With the wealth of information available these days, it’s become more difficult for owners to identify true “sleepers.” Players like Raisel Iglesias have seen their fantasy stock rise steadily after an entire offseason of hype. There are still some potential breakout bargains to be found, however:
The Twins took a calculated risk in signing the Korean slugger this winter. While the KBO is generally considered to be equivalent to the high minor leagues here in the States, Park slammed over 50 homers there in each of the last two seasons. Scouts agree that his power should translate, though there are concerns about his ability to handle the higher velocity he’ll see in the majors. Park is unlikely to hit for average, but you won’t find many other potential 30 homer bats in the back half of the draft.
Schoop has fairly obvious flaws, mainly his allergy to walks and the amount of swing and miss in his game. But he also has something that few others at the keystone can offer, and that’s legitimate pop. Schoop may not have improved his plate discipline metrics last season, but he did hit the ball harder and took more of an all-fields approach, which helped improve his batting average. Had he not missed nearly half the season with a knee injury, Schoop might be getting much more attention in drafts. Instead, he’s a complete afterthought. In a stacked Orioles lineup, Schoop could pile up the counting stats in 2016.
Despite having just 27 plate appearances above Double-A, DeShields found his way into an everyday role with the Rangers last season. The blazing fast outfielder stole 101 bases in the minors back in 2012 and was on a 50-steal pace last year before a hamstring injury slowed him. He’s slated to open the season the leadoff hitter in Texas, so he should have plenty of opportunities to steal bases and score runs. DeShields offers owners an excellent and cheap alternative to the Reds’ Billy Hamilton, who’s being drafted nearly 100 picks earlier and still hasn’t proven he can actually hit.
Hendricks broke into the bigs in 2014 and produced impressive surface stats, going 7-2 with a 2.46 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in his 13 starts. However, an anemic strikeout rate limited his utility in fantasy baseball leagues. Last season, though, his K% leaped by eight percentage points and his K/9 increased from 5.27 to 8.35. He gave up a few more homers, which contributed to the run-and-a-half rise in his ERA, but his walk rate remained excellent. The Cubs will have plenty of star power this season, and most of those players will command a hefty price on draft day. Hendricks could be one of the few fantasy bargains to be found in Wrigley this year.
The five-year, $70 million contract given to Kennedy by the Royals was widely panned, but it’s hard to think of a better landing spot for the veteran from a fantasy perspective. He goes from one of the worst defensive teams in baseball to arguably the best, and Kauffman Stadium is one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the league. Kennedy’s struck out over a batter per inning in each of the last two seasons and regularly posts solid walk rates as well, making him an excellent rebound candidate.
Kyle Bishop is a fantasy baseball expert at Rotoballer.com