Everyone loves Houston Astros infielder Alex Bregman, but those who follow the MLB amateur draft recall he was not the first pick in the 2015 draft. The Arizona Diamondbacks had the pick and went with Dansby Swanson, another accomplished shortstop from a southern college. Swanson was later traded to the Atlanta Braves, but his first two big league seasons did not look anything like what Bregman achieved; Swanson produced a sub-.700 OPS in his first two full seasons and with disappointing power, speed and plate discipline. Few fantasy managers invested.
Two weeks into the season, however, Swanson is among the most-added players in ESPN standard leagues, and he has moved up in Atlanta's solid lineup to sixth. Swanson is among the leaders in home runs, runs batted in and OPS, and while it is way too early to extrapolate any numbers, he has nearly as many walks as strikeouts and just looks different, more confident at the plate. A series in Coors Field helped, but even prior to that, Swanson was hitting. Hey, he is only 25. His injured wrist from last year healed. Sometimes it takes a bit longer for young hitters to emerge. Bregman is an MVP candidate. Swanson is, for now at least, fantasy relevant.
As always on Thursdays, I go position by position for fantasy free agents available in more than half of standard leagues. Swanson just inched past that mark. He is not Bregman, not yet, but the case can be made to add Swanson in place of Marwin Gonzalez, Eduardo Escobar, Andrelton Simmons and Brian Dozier, none of whom is a safe five-category fantasy option. Swanson might not be as well, but so far he looks capable of hitting at least .275 with 15-20 home runs, and we know he can run if he wants to, as he attempted 14 steals in 2018.
Catcher: Seattle Mariners