Call 'em sleepers, if you like. Or lottery tickets, or fliers, or persons-of-interest, or ... well, use whichever label you prefer. Here are six names on my early-season watch list, all of them lightly owned in Yahoo leagues...
[Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]
Tanner Scheppers, SP, Texas Rangers (36 percent owned) — Coming off an outstanding season in relief in 2013, Scheppers delivered an excellent spring (1.02 WHIP, 14 Ks in 14.2 IP). He not only earned a spot in the Rangers' rotation, but injuries cleared a path for him to get the nod in the opener. Scheppers will face an uncharacteristically healthy Phillies' lineup, so that's a rough way to begin. Still, the righty offers plenty of K potential, and run support shouldn't be an issue.
UPDATE: OK, so that maybe could have gone a little better. But that's why he only made the watch-list, not the add-list.
Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals (31 percent) — Wong gets the No. 2 spot in the Cards' opening day batting order, a clear fantasy win. The eighth spot in the N.L. is often like a death sentence. Wong offers modest power, speed and on-base skills — and, like everyone else on this list, he had a terrific spring (18-for-48, 10 R, 2 HR, 2 SB). He's a middle of interest, tied to an excellent lineup.
Marcus Semien, 2B, Chicago White Sox (1 percent) — Semien was a beast in the high minors last season, hitting .284/.401/.479 across two levels, with 19 homers and 24 steals in 29 attempts. He also walked more often than he struck out (98, 90), an impressive trait for any player. Gordon Beckham is presently tweaked (oblique), so Semien opens the season batting second for Chicago. With Adam Eaton at the top of the order and this kid behind him, the table could be set nicely for Jose Abreu to feast. If Semien hits, he can stick.
Grady Sizemore, CF, Boston Red Sox (39 percent) — Honestly, Sizemore is like a name from another era. This is almost like seeing "Mike Greenwell, 7" on the lineup card. Just ... weird. But here's hoping Sizemore can give us, say, 80 percent of his old production. We all love a comeback story, and this guy is coming off a productive-enough spring.
Mike Olt, 3B, Chicago Cubs (8 percent) — It feels like he's been around forever, sure, but Olt is still just 25. He's hitting in the heart of Chicago's opening day batting order, following a promising Cactus League performance (5 HR, 12 RBIs, .276). In a healthy season, Olt can plausibly give us 22-25 homers. He appears ready to produce; let's try to forget the mess that was his 2013 season.
DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Colorado Rockies (6 percent) — You guys really aren't interested in a Rockies regular who swiped 18 bags in just 109 games last season? This percent-ownership seems oddly low to me — almost as if you were all pulling for Josh Rutledge to claim the second base gig. I think I'm probably propping up LeMahieu's Yahoo percent-ownership; wherever a MI is required, I've got him.