Here are some sleeper prospects from the National 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.
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NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: Jose Almonte, RHP: Age 22, from Dominican Republic, originally signed by Red Sox in 2012, traded to AZ in 2016; posted 3.55 ERA with 162/66 K/BB in 139 innings in High-A, impressive for Cal League, 129 hits allowed; fastball 92-95, secondary pitches (slider/cutter, change) have improved, can be overpowering; watch for any reduction in walk rate as he moves up, which could presage a breakout.
COLORADO ROCKIES: Sam Hilliard, OF: Age 24, 15th round pick in 2015 from Wichita State University, hit .300/.360/.487 with 21 homers, 37 steals, 50 walks, 154 strikeouts in 536 at-bats in High-A; originally a pitcher, so may have more development potential than most players his age; good tool set with plus speed, plus arm, plus raw power; has contact issues and needs to prove himself in Double-A; went 10-for-27 for big league squad in spring training.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: Caleb Ferguson, LHP: Age 21, 38th round pick in 2014 from high school in Ohio, 2.87 ERA with 140/55 K/BB in 122 innings in High-A, 113 hits, good numbers anywhere but especially in the Cal League; 90-95 fastball, curve flashes plus, change-up flashes average, high strikeout rate a positive marker; as with Jose Almonte, Ferguson faces the Double-A transition in ‘18 and could move quickly with only slight command improvements.
SAN DIEGO PADRES: Edward Olivares, OF: Age 22, signed by Toronto Blue Jays out of Venezuela in 2014, traded to Padres for Yangervis Solarte; hit .269/.327/.468 in 2017 between Low-A and High-A, 17 homers, 20 steals, 30 walks, 99 strikeouts in 494 at-bats; 60-speed, 60-arm, 55 raw power, needs some strike zone work but features an intriguing overall multi-category ceiling.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: Malique Ziegler, OF: Age 21, 22nd round pick in 2016 from North Iowa Community College; originally from Des Moines, hit .240/.329/.374 in Northwest League with five homers, 26 steals, 28 walks, 66 strikeouts in 254 at-bats; impact tool with 70-grade speed, some raw power in athletic 6-2, 170 frame as well; raw overall and a long way off but has ceiling.