Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep Breakouts: A Joey Votto clone, a dark horse Cy Young candidate, and an emerging slugger

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We've given you plenty of sleeper, breakout, and bust picks for the coming season, but we know you can never get enough of them. Scott White's latest round came out last week, and Heath Cummings will have his final around in the coming days — you won't be short on choices.

And on Tuesday's episode of the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast, we gave you even more, with an entire episode centered around breakout picks. Some of these, we've already spent quite a bit of time talking about this spring, and for good reason.

For instance, Scott cannot get enough of Jesse Winker, who took off after a slow start in 2018, hitting .348/.459/.546 with a positively Vottovian skill set in his final 45 games before a shoulder injury. That's not faint praise, and it isn't as unreasonable as it sounds. Just check out some of his numbers compared to Joey Votto's near-MVP season in 2017:

 
WinkerVotto
BB%14.7%19.0%
K%13.8%16.2%
LD%24.0%23.0%
FB%39.0%38.0%
GB%42.1%39.0%
Exit Velo.90.3 mph87.5 mph

"If this isn't the player I love, he's certainly one I have strong feelings for," Scott said on Tuesday's podcast. "[Winker] might be my most-drafted player. I was excited about him even before the news of him coming into Spring Training at 100 percent health after offseason shoulder surgery. David Bell confirmed that he likes him as an everyday player, and in fact might bat him leadoff because his on-base skills are so good. So, what may have been an at-bat concern with him might now be a strength."

Heath is all-in on Indians' starter Shane Bieber, despite some of the flaws that were present in his game in 2018. Bieber struggled to a 4.55 ERA, but showed flashes of greatness, as well as a skill set that should give him a pretty high floor on a good team in Cleveland. However, Heath doesn't think Bieber is just a safety play:

"For as much as we've spoken about Bieber, we might have undersold what his upside is," Heath said. "Unlike all these other young pitchers, he doesn't have any innings concerns; between the majors and minor leagues last year he threw over 190 innings. He's on a team that gives him a chance to win 16, 17, 18 games, and he could legitimately give you a low 3.00s ERA. This is a guy who is available in the 12th, 13th, 14th round in some drafts, and he is a dark horse Cy Young candidate."

As for myself, I went off the board with my breakout pick, targeting someone we haven't spent much time talking about in either the podcast or columns this preseason: Pirates first baseman Josh Bell.

Bell's been a bit disappointing so far in his MLB career, though he hasn't been bad, with a career .784 OPS. He just hasn't been anything special for the first base position, though that may have started changing in the second half in 2018, when he hit .263/.383/.440.

"Full season statistics are typically more predictive than half-season statistics; however, Bell was a swing-change guy last year, and he got off to a miserable start. In the second half, you did start to see him elevate the ball more, and his strikeout to walk ratio was almost one-to-one. There's raw power here, and when he hits a line drive or flyball, he averages 94.1 mph, so it's just about getting it into games. He doesn't strike out too much, and there's a chance he breaks into the top-12 at first base."

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