Here are some sleeper prospects from the American League Western 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 WEST
HOUSTON ASTROS: Jorge Alcala, RHP: Age 22, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2014, posted 3.05 ERA in 109 innings between Low-A and High-A with 95/45 K/BB, 71 hits allowed; mid/upper-90s fastball with reliable reports of 100-102 MPH peaks; good slider, change-up and curve coming along but inconsistent, needs to lower walks; watch for any spike in strikeout rate which would herald more consistency with off-speed pitches; ceiling is obviously very high.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS: Jose Soriano, RHP: Age 19, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2016, posted 2.92 ERA with 39/18 K/BB in 52 innings in rookie ball; promising fastball up to 94-95, also throws an above-average curveball; still projectable and velocity may improve further; action on pitches already results in high ground ball rate; long-term investment type but another high-ceiling arm.
OAKLAND ATHLETICS: Nolan Blackwood, RHP: Age 23, 14th round pick in 2016 from University of Memphis, posted 3.00 ERA, 48/18 K/BB in 57 innings in High-A, 3.00 GO/AO, 19 saves; threw six innings with just one unearned run in big league spring training; submarine pitcher with a fastball that gets into low-90s, unusually good velocity for this type of pitcher; decent slider and change-up, if his command is sharp enough he could have a very long bullpen career.
SEATTLE MARINERS: Joseph Rosa, 2B: Age 21, interesting sleeper who has received little notice but has always hit well, .296/.374/.531 in Northwest League after hitting .305/.345/.455 in rookie ball in ’16; New York native but signed as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2014; holds career slash line of .298/.369/.436; switch-hitter with developing pop and solid plate discipline, but prospect stock has been held back by poor defense; he can hit though.
TEXAS RANGERS: Brendon Davis, SS: Age 20, drafted by Los Angeles Dodgers in fifth round in 2015 from high school in Lakewood, California; traded to Rangers in Yu Darvish deal; hit .230/.341/.379 between Low-A and High-A last year with 11 homers, 62 walks, 148 whiffs; looks like a player with athleticism and projectable frame, patient approach is good but swing mechanics need work to tap his strength more often; also needs more polish on defense and may wind up a third or second; bundle of potential who may or may not pan out.