Cleveland Indians Fantasy Report: Sleepers and Prospects

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Francisco Lindor is likely ticketed for Triple-A Columbus but he will help your fantasy team — and the Cleveland Indians — this year

By now, there are no true sleepers. In a world where the media cycle is 24/7/365 and everyone with a keyboard is a blogger (yours truly included), we all know too much. Baseball-Reference.com makes it incredibly easy to bring up stats lightning quick in order to help determine your starters. However, we are going to take a look at those that are a step below the starters and see who could be of help further on down the line.

Last week, I established rankings for the most fantasy relevant players on the Cleveland Indians. Now I’m going to deep dive for all you keeper league fanatics and dynasty league true believers. These players were all out of the top 200 on ESPN’s rankings, but could, and possibly will, influence fantasy championships as early as this year. I will rank them in the order I think they will be productive, starting at the most productive, down to the lowest.

Danny Salazar: Salazar came in to Spring Training without a rotation spot locked up, but after some good performances and an injury to Gavin Floyd‘s elbow, he should see himself on the major league roster from day one. Salazar boasts a mid to high 90’s fastball, along with a slider, splitter and sinker. While his stuff and pure velocity make him a high end talent, his inability to keep the ball down and contain the bad at-bats/innings stunts his potential. Hopefully he learns to harness that intensity, but until then he’s a 4th or 5th starter. His high upside will have others taking flyers on him in the later rounds of drafts. 

Trevor Bauer: Though it was never stated, Bauer’s rotation spot was as locked down as his now infamous drone. This is more due to the fact that he is now out of minor league options rather than having earned it this spring. Bauer has been getting rocked in Cactus League play, including giving up back-back-to-back home runs in a Cubs game and three triples in an inning just this past week to the Angels. Terry Francona and Bauer are not worried about those instances, however, as he has been working on keeping the ball in and around the strike zone. Bauer has been susceptible to walks and the big innings, but if he can keep his pitch counts down, he could easily slot in as a 5th or 6th starter for your fantasy team.

Francisco Lindor: Even superstars have to wait sometimes and, in Lindor’s case, that means he will have a locker in Columbus before one in Cleveland this season. Linder has been dazzling this spring, hitting two home runs and posting an OPS of .951, but all those numbers will do is drive up his price and get fans excited about his future. Jose Ramirez will start the season at shortstop and will more than likely play well enough to hold off Lindor until May at the earliest. Upon arrival to the big league club, Lindor will eventually have a spot at the top of the order, with 10-15 home run potential and an average that is highly playable at shortstop. Now the hard part is to wait.

The next group of players will probably not be picked in a standard draft, but could be used in a dynasty format or AL-only type of league.

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Jose Ramirez: As stated above, Ramirez will start the season as the starting shortstop and will be looking over his shoulder at Columbus for most of the season. Ramirez deserves a spot of his own and it remains to be seen what will happen if and when Lindor makes his first appearance on the roster. If you are in need of cheap speed and an average that won’t kill you, Ramirez will suit you well in deep mixed leagues or AL-only formats. Maybe you can get him at the beginning of the year, get some easy numbers out of him and trade him to an unknowing owner before the Francisco Freight Train comes to Cleveland.

T.J. House: Dropping the periods from his name is about the only thing that’s dropping for House currently, as his stock is rising all the time. Coming in to Spring Training, House was battling Salazar for a rotation spot and, on pure numbers, was winning. Now that Floyd will miss most, if not all, of the season, his spot is set and  well deserved. House mixes in three pitches well, a sinker at 92, a slider at 86 and a curveball at 78. Being the only left handed starter also doesn’t hurt.

There are more prospects out there for fans to drool over, such as James Ramsey or Giovanny Urshela, but fantasy players don’t need to worry about these prospects just yet. The majority of these players won’t see major league time until September when leagues are winding down, unless injury forces the front office’s hand.

Next: Injuries beginning to pile up in Indians camp

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