect entering the season following the 2022 campaign where he hit .331/.403/.480 across three levels, reaching Triple-A (where he excelled) . There are questions about how much strength Frelik will use in games, but he looks like a good bet on average and speed, and he has his way to the opening spot on the Brewers roster. He will most likely start at the Triple-A level, but if Garrett Mitchell stumbles, Frelik won’t last long.
  • Bo Naylor, C, CLE (Canada) – Progress is rarely linear for prospects, and this is especially true for catchers who take on harder physical and mental challenges than most other prospects. Naylor finally hit what scouts expected in 2022, hitting .263/.392/.496 with 21 homers and 20 steals in 118 games between Double-A and Triple-A, even reaching the Majors in eight plate appearances. Naylor looks set to start in junior high but, again, could move up relatively soon. Speed ​​out of position always intrigues Fantasy, and Naylor may eventually bring Daulton Varshaw’s profile to the catcher position.
  • Edouard Julien, 2B, MIN (Canada) – Julien performed extremely well in his junior year, hitting .283/.437/.485 in 225 career games, with exceptional OBP skills and great speed. There are questions about his possible defensive home, but his skill set is pretty intriguing if he can keep hitting. He will likely start 2023 in Triple-A and right now he is Scott’s 78th Ave.
  • Jung-Hoo Lee, RF, Kiwoom Heroes (South Korea) – Lee became the 2022 KBO MVP of the season at age 23 thanks to a .349/0.421/0.575 line and a 66:32 BB:K ratio. There are still questions about how his bat will translate into MLB given that the level of competition in Korea isn’t as high as in Japan, but we’re going to find out pretty soon as it should be released. after the upcoming season. Lee didn’t show as much power as even someone like Ha-Sung Kim in the KBO, but overall he was a more productive striker. He could be more like 2022 Red Sox signing Masata Yoshida as a top player rather than a mid-level bat.
  • Harry Ford, C, SEA (UK) – Ford was selected 12th overall in the 2021 draft and could be the Mariners’ top prospect after hitting a .274/0.425/0.438 Low-A rating as a 19-year-old . last season. Prep catchers are some of the worst bets you can make to become prospects and he is so far away from the big players that a lot can go wrong. However, this is a potential 20-20 profile for the catcher, so if he gets out the other side, he could be a powerful fantasy player with hints of a Jason Kendall pick. We’re just probably talking more about the 2025 ETA. Despite this, it is now Scott’s 31st Ave.
  • Owen Casey, LF, CHC (Canada) – Casey’s 2022 total of .254/0.349/0.402 won’t surprise you, but it looks much better when you realize the 19-year-old only scored 0.25 points. 122/.173/.163 in April. He has a rough projection of strength that he doesn’t use consistently enough yet, and there are enough swings and misses in his game to pose a lot of risk. This season will be decisive for the 20-year-old’s prospects.
  • Zak Gelof, 3B, OAK (Israel). Reaching Triple-A at 22, Gelof is close enough to see him this season on a team that probably won’t play much. Gelof divides most of his time between 3B and 2B, and given the lack of depth in those two places, we’ll be rooting for him, though his eventual home park may limit his best tool, his strength.
  • Jose Ramos, RF, LAD (Panama) – Ramos has a power-focused swing and hit 28 homers in 143 games between the Minors and Arizona Fall League stints. However, he also struck out 189 times and was eventually removed from the 40-man roster and missed out on the Rule 5 draft. He is still young enough to develop better plate discipline and if he does, on the rosters The Fantasy will always have room for a potential 30-man hitter, although there is always the question of whether a spot will remain on the Dodgers’ roster.
  • Matt Mervis, 1B, CHC (Israel). Mervis wasn’t drafted in 2020, but his progress isn’t as great as it might seem – remember, that year’s draft was only 10 rounds. Mervis will turn 25 in mid-April and play only at first base, so there’s not much room for error here, but he paved his way last season by hitting .309/.379/. .606 and made it to Triple-A where he continued to produce big numbers. He will probably open this season in Triple-A, but if Eric Hosmer can’t turn back the clock, I think we’ll see Mervis in the first 50 games of the season. This closeness makes him more promising in fantasy than in real life; he is Scott’s 41st player.

MLB worth watching

  • Jose Berrios, SP, TOR (Puerto Rico) – Berrios has a lot to prove after a disastrous 2022 season, but the problem is there’s not one specific thing we can point to and say, “Yeah, he got it.” Berrios’ speed and movement was mostly good last season, he just wasn’t consistent enough with his pitches, and 50-75 pitches in the WBC won’t prove whether he’s improved or not. However, I will certainly feel better about my late fliers if he pitches well.
  • Luis Robert, OF, CHW (Cuba) – Robert’s biggest problem in his career has been his health, so we want him to get through it unscathed in the first place. However, we would also like him to constantly dribble in the air after…


Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker