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4 Late-Round Draft Targets: Rookie Hitters (2024 Fantasy Baseball)

4 Late-Round Draft Targets: Rookie Hitters (2024 Fantasy Baseball)

Dynasty and keeper formats are not the only ones in which to pay attention to rookies. Granted, in redraft leagues, it can be difficult to trust prospects who are getting their first real shot in the bigs. However, as far as the late rounds are concerned, why not go for the upside?

The group of rookies below, who are all currently sitting outside the Top 200 in FantasyPros consensus ADP at the time of writing, are set to get an extended opportunity to show what they can do at the highest level this year. Each has their MLB rookie eligibility still intact and the potential to pay off for fantasy managers in one or more categories. They can also be drafted at little risk.

2024 Late-Round Rookie Hitters to Target

Jung Hoo Lee (OF – SF) 

Just one of several notable signings from the Far East this offseason, Lee joined the Giants on a six-year deal worth more than $100 million back in December. With such a large contract, a track record of elite offensive performance, and a guarantee of playing time, it’s a bit surprising to see Lee going around the 18th or 19th round in 12-team drafts. That cautious approach from most could lead to a real bargain for those willing to take the plunge. If Lee impresses in Spring Training, expect him to surge up draft boards.

Even at just 25, Lee has already been a star for years in the KBO, as he owns a career .340/.407/.491 slash line across nearly 4,000 plate appearances going back to 2017. Lee is also known for his defense in center field, so he was brought to San Francisco to make an impact both with his bat and his glove. Lee has some speed, but he has only swiped 21 bags (27 attempts) over the last three seasons. The main reason to draft him this year is for a combined boost in AVG and runs.

Parker Meadows (OF – DET)

Meadows has already shown off some of his potential last season, as he was called up in late August last year and immediately became the Tigers’ regular center fielder. He is set to maintain that role this year and possibly become the everyday lead-off man as well.

Meadows hit just .232 over 37 games in the majors last year, but he finished with a .331 OBP to go with nine extra-base hits and eight steals (nine attempts) across 145 plate appearances. He also recorded a 22.7 LD%, 87.4 Z-Contact% and an 11.7 BB%. That selectivity at the plate mirrors his minor-league performance. Meadows may not ever become an asset in batting average for fantasy managers, but he should still get on base with regularity and swipe some bags. It would not be surprising to see Meadows reach 20 steals with 10-plus homers and a good amount of runs this year.

Colt Keith (2B/3B – DET)

Detroit is flush with young talent. The Tigers believe so much in Keith’s talent that they signed the young infielder to a six-year contract, which includes three additional option years and could max out at a value of over $80 million. By the way, for those who don’t know, Keith has yet to play above Triple-A.

At Triple-A Toledo last year, Keith posted a strong .890 OPS with 13 home runs and 20 doubles across 301 plate appearances. That was preceded by a .977 OPS and 14 homers over 276 plate appearances at Double-A. Keith is a power hitter that the Tigers seem to prefer at second base. He’s likely to split his time this season between the Keystone and DH but could also see some reps at the hot corner. What’s most important for fantasy purposes, however, is his long-ball potential in the middle of the batting order.

Michael Busch (3B – CHC)

Speaking of power potential, Busch ripped 27 roundtrippers in just 98 games at Triple-A last season. He added a ridiculous .323/.431/.618 slash line with 90 RBI. He did get his first glimpses at big-league pitching in 2023, but with the loaded Dodgers’ roster blocking him the past couple of years, Busch has just 81 career MLB plate appearances at age 26. A mid-January trade to the Cubs should lead to the 2019 first-rounder finally getting a real opportunity to prove himself.

Busch may not stick at any one particular position for the Cubs, but that could actually lead to even more fantasy value if he gains eligibility at both corner infield and corner outfield spots. There’s far more than a zero-percent chance of that happening this year. The same could certainly be said regarding Busch’s potential to hit 20-plus homers for the Cubs in 2024 even if he ends up playing mostly just against right-handed pitching.

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Nate Miller is a featured writer at FantasyPros and a 9-year veteran of the fantasy sports industry. For more from Nate, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @Miller_RotoDad.

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