SleepersApril 13, 2009

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Sleeper Watch

By Matt Levenberg

After the 2005 season, the Marlins had to unload their veterans. The blockbuster trade that sent Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to the Boston Red Sox returned superstar shortstop Hanley Ramirez and starting pitching prospect Anibal Sanchez. Obviously, Han-Ram hit the ground running and is arguably the best fantasy player in the game now, but what happened to Sanchez?

Coming into the 2006 season, Sanchez was the third best prospect in the Marlins organization, behind only Ramirez and Jeremy Hermida. Sanchez started 2006 in Double-A but was called up in mid-June. He hit the ground running, posting a 10-3 record with a 2.83 ERA and became the 20th rookie ever to pitch a no-hitter. Not too shabby. Going into the 2007 season, he was a sure-fire sleeper and had tremendous upside. He suffered a shoulder injury during Spring Training and decided to pitch through it. He was clearly ineffective, posting a 4.80 ERA with 19 BB in 30 IP.

Since then, a year and a half has passed by (low-lighted by shoulder surgery), and Sanchez is ready to start dealing again. Sanchez has always had all the tools, as shown by his pedigree (listed as a top 40 prospect in baseball two years ago) and by his no-hitter at the age of 22. He mixes in a good curve, changeup and slider with his fastball, which usually sits in the mid-90s.

Sanchez is somewhat of a “post-hype” sleeper, because he was ineffective last season (as most pitchers are when returning from major surgery), and he is two years removed from being the toast of the town. On April 10, he shut down the Mets through five innings, and his command looked very good. He threw 59 of 93 pitches for strikes, and if he can keep that percentage up, he is in for a big year.

If you are in a shallow league, definitely keep this guy on your watch list. But if you are in a deep 12-team league or larger, I’d say this guy will outperform the worst guy on your staff and he is definitely worth a bench spot.

Now for the fun stuff: some guys are all about projections. I would say to expect around 12 Ws on a .500 Marlins ball club, along with a 3.85 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 95 Ks in a relatively conservative 135 IP.

Matt Levenberg is a student at Duke University but more importantly an avid Mets fan, and he believes that this is the year they will not collapse in September. You can find Matt at the cafe posting as j24jags hanging around the Baseball Leftovers, Game Commentary, the Brushback League, or any other forum at the Cafe.
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