Sleepers might be the most fun class of players to write and talk about in Fantasy Baseball. For one thing, there's a near-infinite amount of potential choices to go with, so you're never really stretching for options – the unpredictability of baseball means you're always going to have a bunch of overlooked and undervalued players who make a big impact every year.
The stakes are also relatively low – typically when I'm looking for sleeper candidates, I'm talking about players drafted on average outside of the top 200 in drafts. That's the point in drafts where you aren't expecting every pick to stick anyway, so you might as well aim for upside.
That's what we're doing here. We're shooting for upside with our sleeper picks. I still stand by a bunch of my Sleepers 1.0 picks, which you can check out here, but these are the guys I'll be trying to add to most of my teams in the later rounds over the next week plus until Opening Day. As with my first round of sleepers, I'm breaking them up in three different classes: Post-hype prospect types, more traditional late-round targets, and bounce-back candidates:
Fantasy Baseball Today Newsletter
Your Cheat Code To Fantasy Baseball
You're destined to gain an edge over your friends with advice from the award-winning FBT crew.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Alek Thomas CF
ARI Arizona • #5 • Age: 23
Thomas struggled in his rookie season, but I'm not giving up on him just yet. This is a guy who is hitting .313 for his entire minor-league career, including a massive .349/.418/.606 line in Triple-A. That was inflated by playing in the PCL, but Thomas is still just 22, so I'm definitely not giving up on that kind of track record from a plus athlete. Thomas' performance against lefties last season was bad enough to at least consider that he might just be a platoon player, but again, it's too early to give up on him. Especially when the price is as low as it is. This is a lineup on the come up, and Thomas is an exceedingly cheap opportunity to buy in.
DET Detroit • #20 • Age: 23
I was touting Torkelson as a sleeper before the spring, but the optimistic reports out of Tigers camp are certainly a welcome sign. Torkelson mostly struggled as a rookie, but he did show solid plate discipline and strong quality-of-contact metrics, including a 76th percentile average exit velocity. He didn't hit for as much power as expected, and the focus in the offseason and this spring has been on hitting the ball in the air more to the pull side, something he didn't do nearly often enough as a rookie. It's possible Torkelson never figures it out, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, given how highly thought of he was a year ago.
SEA Seattle • #10 • Age: 23
A lot of people are probably writing Kelenic off as a Quad-A player, and so they probably aren't moved by seeing him hitting .421/.450/.895 through 14 spring games. After all, the level of competition he's facing in the Cactus League may not even be on the level of Triple-A players on the whole. Skepticism is always warranted for spring production, especially when it comes to a player who has struggled as much as Kelenic has in the majors, and he might just be the next Jo Adell, a player who can destroy low-level competition but can't get it down when the games matter. That's probably the likeliest outcome for Kelenic at this point, and if his price increases much more, it'll be easy to fade him. However, as long as his ADP remains outside of the top 200, as it is over the past week in NFC drafts, I'll be willing to take a flier. Your picks at that point in the draft aren't likely to work out anyway.
PIT Pittsburgh • #59 • Age: 23
Contreras established himself as a decent pitcher last season, and now it's time for him to take the next step. His slider is already a real weapon, sporting a 42.1% whiff rate and .238 expected wOBA allowed last season, and his curveball is decent, too – not as many whiffs, but a ton of weak contact. It'll play. The problem for Contreras is the fastball – it's a hard pitch with a relatively high spin rate, but he doesn't get enough whiffs to make up for how hard it gets hit – and the fact that his velocity faded as the season went on in 2022 certainly isn't a great sign. Contreras probably needs another pitch to help keep hitters off the fastball, with the changeup being the pitch he has focused most on this offseason. Whether that ever becomes more than a show-me pitch against lefties might determine how far Contreras can go, though the slider could carry him a long way on its own. The tools are certainly here.
BOS Boston • #22 • Age: 26
Whitlock has thrown 151.2 innings in the majors with pretty sterling results – a 2.73 ERA, 1.062 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, and 1.9 BB/9. Of course, much of that has come as a reliever, and Whitlock has had some struggles staying healthy, suggesting he may not be built to handle the rigors of starting. However, he's going to get a chance to be in the Red Sox rotation full time in 2023 (after what will likely end up being a brief tuneup in Triple-A), and the upside he's shown makes him well worth chasing. Especially since the fact that Whitlock is likely to be sent down to start the season should keep his cost down in drafts. Don't worry, he'll be back soon, potentially after just one turn through the rotation, and he could be a difference making starter.
Brett Baty 3B
NYM N.Y. Mets • #22 • Age: 23
Among Mets prospects, Francisco Alvarez (285.4 ADP) had gotten more hype, but I think Baty is probably the more likely of the two to break camp with the team. For one, he's just been a lot better in the spring, hitting .351 compared to Alvarez's .115 mark. The Mets also just seem more open to giving Baty a chance, as he's seemingly been in a very real competition with Eduardo Escobar, who may not be viewed as an everyday player anymore. Alvarez may have more upside, but Baty has plenty of his own, coming off a season where he hit .312/.406/.544 at Double-A and eventually reach the majors before a torn ligament in his thumb ended his season. Baty has big raw power without a ton of swing and miss, and he started to elevate the ball more consistently last season. Baty could be a .280 hitter with 25 homers at the third base position, and that would make him a clear must-start option at a position that remains shockingly shallow.
COL Colorado • #29 • Age: 30
I probably wouldn't have had much interest in Profar if he signed somewhere else, but there's a lot to like about his landing spot in Colorado. He's going to play everyday, for one thing, and half of those games are going to come in Coors Field. He also seems like a candidate to hit at or near the top of the lineup, maximizing his opportunities. Profar doesn't have many standout skills, but he puts the ball in play a ton, which is a very good starting point in Coors Field. He's got a little bit of pop, and Coors will help maximize that, while his on-base skills give him a chance at double-digit steals and 90-plus runs. Profar probably isn't a star, even in Coors Field, but in a five-outfielder league, he could pretty easily end up being a Brandon Nimmo-esque, must-start option.
MIA Miami • #27 • Age: 25
There are obvious comparisons, and then there's the Cabrera-to-Sandy Alcantara comp. Like Alcantara, Cabrera is a towering, lanky, right-handed starter with a fastball he can easily dial up to the mid-90s, and like Alcantara (at least around the same age), he has the kind of command issues you tend to expect from the repeated folding and unfolding of limbs as long as his. Of course, just because Alcantara took a big step forward with his control as he got more experience doesn't mean Cabrera will, but it is at least a template the Marlins have some experience with. Cabrera's velocity is actually up about 1.5 mph so far in the spring, and while his four walks in 9.2 innings aren't great, you can live with it, given his stuff – and the fact that he's been generating a ton of ground balls. Cabrera has a troubling injury track record, but coming off a 110-inning season, he could give you 150 innings of very good pitching if everything goes right.
DET Detroit • #57 • Age: 30
It's been a tough few seasons for Eduardo Rodriguez. Remember, he didn't pitch at all in 2020 after being diagnosed with myocarditis, a heart condition he suffered from after contracting COVID-19. He came back for 2021 and had a solid season, then signed with the Tigers, only to miss much of the season with an injury and then an undisclosed personal matter. However, he's starting to look like himself again during the spring, with his velocity up a couple of mph, back to his pre-COVID levels. Rodriguez is a rare pitcher today who has actually thrown 200 innings in a season, so there is 200-plus strikeout potential here if he can get back to that 2019 level.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #48 • Age: 24
There aren't many pitchers who throw harder than Graterol, even in this velocity-obsessed era, and while he doesn't necessarily translate that velocity into elite strikeout numbers, opposing hitters have had a lot of trouble squaring him up, leading to very good numbers even without the strikeouts. He's like a pre-breakout Emmanuel Clase in that way, and like Clase, it's not hard to see a path to more strikeouts for Graterol. Obviously, he'll need to get a chance to close for the Dodgers to matter too much for Fantasy, but if Daniel Hudson (knee, ankle) isn't ready for the start of the season, Graterol could get that opportunity.
Jesse Winker DH
MIL Milwaukee • #33 • Age: 29
I was out on Winker after he got traded to the Mariners last offseason, but even I didn't think he would be as bad as he ended up being. As it turns out, Winker ended up needing back and knee surgery this offseason, which seems like a pretty good explanation for why he wasn't at his best. Winker's quality of contact metrics declined precipitously though his plate discipline remains pretty solid; playing half his games in a pitcher-friendly stadium didn't help either. He'll have a much better home park on his side in Milwaukee, and it's not unreasonable to at least hope for better results after the surgery. Winker may have declined too much to matter anymore, but we are just a year removed from him coming off a .305/.394/.556 line in 2021.
DJ LeMahieu 3B
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #26 • Age: 34
LeMahieu may have an even more direct cause for his struggles – he was hitting .283/.387/.425 before the series in Boston where he suffered a toe injury that would ultimately send him to the IL. Prior to that injury, he was on pace for 113 runs, 19 homers, 68 RBI, and six steals, and while it's not clear exactly where he's going to play everyday, he is healthy right now and figures to be in the Yankees lineup a lot more often than he isn't. If he can just recapture that pre-injury form, he's a must-start Fantasy option at the top of the Yankees lineup. I'm pretty confident he will.
SF San Francisco • #8 • Age: 30
We don't really know what to expect from Conforto at this point. He's 30 and didn't play at all last season due to a shoulder injury that ultimately required surgery; before that, he hit just .232/.344/.384 in 2021, the last time we saw him. He was excellent in the two seasons before that, sporting a .274/.376/.499 line and has been great in the spring, hitting four homers in 11 games. That's not proof that he's back, of course, and he'll be playing in a pretty tough home park for a left-handed hitter, which won't help his cause. But if Conforto can rediscover even some of his previous form, he could be a very good source of power for a very cheap cost.
Tyler Mahle SP
MIN Minnesota • #51 • Age: 28
We never really got to see what Mahle looked like outside of Cincinnati, as a recurring shoulder injury held him to just four starts after the trade to Minnesota, but his career numbers suggest that getting away from Great American Ballpark should be very good for him. For his career, Mahle has a 5.00 ERA at home, compared to a 3.76 ERA, after all. Mahle's velocity has been down in spring training, which is less than ideal, but this is still a guy who had 210 strikeouts in 2021; if he gets anywhere near that level again, he should be good for a very solid mid-3.00s ERA away from GABP.
MIA Miami • #28 • Age: 25
Rogers has 13 strikeouts to just two walks in 13 innings across his four spring starts, albeit with an inflated ERA after giving up eight runs over four innings in his most recent spring start. The results are what they are, and in spring training they come with a grain of salt, but all reports out of Marlins camp have been pretty glowing, which is what I wanted to hear. He's adding a sinker to his repertoire, hopefully to overcome some of the homer issues he faced with his four-seam fastball, and he has reportedly adding more horizontal break to his slider, which will hopefully help him garner more whiffs. Rogers is ultimately going to go as far as his four-seamer and changeup take him, but it would be nice to see him have a counter when those pitches aren't at their sharpest. He still has top-25 upside.