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In the middle rounds of drafts, the goal is to find a player that can exceed value and have a potential breakout season. If that player was obvious to everyone, they wouldn't go in the middle-to-later rounds. There are reasons why the player isn't being drafted early, whether it's flaws in the skill profile, playing time issues or lack of a track record.
All three potentially apply to Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Keon Broxton, but there's huge upside with him and someone I am targeted in drafts. There were peaks and valleys with Broxton in 2016 as he was sent to the minors and called back up a few times. He started the season 3-for-35 and batted .125 with 33 strikeouts in 64 at-bats in the first half. He spent time in the minors and when he was in the majors, he couldn't get consistent playing time due to his less than mediocre performance.
Broxton made an adjustment to the placement of his hands on the bat and was excellent to close out the season. In his last 145 at-bats spanning over 46 games, Broxton batted .294 with 20 runs, eight home runs, 17 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 19 attempts, along with a .399 on-base percentage and a .937 OPS. While he struck out 55 times in the second half, he also drew 25 walks.
I like to see players who struggle badly and bounce back, exactly what Broxton did in 2016. He went from not being able to get a hit to being one of the most productive players in Fantasy Baseball. Broxton's season came to an end in the middle of September after he fractured his right wrist running into the wall. He didn't need surgery and his wrist healed as Broxton has been playing regularly in spring training.
Manager Craig Counsell is considering using Broxton at the top of the order. Broxton has hit leadoff several times this spring with Jonathan Villar batting second.
Broxton has the physical tools and it's a case of putting it together on a consistent basis. In 75 games last season, Broxton hit .242 with 28 runs, nine home runs, 19 RBIs, 23 stolen bases, a .354 on-base percentage and a .784 OPS. Broxton struck out 36.1 percent of the time and will need to cut that down significantly to ensure he plays every day. The one good thing is that the walk rate is a solid 14.8 percent and it boosts his on-base percentage.
Broxton hits a lot of line drives and had a hard hit rate of 43.3 percent. Keep in mind, this is a small sample size but there's a good skill set here. Broxton can't afford to slump, especially if prospect Lewis Brinson hits well in the minors. Due to the high strikeout rate, struggles last season and Brinson looming over his head, a lot of people won't take the risk on Broxton; I will. There's a potential 20-30 season here. The batting average won't be high, but if the playing time is there, he's going to run.
In a 12-team league, Broxton can be had from rounds 12-15 and possibly later in some leagues. I am all in at that price.