If you don’t produce immediately, people consider you a bust or at best a “wait and see.” You see it constantly. People loved Andres Gimenez, then he struggled a little and people wrote him off, and now people are on board with what he can do. Right now, people are “waiting and seeing” with Wander Franco, who’s one of the best prospects in recent years. Speaking of great prospects who people are waiting and seeing on, here’s what Prospect Itch said about CJ Abrams, “CJ Abrams might be right there with Bobby Witt Jr. and Julio Rodriguez for top spot across the minors if he’d stayed healthy this year. A 6’2” 185 lb lefty bat, Abrams’s best features are a double-plus hit tool and 80-grade speed. He’s flashed extra base power but his swing isn’t geared for home run power at the highest levels. He’ll still pop his fair share, but you won’t really care if he lives in the 15-range. His batting average and stolen bases alone will put him in early-round conversations at his roto peak, and I’d like to throw Grey off a high peak.” Not cool, man. But look at those names whose company Itch put Abrams — Bobby Witt Jr. and Julio Rodriguez. Now you can either think Itch is crazy or Abrams might not have showed us everything at the age of 21. A year when he got shuffled between the minors and majors and San Diego and Washington. A year when all that was going on, and he still only had a 16.6% strikeout rate. The bat is going to play, and you might be in “wait and see” mode, but I want to draft and see. So, what can we expect from CJ Abrams for 2023 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Starting with the negative first, when I saw Steamer projected CJ Abrams for 11 homers in 130 games, I guffawed. A full-throated HA. I watched many at-bats with CJ Abrams, and, guys and five girl readers, I wonder if he can reach five homers.
— MLB (@MLB) April 15, 2022
There’s plusses and minuses to watching players vs. just looking at their numbers. Sometimes you can get overly influenced by a guy. If you watch Miguel Sano hit a home run 450 feet and your heart rate doesn’t rise above his cholesterol, then you’re not alive, but you’re not seeing all the terrible hacks. Then sometimes you see a guy hit seven homers in Triple-A in only 30 games (!) like CJ Abrams, and you think he’s a home run hitter. Maybe the power will develop a little bit, but does the guy in that clip look like a 10+ home run hitter in only 130 games? Maybe I’m crumby with crackers in the noggin, but I just went to a new age doctor in California that released ants into my ears to get rid of the crackers and that CJ Abrams swing I’m looking at appears to be a 5-7 home run hitter. Benefit of the doubt, and it’s 140 games and seven homers. Though, wouldn’t be shocked if he hits less than five homers all year, and two of them are inside-the-parkers. Speaking of which…
I might have ants in my head, but he’s got ants in his pants and dude flies. He’s got 29 ft/sec sprint speed, according to Statcast, but that feels low. Oh, it’s still elite, but he can motor. In 38 games of Triple-A, he stole 14 bags. He wasn’t anywhere near as efficient in the majors — 7 steals in only 11 attempts. With the limited pickoff moves, I believe it will help young players the most. Young players aren’t familiar with pitchers’ pick off moves, so the sheer volume being lower, it will help. Also, the Nats will be in a good position to just say, “Ya know what? We’re down by five before the 2nd inning? How about we run a little?” Nats will be a 100-loss team, and CJ Abrams could be a 50-steal player. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t steal at least 30.
Finally, something I mentioned in the lede. CJ Abrams makes great contact. If “dude flies” which he does, and weighs the same as a wet Sponge Daddy, which he does, he also swats the ball like a fly swatter, and the contact is fly paper and he’s gonna stick in the two hole. Lost in metaphors? Same, but I think I’m saying he’s fast, and will live off of just swatting the ball on the ground and running. He hit .290 in Triple-A for the Nats; .314 for the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, and would’ve had the 60th best contact rate in the majors if he qualified, as a 21-year-old rookie! Speaking of his age, if I’m being real with you, and why not? We’re chums. I’m worried we’re a year too early still. He might not break out until he’s 23 or 24. That’s unpredictable, but for his current ADP of 240 overall, he’s well worth the flier and fantasy baseball sleeper designation (that is so coveted). For 2023, I’ll give CJ Abrams projections of 77/6/61/.274/31 in 573 ABs with a chance for much more, especially on speed.