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Searching for Value with Latin American Pitchers: NL East

Last week I talked about some general thoughts on how Latin American pitching prospects can make for good investments in a dynasty league.  Going forward the plan is to look at players division by division, finding players at different levels of league competition (from a more standard dynasty league to very deep leagues).  This is also not meant as a comprehensive list, instead I am looking to highlight players for a variety of different reasons that can help you find the next crop of sleeper prospects.

Might Be Too Late:

Reynaldo Lopez – RHP – Washington Nationals
2014 Stats: 83.1 IP 1.08 ERA 42 H 10 ER 26 BB 70 K (NYPL & SAL)
For Lopez the real question is whether he is available in your league or not.  If you have in season pick ups there is a chance that he is already owned in your league, if not he is going to be one of the hot names this offseason.  Lopez has everything that a profile top pitching prospect should have, his fastball is up to the touching 90s, a bat missing curveball, flashes a changeup, and missed bats at multiple levels.  There is plenty of upside here, and he should start 2015 in a hi-A rotation with Lucas Giolito so he should continue to get plenty of coverage.  Lopez is already getting a ton of press; Baseball Prospectus ranked him the #4 prospect in the Nationals system and Baseball America had him as the #2 prospect in the New York-Penn League and the #3 prospect in the South Atlantic League.  Some people are going to be scared away by Lopez’s size (6’0″ 185 lbs), but don’t be one of the ones to put him in the reliever bucket.  His stock should continue to soar over the next year or so, so he makes a good investment right now.  It would be a bit aggressive to take him in a first year draft near guys like Aaron Nola or Kyle Freeland, but he should not go off the board too long after them either.
Buying Opportunity: Size and Pop-up prospect

Standard Dynasty:

Yoel Mecias – LHP – Philadelphia Phillies
2014 Stats: 50.2 IP 3.73 ERA 48 H 17 BB 33 K (GCL & SAL)
As a Phillies fan I have been a huge advocate of Mecias since he emerged out of nowhere in 2013 to have some really incredible duels with Tyler Glasnow. Mecias’s year ended in July with Tommy John surgery. He returned to the mound this summer to mixed results. The fastball velocity (89-92) came back and he showed pretty good command. Pre-injury his real weapon is his changeup which was a plus pitch or better. Post injury it flashed its old potential but was rusty. This doesn’t sound like much, but Mecias has the frame to add another grade of velocity to make his fastball a true plus pitch.  Mecias has a slider that he is beginning to show feel for, and the pitch will need to take a step forward for him to reach his ceiling. He will start 2015 in A-ball but could move quickly through the Phillies system.  Mecias might be the least known name at his talent level and should be available in your league, now is the time to buy on a good arm who still lacks name recognition value.
Buying Opportunity: Lack of name recognition, Tommy John surgery

Marcos Molina – RHP – New York Mets
2014 Stats: 76.1 IP 1.77 ERA 46 H 18 BB 91 K (NYPL)
Molina was a sneaky sleeper last year as Baseball Prospectus snuck him onto their Mets Top 10 at #10 last year.  He backed up that ranking with fantastic numbers and a rocket fastball, along with recognition ( BP #7 Mets prospect, BA NYPL #1 prospect) of those achievements.  There are some red flags to go with Molina from a fantasy perspective as far as his long term future is concerned.  The biggest is that he is almost entirely fastball-changeup right now, and while we have seen the profile work in the majors, there is not a long track record of success without some sort of breaking ball.  The result will be a pitcher likely to see his stock outpace his major league profile, at least while he is in the low minors.  Molina’s stock is pretty high right now among people who know about him, but he is not a household name yet.  His profile suggests he will put up the numbers in full season ball that will get him the name recognition that could make him a very valuable trade piece in the future.
Buying Opportunity: Profile points to future overvaluation and trade opportunity

Deep Diving:

Franklyn Kilome – RHP – Philladelphia Phillies
2014 Stats: 40.1 IP 3.12 ERA 36 H 11 BB 25 K  (GCL)
The first I heard of Kilome was whispers from Spring Training that the Phillies had this kid up to 94 who no one had heard about.  Kilome didn’t disappoint in his GCL debut with the fastball 90-91 during the season and 90-93 touching 94 in instructional league.  Kilome showed he is incredibly raw but he complements the fastball with a sinker that comes from a long armed 6’6″ frame and he knows how to use the pitch. The secondary pitches are a work in progress, but he has shown feel for them.  The real draw here is the potential upside.  Fellow GCL Phillies starter Elniery Garcia made BP’s Top 10, but Kilome has the big ceiling.  Kilome at 6’6″ 175 lbs has large amounts of room to fill out and has a low effort repeatable delivery that should be able to handle the added velocity.  The Phillies think he can touch 98 when he is fully filled out, but even if he sits in the mid 90s that will be plenty of velocity.  If that happens he has legitimate #2 starter upside. The sinker makes him surprisingly safe as you could see his floor being an innings eating #5 starter with a great ground ball rate.  It is likely a year too early to buy Kilome in anything but a very deep dynasty league, but he is someone to keep an eye on if the stuff makes the jump earlier than expected.  He is likely ticketed for Extended Spring Training and then the New York-Penn League.
Buying Opportunity: Immense Projection, GCL Profile

Jose Adames – RHP – Miami Marlins
2014: 71.1 IP 2.40 ERA 72 H 29 BB 66 K (NYPL & SAL)
The Marlins’ Low-A team the Greensboro Grasshoppers was loaded with Latin arms with both Jarlin Garcia and Domingo German often getting the publicity.  Those two are better prospect than Adames right now, but that doesn’t mean you should also overlook him.  Adames pitches in the low-90s touching 95, but at 6’2″ 165 lbs that could shift higher, or at very least be a velocity he should be able to maintain over a full season.  The big problem with Adames is the secondary pitches are not there, especially the changeup.  There is no reason to believe the changeup will ever emerge, but if it does he could be a big league starter.  The likely outcome like most raw arms at his level is reliever (if he reaches the major leagues).  However, if you are in an extremely deep league (30 teams) and are trying to stock your farm with pitchers with some potential tools, Adames is worth the second look (a big source of information on Adames was Tucker Blair’s eyewitness report on him, make sure you read everything you can)
Buying Opportunity: Super deep league only, overshadowed by other raw arms, potential reliever

The Author

Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman

1 Comment

  1. Brian
    November 26, 2014 at 6:22 pm — Reply

    The content of these articles are great Matt, but the topic itself is even better. Latin prospects always tend to be the pop-up guys considering there is very little information on them after signing, and most of them don’t reach American leagues for a year or more after they have signed. Any info we can get on how the J2 classes of ’12 and 13′ are progressing would be great. My farm system in one of my leagues got pretty thin after some trades this year and last, but articles like these have allowed me to pick up Latin guys like Barreto, J Mateo, Devers, Lopez, and Albies who carry enough upside and value that I don’t have to worry about having a depleted farm. Keep up the good work man.

    Also, as an Indians fan, a recommendation for the AL Central list (if you make one) would be Luis Lugo. Physical Lefty who controls the ball and misses enough bats to potentially get excited about.

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