Fantasy Baseball Late Round Sleepers: Speed Targets
Justin Mason takes a look at some of the late-round, under-the-radar speed targets you're going to want to look for in your 2018 fantasy baseball drafts.
I absolutely hate when people call top-200 players sleepers. In this day and age, it is hard to classify anyone as a sleeper, but if you do, you better be talking about guys going late. Therefore I have decided to take on the role of sleeper whisperer at Fantasy Alarm. Each week, I will give you late round sleepers broken up by league size tiers aimed at helping you address needs late in your drafts. No matter the depth of your league, it is important to review all these names as they could become relevant for you at some point.
First, we talk about speed. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that speed is at a premium in the current era of fantasy, but there are options late if you miss out on the Dee Gordon’s and Billy Hamilton’s of the world. Here are my late-round targets, according to NFBC ADP, for stolen base help.
10-Team Mixed Options:
Cesar Hernandez (ADP: 258.71)- Perpetually underrated, Hernandez has stolen at least 15 bases in each of the last three seasons and is an asset in batting average and on base leagues. At some point he could get overtaken by Scott Kingery, but until then he can be a nice little boost at the end of a 10-team roster.
Keon Broxton (ADP: 271.71)- In spite of never getting more than 414 plate appearances in either of his two seasons in the Majors, Broxton has managed to swipe at least 21 bags in each of the two years. With the Lorenzo Cain signing and Christian Yelich trade, he is completely blocked and needs a trade of his own to realize the huge upside, but if he were to be moved to a place with steady playing time, he could be a monster power/speed threat.
12-Team Mixed Options:
Kevin Pillar (ADP: 305.24)- Pillar has stolen at least 14 bases in each of the last three seasons. In spite of recent additions to the Blue Jays outfield, Pillar is not at risk to losing playing time as he is a gold glove caliber center fielder. Not the flashiest of bats, but he is productive and underrated.
Carlos Gomez (ADP: 321.65)- Gomez has stolen at least 13 bases in each of the last 10 seasons. While the stolen bases have tailed off from the years in which he was stealing 30+, they could easily eclipse 20 if the Rays expect to give him regular playing time and after jettisoning Corey Dickerson and Steven Souza, there is no reason to not give Gomez a long leash.
Raul Mondesi (ADP: 326.1)- In just under 210 plate appearances, Mondesi has stolen 14 bases at the Major League level for the Royals and he swiped a total of 26 between AAA and the Majors last year. The only thing holding Mondesi back from a huge break out is the Royals. He will be up at some point, if not to start the year, and there is no reason to think he can’t swipe 30 bags if given 500 plate appearances.
Mallex Smith (ADP: 346.3)- Like Gomez, Smith benefits a ton from the moves made by the Rays this spring. Between AAA and the Majors, he stole 37 bases and there is no reason for the Rays to continue to not give him a ton of plate appearances. He could easily steal 40 bags this year.
Lewis Brinson (ADP: 346.38)- The trade from Milwaukee to Miami may hurt his power potential, but Brinson is no longer blocked by any stretch of the imagination. He could start the year in the minors, but even if he does, he will be up fairly soon. As long as he can keep the strikeouts to a reasonable level, he could be a monster in fantasy, including 15-20 stolen bases.
Hernan Perez (ADP: 357.14)- The playing time situation may be a bit of a mess, but if you need speed and positional flexibility near the end of your draft, Perez could be your guy. He has stolen a total of 47 bases over the last two seasons and will have eligibility at 3B and outfield in all formats as well as second base in a number of formats and should gain it there in all at some point. The Brewers love to run and there is no reason to believe he won’t find his way into 400+ plate appearances for the third straight season.
15-Team Mixed Options:
Ketel Marte (ADP: 378.45)- Marte has only stole 21 bases in the last two seasons between AAA and the Majors, but the trade of Brandon Drury to the Yankees offers a steady dose at playing time with the Diamondbacks this year. The addition of the humidor to Chase field will likely force the team to play a little more small ball at home than they are used to. That means they should run. Marte could be an interesting speed threat at shortstop.
Cameron Maybin (386.2)- Maybin is slotted into being the full time centerfielder for the Marlins after signing a one year deal. He has stolen at least 15 bases in each of the last three seasons in spite of limited playing time the last two years. In Miami, playing time shouldn’t be an issue and the Marlins will look to manufacture offense. All signs point to Maybin being a valuable speed asset.
Raimel Tapia (ADP: 391.24)- Tapia has been a favorite among prospect gurus for a long time, but this may be the first time he gets a real extended look at the Major League level. He has shown the ability to steal over 30 bases in a season at the minor leagues and could find himself regular playing time depending on the health of Gerardo Parra or if Ryan McMahon doesn’t appear to be the answer at first base. High risk/High reward play at the end of deeper mixed leagues.
Dustin Fowler (ADP: 412.4)- Fowler got injured in the field before ever getting his first Major League plate appearance in his call up to the Yankees. Now that he has been traded to the A’s, it is only a matter of time before he is their everyday centerfielder. He has a good hit tool and plus speed and only has Boog Powell blocking him. He could steal 15-25 bags this year.
Derek Fisher (ADP: 425.3)- Fisher has routinely gone 20/20 in the minors since being drafted by the Astros. He played a pinch running role with Houston during the playoffs and may start the year in that role or in the minors, but with Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez as his only obstacles, he could be playing every day fairly quickly if someone gets injured. Not many guys with this kind of upside on a team this good going as late as him.
Jarrod Dyson (ADP: 445.19)- He was the consolation prize for the Diamondbacks after JD Martinez signed in Boston, but he has been money for savvy fantasy owners for a long time. Dyson has stolen at least 26 bases in each of the last six seasons and should be at worst a back up that plays regularly. While the humidor may tone down power for other hitters, Dyson will likely be able to run wild in the desert. He has a safe stolen base floor with major upside.
AL Only Options:
Rajai Davis (ADP: 513.88)- Davis signed a minor league deal with the Indians that includes a spring training invite. Don’t let the apparent lack of a role fool you, he has stolen at least 29 bases in nine of the last ten seasons and has only gotten to 500 plate appearance in a season one time in his career. With guys like Lonnie Chisenhall and Michael Brantley roaming the outfield in Cleveland, it is a matter of time before we see Davis swiping more bags.
Leonys Martin (ADP: 522.53)- Martin lost his everyday role for the Mariners last season, but didn’t lose his speed. He stole 32 bases between AAA and the Majors and has always been a reliable stolen base threat. Now that he is with the Tigers, there is no one to really push him for playing time, so unless he is atrocious at the plate, he should find regular at bats and 15-25 stolen bases.
Taylor Motter (ADP: 584.59)- In most formats, Motter will start with only shortstop eligibility, but it won’t be long before he picks up eligibility all over the diamond. He has also shown the ability to steal 25+ bags in the minor leagues and stole 18 between AAA and the Majors last year. As a reserve pick in your AL Only league, he offers nice flexibility, speed, and beautiful flowing locks to round out your fantasy team.
Adam Engel (ADP: 645.2)- Engel is not a good player, but he is really fast. When you are drafting as late as he will be going, the players available don’t typically even have one elite skill, but Engel has 80 grade speed and he plays on one of the few teams bad enough that he could legitimately get playing time on. Even as a pinch runner, he could be Jarrod Dyson like.
Billy Burns (ADP: 727)- Speaking of bad players on bad teams, Billy Burns could get an extended look considering how bad the Royals offense looks. At one point he was an average and speed asset, but now he could steal a bunch of bags off the bench or in platoon duty for the Royals.
NL Only Options:
Magneuris Sierra (ADP: 577.12)- Sierra is likely destined for a fourth outfielder role at some point in his career, but the Marlins are planning on trotting out guys like Martin Prado and Derek Dietrich in their outfield, so they could do worse than Sierra. He will likely start the year in the minors, but could be up fairly early and be a real stolen base asset in Miami. Worth reserving in NL only.
Roman Quinn (ADP: 631.67)- We have been waiting a long time for Quinn to become a Major League asset for the Phillies. This spring he is taking reps at shortstop to improve his positional flexibility. While that likely means he starts the year in the minors to polish his defense, Quinn has 80-grade speed and could be a super utility player for the Phillies at some point this season. Like Sierra, he is worth stashing in NL only.
Travis Jankowski (ADP: 655.71)- With the addition of Eric Hosmer moving Wil Myers back to the outfield, Jankowski is likely starting the year in the minors, but if he can get back to the big leagues due to injury or underperformance of others, Jankowski can make a difference in the run game for fantasy owners. He is only a year removed from coming off a 30 stolen base season in only 383 plate appearances in the Major Leagues.
Mauricio Dubon (ADP: 655.1)- Dubon will probably spend at least the first couple of months in AAA, but he could be a real difference maker when he eventually comes up. If Villar and co. continue to struggle at second base, Dubon is the future of the position and help solidify that improved roster. He has stolen at least 30 bases in each of the last three seasons in the minors and not hit below .272 in that span. A very high ceiling as an NL only stash.