Published On: Wed, Mar 7th, 2018

Rosario, Castellanos, Eaton highlight 2018's breakout fantasy hitters

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Get ready for your season with theScore’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit.

The key to any successful fantasy baseball team is maximizing value in as many roster spots as possible. And while the goal of the first four rounds is generally, “don’t mess up,” the challenge becomes much greater the further into the draft you go – making those mid-to-late rounds pivotal.

Here are eight hitters available in the later rounds of your draft that are worth reaching for a round or two earlier than their average draft position (NFBC ADPs in parentheses):

SS Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox (ADP: 84)


You could argue that Bogaerts has already had a breakout season – but after disappointing in the second half of 2017, his ADP has taken a major hit. But he’s still in his physical prime, and should hit near the top of a dangerous Red Sox lineup. Look for the batting average to bounce back to the .300 level or higher – and with it, a boost in each of his counting stats.

3B/OF Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers (ADP: 100)

Castellanos has been on the fantasy radar for the past few years thanks to one of the best hard-hit rates in baseball – and by increasing his fly ball rate in the second half of last season, he turned those line drives into home runs. Don’t be surprised if this is the year Castellanos becomes a 30-home run threat while maintaining a solid batting average.

OF Eddie Rosario, Minnesota Twins (ADP: 120)


Rosario slid down draft boards last year after a disappointing 335-at-bat audition in 2016 – but he rediscovered the hitting stroke he had shown for the majority of his minor-league career, belting a career-best 27 homers while batting a healthy .290. Both of those numbers are repeatable, and should see more RBI and runs scored opportunities in an improved Twins lineup.

3B Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox (ADP: 121)

While the guy just ahead of Devers on the ADP list – Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna – is generating far more buzz, Devers is the better bet to be a solid fantasy option in 2017. He asserted himself well in a 222-at-bat stint last season, hitting for power and average while flashing a bit of speed. Consistent playing time should yield a .280-70-20-70-8 line, give or take a counting stat.

OF Manny Margot, San Diego Padres (ADP: 144)


It may be another season or two before Margot flashes 30-30 potential, but he could very well take a significant step forward in 2018 with plenty of help from a much improved Padres lineup. Speed is Margot’s primary weapon – he’ll have 30-steal upside this season – but the power is coming. If he gets to 20 homers in 2018, he’ll be a steal wherever he’s picked.

OF Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals (ADP: 151)

Imagine owning the leadoff hitter for a lineup boasting Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy, and Ryan Zimmerman batting 2-6. That’s what Eaton owners thought they were getting last season; injury limited him to 91 at-bats, but he’s getting closer to full health – and to a potential .290-110-15-60-20 stat line. As a 13th-round pick, that’s major value.

2B/C Austin Barnes, Los Angeles Dodgers (ADP: 186)


Barnes is not your traditional fantasy catching option, having made 21 appearances at second base last season. That extra positional eligibility is a big-time feather in his cap; essentially, he can replace an injured player at two spots, and has enough hitting chops to warrant regular playing time. Draft him as your No. 2 backstop in two-catcher leagues; he should easily return value.

OF Willie Calhoun, Texas Rangers (ADP: 251)

Calhoun is certainly worth a look if you have a deep bench or minor-league roster spots – but you should consider him late in the draft even if you don’t. With the Rangers‘ left-field spot completely up for grabs, Calhoun could land the role with a solid spring – and if he does, he’ll immediately contribute thanks to a terrific plate approach and decent raw power.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)



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