Fantasy Baseball 2012: 10 Unknown Names to Steal Come Draft Day
Finding sleepers is never the easiest thing to do in baseball. It seems that most never pan out, or someone gets to them first.
Even more elusive, and deadly to your fantasy competition, is the sleeper no one has ever heard of.
Say hello to this list.
The following is a roster of 10 unknowns that could be valuable targets on draft day. Not only are they sleepers, but they're "unknown" status means you have a better chance of getting to them first over others.
Catcher: Salvador Perez
2011 Stats: .331/.361/.473, 20 R, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 0 SB
Guys like Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer get all the attention, but there's another Kansas City prospect who deserves a look.
Salvador Perez is a great up-and-comer at catcher with solid upside. He's dominated every minor league stop, and heads into the 2012 season at just 21.
There's not much speed, and limited 15 home run potential, but Perez makes up for it with amazing hit tools. He could easily touch .300 next season. At catcher, that's a rare find.
While others are paying attention to high echelon catchers, that makes Perez an open target.
First Base: Brandon Belt
2011 Stats: .225/.306/.412, 21 R, 9 HR, 18 RBI, 3 SB
At the beginning of last year, Brandon Belt was a big story. He was a San Francisco phenom who had dominated the minors in his first professional season. It seemed like first base was his.
Then the beginning of the season came, and Belt hit .192/.300/.269 between the first two months of the season. That won him a trip back to the minors.
With unsuccessful call-ups throughout the season, Belt became an afterthought, but at just 23 years old, he remains a top prospect at first base.
With another year of minor league domination under his belt, this could be the season Belt finally breaks out.
Second Base: Jason Kipnis
2011 Stats: .272/.333/.507, 24 R, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 5 SB
Despite being a top prospect, all eyes have turned away from Kipnis this season. Names like Dustin Ackley and Jemile Weeks have overshadowed that of Kipnis.
This is good for any fantasy drafter.
Kipnis has huge potential, and was dominant in his cup of coffee. His 2011 pace, projected over 160 games, would have made him a 30-20 player.
It's too early to see that kind of production, but it doesn't mean Kipnis can't put together a 20-20 season. If that doesn't spell fantasy stud at second, then I don't know what does.
Shortstop: Ruben Tejada
2011 Stats: .284/.360/.335, 31 R, 0 HR, 36 RBI, 5 SB
With Jose Reyes on his way to Miami, it's Tejada's time to shine.
He's got big shoes to fill at short, but Tejada will hold his own in 2012. The 22-year-old has solid hit tools and a bit of speed on the bases. He could easily hit .300 with 20 steals.
Don't forget he'll most likely be the 2012 New York Mets' leadoff man. That means an ample opportunity for runs.
Like I said, he's no Reyes, but Tejada has solid fantasy value.
Third Base: Chase Headley
2011 Stats: .289/.374/.399, 43 R, 4 HR, 44 RBI, 13 SB
Despite playing in only 113 games, 2011 marked Chase Headley's best season as a Padre. He posted career highs in average and OPS.
Headley's always had a lot of potential. He knows how to hit, and he's got 20 home run power somewhere. Unfortuanatly, Petco park has a way of devouring that kind of potential.
This kid can hit, and he can do it well. Factor in San Diego's revamped lineup, and suddenly Headley receives boosts in runs and RBI.
Petco has kept Headley an unknown, which makes now as good a time as any to take a chance on Chase.
Outfield: Casper Wells
2011 Stats: .237/.317/.442, 30 R, 11 HR, 27 RBI, 3 SB
Despite calling Safeco Field home, Casper Wells remains a high upside player. His power ceiling is high, and he's entering his 27-year-old season (when most players breakout or bust).
Wells managed to put together a respectable season last year, and his seven home runs (in 31 games) with Seattle eclipsed his four (in 64 games) with Detroit.
Wells remains high risk, but the power potential is there.
Outfield: Lucas Duda
2011 Stats: .292/.370/.482, 38 R, 10 HR, 50 RBI, 1 SB
Lucas Duda put together a solid 2011 season with the Mets, and there could be more coming in 2012.
Duda will enter the season at 26, meaning he's a prime breakout candidate. With the changes coming to Citi Field, it will only become easier for him to hit.
Duda has potential, and will see ample opportunities to produce in the middle of the Mets lineup.
Outfield: Rajai Davis
2011 Stats: .238/.273/.350, 44 R, 1 HR, 29 RBI, 34 SB
Rajai Davis is over 30 years old and had an ugly 2011 season; that's got unknown written all over it.
Despite a disappointing season, Davis remains one of the best outlets for steals in baseball.
The guy played in less than 100 games in 2011, and still managed to steal 34 bags. Davis has average 35 steals per season, passing 40 twice and hitting 50 once.
Coming off a down season, now is the perfect time to get a steal with Davis.
Pitching: Guillermo Moscoso
2011 Stats: 8-10, 3.38 ERA, 128 IP, 74 SO, 1.094 WHIP
In 2011, everyone talked about Trevor Cahill, Dallas Braden, Gio Gonzalez and Brett Anderson. No one talked about Guillermo Moscoso. And yet, he put together one of the best seasons of any Oakland A's starter.
Moscoso has great control and is a solid workhorse (averaging about six innings per start).
His 2011 K/9 of 5.20 was far off from his 8.84 minor league mark. If the numbers start to converge, Moscoso can become that much more effective (in starting and fantasy value).
With everyone looking the other way, now is a great time to jump on another solid Oakland product (Moscoso now plays for Colorado).
Pitching: Jesse Crain
2011 Stats: 8-3, 2.62 ERA, 0 SV, 65.1 IP, 70 SO, 1.240 WHIP
With Chris Sale headed for the rotation, there's a big closer-sized opening in the Chicago White Sox bullpen. Jesse Crain has the potential to fill that opening.
2011 was Crain's best season yet, and a new-found trust in his slider has made him that much more dangerous. He could excel in the White Sox closer role.
With the position up for grabs, most drafters won't consider Crain fantasy-worthy. Their loss is your gain.