If you are reading this site, you are likely just as frustrated as anyone with places who tell you they are going to give you some ‘sleeper prospects’ and they come out with a list of guys that you and everyone else in your league is already all over.
While it is certainly easy to see the difficulty of trying to cater to owners in deep, deep fantasy leagues we are hoping to be able to do just that in at least some of what we do here.
In that vein, this is an attempt to point you in the direction of some actual sleepers. We know full well that some of you are all over these guys as well, but hopefully there is at least something here for everyone. The premise here is to highlight players who did not appear on their org Top 50s who might bear some watching this season. The thought is to make this a regular feature as we move along, highlighting guys who are playing well in the short season/rookie leagues as well as guys who pop up in full season ball.
The guys you will find here for now are mostly drawn from young players who performed well last season, but have yet to make their stateside debuts, though some have been promoted more aggressively. They are far from the majors, but they have done some things that make them intriguing. What we are generally looking for in this list are guys who performed significantly above average in their league and who showed strong K/BB skills (either pitchers or hitters) as those rates have shown to be a bit more predictive than some others as players progress.
Victor Tademo, 1B/3B, Twins- It is somewhat rare to find a player this young with such a low K rate (10.9%) and an ISO north of .100 (.119). Tademo also had a healthy 9.5 BB%. As a right handed hitter, he either has to really have the bat play up as a 1B or he has to be able to play 3B effectively as he moves up. Still just 17 until July, he has plenty of time to figure it out.
Eguy Rosario, 2B, Padres- One of those players mentioned as having been promoted aggressively, Rosario started 2017 in full season ball, despite the fact that he won’t turn 18 until August. That is a pretty good indication of what the organization thinks of him. He has had a rough go of it so far, but he earned the opportunity after a strong showing in the DSL last summer. He hit .321, had 21 SB and mixed in 21 XBH.
Cristian Inoa, MI, Rangers- It may be tough to find him a defensive position, but there is always the DH. Inoa controls the zone quite well for such a young player and has already shown a bit of power as well as some base stealing ability (16/20 in SB attempts). He’s another player who won’t turn 18 until July.
Keudy Bocio, 2B, Phillies- Bocio is kind of typical on this list as he’s a guy who was signed as an International Free Agent, but he was down the list as far a scouting reports and signing bonuses went. Signed for just ,000 by the Phillies, he has shown a good feel for the strike zone with a 49/36 BB/K ratio in 2016. His batting average was a bit low, but that matched with a BABIP of just .270, quite low for a guy with Bocio’s speed.
Mariel Bautista, OF, Reds- Bautista is an anomaly on this list as he has been around a couple of seasons. He will still play this entire year at age 19 and he made great progress across the board in 2016. He definitely needs to take a step forward this season as far as his level of competition goes, but he is worth a look.
Melvin Jimenez, RHP, Dodgers- Jimenez was most remarkable for his consistency in 2016. Despite most of his starts coming while he was still just 16, he never gave up more than 2 ER or 3 BB in any one outing. He also never posted fewer than 4 K. With a 66/18 K/BB ratio in 55 IP and a FIP of 1.97, Jimenez looks like another in that long line of good Dodger pitching prospects.
Juan Hernandez, RHP, Diamondbacks- There were 42 teams in the DSL in 2016 as several organizations had enough players to enter two teams. Hernandez pitched with both Diamondbacks’ entries, finishing with their upper level team that won their division by 12.5 games. He finished the season strong, posting just 3 ER and 8 BB in his last four starts. In those last 22 IP, he also struck out 22 batters. He will pitch most of 2017 still at age 17.
Jhonatan Munoz, RHP, NYY- Signed in 2015 for $100,000, Munoz was one of the younger pitchers in the DSL in 2016. From the start, he showed good velocity and a decent idea of a curveball for a young pitcher. He seemingly got better with every start. He finished by allowing just 13 H and 3 ER in his last five starts (24.1 IP).
Jose Gonzalez, RHP, Red Sox- Another player who repeated the DSL in 2016, Gonzalez made outstanding progress. He did not give up a HR in his 68 IP and allowed only 10 ER. He also showed good stamina, going 6 innings in 6 of his last 7 starts. In his last 42 IP, he allowed just 3 ER and 7 BB.
Jose Valenzuela, RHP, Reds- Valenzuela is another pitcher who has shown remarkable command for someone so young as he posted a 61/13 K/BB ratio in his 66.1 IP in 2016. He is going to need to advance a bit quickly as he is the oldest player on this list. He will turn 19 in May. Keep an eye on where he is placed this season.
Article featured image of Eguy Rosario, Padres – courtesy of San Diego Padres on Twitter
I live at the beach in Palm Coast, FL with my wife. I'm an old retired guy whose main job is hosting trivia shows at golf courses for which I get free golf at several upscale golf courses. When it rains and I can't play golf, I read about baseball and try to find the next underrated prospect.
Scott. Awesome job here. Several of these guys were completely off my radar.