When playing Fantasy Baseball, your team can definitely be carried by a select few players if you are able to grab Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, Nolan Arenado, etc. at the top of your draft. Supplementing them with fellow stars in the subsequent rounds is also key. However, the rounds that win or lose leagues are the late ones. While you are likely to hit on most of your early rounds picks, the late rounds separate the good Fantasy owners from the bad ones.
Or at least the lucky from the unlucky.
However, we are here to try and help take some of the luck out of the equation. In this article, we will be providing three late-round hitting sleepers that we believe can be breakout players in the upcoming MLB season and assist you in winning your league.
3 Great Late-Round Hitting Sleepers
Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Seattle Mariners
Arguably the easiest position to find hitters is first base. As a position that doesn’t have a high demand for defense, the pool is loaded with high-level run producers. This year is no different.
I usually don’t like to take a first baseman very early in drafts for this reason. Last year, I waited until the last few rounds to draft the position in one of my drafts. I ended up with Mark Reynolds and Ryan Zimmerman. Basically, you shouldn’t have to take a first baseman early and should instead find a later sleeper.
My top choice for this year is Dan Vogelbach. He is being drafted as the 39th first baseman in ESPN leagues, making him well qualified as a hitting sleeper, and for a long time now has been one of my favorite hitters in the minors. This year, he may finally be given a shot to make a real impact. He struggled in the majors last season but still crushed minor league pitching.
In Spring Training, he is slashing a ridiculous .391/.509/.848 with five home runs in just 57 plate appearances. He is ready to make the jump, and you need to make sure that he is on your Fantasy team so you can enjoy the ride.
Jose Pirela, OF, San Diego Padres
Pirela splashed onto the scene late last year by slashing .288/.347/.490 with 10 home runs and 40 RBI in just over 300 at- bats. Now, he is among the top performers in Spring Training. Combine that with the fact that he is being taken as the 86th outfielder in ESPN leagues and he sounds like a perfect hitting sleeper.
So why is he being drafted so low? The simple answer is playing time. The Padres are a rebuilding team who just added Eric Hosmer to play first base and a completely filled out outfield, so they don’t really have much urgency to consistently play a breakout 28-year-old, so he should open the year as a utility man with potential for much more.
The other plus is that he has the ability to play infield. He doesn’t have eligibility there yet, but it should come soon and that will give him added flexibility. If he can even play himself into semi-regular playing time, which I fully expect him to do, he can be a valuable asset to your Fantasy team, especially in deeper leagues.
Adam Frazier, 2B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Another utility man who could easily play himself into regular playing time is Adam Frazier of the Pirates. He can play any of the outfield positions as well as second base, and although the Pirates don’t necessarily have a hole at any of those positions, those are four different injury possibilities that could put him into a starting role.
Another factor that is going to give him a good chance of getting playing time is his age. He is only 26 years old, and on a rebuilding team like the Pirates that traded away both Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, they will definitely be exploring all of their possible outcomes – especially the old ones.
However, an opportunity isn’t everything. He wouldn’t be a sleeper if he didn’t have talent, and he definitely does. While he won’t be a run-producing threat, he should be able to contribute double-digit home runs with 50-60 RBI. He also should give you a handful of steals. While these numbers are fine, his real value comes with his on-base skills.
A contact specialist, he will provide a high batting average and OBP, and while he has not necessarily scored a lot of runs so far in his career, he is the type of player to hit high in the order if he plays regularly. That would provide the needed increase in runs. All this adds up to a very solid package, so even if you don’t draft Frazier, make sure to keep an eye on him on the waiver wire just in case one of the Pirates’ starters go down.
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