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Romancing Deep Dynasty Prospects: I Hate Pitchers

Throughout a season there’s always a prospect or ten that suit my fancy in dynasty. Almost none of them are pitching prospects. However, in this edition of Romancing Deep Dynasty Prospects, I’m devoting the entire article to pitchers. If pitchers are your thing, hold on to your butts.

In deep leagues, you might find these particular pitchers useful for pick-ups and watch lists. I strongly recommend you prepare yourself for the worst because pitchers get hurt. Not only are prospects’ successes far from guaranteed, but now you’ve got to bake in a pitchers increased injury risk into their value. You’ve been warned. Don’t actually fall in love with these players, or you will set yourself up for heartbreak.

The majority of these prospects are for deeper leagues (16+ teams), but all are at least worth monitoring. Some should be owned in all leagues, but the hype hasn’t caught up to their performances yet.

Prospects to Acquire

The players you need to add

Josh James, 25, SP, AAA (Houston Astros)

Year | LevelIPK/9BB/9GB%HR/9ERA
2018 | AAA4512.803.2035.7%1.003.20

Arsenal

Fastball: 94-96 MPH  | Slider: 80-83  | Changeup: 82-83 MPH | Curveball: 73-75 |

Analysis

Recently Editor Extraordinaire and Host of The Dynasty’s Child podcast, Ian Hudson, and I spoke about Josh James. A switch has flipped in this young man and he has been nothing short of dominant. And he’s done in it in the notoriously hitter-friendly PCL. The right-handed hurler has become the popup pitching prospect of 2018. The biggest reason why? A major increase in velocity.

In prior years James’ fastball topped out in the low 90’s, but this year he’s throwing 94-96 consistently. The Houston pitching prospect points to the treatment of his sleep apnea as the source of his increased velocity. Whatever the reason, James has gone from a fringe prospect to a must-add, as he breezed through Double-A and is now dominating Triple-A.  Striking out 39.1% of batters in Double-A, and now 37.6% in Triple-A.

His domination has him now very close to the major league level. Forest Whitley has been battling injuries this season, and thus it’s possible that an opening at the Major League level could present an opportunity for the 25-year-old. Admittedly, James is likely owned in deeper leagues but snag him now if he’s not.

Courtesy of Baseball Census

Taylor Hearn, 23, LHP, AA (Pittsburg Pirates)

Year | LevelIPK/9BB/9GB%HR/9ERA
2018 | AA7410.093.4136.6%5.3%3.28

Arsenal

Fastball: 96-97 MPH  | Slider: 81-85  | Changeup | 84-86 MPH

Analysis

First off, Hearn gets a nod for rocking those high socks. Beyond his style, he’s flashing some stats that have peaked my interest. The 23-year-old has consistently posted high K/9, and his current performance actually sits as the second worst K-rate of his short career. That second “worst” performance is still close to 10 K/9, which is very good. Hearn is a year and a half younger than the majority of his peers, which is important to remember when viewing his statistics.

Acquired by the Pirates in the same deal with Felipe Vazquez, Hearn flashes some of the same talents. Some reports have said he can reach back and hit 99 MPH, while others have mentioned he has reached triple digits on a handful of occasions. I’d assume that the drop in K/9 comes from more advanced hitters being able to time his fastball. With only three pitches, he’ll need to develop his changeup in order to remain in the rotation. However, armed with a good slider and a dominant fastball, we could be looking at another lights-out reliever. Count me in.

Courtesy of Baseball Census

Erik Swanson, 24, SP, RHP, AAA (New York Yankees)

Year| LevelIPK/9BB/9GB%HR/9ERA
2018 | AA40.211.512.6630.9%0.000.44
2018 | AAA24.210.581.8241.8%1.465.11

Arsenal

Fastball: 94-97 MPH  | Slider: 82-85  | Changeup | 82-84 MPH

Analysis

I am so sick of writing about how good the Yankees farm system is. Yet here we are with yet another prospect that has increased his production. There’s a lot of talk about the Yankees needing to acquire a starting pitcher, and that’s true for this year, but they might have a long-term option in their farm. With only 100 innings pitched in 2017, I’d expect there to be a cap on Swanson’s innings this year, and thus I don’t anticipate he’ll make a substantial amount of starts for the big league club, if any.

Swanson is a thick dude, 6’3 and 235 lbs, and has improved his prospect stock by leaps and bounds this year. This 24-year-old made quick work of Double-A by improving his K/BB ratio dramatically and has continued that success thus far in Triple-A. Swanson has improved his breaking pitches and generated a much higher swinging-strike rate than at prior levels. There’s a strong possibility that he starts climbing up prospect lists, and could prove to be a valuable trade chip for your dynasty team this offseason.

Courtesy of Pinstripe Prospects

Luis Oviedo, 19, RHP, A- (Cleveland Indians)

Year | LevelIPK/9BB/9GB%HR/9ERA
2018 | A-23.013.301.1756.1%0.000.39

Arsenal

Fastball: 92-94 MPH  | Slider: 77-78 MPH | Curveball: 73-78 MPH | Changeup: 81-84 MPH

Analysis

Alright, this one might have me. Oviedo isn’t in Double-A, he’s in Low-A and he’s been filthy. A 13.30 K/9 and an itsy bitsy BB/9 of 1.17 over his first four starts in 2018. There’s little doubt in my mind that he’ll be promoted soon. While the title of this article remains accurate (I do still hate pitchers), there is just too much of an increase in value coming for Oviedo to ignore. He’s a four-pitch pitcher demonstrating incredible command and will start creating a buzz amongst dynasty league players in short order.

The Indians have demonstrated that they are very capable of developing high powered arms. Oviedo looks to be the next-in-line of pitchers they can add to their successes of finding and developing stud pitching prospects. The right-hander has kept the ball on the ground at a 56% clip and has yet to allow a home run over 23 innings in 2018. Go get him now.

Courtesy of Shaun P Kernahan

Taylor Widener, 23, RHP, AA (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Year | LevelIPK/9BB/9GB%HR/9ERA
2018 | AA73.211.482.8136.4%0.862.81

Arsenal

Fastball: 92-97 MPH  | Slider: 81-83  | Changeup: 81-87 MPH | 

Analysis

Like many of pitchers I’ve written about in this article, Widener was acquired in a trade.  He was one of the pieces that came back to the Diamondbacks in the Anthony Banda trade earlier this year. Thus far he’s looked like a bit of a steal for the Diamondbacks, improving his pitches, and improving his strikeout-rate from 2017.

Widener has a history of injuries, which has caused many people to write him off as a future reliever. Thus far in 2018 though he has proved that he belongs in the rotation when healthy. This season Widener has posted a 4.04 BB/K, and a 12.7% swing-strike rate. In other words, he’s combined elite control with swing and miss stuff. I like that and you should too.

The new Diamondback will need to prove his durability in order to stick in the starting rotation. Previously-injured pitchers are only your friend until they are injured again. Thus, despite all those pretty statistics, and the below gif of a nasty breaking ball, you’ll want to be extra cautious.

Courtesy of MLB

Prospects to Desire

Prospects for your watch list

Shaun Anderson, 24, RHP, AA (San Francisco Giants)

Year | LevelIPK/9BB/9GB%HR/9ERA
2018 | AA849.212.2548.5%.0643.54

Arsenal

Fastball: 92-94 MPH | Slider: 87-88 MPH | Curveball: 77-78  MPH | Change-Up: 81-83 MPH |

Analysis

Sent from Boston to San Francisco in last years trade for Eduardo Nunez, Shaun Anderson is putting up some solid numbers in Double-A. Striking out a batter per inning, and walking two per nine at Double-A is certainly enough to get my attention, anyway. Touted as a back of the rotation starter, Anderson has started to flash the ability to be more than that.

Beyond posting great K/BB ratios, Anderson has also kept the ball on the ground at a decent clip. Throughout the minors, he’s managed to generate worm killers at 50% mark and has limited the long ball as well. At this point, Anderson deserves a bit of recognition from the dynasty community and should be added in very deep leagues.

Courtesy YouTube Connerglennpenfold

Zac Lowther, 22, LHP, A+ (Baltimore Orioles)

Year | LevelIPK/9BB/9GB%HR/9ERA
2018 | A31.014.812.6132.1%0.581.16
2018 | A+25.18.882.8431.3%0.000.71

Arsenal

Fastball: 88-91 MPH  | Changeup: 81-83 MPH | Curveball: 78-81|

Analysis

Originally brought to my attention by fellow podcast talking head and TDG writer Keaton DeRocher, it seems like the Orioles might have a talented pitching prospect. Lowther’s 3/4 delivery, sharp breaking ball, and excellent command are what make him a formidable pitcher on the mound, and give him a shot to stick as a starter. His changeup is a work in progress, but his curveball has wiped out Low-A and Single-A hitters.

Lowther’s performance at Single-A this year earned him a promotion to High-A. Thus far in approximately an equal amount of innings as Single-A, Lowther has failed to display the same kind of dominance. The promotion has come with a drop in K/9, ground-ball rate, and an increase in BABIP. While Lowther’s ERA currently sits at a sexy 1.67, I would not expect him to continue to maintain it. A fringe pitcher dependent on control with a future home in an offensive ballpark is not an asset for me. His numbers have proved impressive thus far, and that at least makes him worth monitoring.

 

Courtesy of 2080

Nick Neidert, 21, RHP, AA (Miami Marlins)

Year | LevelIPK/9BB/9GB%HR/9ERA
201875.19.562.1547.3%0.843.11

Arsenal

Fastball: 90-93 MPH  | Slider: 81-83  | Changeup |78-81 MPH

Analysis

Neidert’s 2017 was cut short after suffering from an injury early into his Double-A debut. The 21-year-old took a comebacker off his forearm and was shut down for the remainder of the year. 2018 has been a different story for Neidert as he’s adjusted to Double-A hitters, and has been quite successful thus far. His strongest weapon is actually his control, as he has posted a minuscule 1.94 BB/9.

That control is what Neidert has become known for, as he’s drawn comparisons to Kyle Hendricks. However, this season has seen this young pitcher increase his swinging-strike rate to 10.7%, which is 6% higher than his short stint in 2017. The swinging-strike rate validates the improved strikeout numbers, and I’d guess there’s been some improvement in his breaking pitches. His GB% are strong as well, and I’d suggest picking him as there is potential for Neidert to start creating some buzz if this success continues.

One final note is that Neidert’s velocity concerns me, and I do not believe he’ll be much more than a back-end starter. Low nineties from the right-hand side isn’t a profile I buy into. Like most pitchers, buy for cheap and then sell when there’s some chatter in the dynasty community.

Ryan Helsley, 21, RHP, AAA (St Louis Cardinals) 

Year | LevelIPK/9BB/9GB%HR/9ERA
2018 | AA41.09.664.3946.6%1.104.39
2018 | AAA26.211.483.0436.1%0.683.71

Arsenal

Fastball: 93-96 MPH  | Changeup: 84-86 MPH | Curveball: 80-81 | Cutter: 87-89 MPH

Analysis

Helsley’s stats, four-pitch arsenal, and Cardinals’ Devil Magic are all the reasons he should make your watchlist. If you desire some further analysis on the young man, let me suggest that you read The Dynasty Guru’s Triple Play: St. Louis CardinalsTriple Play co-author, and Dynasty’s Child producer, Adam Lawler wrote up some excellent analysis on the right-handed pitcher. You should read that.

Jalen Beeks, 24, LHP, AAA (Boston Red Sox)

Arsenal

Fastball: 90-92 MPH  | Changeup: 83-85 MPH | Curveball: 73-76 | Cutter: 87-90| Slider: 84-86

Analysis

Year | LevelIPK/9BB/9GB%HR/9ERA
2018 | AAA77.111.872.6840.8%0.932.91

Last year Beeks added a cutter to his arsenal, and he has been stellar ever since.  His rise in performance was enough for the Red Sox to give him his first major league start earlier this year. It did not go well. Beeks was sent down immediately after his dud of a start and has been working on pitch selection in Triple-A. Thus far Beeks has continued to cruise through minor league batters, and I do believe he’ll get another shot in the rotation at some point this year.

Beeks’ primary asset is the deception provided by his delivery. However, with five pitches to select from, it’s jarring that he leaned on his fastball so heavily in his disastrous debut. While most likely Beeks’ peak value has passed, I suggest keeping an eye on him. I’ll be curious if changing up his pitches can produce better results at the major league level. I’m rooting for the short lefty, and think there’s still value to be had by acquiring him.

Courtesy of MLB

The Author

Patrick Magnus

Patrick Magnus

Baseball Dad, husband, TDG podcast talking head, educator, Vermonter, Shenzhener, and completely baseball obsessed.
Living, working, and writing in Shenzhen, China. Hear my thoughts on the TDG Podcast, and follow me on Twitter @TheGreenMagnus

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