In 2021, I made the call of a lifetime. While doing my ranks and draft prep, I identified a player going outside the top 350 picks who had the potential to be a league-winner because of his power/speed combination at the lead-off position. I was one of the few people in on Baltimore outfielder Cedric Mullins.
Since then, I have gotten the question, “who is this year’s Cedric Mullins?” My answer has always been that there isn’t one. It is rare to get a call like that right. We live in a day and age with so much information and data that it is hard to find players that under the radar. While it is hard to predict, it is worth looking for players going very late that could be fantasy superstars.
Before jumping into the possible answers, we need to quantify who qualifies. There is no real definition of a “sleeper,” and this is not really a sleeper list. We are looking for hitters going outside the top 350 picks that could return top 50 value.
So, without further ado, here are the candidates for “This Year’s Cedric Mullins.”
- Fitz’s Positional Primers
- Hitters to Avoid | Target
- Pitchers to Avoid | Target
- Latest Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft
This Year’s Cedric Mullins (2023 Fantasy Baseball)
TJ Friedl resembles the exact reasons that I identified Mullins. He is projected to lead off for the Reds, who play in one of the best parks to hit in, and he has power plus speed. In 2022, he hit eight home runs and stole seven bases in just 258 plate appearances. If you prorate that out to 600 plate appearances, it looks like an 18/17 season. That’s interesting for a batter going as late as he is.
Loedy Taveras has been a sleeper before, and for good reason. He has a ton of speed and flashed power in the Minors. The power has never really developed, but the speed is legitimate, and he has a tool underrated in fantasy; defense. Taveras is a great defender. That could give him full-time playing time in Texas. I don’t think he can hit for the kind of power Mullins did in 2021, but he could be a 15/40 player if everything goes right.
Anthony Volpe is a top-10 prospect in baseball that is knocking on the door of the Majors. In 2022, he hit 21 home runs and stole 50 bases with a .249 average. There is no long-term solution blocking him from getting to the Majors. If he is murdering AAA pitching, he could force his way up pretty quickly.
Stone Garrett is an interesting player. He hit 28 home runs and stole 15 bases for the Diamondbacks AAA affiliate in 2022. In the Majors, he hit four home runs and three bases with a .276 average in 84 plate appearances. However, he was designated for assignment in the offseason.
So we know there is power and speed, but he swings and misses a ton and is not a good defender. He is competing for a fourth outfielder job in Washington. Considering how bad the Nationals’ offense is, he could find himself playing regularly pretty easily.
Ryan Noda is another fielder that had a massive year in AAA, with 25 home runs and 20 stolen bases. He was the A’s Rule 5 pick, so he has to stay on the 26-man roster if Oakland wants to keep him. He may strike out too much. I’m also unsure how much he would run in the Majors. But there is opportunity here.