The biggest draft weekend is upon us and after an off-season of preparation you’ve probably got your strategy down, your favorite targets, and the guys you know you’re fading. But as with every draft, the rounds pass us by and we’re forced to adjust. Maybe all of your targets are gone. Maybe your sleeper was just taken two rounds earlier than you were planning to take him. It happens to all of us at least once in every draft. I’m here to give you some of my favorite guys you shouldn’t forget about later on in the draft that can give you great value .
- Austin Meadows (Tampa Bay – OF) ADP – 195
Austin Meadows was a Pirates top prospect at the time he was traded to Tampa Bay for Chris Archer in 2018. He was drafted with the 9th overall pick in the 2013 at the age of 17, giving you an idea of what kind of pedigree he has. Now at 23 years old, its time to see what kind of player Meadows is developing into and what it means for fantasy. Meadows slashed .287/.325/.461 with 6 home runs and 5 stolen bases in 191 plate appearances in 2018 and is off to a strong start this spring with a .316 average and .982 OPS. Of his 12 hits, 7 of them have gone for extra bases. It’s easy to believe that Meadows can be an extra-base hitting machine with a spring speed in the 88th percentile according to Baseball Savant. While he isn’t someone that stands out in one category, he does well in just about everything. Having hit .292 against lefties and .283 against righties last season, there’s no reason to believe that he should be part of a platoon. Projections systems have Meadows hitting about .265 with 16 home runs and 14 steals in only 122 games, so there is potential for a 20/20 season there. And if those projections are close, Meadows would be in a group of only 14 players that hit at least .265 avg with 16 HR and 14 SB last season, making him a steal at his current ADP and a great add in any format.
2. Joe Musgrove (Pittsburgh Pirates – SP) – ADP 215
Musgrove was traded from Houston to Pittsburgh in the Gerrit Cole deal as one of the main pieces going to the Pirates. In his first year with Pittsburgh, Musgrove posted 115 innings with a 4.06 ERA. While that may not be too impressive on the surface, it came with a 3.59 FIP and a 3.92 XFIP, which means we could have expected his numbers to be a little better. One of Musgrove’s strengths is his excellent control, only walking 4.7% of batters he faced, leading to a strong 1.18 WHIP. Musgrove also induced ground balls at a slightly above average 45.5%. So here you have a pitcher with excellent control who keeps the ball on the ground. If Musgrove can improve on his slider as a strikeout pitch to go along with his strong changeup and fastball to raise his k/9 and bring all his skills together, we could see a breakout season. If you need someone who can stabilize some ratios late in the draft with good upside, Musgrove could be your guy.
3. Elvis Andrus (Texas Rangers – SS) ADP – 179
One guy that seems to have been forgotten about this season is Elvis Andrus after putting up a top 3 season at the shortstop position in 2017. Andrus is currently being drafted as the 18th shortstop. It was hard to believe that Andrus would repeat his breakout season last year, but he was off to a strong start yet again hitting .327 with 2 home runs in 14 games before suffering a fractured elbow. It would be crazy to think that his injury hadn’t affected is rest of season numbers when he made his return in June. Before the injury, Andrus had a strong hard hit rate of 42%, showing that the power he displayed in 2017 may not have been a fluke. His hard hit rate saw a significant decrease upon his return. This spring, Andrus has gotten off to a great start hitting .484/.500/.677, granted in only 31 at-bats but it is encouraging to see him hitting the ball well. While the shortstop position has gotten deeper, Andrus is someone I recommend targeting in the middle of the draft if you decide to wait on the position that could give you a strong average with 15/15 potential and upside to finish as a top 10 shortstop.
4. Christin Stewart (Detroit Tigers – OF) ADP – 343
Here’s a guy that is a little further down in rankings and ADP. Christin Stewart is considered one of the Tigers top prospects. And at 25 years old, it’s time to see what the Tigers have in the power hitting outfielder. Stewart got a small taste of the big leagues in 2018 with only 72 plate appearances and hit .267/.375/.417 with 2 home runs after hitting a combined 25 home runs across the minor leagues. What stands out with Steward aside from his above average raw power is his plate discipline, with a 12.8 % walk rate in AAA last season. While he has an aggressive approach like many power hitters, his strikeout rate has actually improved every year since 2016 leading up to a 20.7% strikeout rate in AAA last season. The Tigers have nothing to lose at this point by seeing if his game can carry over well into the major league level. He is currently projected to bat 5th in the Tigers lineup, a prime spot to drive in runs. I see the potential for a .250 hitter capable of 30 home runs with a strong OBP. If you play in any OBP or points league with 12 teams or higher or a 5 OF league, I would recommend taking a shot with Stewart as someone you can draft on your bench or in your utility slot that can provide OF 3-4 production.
5. Jeff Samardzija (San Francisco Giants – SP) ADP – 461
The last forgotten man on this list is Jeff Samardzija. Nicknamed “The Shark”, he has never been spectacular but always quite consistent before an injury plagued 2018 season. Best valued in points leagues as an accumulator, he had pitched over 200 innings for 5 straight seasons from 2013-2017. He also eclipsed 200 strikeouts in 3 of those seasons including 2017 in which he posted a 4.42 ERA with a 3.61 FIP and 3.60 XFIP, which led many to believe that The Shark was on the cusp of a breakout. What stood out for Samardzija was his incredible walk rate of 1.39 BB/9 which helped him post an excellent 1.14 WHIP. What hurt him was his 13.8% HR/FB rate, which was above his career average of 11.4%. Hampered by a shoulder injury all year, Samardzija had a disaster of a 2018 season, often times rushing back from the disabled list only to be put back on with shoulder issues. Now, The Shark is healthy and having himself an excellent spring, posting a .239 ERA with only 5 walks to go along with 14 strikeouts in 19 innings of work. Going virtually undrafted, Samardzija is a sneaky bounce back candidate that could be especially utilized in deeper points leagues.