2023 Deeeep Sleepers
by Doug Gruber
We are not talking here about “sleepers” who are on everyone’s draft list, like Jordan Walker, Grayson Rodriguez or Elly De La Cruz. Rather, we are going really deeeeeep to no-timers with skills, young and not so young, who are rarely drafted other than a few shares in 50-team draft and holds or dynasty formats.
Last year BABS identified many skillful players who came from nowhere to help fantasy teams. Examples such as Camilo Doval, Jeffrey Springs, Hunter Brown, Juan Yepez. Who might those names be for this year?
Evan Carter (P+,A+|EX) TEX OF. The 2nd ranked prospect for Texas made a name for himself this past year with 12 HRs, 28 steals, and a .295 BA batting average, while being one of the youngest at each minor league stop. Note the BABS rating! And then think about the Rangers outfield. They are in dire need of an exciting young player like Carter.
Brandon Dixon (P+|e) SDP 1B. Dixon has light tower power. He is not a young prospect…he will be 31 this spring. You may know him from stints in Cincinnati and Detroit and now with San Diego. He crushed minor league pitching in 2022, with 23 HRs/74 RBIs in less than 200 ABs. He should compete for the Padres DH spot this spring.
Wilmer Flores (ER,k|EX) DET P. Signed in 2020, Flores turned it up last year at AA, allowing just one run over his last five starts. For the season he recorded ratios of 3.01/1.06 with a 21 K-BB%. Flores has the skills to compete for the Tigers as either a SP or bullpen arm.
Sal Frelick (s,AV|EX) MLW OF. The 22-year-old has an invitation to big league camp after compiling 11 HRs, 24 steals and a .331 batting average through three levels a year ago, and drew more walks than whiffs. With the Brewers trading Esteury Ruiz to Oakland this winter, it improves the possibility for Frelick to get the call at some point this season.
Stone Garrett (PW,s|-A,EX) WAS OF, pictured. Garrett made his MLB debut for Arizona after nine seasons in the minors, had an OPS of .848 with 4 HRs in 81 PAs, along with 3 SBs. He now has a ML deal with Washington, where he will compete for an outfield spot. Garrett has legit power and speed but also comes with contact issues.
Dylan Lee (ER,K+|EX) ATL RP. Lee started the year at AAA, but once promoted, he recorded the fourth highest SwK rate in baseball due to his outstanding slider. He currently sits behind several quality arms in the Braves pen. With these skills, BABS marks Lee as one to watch, especially for Saves + Holds leagues, like BABL.
Parker Meadows (SB|EX) DET OF. One of their top prospects, the Tigers protected Meadows on the 40-man after he displayed five-category production at AA, including 16 HRs and 17 steals. While many project 2024 as the more likely year, the current Tigers outfield has many questions, including the health status of brother Austin.
Ceddanne Rafaela (SB,a|EX) BOS SS. Rafaela was shielded from the Rule 5 draft after he hit .301 with 21 HRs and 28 bags across high-A and AA. The 22-year-old also rates as a plus-plus centerfielder, something the Red Sox may desperately need sooner than later.
Endy Rodriguez (PW,AV|EX) PIT C. Across the three highest levels of the minors, the 22-year-old Rodriguez collected 25/95/.323 in 125 games, earning an invitation to the Pirates ML camp this spring. He may not come North immediately, but the No. 2 Pirates prospect isn’t far away. A great athlete, Rodriguez primarily served as a catcher, but also played 20 games in the middle infield.
Josh Simpson (ER,K+|EX) MIA. The Marlins thought enough of this 25-year-old LHP that they kept him from the Rule 5. And you can see why! With stops at AA and AAA, Simpson struck out 112 batters in only 68 innings, with a FIP in the low twos.
Gavin Stone (e,KK|EX) LAD SP. Stone was dominant at each minor league stop, including six starts to end the year at AAA where he struck out 12+ per 9 along with an ERA/WHIP of 1.48/1.12. The Dodgers allowed Anderson and Heaney to walk, even with Buehler still on the mend. The 24-year-old Stone could be the reason.
Cole Waites (E+,K+|EX) SFG RP. Waites advanced through three ranks and a big league call-up all in one year, appearing in seven games for SF in mid-September. His minor-league numbers included 76 Ks in 41 IP, and no runs allowed at AAA before his promotion. BABS rates his assets as extreme as it gets for pitchers.
Scour through the back half of the BABS Spreadsheet and you will find these and many other deep sleeper possibilities.
NOTES: The ratings in the above analysis may vary slightly from the latest database update which was run after this analysis was written. To engage with other readers on this topic, head over to the Reader Forums. If you have a question that would be best answered by one of our experts and benefit everyone, submit it on our Contact Page and put MAILBAG in the Subject Line.