Fantasy Baseball's AL or Nothing - AL Sleepers: Taking the Fifth!

by on March 6, 2014 @ 12:47:05 PDT


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Hector Santiago & Garrett Richards, LAA - I am very intrigued by both Santiago and Richards as potential sleepers, enough that I have rostered both in a couple of places already this year. I drafted Richards as a late reserve in Perry Van Hook's JBL league in January and recently ended up with both in my CBS AL Auction league.

Boston Red Sox P Brandon Workman
Workman may work out

In Richards, we have a case of a young pitcher who looks poised to take the next step, and finally take advantage of his plus fastball. He has always had great "stuff," but he has lacked the poise and control needed to be consistently successful at the big league level. The funny thing is, he didn't generate a ton of strikeouts last year despite the plus fastball. What he did do, however, was evolve into an elite ground ball pitcher. His GB% shot up to 57% last year, and if he can sustain those gains, he has a great chance of delivering an ERA under 4.00. Some have compared him to Justin Masterson, and I think it's a fair comparison. I think he offers more upside for my AL-only team, but if he can figure out how to utilize his heater a little more effectively, without it affecting his groundball tendencies, then we could have a real breakout on our hands.

Santiago is a player that has grown on me as draft season has progressed, partly because of where some of my competitors were tabbing him in both real and mock drafts. I am always open to investigate further on a player that other owners whose judgment I respect seem to like more than I do. This is one of the best things you gain from doing early drafts and mocks. Santiago, who came over in the Mark Trumbo deal, is kind of lurking under the radar due to a solid, if unspectacular, skill set. He doesn't have an electric fastball, but he mixes up his pitches, including an improving screwball, and gets plenty of looking K's. Perhaps the best thing working in his favor this year is his change of venue. Home runs have been his Achilles heel, and he gets to leave U.S. Cellular behind and move into spacious Angel Stadium, which will help keep more of those long flies in play.

Some other starters that I like as late-round targets include:

Erasmo Ramirez, SEA - Ramirez will look to put his injury-plagued 2013 behind him and take advantage of injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker to lock down his place in the Mariners' rotation. His stock is down, but this is the same guy who turned heads two years ago in his initial call-up in 2012.

Kevin Gausman, BAL - The Ubaldo Jimenez signing has put a little damper on the prized rookie's stock, since he now looks headed to the minors to start the year. He was one young gun who didn't exactly hit the ground running last year, but he has as good a pedigree as any prospect who made his debut last year. He will get a chance in the rotation at some point this year and will hope for better results the second time around.

Nick Tepesch, TEX - Tepesch won the first round in his battle with Colby Lewis to win the fifth starter job for the Rangers. He profiles better as an AL-only option, but could make for a nice reserve arm that you stream in for favorable matchups.

Brandon Workman, BOS - Workman got roughed up in his first spring start, and likely will start the year in the minors. Still, the departure of Ryan Dempster has created an opportunity at the back of the world champions' rotation and Felix Doubront will give way to the prized prospect at some point. He has great potential and should be stashed in AL-only leagues.

Sano to Miss Entire 2014 Season

Miguel Sano, one of the top power-hitting prospects in all of baseball, got some bad news last week when it was revealed that he will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and likely miss the entire 2014 season. It is a tremendous blow to the Minnesota Twins, and they will have to pray that the 20-year-old can pick back up where he left off when he eventually returns from a long rehabilitation process. The burgeoning slugger hit a combined 35 home runs between High-A and Double-A last season, and had hopes of mashing his way into the majors at some point this season. The rumblings on the young third baseman's elbow had been swirling around since he got shut down in winter ball, but the Twins were hopeful that rest would heal the ligament and allow Sano to avoid surgery. It didn't work out that way, unfortunately, for either the team or the player, but the organization is putting the best possible spin they can on the terrible news. For anyone who already drafted Sano in an early league, that's one lottery ticket down. All dynasty owners can do is wait for 2015.

Tanaka Impressive in His Spring Debut

Masahiro Tanaka received rave reviews after his spring training debut for the Bombers in Tampa over the weekend. Pitching before a host of assembled media, in a game that was televised on major Japanese stations as well as on the MLB Network, the prized free agent lived up to his billing, hurling two scoreless innings, with three strikeouts. He threw 32 pitches, 22 of them for strikes, his fastball topped out at 94 mph and he even unveiled his signature splitter, which was as nasty as advertised. He used the pitch to punch out Ben Revere for one of his strikeouts with a splitter that dived late into the dirt. He will make his second appearance this Thursday against the Phillies.

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