By: Nate Leer
In any fantasy sports league that is even relatively deep, finding late rounds or waiver gems can be key to the teams that go deep in the playoffs. For fantasy baseball, that often means young call-ups, but not always.
Last year guys like Miguel Sano and Kyle Schwarber vaulted to the majors and produced, helping spur their teams, fantasy and actual, on playoff runs. Meanwhile vets like Daniel Murphy and Shin-Soo Choo found new life to their careers and we’re helpful stretch-run players.
Below is a list of players who may not even get drafted but have excellent upside. That said, they may be nothing, hence their low rankings.
- Travis Shaw – I am starting with Shaw because GO PICK HIM UP NOW! Okay, maybe that is a bit strong but he has out up good power numbers at every stop with decent average. If he can hold off Kung Food Panda at 3B in Boston, he could have very nice upside at that position.
- Domingo Santana – A recurring theme with these players wil be the meeting of talent and opportunity. Santana has plenty of talent and an opportunity to get consistent ABs on a rebuilding Milwaukee team. Plus he has been hot this spring.
- Danny Santana – The Minnesota Santana is a classic post-hype sleeper. He has already produced out of nowhere (2014), regressed so badly as to spend most of a summer in the minors (2015) and found a new role (super utility – 2016). That said, he has looked GREAT this spring and there are opportunities for at-bats all over for a guy who is a legitimate defender at 6 positions. Look for a good average and steals if things go right.
- Jackie Bradley JR – Another post-hype guy, Boston’s CF will likely stick for a while just based on his defensive ability. If he can improve some on his .249 average from last year, can provide plenty of pop and a few steals.
- Devin Mesoraco – I discuss Devin the Dude in my preview of catchers for the 2016. As noted there, most of this year’s catchers offer little upside with bottomless-pit downside. Mesoraco at least contradicts one of those – he has real upside. That means he could produce enough power with a quality average that his numbers would play well at a deeper position. .280 and 25 HRs is attainable in a great Cincinnati hitters’ park which would be huge value out of a late round C.
- Melly Cabrera – Melkman had to hit for average to be valuable as an OF with limited speed and power. However, that is entirely possible in a good Chicago line-up and hittets’ park.
- Closers: Fernando Rodney & Kevin Jepsen – I grouped these two together because closers tend to be a spot to find valued you work the FA pool. Rodney seems to have a more direct path to saves in San Diego but Jepsen pitched much better last year for Minnesota. Plus, the incumbent (Glen Perkins) struggled last year for Minnesota.
- Matt Moore – The Rays SP has tremendous upside. When compared with SPs who will get drafted in the middle rounds Moore has as much or more potential at way better value. If there is a run on SPs in the middle rounds of your draft, target Moore late and see if he out produces the likes of Taijuan Walker and Steve Matz.
- Nathan Karns – Seattle’s Karna rounds out this list as a guy who has a starting job, do now. If he can improve his peripherals while maintaining his K rate from last year, he could provide nice value late.
Honorable mentions include SP Ervin Santana, SS Jimmy Rollins, 3B/OF Danny Valencia, C Yadier Molina and versatile IF Brad Miller.
Any of the players mentioned in the list above could be complete duds. However, some players are going to far and allway out produce their late draft slots and these guys could be that gem. Do not overdraft them and be prepared to cut ties if they suck but, hell, I might own each of them at some point this year!