Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2021: Best Hitting and Pitching Prospects to Draft

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 27, 2021

Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2021: Best Hitting and Pitching Prospects to Draft

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Some of the top prospects in baseball are intriguing from a fantasy baseball perspective, but we have to wait some time for Bobby Witt Jr. and Jarred Kelenic to be available at the major league level.

    Kelenic was the latest top prospect to be optioned to the minors Friday, which makes Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes the top-rated young player, according to, scheduled to start the season in the majors.

    Hayes is an intriguing fantasy option to take in the middle rounds because of the numbers he produced at the back end of the 2020 campaign.

    Pitchers Nate Pearson and Casey Mize displayed some promise during their 2020 appearances, but 2021 is when we expect to see what each prospect can do over a full stretch of games.

    Pearson may be in the better situation to win games because of the loaded Toronto Blue Jays lineup, but Mize could be the better fantasy option of the two because of his strikeout power.

Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Hayes is an intriguing option to play at the hot corner.

    The Pittsburgh third baseman produced a 1.124 OPS, five home runs and 11 RBI over 24 games to end the 2020 season.

    He is not a top choice at his position yet, but he could develop into a top-10 option if the plate ability translates to a full season. If you want to take a risk on Hayes, it may be worth holding off on taking a third baseman to fill out other positions.

    Hayes provides value since he reached base on a consistent basis. He had seven doubles and two triples as part of his 32 hits last season. In the minors, Hayes produced back-to-back 30-double seasons and improved his power from Double-A to Triple-A. He had three home runs and eight more RBI in 2019 compared to 2018.

    If Hayes continues to work on his power, he could provide a ton of value compared to his draft position in the middle rounds.

    If anything, Hayes will go down as the top hitting prospect to target. He is ahead of Dylan Carlson and Cristian Pache as the No. 9 overall prospect.

Nate Pearson, P, Toronto

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Pearson has the potential to be a productive sleeper on the mound because of the lineup behind him and the numbers from his most recent full season.

    For now, the right-handed hurler is someone worth stashing on your roster for when he is healthier in May and June.

    Pearson is at risk of missing Opening Day because of a right groin strain, which will decrease his fantasy value.

    The injury concern and the not-so-great start to life in the majors in 2020 could turn Pearson into a late-round fantasy selection. He allowed 12 earned runs in 18 innings and had a 1.23 strikeout-to-walk ratio in five appearances in 2020.

    However, there is promise for Pearson to be a productive major league starter since he fanned 119 batters over 101.2 innings during his rise up the minor league ladder in 2019. He also had a 4.41 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a 2.30 ERA and 0.885 WHIP.

    If Pearson displays that type of form when he returns to the mound, he could be a strong end-of-rotation complement to Hyun-Jin Ryu and Robbie Ray.

    Pearson's fantasy status will be determined by how long his injury layoff is, but if you are willing to stash a young pitcher on the injured list for a few weeks, he could be worth the risk.

Casey Mize, P, Detroit

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Mize, Tarik Skubal and a few other young players will make the Detroit Tigers an intriguing team to watch in 2021.

    Detroit may not be competitive in the American League Central, but it could have pitchers who turn in some numbers that matter to fantasy players.

    Mize went 0-3 in seven starts last season, but he struck out 26 batters. The high strikeout potential is the most intriguing aspect of his game on the fantasy level.

    In 2019, Mize had 106 strikeouts and 23 walks over 109.1 innings at Single-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie. If he cuts down on the walks and his home run concessions, Mize could be an efficient No. 3 or No. 4 starter on fantasy rosters.

    At some point in his career, Mize could be a solid second option to the aces on your rosters. For now, he should be a supporting piece chosen in the mid- to late rounds.


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