How long should we wait for prospects that hit the majors to become fantasy relevant? At what point do we give up and move on? Every season we get so hyped up about guys we’ve never seen throw or hit a ball in the MLB and yet for some reason we get so excited about these names that are rumored to hit rosters in mid-May. Sometimes these players become superstars and are even better than we could have imagined and sometimes they keep dropping in the batting order until there back in minors a few weeks later. Its not the players fault that we expect way too much out of them so quickly, as fantasy players we are not a patient bunch! We give them three at-bats before we start dropping them in our ranks and they haven’t even had time to learn their team’s celebrations yet. Sometimes we just give up on these guys too soon, but every player is different and some need years to adjust in the majors to actually become fantasy relevant.
The list below is basically all post-hype sleepers going into the 2018 season, which are really just players that were sleepers the past few years and failed to hit expectations. Some are top prospects that seem to have been forgotten about and all of these guys are dropping a little farther in drafts than their actual potential. Also, a lot of injuries have severely effected some of these players right when they were starting to get going and comfortable in their situations. These players were all top prospects at some point early in their careers, so they all have something that stands out from the rest. We need to stop giving up so early on these guys and its tough with so many young ball players coming into the league in what seems like every other week. Here are 16 guys I think are better than their ADP and have a chance for some big breakout’s this season. Just remember to be a little patient…
- Kyle Schwarber: Going into 2017, most fantasy experts were debating Kyle Schwarber vs. Gary Sanchez at the catcher position. If you took Sanchez you probably made a nice run, if you took Schwarber, I hope you grabbed a backup catcher. Schwarber was a major disappointment last season hanging around .200 all year and not showing the power potential every Cubs fan has been raving about since being taken fourth overall in 2014. This offseason, he’s dropped 30 lbs and physically makes you look twice after the big bouldering power hitter is looking as lean as I’ve ever seen him. He’s been stealing bases early on in Spring Training which is more of a good sign that he will be able to hold down left field for the crowded Cubs outfield. The hype last season was way too unrealistic for Schwarber to reach, but now he’s not even being drafted as a top-150 player making him a very interesting prospect in fantasy drafts this season.
- Alex Reyes: This guy is a great example for why you want to wait as long as you can to draft every year in redraft leagues. Reyes was soaring up draft boards around this time last season and some even had him as the number one prospect in baseball before getting hurt. Reyes had that dreadful feeling in his arm which led to Tommy John surgery right before Spring Training even started. It’s looking like Reyes won’t be ready until May this season and there’s a chance he’s not immediately a starter in St. Louis. Either way, it’s hard for me to pass on the upside Reyes is bringing to 2018, especially in the second half. Even if he starts in the bullpen, there is a chance he ends up in the closer role at some point. Reyes certainly has a few question marks but the talent is there if your willing to be patient and keep him on the bench for awhile.
- David Dahl: Dubbed the mystery man by many sophomore fantasy players this year, David Dahl was a popular sleeper pick going into the 2017 season. An early back injury in Spring Training even made his sleeper status more relevant. He was still being hyped but you didn’t have to reach for him anymore since he would be out 6-8 weeks. Unfortunately, that turned into the entire season and Dahl was merely a bench or IR spot for your team after only 90 games played in the minors. Going into 2018, Dahl isn’t even guaranteed an everyday spot in the lineup with Colorado having such a crowded outfield, but I think Dahl has the best chance to be a fantasy contributor. I still like him for a 20/20 season just like everybody did going into last year and if he can stay healthy he has a chance to finally live up to the sleeper hype he once had.
- Jameson Taillon: It almost feels wrong ranking Taillon on his numbers last season after he found out he had testicular cancer, got it removed, and was able to get back on the mound all within a month. I think most people would take a lot longer to recover but Taillon got right back out there… maybe a little to early and it unfortunately showed in his performance. After returning from cancer his ERA and WHIP skyrocketed and he clearly just wasn’t able to get back to his old self. I don’t think anybody in the league was able to take advantage of the offseason as much as Taillon, who needed a much needed break and now can come into the 2018 rested and healthy. Taillon has had a bumpy career so far having Tommy John Surgery before hitting the majors and going through testicular cancer last year. Taillon is somebody who didn’t have many chances to break out in his young career so far, but I think this might finally be his year.
- Gregory Polanco: A few short years ago Polanco was a top prospect within the up and coming Pirates farm system. Now the Pirates are back in tanking mode and Polanco is the injury prone building block that didn’t quiet work out as some Pittsburgh fans would have hoped for. Polanco is tough to rank this season in fantasy because he has had such an up and down career so far really just one great season and the rest had been less than average. Polanco is only 26-years-old and I think has really struggled due to his many injuries. Polanco is another risky option, but he’s starting to fall farther than he should in drafts.
- Jorge Soler: Soler had a ton of hype coming over from Cuba when he signed a nine year contract with the Cubs in 2014. I thought it was the steal of the century and this guy would be hitting Soler-bombs in Wrigley for years to come. After a few seasons of dealing with nagging ankle and hamstring injuries, he never really showed much potential being sent up and down from the minors most of his career in Chicago before being flipped for one year of Wade Davis. Going into 2018, Soler is on the rebuilding Royals who will give him all the time he needs to get adjusted. I think a change will be huge for him and going from a contender to a rebuilding team will actually benefit him for fantasy purposes. This offseason, Soler has lost 20 lbs, changed his batting stance, and his back to showing off his power potential in Spring Training. For a guy who looked just as good as Kris Bryant going through the Cubs system Soler is surely to turn into a big sleeper as we start to draft and I’m ready to take a shot on him.
- Blake Snell: A lot of fantasy owners gave up on Snell last season after being burnt by him for the past few years. He was the guy who got at least one spot start for every team in your 10 team league but dropped after a bad performance. Snell had a great resume through the minors but really never showed he could really hang in the majors until the 2nd half of last year. He finally showed he doesn’t need to walk every other player he faces while also raising his K-rate late in the year, which will sadly bring his draft stock up because everyone loves going off secnd half pitching numbers. What does hurt Snell is that Tampa Bay just sold half their Offense for nothing and Snell is nowhere to be heard in any trade talks. I still like Snell’s potential and if he’s able to control his curve anybody who drafts him will be hitting the jackpot.
- Stephen Piscotty: This guy is going to thrive in Oakland I can just feel it. He doesn’t totally fit in this list since he really just came out of nowhere through St Louis’s system but he’s got an opportunity now to play everyday in Oakland and I think he’s going to run away with this opportunity. Piscotty had a rough 2017 having multiple injuries, including a scary looking head injury that must have had an effect on his rough season last year. He didn’t have much room to bounce back when he was healthy with St. Louis having so many of their positions locked down. Now he has an opportunity on an underrated A’s lineup that Piscotty could take advantage of. His ADP has been crazy low lately were he basically isn’t getting drafted in most leagues but I think that will change soon and will be a great bench stash late in drafts.
- Mitch Haniger: If you grabbed Haniger with your last pick last season, I’m sure you were off to a hot start in the first month of fantasy since Haniger was a top-20 player early on in the season. Haniger burst onto the scene in his first season with Seattle and showed why he was a one time up and coming prospect in Arizona. Sadly injuries stopped his fairy tail season and he never could bounce back to fantasy relevance. Haniger has a chance to bat near the top of the order just like he did for awhile last season in Seattle which would be huge upgrade for him but we wont know that for some time. Just like last season I want to take a flyer on Haniger late in drafts and hope for the best.
- Sean Manaea: The southpaw might still be seen as a sleeper to some around the league, but I’ve been falling for the hype of Manaea for awhile now. He showed some of the hype early last season but never seemed to be able to hold onto any fantasy relevant numbers even though I continued to start him after so many disastrous outings. Even though Manaea had a horrible second half last season that should drop his draft stock and help keep his value a lot closer to what it should be. I’ve been burned by Manaea before but I’m willing to take another chance on him late in drafts this year.
- Aaron Sanchez: Sanchez broke out for Toronto in 2016 and was getting way to hyped up in drafts last season. Suffering from the deadly disease in baseball known as blisters, Sanchez only ended up starting eight games last year. So far in Spring Training, Sanchez has look solid and his hands are still looking smooth. Even with this info, I have heard nothing about him in drafts. He’s not a high strike out pitcher but he reminds me a lot of a Kyle Hendricks type who can go distance and get a lot of ground outs. If he can get back into 2016 form and keep his hands silky smooth I think he can have another breakout season and somebody you might not even have to draft if your interested.
- Cameron Maybin: In a time where steals are treated like Bitcoin I don’t understand why Maybin is not a hotter commodity. I always try to take advantage of Maybin through the waiver wire the past few seasons when I was in need of steals and he would usually deliver. I was lucky to get him at the right time because he is known for having very hot and cold streaks. Maybin will start the season as the starting center fielder for the Miami Marlins so you know he will have all the playing time in the world. I would assume he will leadoff and will hopefully have the green light to be a huge factor in steals. He’s basically just showing off what he can do for playoff contenders so the Marlins can ship him off in the summer for some pieces. He’s also somebody you might not have to draft but a can end up saving you in a category that is much needed while not hurting you in much else.
- Maikel Franco: This was a tough one. Its not that I believe in Franco to really show us much but if I’m going to throw a hail mary with my last pick in the draft give me Maikel Franco. He has been a massive disappointed throughout his young career in Philadelphia where it seems like they are close to passing him in their rebuilding plans for the future. If he isn’t able to prove this season that he has the chops to play in the majors I think he’s gone. He’s coming into 2018 with a new batting stance to help him hit the low and away pitches that would guarantee an out for him in the past seasons. He still has that talent somewhere and this could finally be the year we see it so I want to keep a close eye on Franco over the next month.
- Tyler Glasnow: I watched a lot of Glasnow’s starts last season after hearing all the hype over the past few years about this 6’8” Starting Pitcher and I just didn’t see it. He had no control at all and couldn’t stop walking people so I thought he would slowly disappear into irrelevance. So far in three Spring Training outing’s Glasnow has looked solid not letting up even one walk so far. Glasnow isn’t getting much buzz and is still fighting for that last spot in the rotation but he’s somebody to consider late in drafts when your basically throwing darts for who has the most potential.
- Kevin Gausman: Gausman let a lot of fantasy owners down last season especially in the first half being one of the worst pitchers in the majors. Clearly that led to nobody trusting him in the second half but he was actually pretty good. Gausman has had hype around him for awhile now and after a mini breakout at the end of 2016 everyone expected a lot out of him last year and he jut didn’t deliver. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of everybody who was butt hurt last season and refuses to take a guy who clearly was still working on his craft. I’m not reaching for Gausman this season but I like him late in drafts and still think he can be the breakout we once thought he was.
- A.J. Reed: I had a few shares of Reed in 2016 when he was destroying baseball in the minors and leading the league in home runs. He came up for a few cups of coffee but didn’t do anything with them. We didn’t hear a peep from Reed during Houston’s World Series run but with Yuli Gurriel’s injury I think Reed has a chance to run away with the opening at first base. He still hasn’t done much in Spring Training which he will need to have a chance to start but he is somebody that has insane power potential. Keep an eye on him especially over the next month and if he stays in the majors over the first few weeks on the waiver wire.