Waiver Wire: Post Post-Hype Sleepers

Taking a shot on a post-hype sleeper is a great way to find undervalued gems. As we all know by now, prospects don’t always burst out of the gate once they reach the majors. For every Mike Trout, there’s going to be an Alex Gordon. It took Gordon five years before he churned out a fantasy-worthy stat line. In Gordon’s case, fantasy owners pretty much gave up on him ever becoming useful, making him a post post-hype sleeper. While it’s rare for players to follow similar paths, former prospects always draw some interest when they are experiencing success. You may have given up on Travis Snider and Devin Mesoraco by now, but both are finally starting to show some growth in the majors.

OF Travis Snider: 13% owned in CBSSports.com leagues

In 2009, Travis Snider rated as the sixth best prospect in the game, according to Baseball America. He’s made appearances in the majors during each of the last four seasons, but has never flashed above-average ability at the plate. The trade to Pittsburgh last season was a sign that even his original team had given up on him. This year, he’s shown some signs of his former prospect hype. Through 59 plate appearances, Snider is hitting .308/.390/.442. It’s easy to look at his .400 BABIP and predict regression, but Snider was never the type of player that was supposed to have a high batting average.

The reason for that was Snider’s poor strikeout rate in the minors. In 2,156 career minor-league plate appearances, Snider has a 22.8% strikeout rate. Not surprisingly, that number jumped to 26.4% in the majors. Snider also stopped flashing the strong plate discipline numbers he showed in the minors once he reached the show. It may have taken four seasons, but Snider is finally starting to show some of that skill in the majors.

Snider’s strikeout rate has dropped to 20.3%. Strikeout rate stabilizes after just 60 plate appearances, so this could bode well going forward. He’s still not going to hit for a high average, but he might be able to hit enough to make his approach work. The biggest question right now is his power. Snider has yet to hit a home run this season, but has clubbed seven doubles. Looking at his hit chart, two of those balls nearly went out, perhaps suggesting that power will come. He’s more of a player to put on your watch list now, and shouldn’t really be picked up unless you play in a deep league, or really need someone in an NL-only league. Given his former status as a talented youngster, owners should at least monitor his numbers for now.

C Devin Mesoraco: 11% owned in CBSSports.com leagues

With Ryan Hanigan currently sidelined with an oblique injury, Mesoraco will finally get a chance to receive consistent playing time. As recently as 2012, Mesoraco rated as the 16 best prospect in baseball, according to Baseball America. Given manager Dusty Baker‘s affinity for veterans, Mesoraco hasn’t played much, despite his lofty prospect status. With Hanigan on the DL, Mesoraco will finally get a chance to show Baker he deserves a starting role. Mesoraco clubbed 28 home runs over four levels in 2010, and followed that up with 15 home runs in 499 plate appearances at Triple-A. Like Snider, he’s the type of player owners should have on their watch lists. If he can capitalize on this opportunity, Baker may have a tough time going back to Hanigan.

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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

12 Responses to “Waiver Wire: Post Post-Hype Sleepers”

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  1. Schide says:

    “Looking at his hit chart, two of those balls nearly went out, perhaps suggesting that power will come.”

    One of those balls did go out, the umps just blew the call.

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  2. Hello says:

    I agree that Mesoraco is a great sleeper target, but the knee-jerk blaming of Baker’s mythical preference for veterans for Mesoraco’s lack of playing time so far is unwarranted (and frankly incredibly cliche and lazy commentary).

    The reason Mesoraco hasn’t played much is because Hanigan is incredibly underrated- he is a top-notch defensive catcher with good on-base ability. There are very few Reds fans who had a problem last year or this year with Hanigan getting the bulk of the playing time, though I think most are excited to see what Mes can do in a full-time role.

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  3. Mario Mendoza says:

    Are there any comps for Snider… once a top-10 prospect in baseball, came up at age 20, followed by 4 miserable seasons? I wonder what they do from age 25 on.

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    • Mario Mendoza says:

      As soon as I wrote that, Alex Gordon came to mind.

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      • CabreraDeath says:

        I wouldn’t characterize his brief ML time w/ Toronto as ‘miserable’. Check out his 2010 season in Toronto, as well as his first shot in 2008.

        Did he live up to the hype? No, of course not. But ‘miserable’? Nope.

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  4. Joe D says:

    “He’s more of a player to put on your watch list now, and shouldn’t really be picked up unless you play in a deep league, or really need someone in an NL-only league. ”

    Screw. That. He’s walking way more, swinging and missing way less, making way more contact in the zone, offering at way fewer pitches outside the zone, and getting everyday ABs batting second(!) of all places. He’s got as many doubles in 60 PAs as he did last season in 180.

    Pick. him. up.

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    • Chris Cwik says:

      I admire your enthusiasm, Joe D.

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      • Joe D says:

        Meh, I’m severely biased. Picked him up in my 17-team mixed roto and 18-team mixed H2H about 10 days ago.

        I’m excited because I feel like we’ve seen hot stretches from him before, but they never had this kind of shape to them, where it seemed his approach had appreciably changed for the better.

        This might wind up to be fluctuation, but emotionally, this just *feels* so much like Gordon’s transition from slop to very useful…

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    • rotowizard says:

      Sorry but at this point he is still a platoon player. Sure it’s the larger portion of a platoon but he has just 4 PAs against lefties. I wouldn’t go sprinting to the waiver wire just yet, for him to have real fantasy value as a platoon player he’d have to keep hitting near this clip, and a bit of regression is do. Even as a pirates fan I can’t in good conscious recommend him in anything other than deep deep mixed or NL only. Which is exactly what Chris said.

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  5. Reverend Jim says:

    Chris Cwik, do you work for CBS fantasy as well now, because your writeup on Snider was paraphrased on his player page.

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