Welcome back to our 2023 hitter profiles focusing on sleepers that might just be the late-round lottery tickets you need. This is where you find your Taylor Ward and Rowdy Tellez wannabes. Last week (drop in here if you missed it) we focused on a number of outfielders that can be found late in the draft. This week we shift our focus to the infield to see what gems might be available. Jump on into our second week of hitter profiles with Sleepers 2.0 for the 2023 fantasy baseball season!
Oswald Peraza (New York Yankees – ADP 450)
It is hard to fly under the radar as a prospect for the Yankees, but MLB’s number 52 prospect certainly has not had the fanfare as fellow Yankee infielder Anthony Volpe. However, Peraza has been downright impressive in his own right with consecutive 18+ homer and 33+ stolen base seasons in the minors. All of this while being young for each level that he has attacked as he is only 22 years old entering the 2023 season. At this point, indications are that Peraza has the lead going into spring training over Isiah Kiner Falefa and Volpe. His strong defense and the Yankees’ commitment to a youth movement up the middle should give him opportunities to stay in the lineup. A .260-15-15 season might be a stretch, but there is a path here.
Nelson Cruz (San Diego Padres – ADP 678)
Yes, I know Cruz is not playing in the infield but Designated Hitter is close, right? Let’s also caveat that he has to battle against Matt Carpenter for at bats in the San Diego lineup after what could be considered the cliff of his career due to age. Now, that we have that out of the way we can focus on the upside. Cruz is absolutely free at the draft table with the majority of fantasy owners writing him off. Remember this was a guy that hit 30+ homers from 2014-2021, not counting the shortened 2020 season. Cruz had eye surgery at the beginning of the offseason to address an issue he claims has impacted him for the last year and a half. Do we believe it? Maybe. Is a 10% chance that you get a free 30+ homer slugger worth taking? Absolutely.
Spencer Steer (Cincinnati Reds – ADP 550)
Former Oregon Duck, Spencer Steer came to the Reds last year in the Tyler Mahle deal and made his debut with a home run in his first major league at-bat shortly after. While the debut ultimately did not shock the world, he showed he deserves a real look in 2023. With the Reds in a constant rebuilding phase, Steer has the ability to play around the diamond and take advantage of a great hitter’s park in Cincinnati. Last season, in the minors, he hit for a .274 average with 23 home runs and 4 steals across 106 games showing that he does have some pop. We are looking at the upside of a .260 hitter that could hit 20 homers while playing all over the Diamond.
Brett Baty (New York Mets – ADP 563)
Welcome to the benefactor of the Carlos Correa saga. Brett Baty is a well-regarded prospect, being recently named #21 overall by MLB. Last season Baty was brought to the majors out of necessity late in the season and performed admirably despite a lower batting average. We should not be concerned about the average as he has consistently been a .270 to .300 batter in the minors the last few years. Unfortunately, it appears the Mets want to go with Eduardo Escobar to start the season at 3B, but that just holds down the draft day price. At peak I expect a .275 average with 20+homer upside. If he has a strong spring, this ADP of basically free will be laughable.