Today, I continue the series where I profile some fantasy baseball sleepers that could help you win your leagues in 2015. Every year, fantasy owners are looking for that late round hitter/pitcher who could help them deal with underperformance from an early round pick, or with an unexpected injury. Some will be busts, some will help you along the way.
I like to define a sleeper as a player who is one of the lower ranked players in standard leagues who could come out of nowhere to outperform their preseason ranking/value. Last season, we saw plenty of players come out of nowhere to help fantasy teams including Charlie Blackmon, Dee Gordon, Steve Pearce, Carlos Carrasco, among many others.
I will begin with the American League East division teams, in order of the 2014 standings, and proceed with the AL Central, AL West and so on.
You can find links to my other sleepers below:
2015 Sleeper Series: Jonathan Schoop
2015 Sleeper Series: Yankees Starter Michael Pineda
2015 Sleeper Series: Blue Jays Outfielder Michael Saunders
2015 Sleeper Series: Rays starter Jake Odorizzi
2015 Sleeper Series: Red Sox Outfielder Shane Victorino
2015 Sleeper Series: Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos
2015 Sleeper Series: Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer
Two years ago, Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway was handed a pitching staff that included Corey Kluber, Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez, among a few others. Kluber had pitched all of 16.2 innings in the big leagues prior to 2013, but had a breakout season under Callaway's tutelage, winning 11 of his 24 starts with a 3.85 ERA. A season later, he won the American League Cy Young award.
Callaway also helped Scott Kazmir return to the big leagues for the first time in close to three years, as Kazmir made 29 starts, winning 10 games with an ERA just over 4.00. Callaway also worked his magic on former Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez, as Jimenez put up his best season since 2010, winning 13 of his 32 starts, with a 3.30 ERA and setting a career high with a 9.56 K/9.
So, who is his next project? Who will Callaway rub his magic dust on in 2015? How about former top prospect Trevor Bauer. Bauer was once a top prospect in the Diamondbacks farm system, but he didn't want to play according to the Arizona rules, and was traded to the Indians in a three team, nine player deal involving Didi Gregorius, Shin-Soo Choo among others.
Bauer struggled with his control in 2012 and 2013, but once Callaway started working with him, Bauer seemed to turn the corner. Last season, Bauer made 26 starts, going 5-8 with a 4.18 ERA, 4.01 FIP with a 21% strikeout rate. Could Bauer be the next starter that breaks out under Callaway in 2015? I think he could.
Bauer is currently the 84th starter off the board in the 15 team NFBC drafts, coming off the board around the 22nd round. If he can maintain his strikeout rate in the low 20% range, and reduce his walk rate to under three walks per nine, we could see Bauer put up an ERA in the 3.50 range in 2015. He was called a "potential ace" when he was traded to the Indians, and is only 24 years of age, so he is still very young.
Steamer projects him to make 30 starts with a 4.63 ERA this season, but I think he could put up an ERA about a run lower.