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It’s one thing to write up an article saying, “Hey, here’s some sleepers,” or “Hey, here’s some cheap guys to consider.”
It’s entirely another thing to suggest those players while being fixed to a certain ADP.
So maybe this is a fool’s errand, to provide players whose average draft position is 200 and beyond, especially considering that their ADP is that low for a reason. But hey, leagues are often won in these rounds, so let’s give it a shot, shall we?
And it does always feel like once you get past the 200s, you’re trying to hit a home run draft pick, doesn’t it; forget the on-base percentage, we’re going for it all.
Once you get past pick 200, it’s time to get a little crazy.
So, we’ll be shopping at the fantasy baseball draft bargain bin today, identifying players from the late rounds who are worth bolstering your roster with.
Who knows? They might just end up not only in your season-long starting lineup but also as one of your league-winning studs.
Note: Every player on this list is a starter for their team at the position in question — no backups or part-timers here.
C — Omar Narvaez, Milwaukee Brewers (Current ADP: 229)
Omar Narvaez managed to hit 22 homers at T-Mobile Park in 2019, a stadium that has primarily been a pitcher’s venue the last five years. Now, he’ll call Miller Park home, a venue that has been top-15 in park factor home runs since 2009.
Ultimately, we want our catchers to stay on the field and not be a drain on batting average. Narvaez projects to be that in 2020 as the primary backstop for the Brewers (Manny Pina isn’t scaring anyone). He’s also hit .270+ in three out of his four years as a professional (he hit .267 his rookie year).
Sure, he’ll probably bat lower in the order than we’d like, but that could change in a hurry, especially if his 2019 power surge continues into 2020 on a better team and in a better home park. Most of the catchers after Narvaez don’t offer his level of upside and won’t get nearly as many at-bats as he will, so he’s a sneaky-good value at his ADP once the big-name catcher pool dries up.
1B — Eric Hosmer, San Diego Padres (Current ADP: 239)
Full disclosure: This was the toughest position to find a late bargain who can also plausibly help a fantasy team. Once you get past pick 197, things get VERY warty.
I ended up going with Eric Hosmer over Daniel Murphy (and Miguel Cabrera, who’s technically a DH but plays at 1B in our game), for one simple reason: Health. Hosmer has played 150+ games every season since 2015. Murphy hasn’t played 150 games since 2013. I’m not out on guys returning from injury as a rule — not at all, as you’ll see later on below — but in this case, I’ll go with the healthier player.
With that said, Murphy has some serious advantages that I wish Hosmer had. Murphy plays at Coors Field and has never produced a bad batting average. Hosmer plays in an egregious pitcher’s environment in Petco Park and is coming off a season when he struck out 163 times.
But it’s not all bad. Hosmer will be the starting first baseman on a rapidly up-and-coming team, and he’s projected to bat cleanup after Fernando Tatis Jr., Tommy Pham and Manny Machado. The 30-year-old has notched over 90 RBI in four out of the last five seasons. If his 2019 strikeout percentage of 24.4 can regress closer to his career mark of 17.8%, Hosmer could be a steal late in drafts; a first baseman with 25-homer potential who won’t utterly crush your batting average after Round 20.
2B — Luis Arraez, Minnesota Twins (Current ADP: 238)
Luis Arraez’s case is a bit puzzling. He’s the starting second baseman on a team with World Series aspirations — the same team that utterly shattered the MLB home run record in 2019, and which just added Josh Donaldson in free agency. Arraez hit .334/.399/.439 in 92 games last season, scoring 52 runs in that span. He only struck out 29 times while walking 36 times.
Yet, he’s coming off the board in Round 21.
Perhaps this just speaks to the depth of the second base position that someone like Arraez can fall so low. Perhaps the fantasy community isn’t buying what Arraez did in those 92 games. Perhaps it’s the fact that his power — he only hit four home runs last season after hitting a combined six in his minor league career. Couple all this with the lack of stolen bases on his resume, and one would be in their rights to fade the rookie.
All that said, Arraez will be just 23 a couple days into the season. I’m willing to use a late pick on a potential batting title candidate, especially one coming so cheap at draft tables.
SS — Kevin Newman, Pittsburgh Pirates (Current ADP: 211)
I’d love to just go with Wander Franco here, but the chances of him being called up in 2020 are slim.
With that said, I really like Kevin Newman, and often wonder why he doesn’t get a little bit more respect. Sure, the Pirates are a clear-rebuilding team so Newman is expected to hit in one of the weakest lineups in baseball, but that doesn’t mean he can’t provide category juice.
The 26-year-old hit .308/.353/.446 in 130 games last year, but most enticingly, he hit double-digit homers (12) and stole double-digit bases (16). It would be great to get more power out of a second baseman, but Newman makes up for it with a willingness to run. He isn’t going to blow you away in any category, but Newman checks off most — if not all — the boxes.
The awesome Fred Zinkie said it best: “Pirates rookie manager Danny Shelton has promised that his team will be aggressive on the base paths, which is hardly surprising given the club’s overall lack of hitting ability ... The middle infielder [Newman] has a chance to hit leadoff, which would allow him to produce at least 80 runs and 20 swipes in his sophomore campaign.”
3B — Gio Urshela, New York Yankees (Current ADP: 232)
Gio Urshela seemingly came out of nowhere in 2019 to solidify the third base position for the Yankees and impress with his bat, too. A .314/.355/.534 slash line with 21 home runs doesn’t seem like the profile of someone who should be drafted in the 20th round, but it’s understandable to expect this kind of ADP. Remember, Urshela never showed anything close to this level of production the first three seasons of his career.
That said, the potential was there, and his advanced stats back up his 2019 production. Urshela hit double-digit home runs three times and finished with a batting average above .270 five times in five 100+ game seasons throughout his minor league career. Statcast data from his 2019 season tells us his xBA of .294 wasn’t too far off his actual .314 number. He did damage vs. both righties and lefties, at Yankee Stadium and away.
The Yankees seem to be more preoccupied with getting the returning Miguel Andujar’s bat into the lineup as opposed to fixing a position onto him, which should keep Urshela relatively safe at the hot corner for 2020.
With the injury monster seemingly not done with New York, Urshela might also end up enjoying a spot higher in the batting order — and we like that.
OF — Mark Canha, Oakland A’s (Current ADP: 246)
The main issues with Mark Canha (and why he’s available so late) are the crazy depth at the outfield position and the fact that he hasn’t always been a locked-in starter in Oakland’s outfield.
That changed last season, however, after the All-Star Break. Canha hit .284/.346/.478 with 10 home runs and 41 RBI in August. He rarely left the field and the lineup in the second half of 2019, and he’s projected to be the starting left fielder for the A’s in 2020. He has 30-homer potential and he’ll take his walks too (13.5 BB% in 2019).
Canha will probably hit somewhere within the lovely quartet of Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, and Khris Davis in 2020, which is a fantastic place to be for a batter.
(I also considered David Peralta here, but his injury history made room for Canha to steal this slot.)
SP — Garrett Richards, San Diego Padres (Current ADP: 262)
Another Padre? Yes, it seems like there are a couple underrated Friars around these rounds, and Garrett Richards is one of them.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Richards has been an injury risk for a while now. He hasn’t pitched over 100 innings since 2015. He hasn’t even gotten to 80 in the last four seasons.
But we can’t just forget about the MLB first-round pedigree and the potential Richards has flashed in spurts throughout his career. Lest we forget, he delivered incredible numbers back in 2014: 13-4, 2.61 ERA, 1.04 WHIP.
He was impressive in his recent exhibition debut too, tossing two scoreless innings thanks in no small part to a fastball that was clocked as high as 96.
Let’s face it: Rarely is there an absolute sure thing at pitcher this late (Round 23!) in a draft. You’re hoping the pick works out, and if not, you can drop the guy; no harm, no foul.
Richards will be just 32 years old by the time May comes around and is a year removed from Tommy John Surgery. If he can stay healthy, he can potentially be a late-round sleeper we’re going to be talking about all season. The raw talent is there — it always has been. I like to think it’s not over for Richards.
RP — Dellin Betances, New York Mets (Current ADP: 235)
After missing pretty much the entire 2019 season and recovering from shoulder and Achilles injuries, Dellin Betances finally made his Spring Training debut ... and it wasn’t great (0.1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K). Most alarmingly, his velocity only reached 90MPH.
Well, I’m gonna chalk that up to rustiness. Any pitcher can have a bad day, especially after a long layoff — and Betances isn’t just any pitcher. Lest we forget, Betances was one of the most dominant non-closer relievers in the game from 2014-2018, sporting a K/9 above 14.00 all those seasons. He’s also proven he can close games out if need be, producing double-digit saves in both 2016 and 2017.
The fact of the matter with Betances is the following: He’s stepping into a win-win situation. If he can stay healthy, not only will he challenge Seth Lugo for the setup job with the Mets, but he could (or should) outright win the job on raw talent alone (we know what we can do when he’s on). Not only that, but if Edwin Diaz finds himself struggling and losing his grip on the closer job again, Betances can step in to claim that role.
At the very minimum, a healthy Betances can offer up 60+ innings of low-ERA, elite-strikeout pitching. Best-case scenario, he’ll combine those numbers with some saves and a ton of holds. Not a bad floor and ceiling for a pitcher slated to be taken at the end of Round 20. Just monitor his Spring Training work — specifically, his velocity — before making a decision.
Who are your very late-round bargains? Let us know in the comments below and hit us up @YahooFantasy!