After six years in the minor leagues, Justin Maxwell finally got an opportunity with the Houston Astros last season. As their starting center fielder in 2013, his combination of power and speed could make him a fantasy baseball asset this season.
After a slow climb up the Washington Nationals minor league system, Maxwell saw some time with the big club but was never able to hit consistently. He underwent Tommy John surgery after the 2010 season and the team eventually traded him to the New York Yankees. He spent the 2011 season in AAA before suffering a torn labrum. The Astros grabbed him last year and after just a handful of games in the minors he was brought up and managed to hit 18 home runs in 315 at-bats. While he hit just .229 he did manage a respectable .330 weight on-base average (wOBA).
Starting the year in the big leagues for the first time in his career at the age of 29, Maxwell will have an outside shot at a 20/20 season. While he is known more for his power, he has shown speed in the past. Maxwell stole 35 bases in AAA in 2009 and was successful in nine of 13 attempts last year. If he gets the green light enough in a full season, 20 steals certainly isn’t out of the question.
Maxwell has his obvious faults as he is in a bad lineup on a bad team and will hurt your team’s batting average. Nonetheless, he should be considered in deeper leagues as a cheap source of home runs and steals. He could be a pleasant surprise if he’s able to realize his full potential.