Fantasy Baseball: American League Sleeper Watch

Adam BernacchioAnalyst IIIFebruary 15, 2011

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 11:  Kila Ka'aihue #25 of the Kansas City Royals bats against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on August 11, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Yesterday, we took a look five potential fantasy sleepers in the National League, so it’s only appropriate to take a look at five potential American League sleepers today. Here are five players to keep a look out for on draft day.


1. Kila Ka’aihue, Kansas City Royals:  Kila has been a sabermetrician's wet dream throughout his minor league career. In his nine years, Kila has a .266 average with a .391 OBP. He has shown great power at plate throughout and over the past three seasons, he has averaged 98 walks.

Despite his minor league success, the Royals have been reluctant to give him a shot to play every day. Why that is? I have no idea. But all signs point to Kila getting his shot in 2011.

Kila will still only be 27 come Opening Day and in 206 plate appearances in 2010 with the Royals, he showed a good eye at the plate (24 walks) and good power (eight HR’s). If he gets his shot, he could put up Jack Cust-like numbers.

.250/.375/.430 with 25-30 HR’s wouldn’t be out of the question.


2. Jake McGee, Tampa Bay Rays:  The Rays are a pretty smart organization. That’s why I can’t see them using Kyle Farnsworth as their closer in 2011. They are just too smart to make a move like that.

The smart move would be putting McGee as the closer and give him first shot at the job.

The 24-year-old throws some serious smoke. In seven minor league seasons, McGee struck out 10.4 batters per nine innings. In a cup of coffee with the Rays last season, McGee K’d six in five innings, so the guy knows how to strike people out.

The one downfall of McGee is his control. He walked three in those five innings and averaged almost four walks per nine in the minors.

If the Rays give McGee the opportunity to close, he could be a serious sleeper in 2011.


3. Matt LaPorta, Cleveland Indians: Like I said with David Freese in my NL post, it’s time for LaPorta to put up or shut up in 2011. The key piece in the CC Sabathia trade in 2008 has been nothing but a disappointment in Cleveland.

Last season, there were big expectations for LaPorta, but hip and toe injuries really slowed him down. He hit only .221/.306/.362 with 12 HR’s in 110 games. Thos are not the type of numbers the Indians were hoping for.

Many people are down on LaPorta, but you shouldn’t be. He is 100 percent healthy entering spring training and will be given every opportunity to prove himself in Cleveland.

A guy with a career .953 OPS in the minor leagues can’t be this bad for this long.


4. Phil Coke, Detroit Tigers:  In a post a couple of weeks ago, I compared Coke to C.J. Wilson. I thought there were a lot of similarities between the two.

After appearing in 73 games last season as a reliever, Coke will be given a shot to start for the Tigers. Coke did start one game for the Tigers last season, but that was on the last game of the season and he only went 1.2 innings, as Jim Leyland was trying to get as many pitchers into the game as possible.

So the question is for Coke and fantasy ownerscan he be as successful as Wilson was transitioning from a reliever to a starter? I believe the answer is yes.

I went into detail as to why I thought Coke would make the successful transition in my post, which you can find here. I think Coke could be a serviceable fourth or fifth starter on your fantasy team in 2011.


5. Brent Morel, Chicago White Sox:  Third base has been a revolving door for the White Sox over the past couple of seasons. Everyone from Joe Crede to Josh Fields to Gordon Beckham has been given the opportunity to hold down the fort at third.

None of them were able to hold the job long-term and in 2011, the White Sox will have yet another new starting third baseman. Brent Morel will be given the first shot to win the starting job in Chicago.

Morel was never a big HR guy in the minors, but he can hit for average and occasionally steal a base. He will be surrounded by a very good lineup in Chicago and could be in line for some opportunities and if he gets on base, some runs scored opportunities as well.

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