- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
The other day, a fan wearing a Chicago White Sox jersey and cap called out from the box seats at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix and asked the same question posed by some of my friends and family this time of year: Who are some good fantasy sleeper picks for 2015?
Our true experts in that realm are the likes of Eric Karabell and Tristan H. Cockcroft, and when it comes to assessing value within the context of a fantasy league, they know a whole lot more than I do.
But after going from camp to camp in spring training and talking with scouts, managers and players, you get your own sense of which players are poised to be better than expected, particularly when cross-checked against how they're ranked in fantasy.
As such, here are a dozen players worth reaching for, in my humble opinion:
He is 23 years and 293 days old, which means he's only seven months older than Kris Bryant, and yet he already has played in parts of three seasons in the big leagues. I had him on this list last year, but a shoulder injury in early April limited him to just 46 games, and I think there's reason to believe he could do even more damage this year than he might have with a full season last year. The White Sox have stacked the top of their lineup, with the additions of Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche to Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu, and Garcia should hit with a lot of runners on base this year, with opposing pitchers backed into a corner.
The concern about Garcia at the plate has centered on his lack of discipline, his tendency to hack. But the White Sox staff believes he has gotten better about this, about giving himself a better chance to get strikes and swing at strikes. He's never going to someone who draws a lot of walks, and he'll probably always hack at pitches out of the zone. But the perception of the White Sox coaches is that he's a talented young player who is getting better.
2. Kendall Graveman, SP, Athletics (not in Top 300)
A couple of things to think about with this guy:
A. Oakland pitchers generally do well, given the team's ballpark and focus on run prevention.
B. The Athletics' front office has a gift for picking players, and when Oakland sent Josh Donaldson to Toronto in an offseason trade, Graveman, an eighth-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2013, was included in the deal. He doesn't strike out many guys, and his stuff is not going to be confused for that of Matt Harvey, but he has demonstrated excellent command, allowing just 44 walks in his first 207 innings in the minors.
Buster Olney lays out 12 players he'd reach for in upcoming fantasy drafts based on things he has seen or heard this spring, plus other MLB notes.