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March 18, 2011

Future Shock Blog

Quick Ten Pack: DEEP Fantasy Sleepers

by Kevin Goldstein

Our very own Rob McQuown is currently in the midst of a deep fantasy draft, and when I say deep, I'm talking about a situation where he's asking me for advice (a free benefit of working here) on guys who were 8th-10th round picks in last year's amateur draft. Between talks with Rob and some emails from our readers, it seems like crazy deep drafts are quite common, so instead of just helping Rob, let's help others looking for extra names. Here are ten prospects far from the Top 101 list, not on their respective teams Top 11 lists or extended 20s, and not even named as sleepers. There are the just missed guys who might be worth a late selection for those with triple-digit rosters.

Cito Culver, SS, Yankees

All the draft experts snickered when the Yankees selected Culver in the first round last June, as most projected him as a third-to-sixth round pick. While he didn't blow anyone away statistically (.251/.320/.330) in his pro debut, the tools and athleticism were clearly there, as he showed above-average speed and arm strength to go with gap power. It's still a weird pick, but way too early to call it a mistake.

Derek Dietrich, IF, Rays

After leading Georgia Tech in total bases while earning many national accolades as a freshman in 2008, many thought Dietrich would develop into a sure-fire early pick in 2010, but he never got better and ultimately landed in the second-round last June before putting up solid-but-unspectacular numbers in the New York-Penn League. A shortstop in college, he'll be forced to move to second or third base as a pro, and still has enough offensive potential to turn into a second-division starter or good bench player.

Mark Hamilton, 1B, Cardinals

If Hamilton could stay healthy, he'd be much higher regarded. A 2006 second-round pick out of Tulane, Hamilton has slugged .567 at Triple-A over the last two years, but he hasn't been able to play more than 100 games in any of the last three seasons, due to a seemingly never-ending run of minor dings and scrapes. Knowing that he's eternally blocked by Albert Pujols, he's spending the spring trying to prove he can be adequate in left field, and could start his big league career as a bench bat with plenty of power.

Josh Judy, RHP, Indians

A 2007 34th-round pick from the baseball powerhouse that is Indiana Tech, Judy has gone from an org player to serious relief prospect by striking out more than a batter per inning in each of the last two seasons. He'll never be a late-inning option, but his fastball and slider are both above-average, and he could be in the big leagues at some point this year.

Junior Lake, SS, Cubs

Lake's .264/.333/.398 line at High-A Daytona last year might not impress, but it was a solid season for a 20-year-old tools player, and he made clear progress in his approach by cutting his strikeout rate while nearly doubling his walk ratio. The real problem is that he's probably not a shortstop, but he has more than enough arm for third base and burgeoning power in that he can make some progress against breaking balls.

Juan Carlos Linares, OF, Red Sox

When you think Cuban and Red Sox, you think shortstop Jose Iglesias, but Lineras might beat him to the big leagues. At 26, he's not a kid like his former La Habana teammate Igesias, but he impressed in a brief minor league showing last year after signing for $750,000 and hit .320 this spring with a home run off Mets lefty Jon Niese. With gap power, above-average speed and very good defensive skills, he could end up as the ideal fourth outfielder.

Neil Ramirez, RHP, Rangers

Ramirez has generally been seen as a disappointment since signing for $1 million dollars out of the 2007 draft, but he finally began the show the big stuff he showed in high school at the end of the 2010 season and has been one of the talks of spring by bumping his fastball up to 97 mph while flashing a pair of plus secondary pitches. He's definitely worth keeping an eye on this year at High-A Myrtle Beach.

Dave Sappelt, OF, Reds

Just five-foot-nine and thickly built, Sappelt has trouble passing the sniff test for scouts, but he's a career .308/.359/.459 hitter in the minor leagues and has put on a show this spring by going 14-for-26 with a pair of home runs. He's headed for Triple-A with the Reds likely opening the year with Chris Heisey in the bench outfield slot, but Sappelt's ability to play all three outfield spots and annihilate lefties will get him in the big leagues eventually.

Matt Thompson, RHP, Athletics

A 12th-round pick last year that signed for under five figures, Thompson has the opening resume of no more than an org player, but he's one of the systems better sleepers after putting up a 1.94 ERA in his pro debut with 71 strikeouts against just ten walks in 51 innings. His long arms and smooth delivery generates low 90s fastballs that touches 94 mph, and his power breaking ball also generates swings and misses. He'll begin the year in A-ball and focus on a changeup.

Adam Wilk, LHP, Tigers

Wilk has gotten little attention despite a career minor league ERA of 2.35 in 41 starts, as he succeeds more from location and changing speeds due to a fastball that sits in the upper 80s. That said, his pitchability is outstanding, and he's been the biggest surprise in Tigers camp with a shot to make the big league team as a reliever. Certainly not a late-innings guy, but he's gone from a guy expected to pitch in the Double-A Erie rotation to very possibly an opening day job in the bigs.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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Premium Article Divide and Conquer, AL... (03/17)
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Future Shock Blog: Sco... (12/19)
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