When searching for players in the middle to later rounds in drafts, it often comes down to playing time. Others might be going late due to disappointment in their career so far or a down season the previous year. These sleepers can often be great value in drafts. Here are some outfielders that fit into this category.
Franchy Cordero, San Diego Padres
Cordero still has an outside shot to start in the outfield. He’s hit well during the spring, keeping him in contention for a spot making him worth a pick in the final rounds. He has good power and speed and just needs to improve his approach at the plate. Although it was in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League (PCL), Cordero batted .326 with 68 runs, 17 home runs, 64 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 390 at-bats.
Delino DeShields, Texas Rangers
DeShields will be the everyday center fielder and be the leadoff hitter. In 120 games last season, DeShields scored 75 runs and stole 29 bases in 37 attempts. DeShields had a 10 percent walk rate last season and a .347 on-base percentage. He’s going to have a lot of chances to steal bases, and 40 stolen bases are within reach.
Derek Fisher, Houston Astros
Fisher is likely to open the season with the starting spot in left field. Fisher excelled at Triple-A last season, batting .318 with 63 runs, 21 home runs, 66 RBIs, 16 stolen bases and a .967 OPS in 84 games. Fisher hit throughout his minor league career but struggled with a .212 average in 146 at-bats with the Astros last season. While he struck out 32.5 percent of the time with the Astros, he had a 10.2 percent walk rate.
Randal Grichuk, Toronto Blue Jays
There’s no doubt that Grichuk has power and now he will have the playing time after being in and out of the lineup with the Cardinals. Grichuk is a career .249 hitter, so don’t expect much help there. Grichuk hit 24 home runs in 132 games in 2016 and 22 in 122 games last season, so 30 home runs, if he can play 145-155 games, is realistic. Grichuk has a career 39.7 percent hard-hit rate. If he can lay off the off-speed stuff and get ahead in the count more often, he could boost the average.
Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees
It’s rare to get a Yankees player at a bargain, but it’s happening with Hicks. He’s going to start, and while Jacoby Ellsbury might steal some at-bats, his health is always an issue. Hicks batted .266 with 54 runs, 15 home runs, 52 RBIs and ten stolen bases in 301 at-bats with a .847 OPS.
Jose Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals
Martinez also has first base eligibility in most leagues. Martinez doesn’t have an everyday job but should see plenty of at-bats between first base and the outfield. Martinez got more loft on his swing last season and hit .309 with 47 runs, 14 home runs, 46 RBIs and a .897 OPS in 272 at-bats. Martinez had a 10.4 percent walk rate and a 37.2 percent hard-hit rate. Martinez was among the league leaders in exit velocity.
Jorge Soler, Kansas City Royals
Soler made some changes to his diet, cut out sweets and lost 20 pounds. He began to eat more vegetables and reduce the amount of red meat he ate. He’s entering his age 26 season, and it’s time for him to produce, and he will get the shot to play every day. Soler has 875 plate appearances in the majors with a slash line of .244/.318/.412 and 29 home runs. In 403 at-bats at Triple-A, Soler has 32 home runs and 89 RBIs with a 24.5 percent strikeout rate and a 14.7 percent walk rate.
Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland Indians
Zimmer has some power and is one of the fastest players in baseball. Bradley needs to improve his contact rate, after striking out 29.8 percent of the time last season. In 299 at-bats, he had 18 steals in 19 attempts. Zimmer has the potential to hit 15 home runs with 20-25 steals.