Jurickson Profar is one to watch in his second meaningful season in the majors. Credit: Getty Images
For young players, baseball isn’t like basketball or football. Unless your name is Mike Trout, you don’t come into the league as a teenager and start dominating right away.
That’s a problem in our “I want it now!” society. Baseball prospects get big names in a hurry, but most don’t do LeBron James or Adrian Peterson things for years. They gain seasoning in the minors, scuffle in limited playing time when they get a crack at the bigs and people write them off.
That’s where we come in. More than any other sport, the post-hype sleeper is a trend to attack in baseball drafts. We look at some of this year’s candidates.
Rewind to about a 15 months ago and you couldn’t go anywhere in baseball circles without hearing about the game’s No. 1 prospect, Jurickson Profar. Now everyone is off him because he struggled to adjust to major league pitching, hitting .234 with six homers and two steals in 286 at-bats. Relax. He was just 20 years old and didn’t know where he was playing on a given day as the Rangers shuttled him all over the infield and even in the outfield. Now he’s the no-doubt second baseman and ready to erupt as part of a potent lineup.
Adam gonna Eat
Adam Eaton (relax, not the ex-pitcher) is getting a fresh start with the White Sox after injuries derailed him in Arizona. It’s an exciting turn of events. Eaton, a true five-tool outfielder, has an excellent chance to win the starting center field and leadoff job. In his final year as a minor leaguer (2012 with Triple-A Reno), he hit .381 with seven homers and 38 steals in 119 games.
Nice and messy
Devin Mesoraco was the No. 15 overall pick of the Reds way back in 2007. Since then, he’s gotten a grand total of 589 plate appearances at the MLB level. The results have been uninspiring, as evidenced by his .225 batting average, 16 homers and 62 RBIs. But the Reds saw enough to trade away Ryan Hanigan in December, clearing the way for Mesoraco to be their primary catcher. He packs some punch, plays the league’s scarcest position and hits in one of the game’s most hitter-friendly parks.
MLB sleepers ...
Start getting these guys on your radar:
1. Gerrit Cole, SP, Pirates – The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft showed well in last year’s playoffs and is locked into the rotation.
2. Matt Adams, 1B, Cardinals – Mashed 17 homers in just 63 starts last year. He has a good shot to play every day this year.
3. Khris Davis, OF, Brewers – Milwaukee has cleared a spot in the lineup for Davis. He has a combined .856 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A.
NBA pickups ...
1. Zaza Pachulia, C, Bucks – In a comedy of a season for the Bucks, Pachulia is the last big standing.
2. Chris Kaman, C, Lakers – As long as Pau Gasol (groin) is sidelined, the Lakers will play four guards and Kaman.
Chase Budinger, SG, Wolves – Kevin Martin (thumb) is out indefinitely, leaving Budinger to benefit from Kevin Love’s double teams.
Follow fantasy sports writer Adam Levitan on Twitter@adamlevitan.