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Later-Round Shortstops - Fantasy Baseball Draft Values and Targets

oneil cruz fantasy baseball rankings draft sleepers MLB prospects

Welcome officially to the 2022 fantasy baseball season! Now that an MLB deal is in place, a lot more fantasy drafts will be taking place -- and we're here as always to guide you through it. Once you reach the late rounds of drafts, everyone is looking to draft players with upside that can provide a great return on value. You can afford to start taking a risk or two on a variety of different players, including emerging prospects, overlooked veterans, players returning from injury, or even talented players who may have some playing time concerns. The early rounds are critical and the middle rounds shape the core of your starting squad, but the late rounds are where you have the opportunity to select hidden gems who can play a huge role for your fantasy team.

Today, we're looking at some late-round shortstops for you to consider drafting in your season-long leagues this season. Are their ADPs undervalued? Will they make significant fantasy contributions and become a late-round sleeper draft target that you're going to want to prioritize? Read on to see our take.

Our editors have hand-picked these specific MLB players for your draft prep enjoyment. Normally only available to Premium subscribers, the five outlooks below are meant to give you a taste of the in-depth analysis you receive with our industry-leading 2022 Draft Kit. Be sure to subscribe today and start reading all of our in-depth 2022 player outlooks, and many other premium articles and tools, available exclusively in our 2022 Draft Kit.

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Amed Rosario, Cleveland Guardians

Shortstop Amed Rosario bounced back in his first season with Cleveland, batting .282 with 11 HRs, 13 SBs, 57 RBI, and 77 runs across 141 games. A lot of that production came in August, where he hit .372 with four long balls. However, those numbers were aided by an astronomical .422 BABIP and a year-high 13.3 HR/FB, even though Rosario barreled balls just 2.2% of the time. And his full-season batting average looked a lot better than his .265 xBA thanks to a .340 BABIP. Rosario will never walk much (career 4.6 BB%, 5.3 BB% in 2021) but should post a strikeout rate around 20%, though his unremarkable whiff rates (47th percentile in 2021) means he'll never be a premium contact hitter.

A .270 batting average floor seems realistic, given the 26-year-old's 97th percentile sprint speed and low flyball totals (18.9 FB% in 2021), but he won't help too much in the category considering his 38th percentile average exit velocity last season and career 88.2 MPH mark. Rosario will again hit double-digit home runs after improving his HardHit% to 43.5% last year and producing a career-best 111.5 max exit velocity. But his 8th percentile barrel rate will keep him from hitting much more than last season's total. He'll steal north of 10 bags once again with his speed and the Guardians' tendency to run, and hitting near the top of the lineup should make him at least a competent run-scorer. However, with limited power, the RBI won't be there. He's still worth shots at his low 250 ADP.

-- Spencer Seguin - RotoBaller

 

Oneil Cruz, Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz was one of the biggest breakouts in the minor leagues last year, showcasing mega power, elite speed, and reaching the majors for a cup of coffee at season's end. He slugged 18 home runs and stole 19 bases in a mere 311 plate appearances across Double-A, Triple-A, and the MLB. The 23-year-old has 70-grade raw power and can spread the ball over the field. FanGraphs' RosterResource currently projects him as Pittsburgh's starting shortstop on Opening Day, but they currently have him on the bench versus lefthanders.

However, the Pirates have no reason to stunt their best prospect's development by failing to play him every day. Cutter projects him for 15 home runs and 11 stolen bases over 359 plate appearances in 2022. According to Rotoballer's Expected Draft Values, the Pirates' top prospect is roughly fair value at his current 304 ADP. Overall, Cruz gives you similar upside to Bobby Witt Jr. this year with less playing time risk, and he's going 125 picks later in drafts.

Editors note: Cruz will start the year in Triple-A, but his power/speed upside keeps him in the mix as a very appealing late-round sleeper pick.

-- Jordan Rosenblum - RotoBaller

 

Luis Urias, Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers infielder Luis Urias displayed a bit of his potential last season, slashing .249/.345/.445 with 23 HRs, 75 RBI, 77 runs, and five stolen bases across 150 games. His power output was a result of improving his barrel rate and HardHit% to 9.3% and 40.5%, respectively, both well above his previous marks. Urias also upped his launch angle to 14.2 and meatball swing rate to 76.9%, each career-highs. Though these are average Statcast metrics, his home park of American Family Field will help keep his home run total above 20, but he'll never be an exceptional power hitter. Urias did make more contact, striking out 20.4% of the time after posting a 26.7% rate in 2020, and he improved on his .239 average from 2020 after decreasing his groundball rate to 41.8%.

However, the 24-year-old still doesn't connect with the ball enough (25th percentile for average exit velocity) to contribute in that category. After stealing five bags in 2021, it wouldn't be surprising if he's around that total again next season while on a team that runs more than most, but his 40th percentile sprint speed doesn't do him any favors. If he hits near the bottom of the order again, there won't be enough opportunities to supply a fair share of runs and RBI, especially in an average-at-best Brewers lineup. Urias is a fine backup infielder, but he won't be a major factor in any specific category, so his ADP of 266 is justified.

-- Spencer Seguin - RotoBaller

 



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