Fantasy Baseball 2020: Projections for Caleb Smith, Late-Round Sleepers

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 3, 2020

Miami Marlins pitcher Caleb Smith throws to the Washington Nationals during the first inning of a spring training baseball game, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Late-round fantasy baseball draft picks will not win leagues for you, but they could be X-factors in certain matchups.

A plethora of intriguing options will be available in the final few rounds, and although sifting through that list requires a bit of work, it could come with a decent payoff.

Miami Marlins pitcher Caleb Smith is one of the hurlers who could be of interest because of his total in a valuable stat category.

Aristides Aquino of the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez may provide value with their power, but concerns about their production and consistency will keep them around until the later rounds.


Projections for Late-Round Sleepers

Caleb Smith, SP, Miami

Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Smith carries some intrigue because of his strikeout rate.

The 28-year-old fanned 168 batters over 153.1 innings in 28 starts in 2019.

Two years ago, the Marlins hurler struck out 88 opponents in 77.1 frames over 16 appearances. That is where the intrigue stops going into the new campaign, as he needs to correct some flaws to improve his fantasy value.

Smith conceded 33 home runs and recorded a 4.52 ERA that was inflated by poor numbers in August and September. His five outings with five or more earned runs allowed decreased his value further, but if he can improve on those numbers, he could be a low-risk, high-reward selection in the final few rounds.

The southpaw put up solid numbers against both left-and-right-handed hitters in 2019. He had a 2.79 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 134 strikeouts versus right-handed batters, and he held lefties to a .211 batting average.

As long as he decreases his home run concessions, Smith might be worth stashing in the final few rounds as pitching depth.

Projection: 18th round.


Aristides Aquino, OF, Cincinnati

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Aquino was one of the must-add players in August when he was first called up by the Cincinnati Reds.

The outfielder hit 11 of his 19 home runs from August 3-17, but his power dried up thereafter. The 26-year-old finished with a .259 batting average, .316 on-base percentage and 47 RBIs.

Some fantasy owners may reach for Aquino a few rounds before he should be selected based off his potential for power. But if he showcases his home run strength on a more consistent basis, he could carry value as a depth outfielder.

Aquino's ceiling could be as high as his power takes him, but there is also a chance he remains inconsistent and hits the waiver wire within a few weeks. Since most players available at the back end of fantasy drafts come with risks, it is worth taking a flier on Aquino in case he once again brings pop to the Reds lineup.

Projection: 19th round.


Omar Narvaez, C, Milwaukee

MARYVALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 06: Omar Narvaez #10 of the Milwaukee Brewers gets ready in the batters box against the San Francisco Giants during a spring training game at American Family Fields of Phoenix on March 06, 2020 in Maryvale, Arizona. (Photo by Nor
Norm Hall/Getty Images

A shift from Seattle to Milwaukee could increase Narvaez's totals.

In 2019, he posted 22 home runs, 55 RBIs and a .813 OPS in his first-career 100-game season.

Narvaez is positioned in a much better lineup alongside Christian Yelich, Keston Hiura and others. Even at the bottom of the order, Narvaez could reap rewards if Yelich and Hiura reach base at the start of innings.

The potential for more RBIs and a consistent batting average throughout the catcher's career should make him an intriguing late-round pick. Narvaez has hit .275 or higher in each of the past three seasons, and if he can prove that he can mash double-digit homers again, he could carry more value in the middle of the campaign.

It would be a risky move to use the 28-year-old as your primary catcher, but if you select top players at other positions, you could try to get away with it.

Projection: 19th round.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.