2018 Impact “Sleeper” Prospects: AL Central: Could A Surprising Closer Emerge & More

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:


Houston Astros
Rogelio Armenteros – Right-Handed Pitcher

There are two reasons that Armenteros may be overlooked:

  1. The depth Houston has at the MLB level (for instance Colin McHugh appears to be the odd man out already)
  2. The presence of much more talented prospects overshadowing him

That said Armenteros split time between Double and Triple-A last season showing swing and miss stuff (13.8% SwStr%) and posting an impressive 2.04 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over 123.2 IP.  He’ll turn 24-years old in June and after opening the year at Triple-A should be ready to contribute when a need arises (and while it’s easy to see depth, that doesn’t mean they won’t need help at some point).


Los Angeles Angels
Luke Bard – Right-Handed Pitcher

Blake Parker has struggled this spring and while Cam Bedrosian appears primed to be “the man” to open the season (maybe) his history of injuries could quickly open an opportunity.  Enter Rule 5 selection Luke Bard, who showed an impressive skill set between Double and Triple-A last season:

  • Strikeouts – 13.64 K/9
  • Control – 3.31 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 32.7%

Obviously home runs could become an issue, but you have to make contact for that to happen and his 15.8% SwStr% shows that opponents don’t make contact very often.  Considering the talent the team has they aren’t going to let their closer ruin their season and they’ve shown a willingness to give virtual “unknowns” an opportunity before.


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.


Oakland Athletics
Renato Nunez – Third Baseman

It’s easy to overlook Nunez, with youngsters Matt Chapman and Matt Olson getting the bulk of the attention.  However any struggles for them should lead to an opportunity for Nunez, who owns a similar profile having hit .249 with 32 HR over 533 PA at Triple-A last season.  The big issue is going to be if he can make enough contact at the highest level, after posting a 14.2% SwStr% at Triple-A.  Considering he spent ’16 at Triple-A hitting .228 courtesy of a 12.9% SwStr%, it’s obvious that the issue is real.  Barring an adjustment his value will come from the ability to deliver some power, but that’s about it.


Seattle Mariners
Max Povse – Right-Handed Pitcher

Splitting time between Double and Triple-A he struggled to a 1.43 WHIP and 5.22 ERA over 70.2 IP.  Managing just 61 K over 70.2 IP and posting pedestrian marks in both control (3.31 BB/9) and groundballs (44.9%) it would appear like there is little to get excited about.  That’s fair, but the Mariners always seem to be looking for help in the rotation and the 6’8” 24-year old does have better stuff than the numbers indicate (think the upside of a back of the rotation starter).  It’s a matter of taking a step forward, which is possible, as he should be among the first to receive an opportunity.  It’s also possible that the stuff plays up better coming out of the bullpen, a role the team utilized him in a little bit last season, but time will tell.


Texas Rangers
Yohander Mendez – Left-Handed Pitcher

The Rangers are always on the lookout for help in their rotation and this season should be no different.  There has been talk of the team utilizing a modified six-man rotation, which already would open additional opportunities, and after Cole Hamels you can argue that the team lacks certainty despite numerous new faces (Matt Moore, Doug Fister and Mike Minor).

Mendez spent ’17 at Double-A (137.2 IP), where he struggled with home runs (1.50 HR/9) but showed solid skills with an 8.11 K/9 and 2.81 BB/9.  His 11.4% SwStr% shows a little bit more strikeout potential and while home runs could continue to be a concern (45.0% groundball rate) it shouldn’t keep him from being productive.  He’s already made his MLB debut (as a reliever) and is going to get another shot.

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:

First Base1-10
Second Base1-10
Third Base1-10

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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