Everyone loves a sleeper, right? I know I do. Well, I will be offering some fantasy sleepers every Friday during the Consensus Rankings Series. I kicked off the Sleepers series with my AL-only league shortstops who could outperform their draft day values in 2014.
The American League is home to three of the top shorstop prospects in the game, Addison Russell, Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. Correa more than likely will not see time in the big leagues in 2014, but Russell and Lindor are on the cusp of big league time, and could see the majors in 2014.
Here is a look at a few AL-only league shortstops who will be available late in drafts who could outperform their draft day value in 2014:
Addison Russell, Athletics
Russell was recently ranked as the #3 overall prospect in the game by ESPN's Keith Law, and for good reason. Russell made the jump to AAA toward the end of the season from High A, playing in just 3 games at AAA. It might have been to allow him to play in the AAA playoffs, not sure. But, he deserved some type of promotion after hitting .275-.377-.508 with 17 HRs, 85 runs, 60 RBI and 21 stolen bases in just over 500 plate appearances at High A.
Law mentioned in his scouting report on Russell that he could see the major leagues this season, and that was confirmed by Susan Slusser at the Athletics fanfest recently:
Beane says the A's are very excited about shortstop Addison Russell, who is "knocking on the door" - but patience has served the A's well in the past, Beane notes. (Many scouts have told me they believe Russell will be up before the end of this season - one, who saw Russell throughout the Fall League, even predicted Russell will be on the Opening Day roster.
It will be interesting to see when Russell gets the call this season, as the the guy manning shortstop currently, Jed Lowrie, has a history of injuries.
Jonathan Villar, Astros
The Astros called up Villar at the end of July last season, and Villar proceeded to steal 18 bases in 26 attempts, while hitting .243-.321-.319 with 26 runs scored and 8 RBI in 58 games. Prior to his call up, he hit .277-.341-.442 with 8 HRs, 47 runs, 41 RBI and 31 stolen bases in 38 attempts, so he stole 49 bases in 64 attempts last season.
Villar has the speed to steal 40+ bases in 2014, if he can get on base at an above league average rate and run as much as he did last season. He attempted a stolen base in 41% of the times he made it to first base, and was successful on 77% of those attempts.
Derek Jeter, Yankees
It seems strange to consider Derek Jeter as a sleeper, but this is what happens when you miss most of the 2013 season with a severe ankle injury. Oh, and he is 39 years of age, and a few months from 40, so there are plenty of questions about what type of player Jeter will be this season.
The assumption is that he will be ready for the start of the season, and he is already fielding ground balls in Florida, so he appears to be fine. Back in 2012, his last healthy season, Jeter hit .316 with 15 HRs, 99 runs, 58 RBI and 9 stolen bases, so he could provide owners with a solid batting average in 2014. But, I don't see him hitting for much power or stealing many bases coming off the ankle injury.
Franisco Lindor, Indians
Like Russell, Lindor is just a few months from a call up to Cleveland. Lindor owns the plate discipline of a veteran and that, along with his glove, is his calling card. He just turned 20 years of age a few months ago, so it is not out of the realm of possibility that he sees time in the big leagues this season.
In 21 AA games to end his 2013 season, Lindor hit .289-.407-.395 with a HR, 14 runs, 7 RBI and 5 stolen bases in just 91 plate appearances. Prior to his promotion to AA, Lindor hit .306-.373-.410 with a HR, 51 runs, 27 RBI and 20 stolen bases. Lindor offers very little power, but should provide a solid batting average and double digit stolen base potential.
If you are looking for more fantasy rankings, or just fantasy coverage overall, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, your one stop site for all things fantasy.
- Equivalent Fantasy Average: Shortstops
- Can Brad Miller shoot up the shortstop rankings in 2014?
- Shortstop Profile: Starlin Castro
- Does Addison Russell Make the Grade?
- Shortstops to Target in 2014
- NFBC ADP Rankings Analysis: Shortstop
- 2014 Shortstop Draft Strategy
- 2014 MLB Prospect Profile: Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks
- Does Francisco Lindor Make the Grade?
- Consensus Position Rankings/Projections: Top 30 Shortstops for 2014, Part 2