There’s something about fantasy baseball that brings out the most hardcore of owners. They want to test themselves by digging deep into utility men and Triple-A prospects. They want to start two catchers in an NL-only league. They laugh when people call Matt Moore or Brett Lawrie a “sleeper.”
For these people, we need to search off the radar. Keep an eye on these guys as the season moves along:
1. Jeff Samardzija, SP, Cubs — The ex-reliever and Notre Dame football player has secured a spot in the rotation and has nasty stuff. He’s posted a 16/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 20 spring innings. He misses bats.
2. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies — Arenado won’t break camp with the big-league club, but they are really thin at the hot corner. One of the game’s best hitting prospects has a clear path to playing time and the ballpark to rake in.
3. Devin Mesoraco, C, Reds — He’ll start off sharing time with Ryan Hanigan, but Mesoraco is the real deal. He abused minor league pitching last year to the tune of 15 homers in just 499 plate appearances.
4. Mat Gamel, 1B, Brewers — With Prince Fielder gone, Gamel is getting the chance to fill some big shoes. He’s still only 26 and has plenty of post-hype sleeper appeal. Gamel tore up Triple-A last season with 28 homers in 545 plate appearances.
5. Bobby Parnell, RP, Mets — Frank Francisco is the Mets’ unquestioned closer right now, but sustaining health and effectiveness are question marks. Parnell has the stuff to run with the job.