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Fantasy Baseball 2024: Five Hitters That Could Be Late-Round Sleepers

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Fantasy baseball draft season is here, and it’s always wise to have a handy list of players that could pay off in later rounds. Third base and outfield are both thin positions this year, so I have chosen to include sleeper hitters who can cover those positions. If you miss out on Julio Rodriguez, Kyle Tucker or Jose Ramirez early, don’t worry – there is upside to be found later in the draft.

Here are five hitters that could easily outperform their current average draft position (ADP). Be sure you also check out my five sleeper pitchers here.

Eloy Jimenez, White Sox (DH/U)

ADP 200

Rick Scuteri/USA TODAY Sports

O.K., I get it. Jimenez has had trouble staying healthy and the White Sox are expected to be a dumpster fire this season, so perhaps the counting stats won’t be massive. But, ADP 200? He’s still expected to bat cleanup behind Luis Robert Jr., and though his DH status limits him to utility for fantasy, it may also help ensure he stays healthy. Jimenez has the upside for 30-plus homers if he plays 150 games and chips in for batting average. Jimenez still hits the ball hard, slugging .561 this spring with 12 RBIs across 41 at-bats.

Tyler O’Neill, Red Sox (OF)

ADP 226

If, and of course it’s a big if, O’Neill can stay healthy, he could be one of the draft’s biggest steals. O’Neill has not remained healthy for an entire MLB season; however, in 2021, he hit .286 with 34 home runs and 15 stolen bases across 138 games. He followed up that with a 96-game season with 14 home runs and 14 stolen bases in 2022, then in 2023, he only managed 72 games. However, at pick 226, there’s not a lot to lose. His right-handed power should pay well at Fenway, and O’Neill can potentially be a 30/20 guy in this new stolen base environment. His sprint speed remained in the 80th percentile during the 2023 season.

Jorge Polanco, Mariners (2B/3B)

ADP 247

Polanco should be the everyday second-baseman for the Mariners. The flexible middle-infielder hasn’t played an entire season since 2021, which is likely suppressing his value, but last year he hit 14 home runs in the 80 games he did play. That hints at a 25-plus home run upside, with a little bit of speed thrown in, too. Hitting third for the Mariners, the counting stats could also exceed expectations based on his current ADP. Polanco’s barrel rate was in the 88th percentile of MLB in 2023, and his sweet-spot rate was in the 94th percentile. Add that to the fact that his 14 home runs in 2023 would have been 17 if they were all hit at T-Mobile, and you can call me intrigued.

Henry Davis, Pirates (C/OF)

ADP 273

Davis has been raking this spring, slugging .719 with four home runs and 11 RBIs across 32 at-bats. His most recent round-tripper left the bat at 109.4 mph. The 24-year-old spent the offseason working on his swing path at Driveline, which is paying dividends. Davis was the Pirates’ first overall pick in 2021, and he plays two of the shallowest positions in fantasy: outfield and catcher. It may take a few games for Davis to gain catcher eligibility, but I’ll take the talent with the potential for 20 home runs and 10 steals as my backstop after pick 250 every day of the week.

Jackson Merrill, Padres (OF/SS)

ADP 299

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

It’s official: Merrill will get the start in center field on Opening Day in Korea. After a strong spring, Merrill will become just the third player under 21 to get an Opening Day start in center field. What’s even more incredible? Merrill has not only never played a Triple-A game, but he has never played a game at center field in his entire career. Merrill was the 27th pick in the 2021 draft. He has an all-fields approach and has confidently attacked in every at-bat this spring. Before heading overseas, Merrill finished the Cactus League hitting .351 with three doubles, two homers, three walks and three strikeouts. Though the rookie will start in the outfield, he should also pick up shortstop eligibility (his natural position) as the season goes on, making him a flexible player you can use both inside and outside the diamond. 

Related: Fantasy Baseball 2024: These Five Pitchers Could Be Late-Round Sleepers

Related: Fantasy Baseball: Ranking the Top 30 Closers

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