MLB Offseason Scanner: Under the Radar

Dan BentonCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2008

I could sit here and tell you, "Draft C.C. Sabathia" or "Draft K-Rod."  That kind of advice probably won't do you much good, since everyone already knows they need to do that.  So, what good will any fantasy advice do three months before any fantasy draft is likely to occur?  Well, if you can think of some sleepers now, you avoid having to scramble for sleepers later.  Not only that, but it is never too early to plot your strategy now.

Believe it or not, if you have a solid 10th through 20th round strategy early, your strategy for the first few rounds becomes much easier.  That being said, let us take a look at some key, but not obvious transactions of importance so far.

Ramon Hernandez - C (Cincinnati Reds)

Not so long ago, Hernandez was a popular sleeper pick at catcher.  Here you had a 20-HR threat at catcher who could drive in 70-90 runs in a given season, but he always fell under the radar because he was not a regular All Star and he played in small markets. 

His sleeper status caught up to him the last couple of years, though; by becoming a consistent sleeper, he also became overrated.  He had a bit of a revival in 2008, swatting 15 HR, but it took some time for him to develop the trust of fantasy owners again.  The move to Cincinnati should help him.

Sure, Camden Yards was a good HR ballpark in 2008, but Great American has been much more consistently a great HR ballpark the last several years.  Not only that, but it has been a more consistent hitter's park than Camden Yards, which should help Hernandez's other numbers, with which he has struggled.  Look for Hernandez to earn that sleeper label once again.

Felipe Lopez - 2B/SS/3B/OF (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Yes, Lopez is valuable because he qualifies at a ton of positions.  However, his value fluctuates year-to-year because there isn't always a guarantee that he will be a starter, and it always seems he has a lot to prove.

His value actually took a bit of a hit in Washington, as RFK Stadium probably killed his value by stealing many home runs away from him.  His HR rates were much better once he was traded to St. Louis, and they should get even better now that he plays in the friendly confines of Chase Field.

When right, Lopez is a threat to hit for average, hit HRs, drive in runs, and steal bases.  His career year in 2005 showed that, when playing in a hitter's park, he can put up huge numbers:  .291 AVG, 23 HR, 85 RBI, 15 SB.  Combine that with the fact that you can plug him into almost any position on your roster, and you have someone who gives your roster a wealth of flexibility.

Consider as well that Lopez is just hitting his prime at 28 years of age, and you are looking at a potentially huge year from Lopez.

Read more - MLB Offseason Scanner: Under the Radar