Searching for Value with Latin Pitchers: NL West
Part of the inspiration for this series was the San Francisco Giants coming into 2014. Their minor league system had 4-5 Latin pitchers (some of which are about to make a repeat appearance right now) that had varying levels of upside and risk, but all had anonymity on their side. This year their names are a little better known and their futures have advanced forward and so their value is a bit more solidified. Overall the NL West has a good mix of high upside top line arms, and some younger arms with more safety than you would expect, that may be able to help you in deep deep dynasty leagues.
Jose Martinez – RHP – Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Stats: 6.0 IP 6.00 ERA 4 BB 3 K
If you were in a deep dynasty league last year, Martinez was a hot name towards the end of the first round. The diminutive RHP lost the year due to injury (stress fracture in his elbow), but overall all of the stuff is still there. The stuff is electric with a fastball up into the upper 90s, a plus plus curveball, and feel for a changeup. There are plenty of red flags around Martinez from the injury and his slight frame, but his upside is not easily found. The injury and lack of hype really creates a buying opportunity here, especially since the reports indicate that Martinez will be healthy going into 2015, and his age and experience suggest a possible full season assignment.
Buying Opportunity: Injured player who has fallen off of people’s radars
Keury Mella – RHP – San Francisco Giants
2014 Stats: 86.0 IP 3.45 ERA 19 BB 83 K
Coming into 2014, Mella had the most upside of the group of low minors Giants pitchers (a group that included Joan Gregorio and Kendry Flores) and in 2014 he put up the best numbers too. From a pure stuff perspective Mella’s fastball is 94-97 with movement and is a dominating pitch. The changeup and curveball are both above average pitches, and the changeup has plus potential due to good fade. Mella did miss time due to injury in 2014, but finished the year healthy. His command still needs work, but he is only in A ball. It is a big time arm that could explode onto the scene with a full healthy year. If you were on Mella a year ago the reward is paying off, if not, there is still time to catch on before he takes off.
Buying Opportunity: Raw arm actualizes on stuff and shows frontline upside
Only If Your League Values Relievers:
Tayron Guerrero – RHP – San Diego Padres
2014 Stats: 49.2 IP 1.45 ERA 20 BB 56 K
If your league doesn’t use holds, then Guerrero is just not worth picking up. If your league does reward relievers then Guerrero is someone who is a sneaky pick up. In general my advice would be to never draft a reliever who isn’t in AAA or the majors, and instead draft SPs whose downside is good reliever. However, it sometimes makes sense to buck that trend in leagues that reward relievers to get a guy who can be as dominant as Guerrero. If all that and the numbers didn’t get you excited, Guerrero sports a power reliever arsenal with a fastball at 97-99, routinely at 100, but also with good movement and plane, this pairs with a slider in the upper 80s that could be plus long term. It is an arsenal evocative of Phillies reliever Ken Giles, and Guerrero could arrive just as fast. In a shallower league you will need to keep more of an eye on the Padres closer situation, because without saves it will be difficult for Guerrero to return full value.
Buying Opportunity: Don’t overlook relief prospects if the arsenal is good enough
Deep League Only:
Luis Ysla – LHP – San Francisco Giants
2014 Stats: 121.1 IP 2.45 ERA 45 BB 115 K
I will come out and say it, I don’t believe in Ysla as a starting pitcher, I do believe in Ysla as a trade asset. The warning flags are all over the scouting report here, high effort delivery, no changeup, stuff masks the lack of control. But the fastball is in the mid-90s and he is left handed so the numbers might hold up through the Cal League in 2015. I wouldn’t invest a ton in Ysla and there might be a guy in your league already looking to sell high. But there is a chance his name is unknown and you can flip him for a quick profit. If not, let this be your warning that not all prospects are as good as they seem.
Buying Opportunity: Use strengths to cover up flaws in a quick flip
Antonio Senzatela – RHP – Colorado Rockies
2014 Stats: 144.2 IP 3.11 ERA 36 BB 89 K
The first thing that jumps out to me is that Senzatela threw 144 innings as a 19 year old, which is a testament to work deeper into games than most of his peers. His 3.11 ERA is even more impressive when factoring in that Asheville is one of the best hitters parks in the minor leagues. Stuff wise it is #3 starter stuff with a plus fastball, a curveball, and a splitter. The Rockies have had success in developing latin pitchers over the years. If Senzatela can start missing more bats and continue to log innings, he could be a valuable mid-rotation piece in a deep dynasty league where innings are scarce.
Buying Opportunity: Unhyped mid-rotation arm pitching in a hitter’s park
2014 Stats: 86.0 IP 4.08 ERA 20 BB 83 K
*I know that Arano is no longer a Dodger and is now in the NL East due to being traded for Roberto Hernandez, but I had notes on him and he is interesting for discussion.
Arano is one of the lowest ceiling players in this series with an upside around a #3 starter, but he is probably closer to a #4 realistic ceiling. His stuff has really played up in relief so there is a possibility he somehow ends up in an impact relief role eventually. But overall Arano brings 3 pitches that are in the average to plus range, a good feel for pitching at a young age, and will be starting 2015 in hi-A. It is not an exciting profile, but there is more safety here than a similarly young arm due to the pitch mix. This is less about Arano though, and more that if you also play in a 30 team league like me, pitching is really hard to come by, and while pitchers like a Jose Martinez are really exciting, you do need pitchers to round out your staff and in those cases it is best to not overlook some of the safer options.
Buying Opportunity: May lack ceiling of some prospects, but you need to mix in safety as well