5 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers to Grab Before They're Household Names
Back in spring training, before the real fake games began, as it were, we provided two sets of sleepers. It's time for a few more.
Well, this is where we, inspired by Friday's promotion of stud prospect Kris Bryant, provide you with yet another select group of all new players who could go from under the radar to household names—as in, someone even your parents might have heard of soon enough—ideally before the first half of the 2015 season is over.
That eliminates several top prospects, like Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Joey Gallo, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, who likely are a bit too far off for first-half impact.
It also removes all players who already have been written up as sleepers by yours truly, including hot-starting rookie Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard or even Danny Salazar, the electric-yet-enigmatic right-hander who will be called up to start for the Cleveland Indians this weekend.
That said, you might want to start telling mom and dad about these five players who are positioned to become soon-to-be stars. You know, right after you grab and stash 'em on your fantasy roster.
Yasmany Tomas, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Look, there's a ton of risk and downside with Yasmany Tomas, who didn't even make the Arizona Diamondbacks out of camp despite a $68.5 million contract. Oh, and that whole third base experiment didn't really work out, so he's only going to be eligible in the outfield and maybe first base.
But the 24-year-old much-hyped Cuban slugger is up—for now, at least—and from a fantasy perspective, his power is tantalizing. He could smack 20 or even 30 home runs were he given 500-plus at-bats.
Of course, Tomas might not even stick around for good this time, and he's 0-for-3 in three games in his bat-off-the-bench-role. So if you go grabbing him, just know that you're going to have to either be patient or drop him in short order.
Rusney Castillo, OF, Boston Red Sox
Right now, Rusney Castillo is both in the minor leagues and hurt after injuring his shoulder diving for a ball. In other words, he's not the greatest fantasy pickup at this exact moment, particularly in shallow leagues (i.e., 10 teams).
But he's on this list so you don't forget about him. At worst, he should be on your watch list, and in deeper formats, he's certainly worth stashing. The 27-year-old Cuban has a fantasy-friendly skill set that could make him a 15-homer, 20-steal performer. Perhaps as soon as this year, depending on the playing time he gets in a crowded outfield.
Given that he's on the Boston Red Sox and scored a $72.5 million contract—the largest ever for an international free agent from Cuba—Castillo has a good shot to become an impact player and third fantasy outfielder very quickly.
Carlos Rodon, SP, Chicago White Sox
Despite being drafted just last June, Carlos Rodon nearly made the Chicago White Sox rotation with a big spring.
In six outings, the 22-year-old left-hander, who was the No. 3 overall pick and reached Triple-A in 2014, allowed only six runs in 17.2 innings with a hellish 21-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Any time a player makes the kind of rapid ascension through the minors that Rodon is pulling off, he's going to get noticed and hyped. For fantasy purposes, his mid-90s fastball and make-'em-look-silly slider are going to lead to a whole bunch of strikeouts, and he's not far away at all.
As Jim Callis of MLB.com writes, "Rodon, who was dominant in his first Triple-A start and just OK in his second, could displace John Danks or Hector Noesi from Chicago's rotation before the end of the month."
Translation: Add him now, enjoy the potential SP3 production later.
Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs
With the promotion of Kris Bryant to the Chicago Cubs, the question now becomes: Could fellow top prospect Addison Russell be far behind?
Here's Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune:
With Tommy La Stella on the 15-day disabled list, Arismendy Alcantara and Jonathan Herrera struggling at the plate and Javier Baez on bereavement leave, this could be a prime time for Russell to further assert himself and be the next prospect in line for a promotion. ...
... If Bryant can hold his own at the plate and in the field, and Russell continues to dominate Triple-A pitching, the future will arrive much sooner for the Cubs in 2015.
If you're wondering where Russell, a shortstop by trade, would fit in, with Starlin Castro and Bryant locking up the left side of the infield, here's where we point out that he has played second base in his past two games at Triple-A Iowa.
As soon as Russell gets the call—and it could happen before the All-Star break—he'll be a must-add as a potential starting shortstop who also could add eligibility at the other middle-infield position.
Archie Bradley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
There's all kinds of hype surrounding Archie Bradley after the 22-year-old right-hander somewhat surprisingly earned a rotation spot for the Arizona Diamondbacks and beat Clayton Kershaw in his debut and then outpitched Madison Bumgarner in his second career start.
"I feel very comfortable when I get on the mound," Bradley said after facing the Giants, via Nick Piecoro of azcentral.com. "I just feel like I have a very good idea of what to do. I feel very confident in the game plan that we come up with."
The No. 7 overall pick in 2011, Bradley is a top prospect who has the pedigree and frame (6'4", 230 lbs) of a No. 1 starter in real life—or a possible SP2 in fantasy, once everything clicks. After he battled through elbow trouble in 2014, he looks healthy and much better at the outset of this season.
If he's still out there in your league, well, he shouldn't be. Expect some bumps as he adjusts to the challenge of getting out big league hitters, and pitching for the D-backs in a hitter-friendly home park isn't ideal. But Bradley's upside is too high to ignore.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter, @JayCat11