2017 was full of Rookie surprises, names like Bellinger and Judge took the baseball world by storm in 2017, while there may not be names like Judge and Bellinger on the horizon on 2017, there are plenty of sleepers for your fantasy team come 2018.
- Willie Calhoun: You might have heard the name Calhoun this past trading deadline because he was the centerpiece of the Yu Darvish deal. There is a reason he is so highly regarded. Calhoun has a lifetime .286 average in the Minor Leagues and hit 27 home runs in 2017 and 31 in 2017. He looks primed to be an everyday outfielder with the Rangers and should show that power in their hitter-friendly ballpark. He did have a quick cup of coffee with the Rangers in the tail-end of 2017, hitting 1 bomb in 34 at-bats.
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- Luke Weaver: One of the top pitching prospects in the game, Weaver flashed his stuff when given the chance in 2017. He went 7-2 overall with a 3.88 ERA, but if it wasn’t for 2 clunkers to end his season, his ERA would have ended closer to 2.00. Weaver had a 1.62 ERA in the Minor Leagues in 2015 and a 1.30 ERA in 2016. Weaver could be on the verge of breaking out as one of today’s brightest stars. Weaver also struck out 10.7 per 9 and is virtually the entire package you want to see in a young star. He consistently showed that strikeout rate in the Minors and there seems to be no reason he stops now.
- Aaron Altherr: Altherr only had 372 at-bats, but made quite an impression on a rebuilding Phillies club. He hit 19 home runs while stealing 5 bases and slugging .516. Injuries have always been his Achilles heel, but a full healthy season could see monster numbers from a surprisingly decent Phillies offense. Between the emergence of Rhys Hoskins, Jorge Alfaro and top prospects like Scott Kingery and J.P Crawford, Altherr should comfortably fit in the middle of that lineup.
- Manuel Margot: Margot has not gotten a lot of hype considering he was on one of the worst teams in baseball in 2017, but that has to change. He had a very good rookie season, hitting 13 home runs and stealing 17 bags. The average could have been better at .263, but this young speedster is a future, (and maybe 2018), 20/20 man. Don’t let the Padres awful roster fool you, there are some gems hidden within the trash.Photo credit:
Photo Credit: TheStar.com
- Aaron Sanchez: Sanchez missed most of 2017 due to injury, and it is easy to forget how dominant he once was. He won’t light up the gun or the strikeout totals, but he can throw with the best of them. In 2016, Sanchez went 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. While the Blue Jays are not the juggernaut they once were, Sanchez should still pitch well enough to make it a worthwhile late pick.
- Josh Hader: You can be forgiven if you missed Hader’s absolute dominance in 2017, but that is because it came out of the Brewers bullpen. Hader went 2-3 with a 2.08 ERA and a 12.8 K/9 ratio. He should be given every chance to earn a spot in the Brewers bullpen that had some leaks in 2017; should he get that chance, he could rake up the K’s.
- Ian Happ: One of the more noticeable guys on this list because of who he plays for, Ian Happ forced his way into a Cubs team that didn’t expect him to stick around all year. In only 364 at-bats, Happ slammed 24 home runs with 68 RBI. That projects out to 32 home runs in 500 at-bats. This guy has power and he is in the right ballpark to show it. Photo Credit:
- Nicholas Castellanos: Would it surprise you to know that Castellanos is only 25 years old? He enjoyed quite the breakout season on a hapless Detroit team, batting .274 while knocking 25 bombs. He just missed the century mark in RBI with 99. Detroit’s lineup may look much different come Spring Training time, but Castellanos still has the tools to have a follow-up year to 2017.
- Lewis Brinson: Brinson was absolutely awful in his debut for the Milwaukee Brewers, but don’t let that fool you. Brinson was an absolute monster in the Minor Leagues in 2017, hitting 13 homers while stealing 11 bases with a .331 average in 299 at-bats in Triple A. The Brewers will give their big-time prospect, (brought to them in the Lucroy deal), every chance to win an outfield spot in 2017, and should he gain one, he could be a 20/20 guy in 2018.
- Ryan McMahon: You may not have heard his name in quite some time, a former top prospect who suffered a terrible 2016 season that knocked his name off the top 100 list, McMahon showed why he was in the top 100 prospect rankings in 2017, pulling off an incredible Minor League season. McMahon swatted 20 homers while batting an incredible .355. He has competition in Parra, (and possibly Cargo if he is resigned), but should he be given the job, McMahon’s ability to put the bat on the ball could shine through in the most hitter-friendly place on Earth, Coors Field. While you may not be drafted him in 12 team leagues just yet, this is one guy to watch in Spring Training.