In fantasy baseball, it’s never too early to look towards next year. Now that the 2011 season is over, it’s time to start preparing for the 2012 draft.
As in every fantasy draft, being able to target sleeper picks is the key to a successful draft and can lead to a championship.
2012 will have many breakout and bounce back players, and recognizing who they will be is crucial.
Here are the top 25 sleepers for next year’s fantasy baseball draft.
Ever since hurting his ankle celebrating a walk-off home run in 2010, Kendrys Morales hasn’t seen the field.
After more surgery and another offseason of rest, Morales should be good to go in 2012.
Morales will be undervalued because of his ankle, but he has the potential to produce like a top-10 first baseman.
St. Louis’ top pitching prospect Shelby Miller could make the rotation out of spring training in 2012.
If Miller makes the club, he could have an impact similar to Michael Pineda.
Adrian Gonzalez’s replacement in San Diego didn’t have as good a rookie year as he had hoped.
However, the future is still bright for Anthony Rizzo, who could take a step or two forward in 2012.
Colby Rasmus has been on the verge of breaking out for a couple of years now.
After a 14 homer campaign in 2011, many fantasy owners may jump ship on Rasmus.
However, much like Alex Gordon, Rasmus can still turn things around, especially now that he plays in Toronto.
Rick Porcello has had a couple of years to adjust to the majors, and he enjoyed a good season in 2011.
Porcello could take another step forward and be the pitcher Detroit thought he’d be when they drafted him.
It is well known that Adam Dunn had a remarkably bad season in 2011.
Even if he’s never the same Adam Dunn again, he still has to be better in 2012.
Like Dunn, Brian Matusz had an awful 2011 season.
Matusz was one of the top pitching prospects, so expect a rebound in 2012.
One of the main chips in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, Drew Pomeranz has a good shot at making the Rockies’ roster to start 2012.
Pomeranz is a great pitcher and could be an anchor in Colorado’s rotation for years to come.
Phil Hughes pitched much better after he came off the DL, though he still wasn’t the same Phil Hughes as in 2010.
Hughes should be improved in 2012 and is worth taking a shot on.
Pedro Alvarez had a subpar sophomore campaign, though he is still one of the games most promising third baseman.
Don’t forget about Alvarez come draft day, as he can still put up a 30 homer season.
While filling in in the Atlanta rotation, Delgado pitched masterfully, posting a 2.83 ERA.
It’s unknown what general manager Frank Wren’s plans are for the Atlanta rotation, but Delgado should be in a starting rotation somewhere in 2012.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis performed very well once he got called up, hitting seven homers and stealing five bases in just 136 at-bats.
Kipnis could be a 20-20 performer in 2012 and would be a great pick for a 2B/SS flex position.
One of Kansas City’s top young arms, Mike Montgomery is expected to make the rotation out of spring training.
Montgomery could be a future ace, so especially those in keeper leagues should take note of him.
The Royals’ other top young arm had a dismal first season in the majors. However, Danny Duffy did show flashes of brilliance and a great K/9 rate.
Duffy will improve in the offseason and could start figuring out major league hitters starting in 2012.
Jacob Turner is one of the best young pitchers in the game, although he had a rough couple starts in the majors in 2011.
Turner will be in the Tigers’ rotation to start 2012, and has the ability have a sub-4.00 ERA with a 9.0 K/9.
One of the Reds’ best prospects, Yonder Alonso did some damage once he got called up, knocking five dingers in 88 at-bats.
There is no question Alonso can hit, so expect big things in 2012.
The Reds’ shortstop of the future had a big impact on Cincinnati’s lineup before injuring himself against the Braves this summer.
Zack Cozart should be an above average hitter for shortstops, and is definitely worth targeting in the draft.
Salvador Perez is already penciled in as the Royals’ starting catcher in 2012, and hit well in limited time in 2011.
Perez finished 2011 with a .331 average, and is capable of hitting .300 over a full season in 2012.
Zach Stewart displayed great promise for the White Sox this season, pitching a one-hit shutout in one of his first starts in the majors.
Stewart could have a big year in 2012 for Chicago.
Dee Gordon is lightning fast on the base paths and stole 24 bases in the majors this year.
Over a full season, Gordon could definitely steal 60 or more bases for the Dodgers.
The Yankees best pitching prospect has a great chance at making the rotation in 2012 after New York’s pitching woes this year.
Manny Banuelos has all the talent in the world and could make a big impact in 2012.
Carl Crawford had a down year in 2011 and his draft stock for 2012 will surely take a hit.
Crawford is too talented of a player to have a repeat of 2012, so expect a bounce back and don’t devalue him too much.
Highly touted Angels outfielder Mike Trout got a taste of the big leagues in 2011 and should be a fixture in 2012.
Trout is a five-tool ballplayer and will fill up the stat sheets.
Much like teammate Randall Delgado, Julio Teheran is too good to spend another season in the minors.
Expect the highly touted Teheran to be a starter in the Atlanta rotation in 2012.
Depending on how the playoffs play out, Rays pitcher Matt Moore may not be a considered a sleeper pick anymore but rather a full blown fantasy stud.
Moore has great ability, as was shown in Yankee Stadium and in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Matt Moore should be on the radar of every fantasy owner in 2012 as a top of the rotation guy.