Over their eight seasons of BlueClaws baseball, the BlueClaws have sent 25 players to the major leagues. With fantasy baseball drafts heating up, with the season less than a week away, here are how the former BlueClaws stack up and where to pick them.
Ryan Howard (Late 1st round, Early 2nd) – The former MVP and Rookie of the year is the top rated former Lakewood BlueClaws player in terms of fantasy baseball. Over the past three years, Howard has dominated opposing pitchers with his power and is an asset in fantasy baseball. He’s not going to help your team in the average category, Howard projects to hit in the .260 range, but he can be a top player in runs, RBI and home runs. With a hot spring, Howard has 8 home runs, he could begin the season strong unlike he did last year. Expect another 45-50 home runs for Howard and for him to top 100 runs and 135 RBI.
Cole Hamels (4th round) – Despite his arm problems, the World Series and NLCS MVP is a strong candidate for his first Cy Young award. Hamels, 25, is entering his third full season in the Phillies rotation. He has gotten progressively better the past two years. A 15 game winner last season, Hamels numbers were hampered by low run support numbers. He pitched 227 innings last season, think more around 180 this season, and fanned 196 hitters. If healthy, Hamels can be a 4th to 5th round steal because of how many batters he strikes out, the team he’s on and his stinginess to let people on base. If healthy, Hamels will win 18-22 games, maintain an ERA right around 3, a WHIP close to or below 1.10 and nearly one strikeout per inning.
Gavin Floyd (16th – 20th round) – The only Lakewood BlueClaws player to throw a no-hitter and lose, Floyd has value in deeper fantasy leagues as a starting pitcher. In 2008, Floyd began to realize some of the potential we all saw in 2002. He won 17 games last season with a 3.84 ERA. He also flirted twice with no-hitters, going deep into two games within the same month without allowing a hit. With a new four-year deal in place the White Sox are reliant upon Floyd building on his stellar 2008. A generous expectation has Floyd equaling his numbers from last season, however more realistically you can expect 15 wins and an ERA around 4.
Michael Bourn (20th round+) – A speedster, Bourn will be entering his second full season in the Major Leagues. Bourn stole 41 bases last season and was caught only 10 times. His value stopped there last season as he only hit .229 with 29 RBIs. Depending on his playing time, Bourn could steal more than 50 bases, but if he continues to hit for a poor average, he could be on the pine, instead of the bases.
Others for consideration:
JA Happ and Carlos Carrasco (Free Agents) – If Happ is named the 5th starter, the lefty has value in deep leagues and in NL-Only leagues. He showed strong stuff last season and is a highly rated Phillies prospect. On the other hand, Carrasco will probably make his long-awaited Phillies debut this season, eventually, and could be the next top-of-the-line starter. Keep an eye on how both progress as they could have some value as the season goes along.