5 Young Players to Keep An Eye On

As much as I want to, I’ll resist. As badly as my fingers are itching to type “TOLD YA SO,” I won’t do it. Mostly because it’s the first weekend of official play, but also because I tend to only be a douche canoe on Monday mornings.

So I’ll completely avoid saying HAH to all the other fantasy managers who let me take Kendrys Morales (currently hitting .714) at the tail end of drafts. I won’t even mention how many times I stole Andre Ethier (6 RBI through 2 and a half games) in the 20th round or Juan Rivera (hitting .571) in the last round.

Instead, I’ll just get to the meat of my blog. This year seems to be unusually chock full of young talent. Here are my five guys to keep an eye on…and yes, I told ya so:

1. Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds

The 26-year-old shortstop won the Reds’ shortstop duties outright from Spring Training. In the first set of games, he has exceeded expectations, going 5-8 with a home run. This is no fluke – Cozart hit .341 in a 12-game call-up in 2011. Watch for him to be a big contributor for the Reds in their quest to win the Central.

2. Dee Gordon, Los Angeles Dodgers

He has struck out a fair amount of times this year, but hit almost .400 in Spring Training and is the fastest player in the Majors right now. He’s been finding ways on base this weekend, and stealing bases with ease. When Gordon gets on in front of the likes of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, the Dodgers are in business. He’s also turned in a couple web gems so far at shortstop.

3. Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners

The proud owner of baseball’s first 2012 home run is tearing the hide off the ball. He’s been a much-hyped prospect for a while now, and made a good debut in 2011. But he seems to be putting everything together this year, and is hitting near .400 in the first few games of the young season. The second baseman will be a major catalyst in the Mariners’ lineup this year.

4. J.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays

I know, I know. He’s 1-12 this season so far. Well, his one hit was a 3-run homer in extras to give Toronto a big win. He is a good defensive catcher, and if 2011 is any indication, his bat will come around. Arencibia is going to be a big part of the Jays making a run this year, and his chemistry with the young pitching staff is invaluable. I know he’s playing in Canada, but don’t forget about him!

5. Jake Arrieta, Baltimore Orioles

The O’s are really banking on some young pitching to come around and catch up to the offense so they can be competitive again. Things in that aspect are looking good after Arrieta’s Opening Day dominance of the Minnesota Twins. He went 7 innings, allowing just 2 hits, 0 runs and striking out 4. If Arrieta pairs with Brian Matusz and performs well, Baltimore at least won’t be the worst team in the league this season…

There you have it. I chose five of a pool of MANY, but don’t forget these names, and don’t hesitate to give them a look in your fantasy league just because you don’t recognize the name. Comment below and tell me who I missed!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

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