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2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers by Ryan Hallam

No matter how much we talk and debate about it, fantasy drafts are very rarely won and lost in the first three to four rounds. They are, however, always won in the last five or six rounds and through free agency. The winners are going to be those who find the diamonds in the rough and get the guys who you select in the 15th round who gives you similar stats to the player you took in the third round. Below are ten guys that you can target late in your draft that can help you be at the top of your league’s standings.

Mike Fiers, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Fiers had a pretty solid minor league career, highlighted by 2011 when he was 8-0 in ten starts with a 1.13 ERA and 69 strikeouts in just 64 innings. He came to Milwaukee last season and had quite the tale of two seasons. In 13 starts between late May and early August, Fiers allowed 16 earned runs, and eight of them came in two starts, with 80 strikeouts in 80 innings against just 16 walks. Then came mid-August. In his final ten starts he gave up 37 runs in just 46 innings, but his strikeouts stayed strong with 55 over that span. For the season his WHIP was a respectable, yet unspectacular 1.26 as he does give up some hits, but I like his chances this season. He could have run out of gas considering the number of innings he pitched last year. The Brewers likely won’t contend for the NL Central title this season, but they still have a decent offense. If he can gain the consistency he lacked last year over a full season in 2013, you could be looking at a late round surprise.

Erasmo Ramirez, SP, Seattle Mariners
You won’t find Ramirez at the top of anyone’s prospect list, but he has plugged along through the minors and has done fairly well considering what little attention he has garnished. Ramirez was given a handful of starts at the end of 2012, and he did pretty well with them. He allowed just nine earned runs in four starts, struck out 21 and walked just five and four of those came in his final start. He isn’t a dominant strikeout pitcher, but he is better than average, and his WHIP stays in a very good level with his excellent control. The Mariners made a few moves to try to improve their offense, so perhaps their pitchers won’t be hung with no decision after no decision when they pitch well. It might be a bit of a deep one, but I like Ramirez as a sleeper this year.

Jhoulys Chacin, SP, Colorado Rockies
Shoulder inflammation cost him more than half of 2012, and if there’s anything that he has shown in his major league career it is inconsistency. However, he has also shown a great deal of promise. He isn’t a brilliant strikeout pitcher, but he gets more than average. He plays on a pretty decent team, and although the Dodgers are in the NL West, his other two division mates (Giants and Padres) are offensively challenged. He did return late in the season last year, and he allowed one earned run or less in five of his eight starts. He is going to be mostly forgotten on draft day, and I think he is going to be a great addition to the end of your fantasy baseball pitching staff.

Shelby Miller, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
It was looking like Young Shelby Miller would be starting the season in the St. Louis bullpen, waiting for his opportunity to shine and getting some valuable Major League experience. Now news breaks that Chris Carpenter likely won’t pitch at all this season, which begs the question, is it Miller Time? Shelby has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues and is a master at missing bats. In his 386 minor league innings he struck out a whopping 472 batters! And that is coupled with just 138 walks. Carpenter’s injury doesn’t guarantee a spot for Miller, but the way pitchers get injured anymore, you have to figure he will get his shot soon enough, and if he is successful the Redbirds might be hard pressed to keep him out of the rotation.

Andy Dirks, OF, Detroit Tigers
The Detroit lineup is one of the better in baseball with triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera and the addition of Prince Fielder. It will also improve with the return of Victor Martinez, and it will get even better when Andy Dirks is their every day leftfielder. After not showing much in his first tour in the majors, Dirks showed some of the promise that he had in 2012. He hit .322 in 88 games. He only hit eight home runs over that time span, but he does have 20-25 homer potential. I don’t know if you can expect .322 again, but Dirks should hit in the .290-.300 range in a full season. He has been given the proverbial vote of confidence by the front office to be the starter in left field, and I like him to be a solid contributor as your fourth outfielder.

Brett Gardner, OF, New York Yankees
An elbow injury cost Gardner almost all of 2012, but there have been changes in New York since October, and the fast track appears to be open for Gardner to be an everyday player again. He is a pretty two dimensional player as far as helping you with runs and stolen bases, but in this day and age there aren’t that many players that have the chance to steal 50 bases anymore. And there was a time when guys used to steal 100 bags! Gardner is probably only going to hit in the .270s, and likely won’t get to double digits in home runs. Given the fact that he missed most of last season there’s a good chance that he will go many rounds later than he probably should.

Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals
After a very promising rookie season, it appeared that the sky was the limit for Hosmer in 2012. Well, that obviously didn’t happen as his numbers dropped across the board, despite playing 24 more games. A late season shoulder injury coupled with this horrible year will likely have Hosmer being drafted much later than he should be. Let’s look at some facts though people. He’s still 23 years old, he was a .312 lifetime hitter in the minors and he still did have double digit home runs and stolen bases in his first two seasons in the majors. I see a big bounceback season for Hosmer, he didn’t just forget how to hit. I believe he will hit 20 homers and steal 15 bases and give you a pretty solid batting average. Hosmer is definitely a guy that is on my radar coming into the season.

Leonys Martin, OF, Texas Rangers
With Josh Hamilton in Los Angeles, a big gaping hole has formed in centerfield in Texas. The front runner to try to fill this void is former Cuban defection Leonys Martin. What does he bring to the table you ask? Well, so far in his 54 at bats in the major leagues, not much. However, what can he be capable of? Actually, he’s capable of a lot. He can hit for a solid average, and not only does he hit for a decent amount of power, but the kid can run too. We are looking at a potential 20/20 player here with a lot of upside. He crushed it in 55 games in the PCL last year as he hit .359 with 12 homers and 10 steals. That is a very hitter friendly league, but I’m excited to see what this kid is capable especially in the Texas heat. He is going to be a great late round choice in fantasy baseball drafts this year.

Kevin Youkilis, 3B, New York Yankees
Oh Alex Rodriguez, you have gotten yourself into another pickle. The latest PED investigation has A-Rod smack dab in the middle of all of the fun yet again. Luckily for Yankee fans, the Bombers were smart and brought Kevin Youkilis in when Rodriguez hip surgery was going to keep him out for a while anyway. Injuries and the Red Sox terrible chemistry ended Youkilis with his worst season and on the Chicago White Sox roster. Youk hasn’t played more than 135 games in four seasons, so his durability is a question mark, but after working with the Yankees’ hitting coach, I believe that Youkilis will get back on track and be back around the .290/22/90 line that he is capable of putting up. Playing 81 games in the hitter friendly Yankee Stadium doesn’t hurt either. Look what it did for Curtis Granderson’s home run total, and that dude swings at everything.

Starling Marte, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Here comes another solid young player in Pittsburgh. The Pirates signed him as an 18 year old kid, and now in 2013 he is slated to be their starting left fielder. Marte strikes out a lot. A LOT. To the tune of about one whiff per four at bats. And his walk rate isn’t good at all. However, when he makes contact, Marte can do a lot with the bat and with his legs when he is on the basepaths. He has the capabilities to hit 17-20 home runs and steal more than 30 bases. He was also named the MVP of the Dominican Republic Winter League Championship Series, and he hit .308 with two homers and 20 RBI with eight steals in 29 games. He’s another late round selection that can possibly have a bigger impact on your team.

And here is a few more worth a flyer in the later rounds:
Clay Buchholz
Brett Myers
Wade Davis
Tommy Hanson
Lonnie Chisenhall
Josh Rutledge/Chris Nelson
Fernando Martinez
Salvador Perez
Chris Iannetta
Justin Ruggiano
Darin Mastrianni
Brandon Belt

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