We all have our favorite types of players to draft every spring. Some of us like dependable veterans, while others like unproven rookies. Some of us like the high floors, while others drool for the high ceilings. Of the many cookie-cutter groups of players that emerge in every form of fantasy baseball previews each and every spring, my favorite is the post-hype sleepers. This, of course, refers to players who came up with high expectations, but haven’t quite gotten there yet.
With this in mind, I wanted to see what an entire roster of these players would look like. Before I get to that, a few notes. To start, this isn’t based on players I could realistically draft on the same roster by ADP. I’d have to sit out a bunch of rounds to start the draft. Secondly, I tried to take post-hype to a bigger extreme than a player who simply struggled for his rookie year. There are a couple for whom that is the case, but for the most part these players are multiple years removed from peak hype and who haven’t been a starting option according to ESPN’s Player Rater. Without further ado, let’s look at the roster
When I first approached this position, I immediately thought of players like Travis d’Arnaud and Devin Mesoraco. Unfortunately, neither fit what I was looking for. Although they’ve been disappointing and frustrating in fantasy, each has one year in which they’ve shown their true potential. Zunino and Hedges have not, although it’s something of a stretch to say the latter had big-time fantasy value at any point. But hey, it’s a shallow position. Zunino is an interesting deep-league option this year, as he’s shown that the power is legit and he displayed vastly improved on-base ability in 2017. I like him as an upside play for second catcher this year despite him being a guaranteed hinderance in AVG. Hedges is picking up some steam after a strong season at Triple-A in 2016, but I don’t really understand it. It’s not the first time he’s put up strong numbers in the PCL only to have it not translate to the majors. Even with catcher being so shallow, I’d look elsewhere for my second backstop.
So, this was a surprisingly difficult position to fill. I considered C.J. Cron, but as boring as he is he’s turned into the low-power, average contributor most expected him to be by the time he reached the majors. For Park, I broke my rule about choosing players with just one year, but feel justified since Park’s one year was so bad that he was designated for assignment this year. Despite that, he’s someone to watchlist this year. He won’t have a role right away, but the Twins are bad enough that one should open up eventually. The power in this bat is legit, even if it might have been a bit inflated in Korea. I’m not convinced it’ll ever play in the States, but I don’t want to miss out if he starts to show that he simply needed a year to acclimate himself to a new life in a new country.
This one was easy, as long as he’s eligible for second base in your league. He is in NFBC, which is what I used as my guide. Profar is the personification of post-hype player, and he has been for a few years now. Still only 24, the former number one prospect has shown flashes but hasn’t shown the consistency or health to stick in the big leagues just yet. I’m definitely drafting him in deeper leagues, despite the fact that he doesn’t have an everyday spot yet. Whether it’s for Texas or someone else, he’ll get a nearly everyday job soon enough and in the meantime will be a fine stash on your bench. The multi-positional eligibility doesn’t hurt, either.
Castellanos was among my favorite post-hype players heading into 2016, and he mostly made good on the potential he showed back in his prospect days. The issue for him last year was health, as he missed the majority of August and September and generally played poorly when he did appear in the second half. For as good as he for much of the year, he was still just 24th on ESPN’s Player Rater. The potential is here for him to finally put it together over a full season, though. The upcoming year will be his age-25 season, and with his hit tool and solid power stroke, this is a fine late-draft target if you decide to wait at 3B.
Semien just barely qualifies here, as he finished 16th on the Player Rater last season. He can’t blame health for his just falling short, though, as the shortstop played in all but three games in 2016. Always an intriguing bat at a position that is historically lacking them (although not anymore), Semien finally started showing off that power last season. He finished the year with 27 homers and a .197 ISO. Now, he just needs to keep that up while also getting his AVG back up around .260 again. The good news is he was able to keep his strikeout range manageable last year, instead being undone by a career-low .268 BABIP. I’m fairly confident in him at the very least being a top-15 shortstop in 2016, and probably a top-12 one.
Like his teammate Profar, Gallo is one who immediately comes to mind when you think about post-hype players. The former elite prospect still has enormous power potential, but he hasn’t been able to cut down on his strikeouts enough to show it off consistently. He’s still fighting for a consistent roster spot, which makes him more of a watchlist player to start the year, but if he gets up and finds himself in the lineup, he’ll be a hell of an intriguing upside play.
Spangenberg was one of my favorite middle infield targets last year, as he showed some sneaky potential in his first taste of consistent action in 2015. Unfortunately, he missed all of last season and is now looking up at Ryan Schimpf on the Padres depth chart. Still, Schimpf is far from a sure thing to repeat his success from last year, which means Spangenberg can get back in short time. He won’t carry your offense, but there is potential for double-digit steals and a solid average, which is more than fine for the middle infield spot.
No position harbors post-hype players like the outfield, as everyone listed above is the perfect example of post-hype prospects. Buxton in particular is attached to the term. Like Profar, he is a former no. 1 prospect who hasn’t been able to translate his talent to major-league success. Plenty are betting on this being the year, and I’m fine making that bet, although I’d prefer it not be with one of my first ten picks in a 15-team league. Santana is looking for a full season’s worth of at bats for the first time, and if he can find a way to cut down on his strikeouts he’ll be one of the biggest steals of the draft. Soler is one of my favorite endgame targets, despite moving to Kauffman Field. He shouldn’t have to worry about playing the field as much, and there should be plenty of RBI opportunities in front of him in Kansas City’s lineup. Souza was far too hyped after being dealt to the Rays, but there’s still power/speed potential here and can be snagged with a final round selection. Hicks is a former top prospect who has never come close to hitting in more than quick flashes, but he’ll still be 27 in 2017 and is in Yankee Stadium. He’s worth keeping an eye on for a Jackie Bradley-esque breakout.
Sano was a tough call here, as he just barely qualifies. He has a season-and-a-half of major-league work, and was really good in the half-season and solid in the full season. However, even with his solid 2016 he was still just 33rd on the ESPN Player Rater. He is the same kind of player as Zunino above, carrying huge power potential but also a tendency to strike out roughly a third of the time, severely limiting his AVG ceiling. The difference for Sano is that he has consistently been able to draw walks at a high rate as well as post strong BABIPs. He’ll never help in AVG, but he’ll provide enough elsewhere to make him one of the more intriguing players on this roster.
It was a bit more challenging to fill this out, as I was looking for pitchers who weren’t viable starting options in the last few years. Even Bundy is kind of cheating, as he finished 89th on the player rater last year, but that’s close enough to being outside the top-90. I want to buy in on Bundy, but I can’t bring myself to trust the Orioles with a talented pitcher. Bauer and Bradley both still intrigue me, and I suspect they will until the day I die. Norris is one of my favorite breakout candidates this year, and is someone I’m trying to draft late in as many drafts as possible. Pineda, on the other hand, is someone who I will let others believe in, as he’s just too confusing for me to buy. Nelson is simply a pitcher I needed to fill out this spot. Do not draft Jimmy Nelson.
Finding post-hype relievers is borderline impossible since relievers very rarely get any hype before coming up. Here, I have a failed starting prospect leading the pack with Michael Lorenzen. He converted full-time to the bullpen last season, and looked quite good doing it. I’m not sure this is the year to fully buy in, but I suspect he’ll be involved in a rotation of saves for the Reds. Unfortunately, they’ll be rotating through minimal save chances. Rondon and Quackenbush were relatively highly touted relief prospects, but neither has consistently come through at the big-league level. Rondon is someone I’m keeping an eye on this year. He started to show a better idea of what he was doing in 2016, and Detroit’s bullpen could be up for grabs if something happens to Francisco Rodriguez (which did at the WBC, although the extent is unknown). As for Quackenbush… yeah, I’m done there. San Diego has too many other qualified relievers for him to jump into fantasy relevance this year.
Overall, this roster probably wouldn’t be very competitive in most leagues, but it would be a hell of a lot more fun than just about any other roster in your league.