I threw out the names of some older players as first-base sleepers in my previous sleeper article, but now it’s time to again pay tribute to the next generation. Our three second-base sleepers for 2013 are all 24 years old or younger as of late-January, though one turns 25 in February. Our soon-to-be 25-year-old is a borderline sleeper as he still could have ardent fans despite having the whiff of a post-hype sleeper, while our other two guys are minor leaguers that could come out of relative obscurity to post nice fantasy seasons.
Dustin Ackley, 2B, SEA
Do you like your sleepers of the post-hype variety? The once-hyped Ackley followed up a solid debut in 2011 with some regression last season. He did undergo surgery to remove a bone spur in his ankle that’s been around since college, and maybe that’ll be the impetus for some improvement. When he did have success in 2012, it came on the road, where he hit 10 of his 12 homers. Throw in a better lineup around him, a new hitting coach and fences that are coming in — though the new fences will help righties more, and Ackley is a left-handed batter — and we could see a nice little breakout season from this fallen fantasy sleeper.
Ackley’s name recognition will probably get him drafted or bid on at some point in most leagues, regardless of what you do. Our next two sleepers have a good chance of passing through unclaimed in most non-dynasty leagues (and maybe even a few dynasty leagues too).
Jedd Gyorko, 2B, SD
Gyorko has been beastly for the last two seasons in the minors, hitting .333/.400/.552 in 647 plate appearances between Class-A Advanced and Double-A as a 22-year-old in 2011, and hitting .311/.373/.547 in 557 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A last season at the age of 23. Most of the playing time and production came at Triple-A, where he hit .328/.380/.588 with 24 home runs in 408 plate appearances. His bat is clearly ready for the majors, which is great news for the Padres, as they desperately need to find several legitimate long-term weapons for the offense. The team moved Gyorko to second base in the minors last season, likely in preparation for manning the position this year. There’s a chance he could win the starting job in spring training, giving him immediate value. Petco Park, like Safeco in Seattle, will also feature shorter distances to the outfield fences in 2013, meaning Gyorko may be able to hit 20-plus homers right out of the gate. That definitely makes him a player to watch in spring training, and one to grab late in the draft just in case he gets the call right out of the gate.
Jonathan Schoop, 2B, BAL
A top-100 prospect according to Baseball America heading into 2012, Schoop had a not-so-hot season in Double-A at the age of 20, hitting just .245/.324/.386 with 14 home runs in 555 plate appearances. Still, BA slotted Schoop as the Orioles’ third-best prospect this offseason, behind excellent pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. Schoop will get the chance to show his stuff in the World Baseball Classic as part of an impressive group of young infielders that includes Andrelton Simmons, Jurickson Profar and Xander Bogaerts. After that, he should either post better numbers in his second time facing Double-A pitching, or hold his own in Triple-A. The Orioles’ current options at second base are Brian Roberts and Alexi Casilla, so expect Schoop to get his first shot at the majors by midseason. He has enough upside at a week fantasy position to provide Neil Walker-type stats immediately.
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe and contributes to CBSSports.com's MLB Rumors blog. He has previously written for FanHouse, Razzball and FanDuel. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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