Hope is rarely lost with baseball prospects. Guys can scuffle for a month, a year or even a few seasons before really finding their groove and producing to previously expected levels.
A prime recent example is Alex Gordon, the former No. 2 overall pick who looked completely lost in his first four years in the big leagues. In the four seasons since then, he’s been an All-Star twice, a .282 hitter and knocked 76 homers with 50 steals. We call this a “post-hype” kind of sleeper and it’s an excellent way to find value later in your draft. This year’s candidates:
POLLY WANTS A CRACKER
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Gregory Polanco is a 6-foot-5, 235-pound specimen who hit 34 homers and stole 127 bases in 410 minor league games. He was finally called up to the bigs last June, but badly disappointed with a .235 average and 59 strikeouts in 277 at-bats. The Pirates still have plenty of faith in their 23-year-old however, as they’ve traded away Travis Snider and will give Polanco a chance to play every day in right field. Jump back on board.
FIFTH RED BIRD
Carlos Martinez has only started eight games in his brief big-league career and sports a 4.28 ERA overall. He also has to win the fifth starter’s job in spring training and has never thrown more than 104 innings in a season (including minors). But that’s why we can get him with one of our last flier picks. Martinez is a guy we like to bet on because he can pile up strikeouts in a hurry and is still just 23 years old. He struck out 340 batters in 327 minor league innings and an impressive 108 Ks in 117.2 major league innings.
BOGIE FOR BOGAERTS
Perhaps Red Sox nation expected too much of 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts last season. He started off hot (.304 batting average as of June 1), but hit a wall and crashed to a .240 finish. Bogaerts admitted that his body gave up on him and therefore spent this offseason training at a performance institute with other big leaguers. It’s easy to gamble on a sustained bounce-back for Xander because he’s shortstop eligible and is available in the 14th-17th round of most drafts. He’d have to actually regress further not to meet value at that bargain price.
NBA Pickups of the Week
Nikola Mirotic, PF, Bulls – Injuries to Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson will force Tom Thibodeau to play his talented import.
Tony Snell, SG, Bulls – With both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler down, the underrated Snell is filling a major void.
Andrea Bargnani, C, Knicks — The oft-frustrating former No. 1 overall pick is off the shelf and sporting a massive usage rate for the lowly Knicks.
LeSean McCoy lost pass-down work to Darren Sproles and goal-line work to Chris Polk. Now he’s been traded to the Bills. Although Chip Kelly’s fastbreak offense was very RB-friendly, McCoy’s east-west style apparently wasn’t what the coach wanted. Expect Rex Ryan’s ground-n-pound system to ride McCoy into the ground with massive workloads, giving his fantasy stock a nice boost. New Bills OC Greg Roman has been scheming plus run games for years – just ask Frank Gore owners.