The deep sleeper?
Dave Holcomb - MLB Fantasy Analysis|
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Rarely does a player who has yet to play a major league regular season game grab the attention of fantasy owners in redraft leagues.
Chicago Cubs prospect Kris Bryant, however, is a rare talent.
The 23-year-old has 29 plate appearances in 10 spring training games this month, reaching base in 16 of those appearances for a .552 on-base percentage. He is also hitting .480 with a Spring Training high 14 RBI.
Most remarkably, he has eight home runs, more than any other hitter this spring. Tigers' outfielder J. D. Martinez is the next closest with five homers.
Bryant hit a pair of bombs on Saturday with the first coming against former AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez.
The unique combination of power and average Bryant is displaying this month is not a fluke. He hit .325 with 43 home runs and 110 RBI at the Double-A and Triple-A Cubs affiliates last season.
At Triple-A Iowa in 2014, Bryant made 297 plate appearances, slashing .295/.418/.619 with 21 home runs and 52 RBI. He also stole seven bases for good measure.
The guy can simply mash.
According to Fantasy Pros, Bryant is the consensus 17th-ranked third baseman picked in fantasy with an overall ADP of 124, but if he continues to hit home runs this spring, Bryant will shoot up many draft boards, and rightfully so.
There is one thing, though, that could keep his ADP around 124 and make him the deepest sleeper in fantasy.
Chicago have not yet confirmed Bryant will start the season in the majors.
Cubs President Theo Epstein said the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft could benefit from more at-bats and reps at third base at the minor league level according to Fox Sports.
Epstein has been known for waiting to bring up young talent in the past. Both Dustin Pedroia and Anthony Rizzo recorded over 600 at-bats at Triple-A with both now having very successful major league careers.
But there is another item factoring into the Cubs decision to demote Bryant down to Triple-A to start the season.
If Bryant spends about the first two weeks of April in the minors, the Cubs will postpone his free agency to 2021. Bryant will become a free agent after the 2020 season if he starts the season in the big leagues, according to ESPN.
Baseball saw a very similar scenario with the Pirates and their prospect Gregory Polanco last season. Pittsburgh claimed just as Chicago is now that the delay in bringing up their prospect was strictly due to baseball reasons.
The Pirates, though, also avoided paying Polanco an extra year of arbitration and potentially saved millions according to USA Today by waiting until June to call him up.
For whatever the reasons, Bryant will likely play the first two weeks of the regular season in the minors, but that should not should not scare away owners from drafting Bryant late in redraft leagues.
In a way, Bryant starting the season at Triple-A will benefit owners. The move should help keep Bryant under the radar and his ADP above 100.
Of course, the extra media attention Bryant is receiving for his home runs and the ongoing debate of whether he should start the season in the majors does not help keep Bryant under the radar. With every home run comes a new story on this 23-year-old phenom, which leads to more and more owners finding out about this deep sleeper.
And the thing about sleepers is, once they start going higher in drafts, they aren't sleepers anymore.
Hopefully owners can still draft Bryant as a sleeper, but if his numbers have proved one thing, Bryant's upside is endless. Even if owners have to slightly overpay, it is worth making sure this budding superstar is on your roster.