Cockcroft: AL Rookie Watch

Originally Published: March 16, 2005
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN Games Fantasy Edge
In our last edition, we took a look at this year's crop of National League rookies. This week, let's examine the American League's 25 most prominent first-year players. All projections for the following players are for 2005 only.

Russ Adams, SS, Toronto: While he's a gifted athlete and a skilled batsman, Adams really isn't anything better than a safe choice in batting average with a slight chance at some steals. As it is, Adams stole just seven bases combined last year, and has never topped 18 in a single year. He's a safe pick for an average near .270 with up to 10 steals, but this is a player who should be more valuable to the Blue Jays than to fantasy owners.

Jason Bartlett, SS, Minnesota: He's a better hitter and a faster runner than Adams, but he's also far less polished on defense, meaning he'll have to earn the starting job as opposed to being handed it. If he plays regularly, Bartlett's speed and knowledge of the strike zone suggests he could offer fantasy owners a .290 average and 20-plus steals at a dirt-cheap price. But he might need more time in the minors to improve his fielding.