It’s hard for me to think of a prospect that more exemplifies the term “pop-up guy” than Oakland A’s rookie SP Dan Straily. After being drafted in the 24th round (723th overall), Straily steadily worked his way through the minors without attracting much attention.
You’ll often see a pitcher drafted out of college who had been old for his level most of their professional career exposed when they reach AA. Dan Straily, however, logged 14 solid starts for Midland in the Texas League, posting a 2.57 FIP and striking out 31.1% of the batters he faced before earning a call up to AAA Sacramento.
The Pacific Coast League is notoriously unkind to pitchers, but Straily became even more dominant, lowering his FIP to 2.23 and continuing to strike out over 30% of batters. In just 25 starts, a 24th round pick became one of the most talked about prospects in baseball and earned a call up for seven starts in Oakland.
There isn’t really anything jaw-dropping about Dan Straily’s stuff. He has good command of his fastball, which usually sits in the lower 90s with a decent amount of late arm-side run. The overhand angle at which Straily throws can occasionally cause his fastball to become flat, however, and even the weakest hitting major leaguer can take advantage of that flaw.
Straily’s other offerings include a plus slider with tight spin and late break that should continue to miss bats at the major league level and an average to plus changeup with sink and fade.
The unfortunate thing for Dan Straily (and his fantasy owners) is that he is in the awkward position of being clearly too good for AAA, but has failed to impress Oakland’s front office enough to avoid being shuttled between AAA and the majors. He’s performed well enough in his MLB opportunities this season, compiling a 4.28 ERA (3.67 FIP) in 14 starts. The K% has regressed considerably to 20.1% and he’s benefited from pitching in the pitcher-friendly O.co Coliseum.
I see Dan Straily ending up as a number 4 type starter who could play up to a possible number 3 in a pitcher friendly setting. That’s a valuable asset to any MLB team and certainly a valuable asset to a dynasty league manager, especially in a deeper league.
All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.