Fantasy Baseball Picks 2020: Sleepers to Target Deep in Your Draft

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 25, 2020

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz (26) works in the first inning during Game 2 of a best-of-five National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

The back end of a fantasy baseball draft may not produce any flashy names, but it could hand some owners advantages when it comes to positional depth.

Deciphering which sleepers make the most sense for your team could take some research, but it may pay off at the end of the regular season. 

The players to target in the latter rounds could be intriguing for a variety of factors. They may be a young player looking to make a mark, such as San Diego Padres catcher Francisco Mejia, or a versatile infielder trying to replicate a solid 2019, like Kevin Newman of the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

On the mound, Atlanta Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz may not stand out right away because of his overall numbers from a year ago, but he could bolster your rotation if he extends his late-season form into 2020.


Sleepers To Target Deep In Drafts

Francisco Mejia, C, San Diego

John Minchillo/Associated Press

Mejia is under pressure to thrive more in both aspects of his game. 

The 24-year-old produced eight home runs and 22 RBI in 244 plate appearances over 79 games in 2019. But in order to improve his offensive totals, he needs to showcase defensive progress behind the dish to earn more starts.

Mejia is working on defensive improvements, but Padres manager Jayce Tingler still mentioned a possible split between Mejia and Austin Hedges, per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

"No matter what, we're going to have some type of combination," he said. "You look around the game, there are very few guys catching 140, 150 games. There is going to be some type of combination. Is that 50-50? Is that 70-30? We'll see where we're at."

Mejia is a low-risk, high-reward selection in the latter rounds because he could beat out Hedges with his offensive prowess.

Hedges appeared in 102 games in 2019, but he only produced 11 home runs and 36 appearances in 347 plate appearances. 

If you want to wait until the back end of the draft to select a second catcher, Mejia would work in that role since he has an average draft position of No. 285, per FantasyPros

He could also be stashed as a final bench selection, and if he gets off to a fast start, he may be worth plugging into the lineup in a catcher rotation.

Even though there is some promise there if he beats out Hedges, Mejia should not be taken until the final three or four rounds since he would still split some time. 


Kevin Newman, 2B/SS, Pittsburgh

Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Versatility is one of the factors that plays into the final few draft picks. 

Newman possesses that, as he is listed as a second baseman and shortstop. At the moment, his average draft position is No. 210.

The 26-year-old hit .308 with 12 home runs and 64 RBI in 2019. He also had 20 doubles, six triples and a .800 OPS. 

He may be an intriguing acquisition in the middle-to-late rounds to provide depth at the middle infield positions, but there could also be a concern about him replicating his form from a year ago.

Another deciding factor could be the expected struggles of the Pirates, who could finish fifth in the National League Central. 

Josh Bell is the only player in the projected order who had more than 20 home runs a year ago, and depending on how well Newman swings the bat, he could be rotated around the order to provide a spark. 

Even though he could run into issues discovering team success, Newman could be poised for more individual success, which would make him a decent backup option at either position. 


Mike Foltynewicz, SP, Atlanta

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The reluctance of some owners to draft Foltynewicz could benefit those willing to take a risk on the Atlanta Braves hurler. 

The 28-year-old went 8-6 with a 4.54 ERA, 1.248 WHIP and 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 21 regular-season starts.

Foltynewicz produced a solid seven-inning postseason outing against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the NLDS, but he was one of many Braves to struggle to contain them in Game 5. 

If you look at his September output, he turned a corner by giving up five earned runs in five starts. In the final four regular-season games, he was consistent with at least five strikeouts and the concession of three or four hits. 

If Foltynewicz parlays that form into the start of the 2020 campaign, he could be a reliable option at the back end of a fantasy rotation, and he could be available in the latter rounds since his average draft position is No. 185.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference


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