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2010 Sleepers: Matt LaPorta
Nick Marro, FantasyJuice.com

It has yet to be seen if heíll be 100% come Opening Day but Matt LaPorta should finally see a full workload at first base in Cleveland for 2010. Coming off surgery on his left hip and left big toe, LaPorta is slated to be the starter on Opening Day.

Despite his opportunity to play everyday, fantasy managers are still leery when it comes to drafting the former 7th overall pick.

LaPorta was the centerpiece in the trade that sent C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers in 2008. After moving to Cleveland, LaPorta was touted by many as the number one prospect in the organization and top 10 in all of baseball.

While he has only seen few at-bats at the major league level, heís shown flashes of greatness when opportunities have arisen. Last season he hit seven homeruns in 52 games despite evident injury. Scouts across the majors still feel he has 30 HR, 100 RBI potential once he can solidify his starting role and show he can handle the wear and tear of a 162 game season.

This year will be his first opportunity to show what he can do with a substantial number of plate appearances. LaPortaís ability to draw walks and control the strike-zone could lead to a batting average near .280. If he can stay healthy, itís also fair to project 20 HRs and 75 RBIs in a break-out season.

Despite the fact that LaPorta saw considerable playing time at the MLB level in 2009, one may question whether or not Manny Acta is ready to give LaPorta the everyday nod. LaPorta is going into preseason number one on the depth chart. Realistically, if he has even remote success in Spring Training he should get the nod over teammate Andy Marte.

While LaPorta will go undrafted in most average-sized mixed leagues, heíll be worth keeping an eye on and should be picked up for cheap at the first sign of any success. In AL-only leagues and deeper leagues heís a solid option at first base or corner infield. He could easily put up better numbers than Garrett Jones, Paul Konerko, Jorge Cantu, Nick Swisher, Todd Helton and Conor Jackson, who are all ranked higher.


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