Cover Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
It's been a little under two months since the Boston Red Sox were crowned World Series champions, but the baseball offseason is a lot shorter than the offseason is in many other sports. Believe it or not, with fantasy football season coming to a close, it's just about that time to start prepping for fantasy baseball drafts.
With that being said, let's take a look at six players (three pitchers and three position players) that will be deemed "sleepers" come MLB fantasy draft season.
6. Andrew Heaney, Starting Pitcher, Los Angeles Angels
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Andrew Heaney had the most productive season of his MLB career in 2018, and he'll look to build off that going into the 2019 season. He was much better at home last year, going 7-3 with a 3.22 ERA, as opposed to the 2-7 record and 5.06 ERA he had on the road. If Heaney can get himself on track in road starts, he'll benefit from an AL West division that has seen the A's, Mariners and Rangers lose significant parts of their respective offenses.
5. Brandon Nimmo, Outfielder, New York Mets
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Brandon Nimmo had an outstanding .404 on-base percentage last season, largely due to his innate ability to work deep into the count. He was erratic at times in 2018, but with another season under his belt and the Mets needing a sparkplug like him in their lineup every day, Nimmo should be a lethal weapon at the plate and on the basepaths next season. His season-long numbers don't stand out, but he was among the top-10 hitters in xwOBA (expected weighted on-base average), a metric used to determine quality of contact, for most of last year. Expect a breakout season for Nimmo in 2019.
4. Joey Lucchesi, Starting Pitcher, San Diego Padres
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Joey Lucchesi and his herky-jerky windup were able to throw hitters off last season and should only get better with more experience this coming season. This kid's stuff is absolutely electric, and that's why he was able to rack up 145 strikeouts in 130 innings. The Padres are in a position to make the next step forward with some young talent coming up in their farm system, so Lucchesi could even get a few more wins under his belt because of that. His high strikeout rate makes Lucchesi a great draft choice outside pick 200.
3. Eloy Jimenez, Outfielder, Chicago White Sox
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Eloy Jimenez is the White Sox's top prospect and it shouldn't take him too much time to make an impact at the Major League Baseball level. He hit .337/.384/.577 with 22 homers and 75 RBI in 108 games between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte last season. Jimenez might not get called up until a few weeks into the 2019 season, but this kid has the potential to contribute on the same level that Miguel Andujar did last year for the New York Yankees.
2. Jack Flaherty, Starting Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals
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Jack Flaherty had a rough final month of the 2018 season, but when you look at the teams he faced and the fact it was his first full MLB season, it's easy to see why he had a rough last few weeks. Flaherty is always going to be appealing in fantasy due to his strikeout ability, and most sites have him projected to eclipse the 200-strikeout mark this season. Even with the unproductive September, Flaherty managed to close out the year with a 1.11 WHIP over 151 innings. There's a lot to like about the 23-year-old, and you'll probably get away with drafting him outside the top 100 pitchers in your league's draft.
1. Adalberto Mondesi, Shortstop, Kansas City Royals
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After a rough start to the 2018 season, Adalberto Mondesi popped off in a big way for fantasy owners in September with eight homers, 17 RBI and 14 stolen bases on 17 attempts. He also has that invaluable switch-hitting ability and performs similarly well from both sides of the plate. It'll be interesting to see what this guy can do in a full season, because if we extrapolate his numbers from the last three months of 2018, there's a lot to be optimistic about. Mondesi could be a top-100 fantasy player, and his ability to steal bases makes him worth a late-round flier no matter what.
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Al Walsh is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Al Walsh also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username 14AdotWalsh. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.