Top 5 Late-Round Hitters

Sep 13, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Steve Pearce (28) hits a solo home run in the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Yankees won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, I focued on finding a hidden starting pitcher late in the draft. Today, it’s about the hitters.

A good hitter can come from out of nowhere. Whether it’s a highly-touted prospect or a bench player seeing the field for the first time, nobody would have seen it coming. Except for you. It’s up to you to find the next big superstar hitter waiting in the wings. In this article, I talk about five hitters you can select late in drafts.

Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

While he currently isn’t in the majors, Bryant will be a top prospect to watch in the spring. The Cubs have a lot of players to use at third base, but when he arrives, Bryant will be the guy. He is a .250-.260 hitter with the potential to his 24 home runs and drive in 60 RBI.

He doesn’t have much speed around the basepath, but the Cubs have other players for that. Fantasy owners will take a flyer on him just like they did with Billy Hamilton. Just be sure to snag him before everyone else does. Expect to draft him in the 15th or 16th round.

Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians

As an mid-round selection last season, Kipnis disappointed some fantasy owners. He hit just six home runs with a .240 batting average. The bright side is that he stole 22 bases. That makes 83 bag swipes over the last three seasons. Kipnis should return to his 2013 self and hit for .255 with 12 home runs and 17 steals.

His poor performance in 2014 should hinder is ADP in 2015, but with second base being very shallow, that might not be the case. He is in the top 15 of second basemen, just ahead of Dustin Pedroia. He will be most owners’ backup second baseman, drafted in Round 17.

Steve Pearce OF, Baltimore Orioles

Pearce was one of the hitters I mentioned that can come out of nowhere. In his previous seven season, he did not hit more than four home runs. Last year with the Orioles, Pearce smacked 21 homers and 49 RBI in 102 games. He is the most rounded-out player of the bunch. He can hit 20 home runs with a .275 average and .350 OBP.

The only downside is that Pearce doesn’t have much speed. He had just five stolen bases last year, and I don’t see that number rising much more than that. He could be a source of power late in your draft. Aim to pick him between the 20th and 21st rounds.

Leonys Martin, OF, Texas Rangers

On the flip side, Martin doesn’t provide fantasy owners with much power. He does, however, give owners a high-average batter with speed. Last season, he hit .274 and stole 31 bases. He hit .260 and stole 36 bases the year before. On a team that could use a speed guy, Martin fills that role. Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder should have no problem driving him home.

There are always speedy players to find late in drafts, and Martin will be one of those players this year. He should be drafted in the 21st round.

Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

One year ago, fantasy owners were clamoring for the Pirates to call up Polanco. We didn’t see him until mid-June. And when he was finally called up, fantasy owners were left somewhat disappointed. In 89 games, he had a .235 average with seven home runs and 33 RBI. He did steal 14 bases on 19 attempts.

With a full season awaiting him, Polanco should be able to crack double-digit home runs and steal 25 bases. He was a speed machine in the minors, eclipsing 40 stolen bases in 2012 and 2013. He will be a late-round steal (no pun intended).