The draft is the most exciting date on the fantasy baseball calendar, as the decisions you make set the table for your season – have you prepared to find the hidden gems and the sleeper picks that will set your team apart?
The Jest, JT, and I gave some of our predictions for young upcomers on the latest podcast – and after talking with them only one thing is for certain and it’s that these guys have been doing their homework. Give it a listen this Saturday and check out my division break downs if you’re still figuring out who to draft.
OF Mitch Haninger
There was a lot of hype for him entering 2017, though injuries helped to limit him to 96 games in the Majors. Considering those limitations there was no chance that his production would live up to the expectations, though when he was on the field he put up strong numbers:
.282 Batting Average (104 Hits)
16 Home Runs
.352 On Base Percentage
.491 Slugging Percentage
An oblique injury derailed his hot start and a fastball to the face cost him the season, but Mitch Haniger showed why people were so excited about him in the first place. Haniger has yet to play any Spring Training games due to a hand injury, but he should be ready by Opening Day. With Haniger’s power and speed, he could hit 25+ home runs with 10 stolen bases and a .280 batting average making him a steal in your fantasy baseball draft. Don’t overlook this guy.
OF Tommy Pham
Tommy Pham pulled a breakout season at age 29, and is likely that he was the only person to see it coming. He’s still overlooked but multiple experts, which is why I’m dubbing him my 2018 sleeper.
A look at his minor-league numbers shows a guy who moved up the system at a very slow pace, hit for power just one year, stole bases in a few seasons but only hit for average here and there. He saw limited time in 2014 for his first appearance in the majors.
Not to pull out weird excuses here for his lack of minor league numbers, but he has been deemed legally blind in his left eye and was only recently diagnosed. He suffers from an eye condition called keratoconus which means the abnormal shape of Pham’s corneas changes the way he processes images. A special set of contacts uniquely mapped for his eyes, to take their shape, made all the difference for his breakout 2017 season.
In just 5 months of playing last year he hit .306 with 23 bombs and 25 stolen bases. He’s going to be an everyday starter this year in a potent cardinal lineup – this guy is worthy of a spot on your fantasy baseball team.
Castillo seems to be “everyone’s sleeper” this year, but for good reason. The 25-year-old righty dazzled in 15 starts last season, posting a 3.12 ERA and a high strikeout rate. When you see his a 98 mph fastball ball accompanied with a sharply breaking 84 mph slider or an 87 mph change-up, it’s easy to imagine him as a future ace.
The Reds have been praying for someone to fill Johnny Cuetos’ shoes and they just may have stumbled upon one in the 6’2 190 pound Castillo.
RP AJ Minter
The left-hander was impressive in a 2017 call-up with a 26/2 strikeouts to walk ratio and should be an important part of the Atlanta bullpen this season. He features a big four-seam fastball, slider and cutter combo – he also struck out nearly half the batters he faced in the big leagues last season.
His pitches were absolutely devastating against left-handed hitters, but he’s also been effective against righties. He’ll serve as the set up man to Arodys Vizcaino – but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him take over the job come August.
With the fantasy baseball draft coming up, the pressure to find the right picks are on. Hopefully, some of these standout players will help you secure a win this year. In the meantime, check out some of my other baseball breakdowns for a look at this upcoming season.