2018 Impact “Sleeper” Prospects: AL Central: Impact Outfielders Await…

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We all know the big prospect names who can make an impact in 2018, whether it’s Ronald Acuna or Lewis Brinson or another one of the highly touted Top 100 prospects.  It’s the under-the-radar talent that people may not see coming that could make an impact for fantasy owners.  We’re going to identify one “sleeper” prospect per team (all of whom are featured in our Rotoprofessor 2018 Draft Guide, which you can purchase by clicking here) who can make an impact this season:

 

Chicago White Sox
Ryan Cordell – Outfielder

Over 292 PA at Triple-A (he didn’t play after being acquired from Milwaukee) last season Cordell hit .284 with 10 HR and 9 SB and for a rebuilding team that’s filled with questions in the outfield it’s a matter of when he gets his shot, not if.  He’s shown 20/15 type upside, assuming he can avoid a bloated strikeout rate.  Last year’s 22.3% seems like a scary number, but a 10.4% SwStr% isn’t outrageous (we’ve seen significantly worse) so there’s hope that he can keep it in check.

That means he should get opportunity and pair it with five category potential (albeit solid, not necessarily elite).  It’s easy to lose sight of it given the depth and talent in Chicago’s system, but that doesn’t mean that you should.

 

Cleveland Indians
Julian Merryweather – Right-Handed Pitcher

It’s hard to imagine any pitcher making an impact for the Indians, especially given the depth of their rotation.  Injuries happen, though, and Merryweather should be there waiting in the wings at Triple-A to get his opportunity.  Splitting time between Double and Triple-A last season he showed enough in all three skills we look for:

  • Strikeouts – 8.95 K/9
  • Control – 2.45 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 46.3%

Home runs were an issue at Triple-A (1.50 HR/9), though that hasn’t been an issue throughout his minor league career.  He also owned an 11.0% SwStr%, backing up the strikeout number.  The key here is when/if an opportunity arises.

 

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Detroit Tigers
Christin Stewart – Outfielder

Like many young sluggers it all comes down to the strikeout.  A 24.9% strikeout rate courtesy of a 12.2% SwStr% at Double-A raises significant red flags, though a 10.1% walk rate shows that there’s potential to maintain this level and not watch the number rise.  If he does that there will be value, as he has already put his power on display with 28 HR, to go along with 29 doubles and 3 triples, last season.

He should open the year at Triple-A and get his opportunity for a rebuilding team, and Stewart has the potential to put up a 35+ HR campaign with a full slate of AB.  The key is going to be his strikeout rate, and if he shows signs of improvement early he could arrive quickly.

 

Kansas City Royals
Donnie Dewees – Outfielder

You could argue that any of Kansas City’s prospects are “sleepers”, with Ryan O’Hearn being a prime example.  That said we will dig deeper, with Dewees garnering little attention but holding ample intrigue with speed down across the game and the Royals in need of a leadoff hitter.

A rebuilding team, Kansas City is hurting in the outfield.  Alex Gordon has been awful this spring (.118 in 51 AB through Friday) and the suspension of Jorge Bonifacio has left Paulo Orlando as a potential every day option.  Dewees may not be a power hitter, but he checked off the boxes of a potentially solid leadoff hitter in ’17 while playing at Double-A:

  • 15.5% strikeout rate (courtesy of 9.6% SwStr%)
  • 20 stolen bases
  • .272 average

He has the speed to carry more than a .309 BABIP and is a year removed from a 31 SB campaign.  He’ll start at Triple-A, but it may not be long before he gets his opportunity.

 

Minnesota Twins
LaMonte Wade – Outfielder

Mitch Garver could’ve gotten this spot, especially since he’s opening the year on the MLB roster, but Wade’s upside is a little bit higher.  Playing the season at 23-years old he hit .292 with 7 HR and 9 SB over 424 AB at Double-A.  Obviously those numbers aren’t going to blow you away, but keep this approach in mind:

  • Strikeouts – 71 (13.7%)
  • Walks – 76 (14.6%)
  • SwStr% – 5.1%
  • Line Drive Rate – 23.9%

Playing towards the upper levels of the minors generating more walks than strikeouts is highly impressive.  He also showed a little bit of potential in his power, adding 22 doubles and 3 triples, and could quickly emerge as a .300/15/10 player.  That may not be a superstar, but it’s a highly productive option.

Source – Fangraphs

Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings?  Make sure to check it out by clicking here.  Also don’t miss all of our 2018 Preseason Positional Prospect Lists:

Catcher1-10
First Base1-10
Second Base1-10
Shortstop1-10
Third Base1-10
Outfielders:1-1011-20
Pitchers:1-1011-2021-30

** ORDER OUR 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE TODAY **
Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.50!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.

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