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National League Central: Sleeper prospects for 2018

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More names from the “sneak up on us” cadre

MLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at Toronto Blue Jays
Clay Holmes
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Here are some sleeper prospects from the National 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.

Click here for the American League East.

Click here for the American League Central

Click here for the American League West

Click here for National League East


CHICAGO CUBS: Cory Abbott, RHP: Age 22, second round pick in 2017 from Loyola Marymount; spectacular spring last year, NCAA stats 1.74 ERA in 98 innings, 130/28 K/BB, just 61 hits; pitched 14 pro innings in the Northwest League with 18/3 K/BB, 3.86 ERA; advanced pitchability with low-90s fastball, curve, change-up, cutter; will likely make short work of A-ball,

CINCINNATI REDS Alex Blandino, INF: Age 25, first round pick in 2014 out of Stanford; hit .265/.382/.453 between Double-A and Triple-A with 36 doubles, 12 homers, 64 walks, 86 strikeouts in 393 at-bats; good strike zone judgment; despite draft and college pedigree he is often lost in the prospect shuffle; on-base skills with occasional pop combined with defensive versatility could still result in a long career.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS: Zack Brown, RHP: Age 23, fifth round pick in 2016 from University of Kentucky, posted 3.11 ERA in 110 innings in Low-A/High-A, 107/36 K/BB; fastball 90-95, flashes plus curveball and workable change-up; particularly sharp late in the year with 23/2 K/BB in last 25 innings.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES: Clay Holmes, RHP: Age 25, ninth round pick in 2011 from high school in Slocumb, Alabama; just promoted to the major leagues this morning; 3.36 ERA in 113 innings in Triple-A last year, 99/59 K/BB, 96 hits; lost two years to Tommy John surgery but has been healthy lately; power sinker in low-90s, mixes in cutter/slider, curve, and change; notable for high ground ball rates, could be workhorse type if command holds up.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: Andy Young, INF: Age 23, 37th round pick in 2016 from Indiana State University; quietly had very nice season in ‘17, hitting .278/.359/.471 with 17 homers in 410 at-bats between Low-A, High-A, and Double-A; versatile glove, best at second but playable at shortstop, third base, and even corner outfield; bargain as a 37th rounder even if he’s just a utility player but should not be under-estimated.