2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Rankings breakdown, No. 261-270
Learn why you should — and maybe why you shouldn't — draft players 261-270 in our consensus rankings.
Welcome to our 2019 Player Profiles series. We are going through the top-300 in Heath Cummings and Scott White's consensus rankings to give you the case for and the case against drafting each player. By the time you're done, you'll know everything you need to know for drafting in 2019.
261. Eduardo Escobar, 3B/SS, Twins
The case for: Eduardo Escobar continued his evolution as a power hitter, not only validating his 21-homer breakthrough from two years ago but also tripling his doubles output from 16 to 48. The result was mid-level production -- think something on the level of a Mike Moustakas -- at two positions, with nothing in his batted-ball profile to suggest bad luck.
The case against: Escobar's pace -- particularly the doubles -- slowed after going from the Twins to the Diamondbacks midseason, and the second version performed more at the level of a Marcus Semien. He's going somewhere in between the Moustakas and Semien, which is appropriate enough, but given that the two positions where he's eligible, third base and shortstop, are probably the two deepest in 2019, there's a chance he's just not needed in standard mixed leagues. Clearly, the upside is limited.
262. Randal Grichuk, OF, Blue Jays
The case for: There's reason to believe Randal Grichuk may finally be peaking as the premier power bat he was billed to be with the Cardinals. After a miserable start to his career with the Blue Jays, he returned from a sprained knee in June to hit .271 with 23 homers and an .873 OPS the rest of the way, and some changes he made to his stance and approach during his time away contributed to it. Even better, his strikeout rate during that four-month stretch was a respectable 25.5 percent, leading to a respectable .311 BABIP and bringing his season mark to a career-best 26.4.
The case against: Grichuk's profile is still one that depends almost entirely on power for production, which means he has to be one of the game's premier power hitters to stand out in Fantasy, particularly in today's power-laden environment. He doesn't walk at all and is still behind the eight ball in terms of batting average, especially given his strikeout history. It particularly limits his upside in Head-to-Head points leagues, where even those final four months only led to a Stephen Piscotty-level point total.
263. Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Orioles
The case for: Mark Trumbo led the majors with 47 home runs in 2016 and could still provide a usable home run total if he could only stay healthy. Project last year's numbers over 150 games, and it comes out 29 homers. On a contending team, his injuries and inconsistencies might be on the verge of pushing him out at age 33, but the rebuilding Orioles have every incentive to redeem the $13.5 million he's in line to make in 2019.
The case against: There may come a point when the Orioles realize there's no redeeming Trumbo and cast him aside for somebody younger. In fact, coming off surgery to repair cartilage in his right knee, the onus is on him to produce right out of the gate, and his track record suggests that's far from likely. Even if we point to last year's pace as a best-case scenario wherein he somehow plays 150 games, how much are 29 home runs worth from a player who hardly ever walks and has the kind of supporting cast that's sure drag down his run and RBI production?
264. Alex Colome, RP, White Sox
The case for: Alex Colome is back in contention for saves with the White Sox after spending most of last year in a setup role for the Mariners. He has a 2.78 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings over the past three seasons, his only three as a full-time reliever, and actually led the majors with 47 saves in 2017.
The case against: Only one of those three years was truly closer-caliber. Colome had a 1.91 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2016. His stint as a setup man last year was good enough to earn him another look in the ninth inning, but he faces fierce competition from Kelvin Herrera, himself a former closer. And given the way Rick Renteria managed his bullpen last year, it wouldn't surprise if the two split the role.
265. Adam Ottavino, RP, Yankees
The case for: Adam Ottavino's 112 strikeouts were the fourth-most among full-time relievers, moving him into the elite tier of middle men despite an unforgiving home environment. He's an expert not just at missing bats but also limiting hard contact, boasting a devastating slider-cutter hybrid.
The case against: Signing with the Yankees actually moved Ottavino further away from the closer role, seeing as he's probably behind not just Aroldis Chapman but also Dellin Betances and presumably Zach Britton. It's such a deep bullpen that the Yankees won't need to lean on him for multiple innings, so he's not going to be in great position to vulture wins either. Outside of leagues that reward holds, his main utility is padding ERA and WHIP without damaging strikeouts too much, which is useful but decidedly late-round material.
266. Kelvin Herrera, RP, White Sox
The case for: Kelvin Herrera may in fact be the front-runner for saves with the White Sox after finishing last year in a setup role with the Nationals. He maintains his reputation as an ace reliever from his days with the Royals, whose postseason success was mostly driven by the bullpen.
The case against: It's mostly reputation at this point. Herrera averaged 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings last year, which is nothing short of horrible for a late-inning reliever, so perhaps it's fitting that he had a 4.34 ERA during his time with the Nationals. Factor in his 4.25 ERA and 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings from 2017, when he was still with the Royals, and it's fair to ask if he belongs anywhere near the ninth inning. Given that Alex Colome, himself a former closer, is also new to the White Sox bullpen, Herrera may not be long for the role, assuming he claims it in the first place.
267. Austin Barnes, C, Dodgers
The case for: Better late than never, Austin Barnes is poised to take over as the Dodgers' starting catcher with the departure of Yasmani Grandal. There was a case to be made at this time a year ago that he was already the better of the two after he hit .289 with a .408 on-base percentage, .895 OPS and a 1-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a part-timer in 2017, and if he can come anywhere close to that sort of production in a full-time role, he's a stud at the weakest position in Fantasy.
The case against: What reason do we have to believe he will? Apart from a similar walk rate, Barnes fell well short of those numbers in a similar role last year, delivering a pathetic .085 ISO and burying himself with strikeouts. Maybe an elbow issue that popped up in spring training and limited his availability early had something to do with it, but the fact the Dodgers have brought back 36-year-old Russell Martin as insurance is telling.
268. Brian McCann, C, Braves
The case for: Brian McCann signed a bargain $2 million deal to return to Atlanta, where he'll have a chance to remain a first-string option behind the plate, which was far from guaranteed after an injury-plagued final season with the Astros. For most of 2018, he was playing through a bum knee that he eventually had surgically corrected in June. His numbers after returning in September — a .235 batting average and .784 OPS — were more in line with his career norms.
The case against: It's possible that last season represented the start of a downward spiral for the 34-year-old, who has a lot of mileage on his now surgically repaired knees. Backing him up is an expert pitch-framer in Tyler Flowers, himself a worthy starter, and it may end up being a split role between the two. Beyond the true offensive standouts at catcher, which number about eight or so, playing time may be the biggest differentiator at the position, and it's not a point in McCann's favor.
269. Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B/3B/SS, Rangers
The case for: Having topped 20 homers in two of the past three seasons, Asdrubal Cabrera has become the ultimate fallback option at a number of infield positions, this year qualifying at second base, third base and shortstop. And now that he'll be joining the Rangers to play third base in one of the most hitter-friendly environments in all the majors, that power production becomes even more assured, making him a virtual lock to be drafted in leagues (such as standard Rotisserie) that require six starting infielders instead of four.
The case against: Since the news of him signing with the Rangers, his ADP has begun to climb, putting him at risk of being no longer such a bargain. He stumbled to the finish line with the Phillies last season, is at risk of decline at age 33 and has been closer to a 15-homer guy than a 25-homer guy for most of his career. Treat him as more than a fallback option, and you'll likely be disappointed.
270. Sonny Gray, SP, Reds
The case for: Sonny Gray is finally free of the Yankees, where he was never a great fit. His extreme ground-ball tendencies should have made him perfectly suited for Yankee Stadium, but they're only as valuable as the defense behind him. And Gray was subjected to Miguel Andujar at third base last season, which probably had a little something to do with his career-worst BABIP despite relatively normal strikeout and quality-of-contact measurements. He won't be as disadvantaged in Cincinnati, where he'll also be pitching in a more forgiving division and league.
The case against: It's a fine theory, Gray being sabotaged by his defense. That seems especially plausible given his reliance on ground balls, but the fact is he has been virtually unusable in Fantasy two of the past three years. His control has also been sub-optimal, and the last thing a guy who's struggling with hits can afford to do is issue free passes. There's a path to success here, but it's a narrow one that doesn't deserve more than a late-round flier.
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