The Super Bowl is over, the snow is disappea… wait, what? Okay, so the snow is far from gone, but Spring Training is March 1 and just around the corner. With your need for everything Fantasy Baseball as the season approaches, sleepers are among the most important. While there are no true “sleepers” these days given the wealth of knowledge on the internet, there are plenty of undervalued players ready to return significantly more value than their drafts costs. Of course, saying “sleepers” is just more fun and simple.
This will be a weekly series as we head into the 2016 Fantasy Baseball season. What better way to kick off the 2016 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers piece than with a pair of high-upside teammates? It’s off to Pittsburgh we go.
Tyler Glasnow, SP, PIT – How does the name Randy Johnson sound? Kind of makes you do a double-take huh? He’s not quite as big as the Big Unit (6′-10″ 225 lbs) as Glasnow checks in at just 6′-7″ and 200 lbs, but the arm angle and release point create similar problems for hitters. The main benefit from being a pitcher this tall is the added speed perception. As with Noah Syndergaard, the height translates to longer arms, which releases the ball closer to the plate and makes pitches seem faster. That’s great news when you can regularly hit the mid-90s already.
You can see how tough his pitches are to pick up, as Glasnow had a K% of 26.1, 33.1 and 27.6 in his three levels of ball last season. He finished 2015 with a 2.39 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 136 Ks in 109.1 innings. We’re talking Syndergaard-like upside if Glasnow gets the call, and he should. The main two roadblocks are his control (43 walks last year) and service time. Some might think he’s blocked in the rotation, but Ryan Vogelsong is coming off a 4.67 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in 135 innings last year. Service time is the bigger issue, as the Pirates will likely wait for Super Two.
It’s not out of the question that Glasnow could force the Pirates’ hand with a terrific spring or improved control in Triple-A; heck, Jeff Locke or Vogelsong could bomb and force their hand too. No matter if Glasnow starts the season in the minors, he’ll be in the majors before long, and Syndergaard finished 2015 as a Top 35 starter with just 150 innings.
Josh Bell, 1B/OF, PIT – As mentioned, we’re staying with the Pirates this week… sorry Cubs and Cardinals fans. I gave you a name to shock and awe with Glasnow, and now I’m going to give you two that will make you say, “Huh?” John Jaso and Michael Morse. No, those aren’t player comparisons for Bell; those are the two players “standing in Bell’s way.” Notice I put that in quotes. Jaso and Morse are hardly a threat, and heck, having those two as the lead platoon split for first base is just inviting Bell to come in and take over. The door is open for Bell… wide open.
The power potential scouts see in Bell hasn’t surfaced just yet, but he still has 20-plus home run ability, and sometimes with power hitters, it just needs to click. Even if the power doesn’t show up immediately, Bell has .300-AVG and .800-plus OPS ability and walks more than he strikes out. That’s huge for a youngster and his success. Bell has modest speed, which you rarely find at first base and can play the outfield. Both of those may seem like small positives, but when you add the ability for double-digit steals, more field time thanks to position flexibility and great on-base skills, Bell doesn’t need to hit 20 home runs to have value at the corner position as a rookie.