Shota Imanaga & Pete Crow-Armstrong
In order for a team to win in fantasy baseball you need to not only hit on your early picks, you need to hit on the late ones. You need to find a proverbial diamond in the rough and hope that it becomes a Yasiel Puig (what a year 2013 was) or if you’re newer to fantasy baseball, someone like Cody Bellinger last season.
This season, there are a couple of names to look out for. Shota Imanaga is ranked 233rd on the top 300 list and he’s listed as the 63rd best fantasy option for starting pitchers. I don’t think the Cubs thought they were signing the 63rd-best pitcher in baseball when they gave him $50+ million this offseason so there is reason for expectations to be higher than that.
Imanaga is a great option for the start of the season because MLB hitters haven’t seen him, so his first few outings may be disproportionately successful compared to his work for the season on the whole. If you can get a solid four to five outings out of him and get a trade offer of a more known quantity that’s having some struggles early in the season — take it.
That’s not to say he’ll fall off in the same way that Drew Smyly did after a solid April last year, but the idea of turning a player drafted in the 24th round into a known quantity is just good math.
The other player to keep an eye on would be the Cubs' top prospect, Pete Crow-Armstrong. He’s a legitimate 20/20 candidate as a rookie this season which could get him into the Rookie of the Year conversation.
He’s likely not on the Top 300 list because there’s a greater than zero percent chance he breaks camp in AAA Iowa if Cody Bellinger is re-signed, but he shouldn’t be there long.