There are always values to be had late in drafts. Whether it’s a player coming off an injury, hidden skills, a player ascending or a veteran that has not lived up to expectations for a few seasons, these late round players can return a lot of value. Here are some sleeper infielders.
1B Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
Belt’s power gets hurt by playing in San Francisco. He hits a lot of balls that are home runs in most stadiums, but it’s 420-feet to right-centerfield. Belt was on pace for a career year with 63 runs, 18 home runs, and 51 RBIs in 104 games before a concussion ended his season. He gets a boost in on-base percentage leagues and had a 38.4 percent hard-hit rate last season. He’s extremely cheap in drafts and worth a late pick.
3B Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics
Chapman has a lot of power. He hit 14 home runs in 290 at-bats with Oakland last season. He won’t help with average, hitting .234 last season. He’s a fly ball hitter and makes hard contact. Chapman’s glove should keep him in the lineup, and he’s a corner infield you can get late with 25-30 homer potential.
C Austin Hedges, San Diego Padres
Hedges showed good power last season with 18 home runs, but it came with a .214 average and a .262 on-base percentage. Hedges worked on his swing and plate discipline, and it has worked well in the spring. If that trend continues and he makes more contact, it would make him more appealing as the average goes up. The power is legit, and he’s a nice target as your second catcher.
2B Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies
Over the last two seasons, Hernandez has a .294 average and a .372 on-base percentage. Finding good average late in the draft isn’t easy, and if you have enough power, Hernandez can be a good fit. He has at least 15 stolen bases in three straight seasons and hits leadoff in an improved lineup.
SS Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks
Marte is in line to play every day. Marte worked on his swing in the minors last season and started to lift the ball more. Marte has talent, but we have seen small sample in the majors. He gets on base with a good eye, has good speed and is only 24.
2B/SS/OF Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks
Owings is expected to be a super utility player. The position flexibility is appealing, and he was on his way to a breakout season before a finger injury in July. In 362 at-bats, he hit .268 with 41 runs, 12 home runs, 51 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.
SS Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins
After he struggled for most of the first half, Polanco made some adjustments and turned it on the final two months. Over 248 at-bats, Polanco batted .270 with 33 runs, 10 home runs, 45 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. Polanco makes good contact, has a decent walk rate and hits fly balls. He had 13 home runs and 13 stolen bases last season and will improve on that in a good lineup.
SS Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics
Semien was limited to 85 games after having wrist surgery. He came back and hit well. Semien batted .249 with 53 runs, 10 home runs, 40 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 13 attempts. Semien batted .238 with 72 runs, 27 home runs, 75 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 2016. Semien has power and speed, and the A’s lineup is underrated. Semien won’t hit for a great average, but .250-.260 isn’t a negative.
2B Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals
Keep an eye on where Wong hits in the lineup. If he remains hitting eighth in front of the pitcher, it will decrease his value. There’s a chance he hits at the top of the order. He has been stealing bases often in the spring. He stole 20 bases in 2014. Injuries have slowed him down in his career, but he had a .376 on-base percentage and has some pop.