2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide: Deep(er) Mixed Leagued Targets
The definition of a sleeper or a bust has drastically changed over the years — in fact there is much debate within the industry about the chronic use of the term “sleeper” these days. Thanks to instant access to the Internet — and instant news feeds such as Twitter — fantasy baseball enthusiasts are constantly connected and learning about those names we used to
At any rate, here are a handful of names that I believe will provide a nice return on investment for owners on draft day. Consider a late-round selection or up to a few bucks at your auction if you have it to spend. In shallower leagues, some of these names might be floating on the waiver wire if you’ve already drafted.
Feel free to provide your thoughts/criticisms in the comments below.
Kendall Graveman, SP, Oakland
Kendall Graveman is a 24-year-old right-hander who landed in Oakland via the Josh Donaldson deal with Toronto. Now with the Athletics, Graveman is slotted as the organization’s seventh best prospect according to Baseball America. He’s primarily a sinker ball pitcher — an offering that will play particularly well in his new ballpark — but also features a slider, a cutter and a changeup in his arsenal. My colleague Owen Watson over at FanGraphs recently did a nice piece depicting each of the pitches in his repertoire here, so give it a gander for a closer look.
As noted earlier, Graveman induces ground balls at an extreme rate, so he’ll likely be using that sinker to allow the A’s new-look defense behind him to retire opposing batters. Strikeouts aren’t necessarily his bag — he owned roughly a 15-16% K% during his stints in Advanced-A and Triple-A in 2014 — but he failed to surrender many free passes and posted fine ratios in each of his stops on the farm last year. And I think that’s what you can expect for the upcoming season. An “older” rookie arm thanks to his experience in college that appears to be a lock for the second or third turn in the Athletics rotation and will post decent ratios, but may not strike out a whole lot of guys. I’m thinking of Graveman in the late rounds of your standard 12-team mixers.
Peterson, another prospect who was on the move this offseason, landed in Atlanta via San Diego in the Justin Upton swap. Peterson is having a fine Spring and appears to be in line to hold down the keystone sack on Opening Day for Atlanta, bridging the gap until Jose Peraza is ready to take on the gig. While he’s stronger with the leather than he is with the lumber, Peterson is slashing .327/.431/.388 with three doubles, nine runs, three batted in, three stolen bases and nine walks. This doesn’t sound like someone who’ll win you your league, but in “only” formats and the deepest of mixers, Jace Peterson and potentially his multi-position eligibility could keep your squad afloat in the middle or corner infield slot.
Blake Swihart, C, Boston
Uber catching prospect Blake Swihart looks like he could be on the Red Sox Opening Day roster due to an unfortunate injury to talented teammate Christian Vazquez. Vazquez appears headed for Tommy John surgery, which could open up a spot for Swihart to platoon with Ryan Hanigan. Swihart comes into the ‘15 season ranked as Boston’s top prospect, according to pretty much all of the major outlets that rank prospects. He’s a power hitting, offense-first catcher that switch hits and could make an immediate impact for fantasy owners in two-catcher mixed league and A.L. Only formats. If you do decide to chase down Swihart in your draft or auction, know that he’s a better play in leagues that allow you to alter your roster daily, so you can add a platoon partner.
Daniel Norris, SP, Toronto
The Blue Jays’ top prospect, left-handed hurler Daniel Norris, is probably more known for living in a van down by the river at this point than his is for ascending through the minor leagues in the fashion that he did. The former second-round pick began last year’s campaign in Advanced-A, but rocketed to the majors in the same season making his big league debut at the age of 21. Norris’ ratios left a lot to be desired at each stop, but his ability to strike out opponents — specifically, a 44.7% K% in four starts (five appearances, 22.1 IP — small sample, I know) in Triple-A also left fans a bit wide eyed, seeking more. Now entering his age-22 season, Norris seems to be slotted behind fellow rookie Aaron Sanchez for the fifth turn in the Jays’ rotation with just about a week to go in camp. Take the plunge.
Vargas sells out for power, leaving plenty of holes in his swing for strikeouts and just can’t seem to take a walk. Points leagues that ding teams for strikeouts need not apply here, but deeper mixers with a utility slot could absorb some of the batting average troubles if you’re willing to take a flier on the power.
Micah Johnson looks to have locked down the starting gig at second base for the White Sox. He’s a speedy character who could cause some trouble on the base paths, if he can get on base that is. Johnson is a top-five organizational prospect that can contribute in both the speed and batting average categories, but he needs to stay healthy — like everyone else — in order to do so.
The following is not a sleeper, you guys. Simply a guy I’m reaching a few rounds for when I can in order to ensure I’m the getting the return on investment:
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles (NL)
Most folks this draft season are being mesmerized by the deep blue eyes of Kris Bryant. And rightfully so, the kid is going to be a first-division stud for years to come. But all of the attention he’s drawing may allow prospects like Joc Pederson to slide a bit on draft day. At 80% owned in the Y! game he’s not exactly a sleeper and not totally under-the-radar as the Dodger is now being taken as the 51st outfielder and 181st overall player off the board per FantasyPros’ ADP, but it’s still too late in my opinion for a guy with 25/25 upside with a full complement of at-bats. I’m reaching two-to-three rounds