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5 Third Base Draft Sleepers for Fantasy Baseball

Brett Baty - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB Prospects, Draft Sleepers, Wavier Wire Pickups

We are in cramming mode as the end of the fantasy baseball draft season rapidly approaches. I have been zooming through the offensive positions, giving you last-minute fantasy baseball sleepers at each spot.

In case you missed them, here are my five draft sleepers at other positions as well, so go check that out:

We'll move on to third base today. These are players to either draft late or put on your watch list to see what materializes early on in the season. Here we go, five hot-corner sleepers!

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups and weekly lineup resources:

 

Josh Jung, Texas Rangers

ADP: 221

Jung is one of the game's top prospects and appears poised to get a full Major League run right out of the gate. He absolutely mashed minor league pitching over the last two seasons to the tune of a .313/.379/.576 slash line while hitting a homer every 18 plate appearances.

A torn labrum cost him most of the 2022 season (208 PAs total), but it didn't stop him from making his Major League debut. Unfortunately, he struggled at that time with a very high 38% strikeout rate in 102 PAs. He still managed to hit five homers in that time, so he maintained that elite home run rate.

The hope with Jung is that the high strikeout rate we saw last year isn't the truth. You can forgive a guy for struggling to put the ball in play in his first month in the Majors, and it's also possible that the fact he was still recovering from the injury might have had a hand in it.

If Jung can drop the strikeout rate under 30% (he's at 14% this spring), you could be looking at a guy who is near the league leaders in homers in 2023 – and that's someone worth taking a shot on after pick 200.

 

Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels

ADP: 223

This is basically the complete opposite of Jung. Rendon is a veteran with a limited ceiling due to his lack of power (has not posted an above-average barrel rate since 2019), and he's going right around the same pick as Jung.

Rendon's low cost is mostly about the fact that he has been unable to stay on the field. He played just 58 games in 2021 and 47 in 2022; it's been a really rough start to his Angels' career.

The way Rendon beats this draft price is very simple – he just needs to play 130+ games. If he does that, he should give you a solid batting average and plenty of RBI while not hurting you anywhere but steals. I'm not the biggest believer in "injury-prone" stuff, so I'm more than willing to add Rendon as a corner infielder or a bench player on my fantasy teams this year.

 

Brett Baty, New York Mets

ADP: 435

And now we're back to the rookies. Baty led the entire Mets organization in OPS last year with his .910 mark across 461 PAs between five different levels (from A ball the whole way to the majors). In the minors, he slashed .315/.410/.533 with 19 homers in 420 PAs.

Mets Organization 2022 OPS Leaders

Player OPS
Brett Baty .910
Francisco Alvarez .882
Pete Alonso .869
Daniel Palka .850
Mark Vientos .848

That earned him a promotion to the majors, where he homered in his first game. Unfortunately, that cup of coffee was shattered as he quickly suffered a thumb injury and saw his Major League sample limited to 41 PAs.

We're still unclear on who will play third base for the Mets, with Baty and Eduardo Escobar competing for the job. Whoever starts the year there, the Mets clearly see Baty as the man of the future. If he's a bench player to start the year, he's tough to roster in fantasy, but if he wins the job, then he should be added in all leagues just to see what happens.

 

Spencer Steer, Cincinnati Reds

ADP: 550

We finish it up with two young Reds prospects.

Reds' Top Prospects 2023 (MLB.com)

Rank Player Pos
1. Elly De La Cruz SS
2. Noelvi Marte SS
3. Edwin Arroyo SS
4. Cam Collier 3B
5. Spencer Steer INF
6. Matt McLain SS
7. Christian Encarnacion-Strand 3B
8. Chase Petty SP
9. Sal Stewart 3B
10. Brandon Williamson SP

Steer is the only one we'll talk about that still has a chance to break camp with the team.

Over the last two seasons, Steer has hit .259/.351/.482 with 49 homers and 12 steals in 1,088 plate appearances between all levels. In the Majors, it has been just a .211/.306/.326 slash line in 108 PA with a pair of homers and no steals.

Any Reds starter is a little bit more interesting for fantasy given the bandbox they play in. Steer's upside is probably pretty low, but again, you can do worse than a 25-year-old who has a great track record in the minor leagues getting a shot at a big league job.

 

Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cincinnati Reds

ADP: 590

The player everybody wanted to see be a starter for the Reds come Opening Day is Encarnacion-Strand, who put on a show in Spring training. In 27 plate appearances this March, the man hit .577/.556/1.192 with four homers. That success was not enough to change the plans for the Reds, who have already sent him to minor league camp.

It would have been a very aggressive move to start Encarnacion-Strand in the Majors this season given that he's yet to reach AAA and has just 208 plate appearances above the A-ball level. In that lower-level time, he has been impressive with a .318/.378/.594 slash line with 37 homers in 632 PA (17 PA/HR).

One red flag is the high 26% strikeout rate and low 7% walk rate - he seems to have some work to do in the plate discipline arena before he's ready for Major League pitching. I do not recommend drafting Encarnacion-Strand outside of very deep leagues, but he certainly is someone to make a speculative add-on if he were to get the call-up in May or June.



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