De Aza a sleeper as ChiSox leadoff hitter 

March, 9, 2012
If you were competing in fantasy baseball all the way back in 2007 -- or were simply a fan of the Florida Marlins -- then surely the spring training exploits of then-unknown outfielder Alejandro De Aza caught your attention. De Aza hit .354 over 48 at-bats, stole four bases and won himself the starting center field job to open the real season. De Aza played in meaningful games for about a week, hit safely in each game, hurt himself and was gone for four months. He didn't resurface for fantasy owners until August of last season, when he started earning regular playing time with the Chicago White Sox.

Here's when you might wonder, why does any of this matter? Hey, I get it. It's Alejandro De Aza. He's nothing special, right? Well, that could be true, but he looked kind of special while hitting .329 and boasting a .920 OPS over 171 plate appearances, with 12 stolen bases, for the White Sox last season -- basically all in a two-month period -- and he's apparently set as their leadoff hitter. De Aza does have skills; he has hit .300 or better in each of the past three seasons at Triple-A and steals the occasional base, and he gave us a small hint of what he could back in 2007.

[+] EnlargeAlejandro De Aza
AP Photo/Duane BurlesonAlejandro De Aza could score plenty of runs hitting atop the White Sox lineup.
Extrapolate De Aza's 2011 big league numbers over six months and they're valuable: roughly 12 home runs, 36 steals and 90 runs, plus that lofty batting average. Of course, he probably would have been overmatched eventually, but we don't know that for sure. I wouldn't call his upside great, but if you're in a deep league, as many of you are, just about anyone penciled in as a leadoff hitter warrants attention. In fact, it wouldn't be a shock if a 25-stolen base season is lurking here.