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The No. 2 player in standard format Yahoo! fantasy baseball leagues is someone who not a lot of people heard of before this season, let alone had listed on their preseason draft rankings: Brewers shortstop Jean Segura. Ranked at No. 264 overall in Yahoo! leagues before the year began, Segura has six home runs, 13 stolen bases and an OPS of 1.000 through the first month-and-a-half of the season.
He has all the markings of a highly valuable fantasy baseball player (power, speed, plate patience) and if he keeps up his current pace, he could be considered a top 10 fantasy player going into 2014. He is also only 23 years old. In short, he is the player Cubs fans would like Starlin Castro to be.
For these reasons, if I'm a team owner in a keeper league, Segura is someone I would be willing to overpay for in a trade. Because of Segura's position, I would probably even be willing to give up someone like Bryce Harper,, who looked like the No. 1 fantasy player for the first two weeks of the season, but is now hanging around No. 30.
What's interesting about this season is that while we were all falling over ourselves to see who could draft young Harper first before the season started, there are a bunch of young players emerging this year whom I wouldn't mind building a team around in a keeper league. Segura is one, but here are a few others:
Manny Machado, 3B, BAL: Not yet 21, Machado is hitting .331, with five HRs, 24, RBI, 28 runs scored and 5 SBs. He's young enough that we are likely to see those power and speed numbers rise in the coming years, and it's easy to see him as the top-ranked fantasy 3B by 2015 or 2016.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, CUBS: The Cubs just signed him to a big deal at the age of 22, and you should, too. He is still fighting his way back from an early slump, but is among the league leaders at his position in hits (42), HRs (9) and RBI (28).
Shelby Miller, SP/RP, STL: Another 22-year-old, Miller has been talked about far less than Mets sensation Matt Harvey, but a 5-2 record, 51 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 42 innings, and a 1.58 ERA currently have him ranked higher than much bigger names.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.