SleepersMay 26, 2007

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Sleeper Watch

By Aaron West

I wouldn’t think Chris B. Young (the speedy outfielder in Arizona, not the tall Padres pitcher) would be considered a sleeper given his preseason hype, minor league numbers & starting position. Apparently he is either relatively unknown, or owners are already giving up on him after a couple minor injuries. Surprisingly, he is only owned in 12% of ESPN leagues and 31% of Yahoo leagues, and that number is falling fast.

Of all highly touted rookies this year, Chris B. Young is the closest thing to a lock. He started his professional baseball career at the tender age of 19 and was drafted in the later rounds (#493 overall) by the Chicago White Sox. He wasn’t highly touted as a young prospect, but showed enough potential in the rookie leagues to be given a shot in Single-A ball. From there he caught fire, developing into the 5-tool prospect he is today. He spent 2004 through 2006 in the minor leagues developing his power stroke and speed around the bases. He hit more than 20 home runs each year, and stole over 30 bases twice, all in an average of 444 at bats per season.

His short stint with the Arizona Diamondbacks last year wasn’t overly impressive (70 ABs, 2 HRs, 2 SBs, .243/.308/.694), but in 2007 he won the starting job in center field outright.

So far this year we’ve been able to see his power and speed ability, which has been enough to give the Diamondbacks the confidence to hit him in the leadoff position. I don’t have to tell you how huge that is for fantasy production. Unfortunately, he has also been slowed down with some nagging groin injuries and has missed some time, hence his name being listed at the top of the waiver wire list.

He already has 6 home runs and 6 steals, and when his groin gets healthy – probably sometime near the All-Star break – I expect his hitting to explode. The speed numbers are especially encouraging. Arizona is giving him the opportunity to run, and he should run even more once his groin is 100%.

Young’s only real weakness is his batting average. So far this year he is hitting .271, which is good considering he started slow. In the minor leagues he was a consistent .270 hitter, so that’s probably what we can expect in the major leagues. If he’s able to cut down on his strikeouts and show a little more patience at the plate, he could easily become a .300 hitter.

You’ll be hearing Chris B. Young’s name at the top of fantasy drafts in the next few years, as there’s no doubt he’ll become a perennial 30/30 player. I wouldn’t expect those numbers this year, but 20/20, maybe even 25/25 is certainly a possibility. He might be worth stashing on your bench for now until he starts playing regularly again.

Aaron is a man of many addictions. When he's not perusing box scores, player stats, and fantasy lineups, he's usually obsessing about upcoming movies and the recent CD releases - the more obscure, the better. You can catch up with Aaron in the Cafe Forums where he posts as dissent.
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