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National League Fantasy Baseball Prospects

Lastings Milledge, OF, Washington Nationals
Milledge is going to get his first real opportunity in the Majors in 2008 playing for the lowly Nationals. He was received in trade from the Mets for very little (Ryan Church and Brian Schneider), but that has more to do with wearing out his welcome in New York then his lack of potential.

Keep in mind that Milledge is only 22 years old. He won’t hit for a great average but he has a nice power and speed combination. Would you be interested in a player who can produce 20 homeruns and 20 steals? What if you could nab that player in the mid-to-late rounds of your draft?

Milledge has potential to be a poor man’s Carl Crawford on draft day 2008. Look for him in the late rounds of your draft, or for an average auction value of $1.00.

Joey Votto, 1B/OF, Cincinnati Reds
One of the 2008 rookies with the highest of expectations, Votto will likely be a late round draft pick in all leagues.

In 24 games late last season, Votto drove in 17 runs, hit four homers and batted .321. At that pace, expecting Votto to hit over 20 homeruns and drive in around 100 seems logical. Votto will need some from guys behind him in the lineup, but he’ll have runners on base in front of him (Brandon Phillips, Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey), he’ll just have to knock them in.

Votto is currently going for the convenient price of $1 in most auctions, so buying him as a backup 1B or outfielder will be a good call in all auction-format leagues.

Justin Upton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Justin Upton has a ton of pedigree on his side – brother B.J. is one of the top 2B in fantasy baseball this season – and was the Dbacks’ #1 draft pick in 2005. He only hit .221 in 43 games last season, and hasn’t shown much power (only 2 homeruns in 2007).

At the same time, he has been touted as a five-tool player (and a better prospect than brother B.J.). Upton will probably not be a starter on opening day for the Dbacks, but keep an eye on him as the season progresses. He has an average auction value of a hefty $1.00, and that will likely increase in future seasons. Upton doesn’t even turn 21 until August. If you play in a keeper league, he is a must-draft and a great long-term prospect.

Geovany Soto, C, Chicago Cubs
Considering the fact that catcher is one of the thinnest positions in fantasy baseball, Soto could be a gift to fantasy baseball players looking for an excuse to avoid the position until the later rounds.

Soto, unlike Jarrod Saltalamacchia, is coming in largely under the radar in 2008. He spent seven years in the minors, but had a great year in AAA last season (.353 average and 26 homeruns). He played 18 games at the big league level and batted .389. The Cubs have handed him the starting job in 2008, and Soto projects statistically to be a Jorge Posada-caliber catcher. It seems realistic that he will hit around .300 and provide moderate power numbers.

Geovany will likely be taken during the selection process of a majority of drafts. His current auction value is around $4.00 and he can be expected to be drafted in the mid-to-late rounds of mixed league drafts, higher in NL-only drafts.

Andy LaRoche, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
Andy LaRoche is one of the top prospects in the Dodgers system. Unlike most of the above mentioned prospects, however, his debut in 2007 left much to be proven. He tore it up at AAA (.309 average, 18 homeruns, 48 RBI in 78 games) and has all kinds of talent, but batted .226 with 1 homerun in 93 at bats for the Dodgers.

With a good spring training, LaRoche will be given the keys to the starting job at 3B. During the first half of the season, temper your expectations. Andy’s brother, Adam LaRoche of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is a second-half stud… but a first-half dud. If LaRoche is starting on Opening Day, perhaps holding off on him until after the All-Star break is a good idea.

Expect LaRoche to also cost $1.00 in auction leagues. He shouldn’t need to be drafted, either. As deep as the 3B position is in fantasy baseball this season, consider him to be a late season injury replacement in 2008.

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