SleepersApril 18, 2007

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Sleeper Watch

By Matthew Robertson

Looking for the next Carl Crawford, or at the very least, the next Juan Pierre? Dynasty and keeper league managers need to pay attention because Phillies outfield prospect Michael Bourn might be just what the doctor ordered. Drafted in the fourth round out of the University of Houston, Bourn has stolen a total of 163 bases in his three minor league seasons with a remarkable success rate. Being 24 years of age, only 5’11″, and 185 pounds, the compact lefty does not have quite the same power potential of a Crawford or a Grady Sizemore, but certainly more than a Pierre or a Chone Figgins. Like many young speedsters, his on-base percentage and batting average need to improve in order to ascend into fantasy superstardom, but you cannot teach speed and he is well worth the risk. Bourn was voted the Phillies’ top positional prospect, plays a great defensive centerfield, and has a good arm. He is a playmaker and was named one of the most exciting players in the minor leagues by Baseball America.

Bourn earned a 2007 roster spot on the Phillies after hitting .277 with 17 runs, three doubles, two triples, nine RBI and eight stolen bases in 27 spring games. He is expected to serve as a reserve outfielder to start the year, but is clearly viewed as the future Philadelphia staple in centerfield. There are already reports that the Phillies are interested in trading the pending free agent and often injured Aaron Rowand for relief help in order to insert the speedy Bourn at the top of the Citizens Bank Park lineup. If given the chance, expect Bourn to run the base paths like a man with something to prove. Bourn was called up in 2006 and is available in most fantasy service provider databases as a free agent. As he matures and gets accustomed to the league, he could prove to be lighting in a bottle for fantasy owners in search of a stat monster for the future.

Matthew Robertson is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Matthew in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Havok1517.
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