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.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
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.