Here are some sleeper prospects from the American League Central Division for 2018. For purposes of this exercise, a “sleeper prospect” is a player who did not receive a grade higher than C+ on the pre-season organization prospect lists, but who has a significant chance to boost their stock in 2018.
I will try to make clear if each player is a short-term “could contribute soon” type or more of a long-term speculative investment for fantasy owners.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
CHICAGO WHITE SOX: Seby Zavala, C: Age 24, 12th round pick in 2015 from San Diego State University; hit .282/.353/.499 with 21 homers, 37 walks, 104 strikeouts in 387 at-bats in Low-A and High-A, threw out 25% of runners; power bat looks genuine and the Sox are starting him off in Triple-A, skipping Double-A; needs more polish on defense but attractive bat means the Sox will be as patient as possible.
CLEVELAND INDIANS: Eric Haase, C: Age 25, seventh round pick in 2011 from high school in Dearborn, Michigan; hit .260/.352/.578 with 27 homers between Double-A and Triple-A last year; hit three homers for the Indians in spring training this year until being assigned to Triple-A; glove has improved, threw out 37% last year and is a pretty solid receiver; as with Zavala in Chicago, Haase has real power, a viable glove, and can get to the majors this year.
DETROIT TIGERS: Niko Goodrum, UT: Age 26, drafted by the Twins in the second round in 2010 from high school in Fayetteville, Georgia; appeared briefly in the majors last year, Tigers picked him up this winter as a minor league free agent and he made the 25-man roster; hit .265/.309/.425 last year in Triple-A with 13 homers, 11 steals; switch-hitter with solid overall tools, runs above average, has wiry strength, has experience at every position except pitcher and catcher; versatility with flashes of pop and speed make him a nice bench option in the era of giant pitching staffs.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS: Emmanuel Rivera, 3B: Age 21, 19th round pick in 2015 from Interamerican University of Puerto Rico; hit .310/.364/.468 with 27 doubles, 12 homers, 31 walks, 87 strikeouts in 464 at-bats in Low-A, big improvement after hitting just .174 in his pro debut in ’15 then .249 in rookie ball in ‘16; still rather raw, particularly on defense, but the tools to be a regular are here and he’s shown flashes of the necessary skills more frequently.
MINNESOTA TWINS: Jose Miranda, 2B: Age 19, comp round pick in 2016 from high school in Puerto Rico, hit .283/.340/.484 in Appalachian League in 2017, 11 homers, 16 walks, 24 strikeouts in 223 at-bats; seldom strikes out but has surprising power; played well at second after switching from shortstop; need to see him at higher levels of course but long-term markers look positive and he has breakout potential.