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This Articles Sleepers Tip:

Great fantasy baseball team owners do not sacrifice their expectations for hopes and wants.
Never trade a keeper for a sleeper. We hope a sleeper can do it, we expect a keeper to get it done.

Introduction to Sleepers:

Fantasy baseball players love sleepers. Primarily because finding the undervalued often makes the difference in a losing or a championship season. Every fantasy baseball players has looked at the championship teams player stats at the end of the season and wondered how in the world that team got so good. The answer is normally because that team owner made the best middle and end of draft choices.

Sleepers that we project to make an impact in 2014: (In no particular order)

Taijuan Walker, SP, Seattle Mariners; DOB: 08/13/1992; Right Handed
2013 AA/AAA Stats: 9 Wins-10 Losses, 141 IP, 2.93 ERA, 160 K’s
2013 Seattle Mariners: 1 Win-0 Losses, 15 IP, 3.60, 12 K’s

The 21 year old walked 61 in 166 innings last year. We expect that will rise against the eye of MLB batters and could spell doom over a full MLB season. But at the same time, he is just a kid, he has a great fastball, and he has shown some solid poise in his brief stint in the majors. Taijuan has all the moons aligned to grow into a top tier pitcher in spacious Safeco. Unless he blows up in spring training, he is all but guaranteed a starting spot on the Mariners staff with an opportunity to learn from two 2013 Cy Young contenders, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma.

Danny Farquhar, RP, Seattle Mariners; DOB: 02/17/87; Right Handed
2013 AAA: 0 Wins-1 Loss, 20 IP, 2.25 ERA, 30 K’s
2013 Mariners: 0 Wins-3 Losses, 55.2 IP, 4.20 ERA, 79 SO
You may think the ERA needs a little work before the guy makes your fantasy team. But when you consider that Farquhar began the season with an 8.77 ERA in his first 17 games, not so much. Also, the Mariners defense was his enemy while he built that horrible 1st half ERA. But he put it together after that and coupled it with outstanding strikeout numbers. Farquhar will go into most drafts relatively incognito although he projects as a strong closer going into 2014. His stuff is too good to think he won’t get out of the gate fast and keep the pedal to the metal all year long.

Khris Davis, OF, Milwaukee Brewers; DOB: 12/21/1987
2013 Brewers Stats: 136 AB’s, 27 Runs, 11 HR’s, 27 RBI’s, 3 SB’s, .279 BA
Ryan Braun is going to take back left field next season leaving Davis without a starting outfield position. That said, outside of Braun, Segura and Carlos Gomez, a strong argument can be made that Khris Davis is already no worse than the 4th best bat on the Brewers. I mean, they do have Aramis Ramirez as the likely cleanup hitter protecting Braun batting third in the lineup. It would make sense to say the Brewers will find a way for him to start in spring training. If they do not start him, he will still get 350+ AB's as the 4th OF'er, but as a starter his fantasy baseball value is considerably stronger.

Drew Smyly, RP, Detroit Tigers; DOB: 06/13/89; Left Handed
2013 Tigers: 6 Wins-0 Loss, 76 IP, 2.37 ERA, 81 K’s

Smyly needs to start to have real fantasy baseball value. When the Tigers traded for Anibal Sanchez they all but solidified that they had no starting spot for him. The Tigers starting rotation boasts Verlander, Scherzer, Fister, Sanchez and Porcello. But the Tigers like him and rumor has it they are working hard to open up the 5th starter spot for him by trading Rick Porcello. The Tigers offer a strong enough offense to mask any growing pains he could suffer and while he would be the 5th starter and likely project out to only 24/26 starts, he will likely be one of the better #5 pitchers, and will play in lot of games where the Detroit offense will feast against the competing #5.

Wil Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston Red Sox; DOB: 09/09/1988
2012 AAA Stats: 93 AB’s, 18 Runs, 9 HR’s, 27 RBI’s, 3 SB’s, .333 BA
2012 Red Sox Stats: 267 AB’s, 34 Runs, 15 HR’s, 54 RBI’s, 4 SB’s, .288 BA
2013 AAA Stats: 179 AB’s, 25 Runs, 10 HR’s, 35 RBI’s, 1 SB’s, .268 BA
2013 Red Sox Stats: 348 AB’s, 41 Runs, 17 HR’s, 49 RBI’s, 3 SB’s, .227 BA

Middlebrooks fantasy baseball career has gone something like this. In 2012, Middlebrooks has an awesome half season when he gets called up. He goes in the 4th/5th round of most drafts in 2013 as he looks like a monster with a full season. Once the season starts, the sophomore jinx hits him hard. He is a horrible, gets sent down to the minors and finds his stroke, gets called up, stinks his way to hitting 8th, then finds it at the end of the season to make the above major league numbers look less than putrid. Bottom line, the guys total season statistics (minors and majors) suffered at BA but was better than most fantasy players believe. We think he will start off batting 6th/7th in Fenway. ESPN has him as the 209th player in thier top 250 preseason player rankings, 39 players after Bogaerts at 170 (who writes this stuff?), so he will likely be available on the cheap.

Jose Dariel Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox; DOB: 01/29/1987
Cuban Defector

Abreu defected from Cuba in August 2013 and received a 6 year contract from the Chicago White Sox paying 68 million dollars. In 2012, in a shortened 42 game Cuban baseball season he walked 37 times, hit .382, scored 36 Runs, with 13 HR’s and 37 RBI’s. Scary thing he is best recognized for his 2011 stats. He is projected to bat 5th for the White Sox in 2014. I think you can expect equivalent to slightly better than Cespedes type numbers against MLB caliber pitching in his first year. That said, he is projected to go slightly after Cespedes. So when Cespedes goes off the board (8th/9th round), look at Abreu closely.

Already Overhyped in 2014:

XANDER BOGAERTS, SS, Boston Red Sox; DOB: 10/01/1992/
2013 AAA Stats: 116 Games, 444 AB’s, 72 Runs, 15 HR’s, 67 RBI’s, 7 SB’s, .297 BA
2013 Red Sox Stats: 18 Games, 44 AB’s, 7 Runs, 1 HR’s, 5 RBI’s, 1 SB’s, .250 BA

We refused to drink the Profar Jurickson Kool Aid last year and he was starting in the best hitter park in the majors, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. This year, we are going to throw some cold water on the Xander Bogaerts ROY award show playing now on the internet.

First, one thing we absolutely love about Bogaerts in 2014 is the fact he will start all year long. Chris Holt and Stephen Drew cannot put this kid on the bench or in the minors like what happened to Jurickson.

Three things we do not like about Bogaerts:
1. He does not have monster minor league power or speed numbers. He has strong minor league numbers for a SS, but nothing awesome. They will decrease when he sees a steady stream of major league pitching.
2. Few 21 year olds dominate in the majors without a 3 year learning curve.
3. He has already been overhyped badly. Simply too much for his actual projected stats: 70 Runs, 13 HRs, 70 RBIs, 9 SBs, and a .255 BA. Somebody is guaranteed to overpay or pick too early- do not let it be you.

If you liked Al OHarra's Sleepers analysis, then it is time to read his 2014 Fantasy Baseball Prospects article.

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