Digging for Diamonds: Sleeper Corner Infielders
Remember me? I started a series back in November on post-hypers, sleepers, and breakout candidates for the upcoming 2017 season. Now that our annual rankings are complete, ending with our Top 500 Dynasty Players, which you can find here, it’s time to pick back up with our regular content as we get closer and closer to another exciting baseball season. Here are the links to the other articles to the series:
Jan. 16: Post-Hype Corner Infielders
Jan. 9: Breakout Middle-Infield Prospects
Dec. 23: Post-Hype Middle Infielders
Dec. 12: Breakout Catcher Prospects
Dec. 5: Sleeper Catcher Prospects
Nov. 28: Post-Hype Catchers
Let’s dive into some first and third basemen whose names might put you to sleep but who also may end up providing your squad with significant value, perhaps as soon as this season.
Giovanny Urshela, 25, Indians: Although he sounds like the villain from Little Mermaid, Urshela floundered (sorry) in his first taste of the Majors two seasons ago. He has good bat-to-ball skills and should have no trouble staying at third, he just needs to consistently tap into that power he started flashing in Double-A back in 2014. I’m sure the Indians would love it if Urshela could grab the reigns of the third base job and free up Jose Ramirez to become the super-utility guy he was always meant to be.
Jesus Aguilar, 26, Brewers: A former Indian, Aguilar finds himself in a prime opportunity with the Beer Makers. The Brew Crew signed Eric Thames to a three year deal with the intention of giving him the everyday job at first. However, it remains to be seen what he can do at the Major League level, and it is easy to envision Thames and Aguilar forming a platoon in Milwaukee and perhaps once again leading the league in homers like they did with Chris Carter at the position a season ago. After 49 homers combined the last two Triple-A seasons, it’s time to see what Aguilar can do at the next level.
Jeimer Candelario, 23, Cubs: This guy is just criminally underrated. He should be on pretty much every Top 100 list as far as I’m concerned; he can field third more than adequately, he can hit, hit for power, take a walk, and doesn’t strike out too much. He is outrageously blocked in Chicago but is exactly the type of guy to get traded at the deadline and get called up and rake for two months. It’s almost impossible for him and Ian Happ not to get moved for pitching down the stretch as they did with Gleyber Torres last year, unless they’re just satisfied with winning the World Series once. Would you be?
Yandy Diaz, 25, Indians: Another guy who I think is severely underrated, Diaz is an MLB-ready bat who is a phenomenal defender at third but is seeing time in the outfield this spring as a way to get his bat in the lineup somehow. He has more career walks than strikeouts and was recently featured in an article over at MinorLeagueBall.com, so he may be a sleeper than is beginning to wake up, so invest quickly.
Rob Refsnyder, 26, Yankees: This is a guy who could have just as easily made it to the post-hype section from last article, Refnsyder was one of those guys who everyone was always clamoring for him to just ‘get his chance,’ only for him to, much like Urshela, flounder once give the opportunity at the Major League level. This is still a guy with a .293/.379/.429 slash line over 2080 career plate appearances in the minors, a guy who some scouts were comping to Daniel Murphy, before his breakout of course. The Yankees have recently put him on the block, so if he can get moved to a team that can use his bat at second or third, positions where can play passable defense, he could end up providing you with a lot of value. I’m sure his owners are ready to move him just like their MLB counterparts are, so jump on the opportunity before he gets traded in real life. One of my fantasy mantras you’ll want to adopt is that it’s always easier to trade for a guy before he gets traded in real life as opposed to after the fact. Use his uncertain future to your advantage, it’s a low-risk, high-reward move.
One last guy that I think deserves a quick blurb is Pirates infielder Max Moroff. It’s been rumored that the Pirates could trade Josh Harrison and give Adam Frazier the everyday job at third. That would leave Moroff to battle with Alen Hanson for a bench role. I’ve always liked Moroff not only because he is on my fantasy team, but because he walks more than almost any other player (17.3% in AAA!!!), can hit for some pop, and can play all three infield positions. His patience and versatility will get him some opportunities, and while he is unlikely to ever become a star, he could end up having an extremely long career if he can keep walking in almost a fifth of his plate appearances.