Yulieski Gurriel is one of the most interesting fantasy players heading into the 2017 season. What should the Astros and fantasy owners expect?
There are plenty of MLB players each season that hold more fantasy intrigue than others. Yulieski Gurriel is an example of this, as the Cuban import looks to be the starting first basemen for the Astros. But, what should fantasy owners expect from him this season?
Yulieski Gurriel was deemed by many scouts as the best player in Cubs over the last nine years before coming over to the states. The Astros dished out $47.5 million for Gurriel last July, finally bringing him to MLB.
He debuted with the club August and finished the year with a .262/3 HR/15 RBI/.677 OPS/34 H over 130 at-bats. All in all, a solid debut for a player who had a whirlwind of a time even getting to the majors.
Gurriel is 32-years-old so he is what he is at this point of his career. He spent 15 years of his career playing Cuba and Japan, building quite a resume. Over that span, he amassed 250 HR, 1018 RBI,121 SB and a career .335 AVG. He was solid at the third base and continually showed his bat skill at the plate.
The transition from foreign leagues to MLB always serves as a learning curve. Gurriel even alluded to tiring down last season as he adapted to playing every day, unlike the case in the Cuban National Series.
No one thinks that Gurriel will bat .330 in the majors, but he showed last season that he has the knack for barreling the ball up. Even though it is a small sample size, his 20% LD, 19% Soft, 52% Med and 29% Hard contact rates, are encouraging numbers.
Gurriel’s power has routinely sat in the 15-20 HR range throughout his foreign league career. While it may seem foolish to bank on anything from Gurriel in his first pro seasons, he should have no issue climbing into the range again taking into account Minute Maid his home ballpark.
Combine his natural bat skill, gap to gap prowess and the fact that he has nearly 200 more BB than K in his career, fantasy owners should feel some level of confidence in him.
When the Astros brought Gurriel over last season it seemed as though there was no spot to put him. He played games at third, first base and in left field in 2016. But, after the emergence of Alex Bregman at third and their offseason acquisitions in the outfield,
Gurriel will slide to first base for most of the time this season. He may lack the pure slugging upside that most fantasy owners want, he is a solid CI option that can be had for the cheap.
In terms of his counting stats, the Astros’ lineup is much deeper than last season. Gurriel appears to be hitting at the bottom of the order, but he could have Bregman, Josh Reddick, and Brian McCan hitting in front of him, so the RBI chances are there to be had.
Yulieski Gurriel is one of the best Cuban players to come over to the states in recent time. His upside may not be sky-high, but he is a polished hitter that could provide a .270/20 HR/75 RBI line for the price of basically nothing. Do not sleep on Gurriel this spring.