Sleepers are hard to predict. Think Geoff Blum last year, who was on a lot of lists when it looked like he was going to earn the starting 3B position out of ST.
My best call last year was James Shields. I had a lot of doubting Thomas's, but he was fantasy gold. This year I have several guys I like a lot, and hopefully some will earn their stripes. This is Part 1 of a three part series.
Luke Scott, OF Baltimore-Scott can rake. He proved it in the minors, and a two-year platoon in Houston. He enticed fantasy managers with a sparkling .336 BA and 1.046 OPS in 214 AB during the 2006 season, but regressed considerably last year. He didn't got a lot of at bats and some said the knock on him was he couldn't hit lefties, or at the least was rarely played against them even though his average against them was better, albeit thanks to a small sampling size. He should beat out the "Two Jays" Gibbons and Payton, especially considering the Orioles are now committed to a youth movement with the trade of Eric Bedard. If he does, a .270/25/85 season is not out of the question, and the ceiling is actually higher. With a solid glove in the field, Baltimore could have the makings of an All-Star outfield of Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Scott for years to come.
Andy Sonnastine, SP Tampa Bay - If you are at the end of your draft, especially in AL only leagues, don't be afraid to take a flier on Sonnastine. He had a rough start after getting the call last June, going 1-8 to start the season before finishing 6-10. Sonnastine won't blow hitters away but he has a nice mix of offspeed stuff and excellent control as evidenced by his minor league stats. In 495 innings he had 463 K's to only 75 BB, a lofty 6.6 K/BB ratio. Even with his inflated ERA last season he managed a 3.73 K/BB and showed signs of settling in nicely. With two spots open after the 1-2-3 of Kazmir, Shields and Garza, I expect Sonnastine to get first crack one of the two remaining, ahead of Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel. All will be pushed by a strong quartet of minor leaguers, but don't expect Joe Maddon to have Mitch Talbot, Jake McGee, Jeff Neimann or Wade Davis on the roster out of spring training. David Price will also spend some time in the minors, and could easily leap-frog the others when and if a shakeup is required. SPECIAL NOTE: The addition of Jason Bartlett at SS and the move of Akinori Iwamura to 2B means a huge improvement to the Rays infield defense. Former MI Brendan Harris had as much range as my grandma and her walker, leaving gaping holes for opposing hitters to attack. That should have a positive effect on the team ERA.