On Monday I ventured to the Northside of Chicago to take a look at potential fantasy baseball “sleeper” Pedro Strop. Today I head 9.8 miles south of Wrigley, to U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox, and breakout candidate Avisail Garcia.
Avisail Garcia, OF (current ADP: #264):
When the Chicago White Sox obtained Avisail Garcia last year they knew they had a possible future star on their hands.
Garcia landed in Chicago in a three-way deal that sent Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox and Jose Iglesias to the Detroit Tigers. All three of the players involved had an impact in their new digs. While Peavy and Iglesias helped the Red Sox and Tigers reach the playoffs, Garcia had a different effect on his team.
For years, the White Sox have been stuck in the mud. They were one of the older teams in the league, and had a farm system with very little major-league ready talent. Acquiring Garcia was the first step towards a younger future in Chicago.
In 42 games with the Sox, the 22-year-old Garcia hit .304/.327/.447 with 5 HR and 21 RBI. It was a big improvement over his first few months in Detroit, where he put up a .241/.273/.373 triple-slash line.
As a member of the Tigers, Garcia was not an everyday player. In fact, because the Tigers were such a deep and talented team, Garcia logged 47 games in the minor leagues to begin the season. With the White Sox, he’ll have an opportunity to play nearly every day, something that is always a factor when considering who to take in fantasy baseball drafts.
While I believe Garcia is the more talented of the two, he’ll cede at bats to incumbent Dayan Viciedo. There are a lot of flaws in Viciedo’s game, though, and he remains more of a pure power threat (.161 ISO in 2013) than a player who needs to be in the lineup on a daily basis. By the end of April, Garcia should become the favored outfielder of the two when manager Robin Ventura is setting his lineups.
A look at Ventura’s lineup card for Tuesday’s intrasquad game shows Garcia batting third for “Team Skinner”, which is clearly comprised of most of the Sox projected starters. Fantasy owners would be ecstatic if Garcia batted before slugger Adam Dunn during the season:
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) February 25, 2014
With new addition Adam Eaton in the mix, and Alejandro DeAza coming off a very good 2013 campaign, Garcia won’t likely reach 600 AB, but if the Sox are fading towards the end up July, DeAza – and his one-year contract – could become expendable in a trade. This would free up more playing time for everybody.
As of now, the Venezuelan-born right fielder is going in the 22nd round of fantasy drafts, which seems about right, although I’d rather have him than players such as Adam LaRoche (238) and Travis d’Arnaud (243). In auction drafts, I’d prefer to pass over guys in their decline years — like Nick Swisher ($5) and Jimmy Rollins ($4) — and spend $3 on Tigers’ OF Avisail Garcia, a player with much higher upside, and who plays his home games in a ballpark ranked seventh in MLB in home run tendencies.
2014 Projections: .285/.314/.440, 17 HR, 71 RBI, 68 R, 14 SB
» Missed any of my earlier picks? Please click here for links to all the sleepers I’ve have covered from each team so far.