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6 Fantasy Baseball Draft Sleepers for Deep Leagues (2024)

6 Fantasy Baseball Draft Sleepers for Deep Leagues (2024)

How do lottery tickets translate to fantasy baseball draft sleepers? First of all, the player has to be cheap, like a lottery ticket is. In AL-only/NL-only leagues, the depth of the league is cut in half, making every player more valuable. For this exercise, all recommendations will be outside the top 425 in FantasyPros’ consensus average draft position (ADP).

Another aspect of a fantasy baseball lottery ticket is what they can return for your fantasy team. The goal is not just to find someone who can be a positive contributor to your team on the low end. We’re looking for players who could be possible league winners to draft as late-round fantasy baseball sleepers. Is it likely? Probably not. But you can also squint and see how each player below makes a league-winning contribution to your fantasy team.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice

Lottery Tickets for AL-Only/NL-Only Leagues

Joe Boyle (SP – OAK) 

If you could build a pitcher in a lab, he would look like Joe Boyle — 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds with a fastball that averages nearly 98 miles per hour (MPH). The fastball plays up even more because his height provides him an excellent extension.

Boyle’s strikeout upside was evident last season. Between the minor leagues and the major leagues, Boyle pitched 133.1 innings. He struck out 183. That is over 12 strikeouts per nine innings. With his strikeouts upside came an equally scary wild downside. He walked 98 in those 133.1 innings with an additional 15 wild pitches — over 6.5 walks per nine innings.

The reason there is real lottery ticket upside with Boyle is what we saw over his major league debut, which has carried over into spring training. In his three major league starts over 16 innings at the end of last season, he only walked five batters. So far in spring training, he has pitched 5.1 innings and has struck out five without walking a single batter.

While Boyle has an ADP of 438, there is a path for him to end the season as a top-30 starting pitcher. If the control he showed recently is real he could be this season’s Cole Ragans.

Colton Cowser (OF – BAL)

There was plenty of excitement when Colton Cowser was recalled to the major leagues just before the All-Star break season. At that time, he had 54 runs, 10 home runs, 40 RBIs, eight SBs and was hitting .330 at Triple-A. Unfortunately, his big league debut couldn’t have gone much worse.

Cowser was with Baltimore for 26 games where he saw 61 at-bats. He scored 15 runs but he hit zero home runs, drove in four batters, stole one base and had an abysmal .115 batting average. He was back at Triple-A by the middle of August. Once sent down, he picked right back up hitting in Triple-A.

One thing to note with Cowser is that there currently is a playing time concern. Baltimore’s expected Opening Day outfield is Anthony Santander, Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins. There was some thought Cowser would start the season in Triple-A again but his fiery start to spring training (4-11, 3 HRs, 6 RBIs, 1 SB, 3 BBs) has made him a front runner to make the Opening Day roster.

The prospect pedigree shine has worn off Cowser after his uninspiring debut. He now has an ADP of 427. That is a lottery ticket worth buying with the five-category potential he offers.

Kyle Teel (C, OF – BOSS) 

Kyle Teel was the Red Sox’s first-round selection last summer. A three-year player at the University of Virginia, he was thought to be a polished player who could move quickly through their system. He didn’t dispel that notion in his 26-game professional debut.

Teel climbed quickly to High-A last season because he just kept hitting. In 91 minor league at-bats, he hit an absurd .363 over the three levels. He reached base at a .483 pace and recorded an additional 21 walks. While he hit only two home runs, he also contributed three stolen bases, which you cannot usually rely upon from a catcher-eligible player.

The current projected catchers on the Red Sox’s big league roster are Connor Wong and Reese McGuire. Wong did some nice things himself last season, including contributing eight stolen bases. However, it is hard to imagine either of their current catchers standing in the way if Teel continues to hit like he has in the minor leagues.

That is the major question with Teel. He assuredly will start the season in the minor leagues. If he keeps the hitting up, when will we see him in the major leagues? Perhaps by midseason or not at all. Sometimes you hit it big with a lottery ticket and sometimes the result is nothing.

Rowdy Tellez (1B – PIT) 

One year ago, Rowdy Tellez was a popular selection in the early teen rounds of a mixed league draft. He was coming off a season in which he hit 35 home runs. He did that with only a .219 batting average that looked correctable with a bit more luck in the batting average on balls in batted play (BABIP) department.

As it turned out, everything bottomed out instead. He missed about six weeks in the middle of the season with what was initially a forearm injury. He then injured the tip of his finger in the rehab process. Even before the injury, though, all of his power metrics were noticeably worse. In 2022, he was in the top 20th percentile in average exit velocity, barrel %, and hard-hit %. Last season, those were all essentially league average.

Just because you came up empty the first time you bought a lottery ticket doesn’t mean the next one won’t be a jackpot. The price for Tellez is now an ADP of 437. During the offseason, he switched teams within the National League Central going from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the Pirates, there is an opportunity for full-time at-bats. Just two seasons ago, we saw what that can entail.

Andrew Nardi (RP – MIA)

In AL-only/NL-only leagues, saves are even more scarce than usual. If you’re playing in a traditional rotisserie format where saves are a standalone category (as opposed to saves + holds), math shows the challenge. There are only 15 teams in each league. Some only-leagues are still 15 fantasy teams, meaning getting two closers is a chore. Andrew Nardi is currently the primary set-up man in Miami but save opportunities could be coming soon.

Nardi has quickly become one of the premier late relievers in the game. In only his second major league season, he finished with a 73:21 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The strikeouts weren’t all that surprising but the walks were. His walks were over eight per nine innings in 2022. He lowered that number to a still-high but manageable 3.3 per nine in 2023. With that, he pitched a 2.67 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. However, he only finished with three saves because Tanner Scott pitched well as the closer.

Scott and Nardi are similar pitchers in that they need to limit their walks to be effective. Scott also limited his walks last season which helped him to save 12 games (10 of which came after August 27th, when he assumed the closer role). So far in spring training, it couldn’t have gone much worse for Scott. He has pitched 2/3rds of an inning, walked five batters and allowed seven earned runs.

Should Scott continue to struggle throughout spring training, Nardi will be waiting to pounce on his opportunity. With an ADP of 465, you should also be ready to pounce.

Brenton Doyle (OF – COL) 

Brenton Doyle plays half of his games in the best hitters park in Major League Baseball — Coors Field. Per Statcast’s Park Factors, Coors Field is the best park in baseball for hits and on-base percentage. Even with the park helping, Doyle only managed a .203 batting average and a .250 on-base percentage. As long as he continues to strike out 35% of the time, his average will be a drag. But what if he takes advantage of Coors and even gets his average to .230?

There are the makings of a very intriguing fantasy baseball option here. First, it’s important to note Doyle is arguably the best defensive center fielder in all of baseball. He led the league last year in defensive runs saved among center fielders. So no matter how much he struggles to make contact, there is no reason to believe he won’t be in the lineup every day.

Even with a .203 batting average last season, Doyle still showed what he could offer as a fantasy contributor. In 126 games played, he scored 48 runs, hit 10 home runs, drove in 48 RBIs and stole 22 bases. That’s the making of a valuable four-tool fantasy contributor if you punt batting average.

All of the projection systems are optimistic about improvement from Doyle’s average. No matter which system you prefer, the average is projected somewhere in the .230s. The projections aren’t as optimistic about improvement with his counting stats but that he maintains a similar pace to last season.

With lottery tickets, you’re putting your faith in an unlikely outcome. Is it likely Doyle hits 25 home runs and steals 25 bases with a .230 average? No. Is it impossible? Also, no. With an ADP of 454, it doesn’t take much of an investment to find out.

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