Fantasy baseball: 10 stolen base sleepers

If you're looking for stolen bases on draft day, start with fast players with a path to playing time, like Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullens. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In my recent report on how to draft for stolen bases for 2019 fantasy baseball, I identified popular names in the later rounds of typical mixed leagues (think 12-teamers), including Rockies 2B Garrett Hampson and Rangers OF Delino DeShields.

Here, I'll highlight options with less hype outside our Top 200 that you can tuck away in the final round of mixed drafts or watch on the free-agent pool.

1. Cedric Mullins, OF, Orioles: Baltimore's rebuild leaves plenty of plate appearances up for grabs, and the switch-hitting 24-year-old has the spark to capture the leadoff role.

Mullins (5-foot-8, 175 pounds) probably will struggle to reach 20 homers, but despite logging just 59 games at Triple-A, he recorded a solid 83.1 contact rate, wasn't completely lost at the dish (0.46 BB/K) and matched lauded thief Victor Robles' sprint speed (29.3 feet/second, per MLB Statcast) in his debut MLB stint.

For an Orioles team that might try to cultivate a more dynamic offensive identity, Mullins should get a long leash to work through any plate struggles and creep toward 20 stolen bases. Plus, regardless of their flaws, Baltimore's 3-4-5 batters (Trey Mancini, Mark Trumbo and, yes, Chris Davis) can still plate plenty of runs.

2. Leonys Martin, OF, Indians: Greg Allen and Bradley Zimmer could make their own noise, but riding a feel-good comeback story from a life-threatening bacterial infection, Martin looks ready to offer the most immediate help. After all, he has had three seasons with 500-plus plate appearances and 24-plus stolen bases.

He might park in the eighth hole, but as I mentioned in the SB overview, that's not as big a deal in the American League's DH lineups, and he enjoyed a career-best 8.5 BB% in his abbreviated 2018. He is best used if fantasy managers can manage his schedule with daily starts or benches to capture the form of his .344 wOBA against right-handed pitching last year.

3. Tyler O'Neill, OF, Cardinals: A 5-foot-11, 210-pounder who doesn't have a clear path to playing time? Well, this could be a make-or-break year for Dexter Fowler (.180/.278/.298 last year), and St. Louis might need insurance if Marcell Ozuna doesn't return swiftly after offseason shoulder surgery.

The formerly hyped prospect lifted nine homers in just 142 plate appearances during his 2018 debut. He boasts quietly elite defense. And he walked in at least 10.6 percent of his plate appearances during his last three MiLB tours. He is no plodder, either: O'Neill stole 16 bags at Single-A, 12 at Double-A and nine in his first Triple-A go-round before tapering off, and he was clocked last year at an average sprint speed (29.5 feet/second) rivaling secret SB machine Trevor Story's and topping highly touted wheels like Robles'.

Let the 23-year-old's recently barren SB column scare off other prospectors so you can tuck away this potential 20-homer, 10-steal surprise -- possibly as the biggest payoff on this list.

4. Niko Goodrum, 1B/2B/OF, Tigers: With Miguel Cabrera injured for most of 2018 and many lineup holes needing help, Goodrum stepped up with a 16-homer, 12-steal season. Though Josh Harrison's signing was thought to limit his playing time, the 6-foot-3, 198-pounder probably will start several times per week at numerous positions.

Strikeouts hurt Goodrum in his big league debut, but his 8.5 BB% shows he'll at least have passable routes to more SB opportunities. Goodrum is a safe bet to log at least a smidge of time at every position, except catcher, center field and pitcher.

5. Franchy Cordero, OF, Padres: San Diego's outfield position battle has probably scared many away from buying anyone besides Wil Myers too strongly, but Cordero has his left-handed swing, secretly great batted-ball metrics and elite speed working in his favor.

Where he is being drafted, his strikeout issues (a whopping 35.7 percent in 2018) don't necessarily outweigh his alluring 48.2 hard contact percentage, and he didn't lift a single infield fly ball in 154 plate appearances. Dude scorches the ball.

He stole five bags in only 40 games last year, though, and he probably would bat first or second against righties, whom he peppered with a .352 wOBA last year.

6. Roman Quinn, OF, Phillies: Scott Kingery's battle for the 3B job might offer more immediate speed help, but Quinn, who stole 10 bases in 50 MLB games last year, could be a game-changer should he sneak into outfield work, which suddenly has become a challenge with some guy named Bryce Harper now in town.

Still, Odubel Herrera's erratic 2018 and concerns over Harper's center-field defense could allow Quinn to step in. The 25-year-old switch-hitter would only offer a handful of homers over a full season, but Quinn churned out MLB's fastest average home-to-first time (3.86 seconds) and tied for Statcast's second-best average sprint speed (30.2 feet/second), behind only Byron Buxton.

7. Steven Duggar, OF, Giants: Strikeouts have bothered him, and he is being brought along slowly after shoulder surgery. Still, he stole five bags in 41 major league contests and 11 in 78 farm outings last year. And even when normalizing it for major league expectations, Duggar's career 12.3 BB% on the farm points to OBP upside.

The Giants crave a leadoff type who can challenge pitchers on the basepath and provide steady outfield glove work, so they could easily hand 400-plus plate appearances to the 25-year-old top-side platooner, putting 15-plus swipes well within reach.

8. Orlando Arcia, SS, Brewers: Arcia capped an otherwise tumultuous season by slashing .329/.360/.443 with a .346 wOBA in September, and though this might just have been a hot streak that normalized his numbers, it's a sign he might've fixed some things after a demotion to Triple-A.

Still just 24 years old, Arcia hasn't had a season with 50-plus games at any level and not stolen at least seven bases. Though infield prospects Keston Hiura and Mauricio Dubon are knocking, the likely contending Brewers will want defensive stability at the six, which should allow Arcia to quietly collect steals à la Andrelton Simmons.

9. Magneuris Sierra, OF, Marlins: Hard not to include someone who tied Quinn's Statcast average sprint speed. Pure one-category grab? Sure, but he's basically free. Just like the Orioles, Miami has little to lose in testing anyone with potential in its outfield. Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison and Peter O'Brien have well-documented strikeout issues, and Curtis Granderson is a place holder.

Though he probably is set to start the calendar in the minors, Sierra could wrestle his way into at least a split role in any of the three outfield spots and keep a 30-steal season-long pace for as long as he is promoted.

10. Dustin Fowler, OF, Athletics: Considering he still has farm options left, the former top Yankees prospect, who has worked his way back from a devastating 2017 knee injury, might not start the season in the big leagues.

But as the season wears on, Fowler, who stole 19 bags between Triple-A and the majors last year, could overtake Robbie Grossman, Mark Canha and Chad Pinder if he forces the issue in the minors. He could become sneaky power-speed depth if he starts taking more walks and can execute stolen-base attempts more closely to his work in Triple-A (13-for-15) than in the majors (6-for-10).