Today, for those of you in dynasty leagues with large minor league rosters, I present a baker's dozen of my favorite sleepers. And when I say sleepers, these are guys who are unlikely to show up on Top 100 lists next year, barring a big second half or really glowing reports in fall instructs. They are just prospects who have caught my eye for reasons which I will get into individually below - whether they exhibit characteristics which I tend to gravitate towards or have been spoken of highly by analysts I greatly respect. Essentially, they make up what I like to call "the turnover list" for my deeper dynasty leagues - players who I will pick up if I have an open spot due to a trade or promotion.
To show you that I'm putting my own money where my mouth is, I took over a dynasty league team earlier this season in which there are 400 minor league roster spots (16 teams, 25 per team). The team required a lot of turnover, and as I've gone through the process of dropping players and making trades, I've picked up 9 out the 13 guys on this list (3 were already taken). If you're in a league with fewer than 100 minor league spots, these are just names to pack away in the back of your head for the future. If you're in one with 200 minor league spots, maybe a couple of these guys will be owned, but the rest make for solid flyers and a good watch list. If the league is deeper than that (like the one I described above), most of these guys are likely to be upgrades over someone you have right now.
Like last week's list, none of these players were in my pre-season Top 100 list and they are listed in order of minor league level, not in order of my preference among them. With that, we'll start with a couple of NL Central guys, after the jump:
Nelson is a large man (listed at 6'6", 245) who generates ground balls at a clip that makes me smile (55.9% in 2012). His 2.21 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 77 K in 81 1/3 IP at High-A got him a mid-June promotion, but has only had one good start in three attempts at AA so far. He doesn't have the off-speed stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation guy, but he could eat a ton of innings with solid ratios and strikeouts.
Stop me if you've heard this one before - huge raw power, but contact struggles may prevent it from becoming present as he moves up. Santana has a slash line of .292/.363/.531 and 11 HR, but it is the Cal League and it also comes with 80 K's in 243 AB. He's a lottery ticket, but one with a huge potential payout.
With two more HR on Sunday, Story is now up to 12 on the season - which was more power than I expected to see from him. He's the kind of player whose makeup and fundamentals are his best tools, but has no real weaknesses in his game either. And potentially playing at Coors Field will help as well.
Will Swanner, C, Colorado Rockies (Low-A Asheville)
Another tale as old as time, Swanner is a catcher with power who might not be a catcher. Fortunately for him, his bat has been really good in his full-season debut (.333/.422/.599 w/ 9 HR). If he can stick at catcher, his upside could be tremendous. If he can't, his bat still carries enough potential to be owned even if he moves off the position.
I'm not saying he's the same caliber of prospect, but look at Odor's .292/.349/.491 line at Low-A so far this season and compare it to Jurickson Profar's Low-A line of .266/.374/.498 through 7/1/11. Both were at Hickory in their age-18 season. He's been playing mostly 2B this year and he'll be more challenged as he moves up, but the kid can hit.
A great athlete with pretty crazy batspeed, Gumbs is still very raw, but he's got the tools to be a real difference maker if it all comes together. The jury is still out on how much power he'll have, but with plus-speed and potential plus-hit tool, it might not matter that much if he ever hits 20 HR in a season.
A minor league Holy Trinity candidate (10.1 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 54% GB), Blackburn has picked up right where he left off in the AZL, where he was ranked the #4 prospect in the league by Baseball America. A 16th round pick in 2011, Blackburn has a hard sinker that is a real weapon (hence the GB rate), and can locate it to both sides of the plate.
When you see a 5'9" second baseman start to show up on prospect lists, that can only mean one thing - his hit tool is what's gotten him there. Brett is no exception, as his .324 AVG leads the Midwest League, but what's also eye catching for dynasty leaguers are his 26 SB. Throw in the potential for 10 HR power and you've got my attention.
Candelario's background is interesting as he is New York born, but moved to the Dominican Republic as a kid - where he was signed for $500k as a 16-year old. Now 18, he's showing off his bat in the Northwest League (.344 w/ 4 HR, 13 RBI in 64 AB) and has the potential to be a switch-hitting offensive force who can hit in the middle of a lineup.
Ravel Santana, OF, New York Yankees (Short-season Staten Island)
Santana was one of the darlings of the Gulf Coast League last season, showing as a potential five-category contributor (.296, 9 HR, 10 SB). Unfortunately, things haven't started out so rosy in 2012. In his first 37 AB, he has 0 XBH and 17 K - but remember, he's also coming back from a serious ankle injury.
Not only is Sanchez 17 years old and pitching in the college-heavy Northwest League, but he currently leads the league in strikeouts. Oh, and as of today, he's also still closer to his 16th birthday than his 17th. It cost them $2.5m, but the Mariners may have their best international pitching prospect since Felix Hernandez.
Comer was a supplemental first round pick of the Jays in 2011, but is often lost in the shuffle of Toronto's stable of young, projectable arms. He's a hard throwing, athletic right-hander who has pitched well so far in the Appy League (albeit in just three starts) - but could be an under-the-radar breakout candidate for 2013.
The forgotten big bonus baby of 2011 (Ronald Guzman and Nomar Mazara of the Rangers got more press), Hernandez was the one who earned an assignment to the Pioneer League as a 17-year old. He'll likely struggle just to hold his own, but the upside in his bat can hold a candle to anyone in the Royals system.
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