TDG’S TRIPLE PLAY: SEATTLE MARINERS!
The Triple Play is back for a third season! This regular feature is broken down by staff writers Bob Osgood and Paul Monte and a rotating panel of third writers. If you’re new to the Triple Play, this series breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure! Follow Bob (@BobOsgood15), Paul (@3cardmonte13) and Joe Drake (@JDrake349) on twitter and read their analysis here at the site!
Pitcher: Marco Gonzales, Age: 28, Position: LHP
Analysis by: Joe Drake
With the rise of “The Prospect” over the last few years and younger players bursting on the scene bigger and bolder than ever, sometimes it feels like writing dynasty content is simply about profiling the Next Big Thing or the potential Next Big Thing. Today, friends, we’re going to go in the opposite direction. Nothing against our good buddy Marco Gonzales, but I think we can all come to an agreement that a 28-year old soft-tossing lefty is not going to be an MVP or Cy Young candidate any time soon. But, you know what he is? He’s pretty dang good.
The Marc-o of a Good Pitcher
The 6’1” tall, 200-pound lefty is a former 1st-rounder (2013, STL) who was never seen as ace material but was considered a slam-dunk MLB pitcher. Coming out of Gonzaga, he featured a curve and a slider to go along with his 90ish fastball and plus changeup. That said, Marco’s greatest asset has always been his command, both when he was drafted and today. Among pitchers with at least 250 pitches thrown in 2020 (filtering for starters), Marco ranks in the top 20 in the league in Command+. For those unfamiliar with the metric, the great Eno Sarris describes it as “an overall command stat that judges outcomes by intent, separately by pitch type, and then sums it all up. 100 is average”. If you’re wondering if you can trust Command+ to be of any value, Kyle Hendricks consistently grades out well, so it passes the smell test.
Gon’ The Distance
I say all that to say that I think Marco has all the makings of your classic crafty lefty who can pitch well into his mid-30s. His delivery is simple and smooth, he commands the ball the very well, he’s got enough stuff to get by, and he knows how to get deep into an outing — something becoming rarer by the day for MLB pitchers. Marco has averaged 5.86 innings per start since 2018, including the wacky year that is 2020. In an age where it seems fantasy players have to get lucky for a starter to last long enough to qualify for a win, the Seattle southpaw has thrown fewer than 5 innings just 8 times in his last 69 starts. Both you and the Mariners can count on Mr. Gonzales to take the ball every fifth day and give the team a chance to win. It’s not sexy, but it works. Frankly, it’s a profile that is overlooked and undervalued and that’s exactly why I wanted to call your attention to Marco. I think pitchers like him are an essential piece of a winning dynasty rotation. Not everyone can be an ace and you can’t stake your season on too many high-risk/high-reward guys. You need someone you can count on to get the job done.
He Doesn’t Miss the Marc-o
I’m rostering Marco in dynasty leagues of 15+ teams. Anything shallower than 15 teams and I think most waiver wires will be plentiful enough to stream and you don’t necessarily need to hold someone who’s more of a high-floor play. The deeper the league, the more valuable Marco’s high floor becomes. In 30-teamers where just about anyone with playing time has value, a profile like Marco’s is a godsend. Given his age (28) and unexciting profile, it may not take much to pry his services away from his current team.
Hitter: Sam Haggerty, Age: 26, Position: OF, 2B
Analysis by: Bob Osgood
Always keep an eye on Waivers
Sam Haggerty was drafted in 2015 by the Indians in the 24th round. After four seasons in their minor league system, he was traded to the Mets entering the 2019 season but was let go entering 2020. The Mariners claimed him off waivers and may have found a diamond in the rough who fits nicely into their current rebuilding phase.
The 26-year-old switch-hitting Haggerty did not flash much home run power in the minors, hitting no more than four in any season and being tagged with a 20/30 Game Power and 45/45 Raw Power by Fangraphs. What he does bring to the table is speed, versatility, and an above-average eye at the plate, with the hope that the batting average can be a plus for your fantasy team in deeper league formats.
Digging for Steals
Coming up through the minors, Haggerty stole bases at every level with a solid success rate, contributing to his 60-grade speed tag. He was 49-for-62 at High-A in 2017, 26-for-33 at Double-A and Triple-A in 2018, and 23-for-27 at the same two levels in 2019. Haggerty maintained a 13%-plus walk rate at for each of his past three seasons in the minors as well, leading to an OBP of over .370 in each of the past two seasons in the upper levels of the minors. He made appearances throughout the minors at 2B, SS, 3B, LF, CF, and RF. The majority of his appearances with the Mets in 2019 were at 2B and CF. This outstanding versatility, combined with hitting from both sides of the plate, could keep Haggerty on rosters for years to come in the “David Fletcher Role” that is becoming more prevalent.
Haggerty’s call-up to the big club coincided with Dylan Moore’s injury, and he has filled in seamlessly as the starter in left field. Haggerty has played every inning of all nine Mariners games between 8/19 and 8/28 and has a hit in all nine of those games. Hitting .297 in a small sample, he is 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts with a 95th percentile sprint speed. The Mariners have let their guys run, leading all of baseball with 1.06 stolen bases per game, and Haggerty could be a sneaky stolen base source in fantasy as a result. Perhaps most importantly, Haggerty is hitting second in the lineup over the past week, to help in counting categories in a short season.
Deep League Find
Scott Servais had the following to say about Haggerty last week, “Sammy’s played really well. The switch-hit tool is always nice to have. … I think he’s done a really nice job in left field. You can see what kind of athlete he is. He can really run. He can do a lot of things on the field. I’m excited about how he’s swinging the bat. … He’s been very, very competitive and a nice guy to have to fill in with Dylan Moore being out.”
Sounds like a guy who will be sticking around even after the return of Dylan Moore, who also bounces around to numerous positions. Haggerty’s competition in left field includes Dee Gordon (354/355 in Exit Velocity, has not barreled a ball this season, hitting .148) and Tim Lopes who has similar characteristics to Haggerty as a versatile speedster but is hitting .232 with a .277 OBP in 101 plate appearances. This is a deep-league recommendation only, but I am putting in waiver claims for this week on Haggerty in all of my leagues that are 15-teams or larger, both in redraft and in dynasty formats. Qualifying on most sites at 2B and OF, Haggerty is worth rolling the dice on for this year if you have a hole in your starting roster, as well as rebuilding dynasty teams to see if he could be part of your 2021 plan.
Prospect: George Kirby, Age: 22, Position: SP, Level: Alternate Site? (Low A)
Analysis by: Paul Monte
It’s a thin line
Prospects and I have always had a love/hate relationship. The constant battle of not getting sucked in by the hype but also the fear of missing out. When do you cash in on the hype? Do you hold and hope the value increases, or even better, he becomes a fantasy star on your roster. 2020 has been a disaster for those who spend a lot of time writing and thinking about minor league players. The cancellation of the MiLB season, the lack of information coming out of the alternate training sites, and the fact that most prospects are not even playing baseball right now has made it nearly impossible. We grasp on to every bit of information that leaks out of these training sites since it is all we are getting.
One of those little snippets came from Jerry Dipoto, the Seattle Mariners general manager, regarding 2019 first-round pick George Kirby. The sixth pitcher taken at 20th overall, Kirby spent his junior season of college dominating the Colonial Athletic Association. Kirby’s calling card is his control. He led all of Division 1 baseball in 2019 with a 17.8 K/BB rate and walked just 0.6 batters per nine innings. That same level of control continued as he started his pro career in short-season ball where he struck out 25 batters in 23 innings. His walk total? Zero. At 6’4” and 215 pounds the hope that was pro training would allow him to gain velocity. He had hit 97-98 in short spurts in college but sat in the low 90’s. The lack of minor league baseball put a damper on things for Kirby but he was asked to join the 60-man squad as one of the Mariners top prospects.
This is where the Dipoto comment comes in to play. It was a quick mention that Kirby was hitting the upper 90’s in his sim sessions at the alternate training site. There was not much more elaboration from Dipoto so we are left wondering whether Kirby was sitting upper 90’s or just hitting them in short spurts. This is to what we cling in 2020- lots of speculation. Prospects evaluations will fluctuate wildly this offseason and while this bit of news may mean very little, it is a positive development and one that cannot help boost an already sparkling resume.
Kirby did not receive the hype that fellow 2019 draftees Nick Lodolo and Alek Manoah did coming into the draft. He’s going to start getting it now. I expect Kirby to be a fast riser through the Mariners system. The fastball which already was a 60-grade pitch according to scouts may jump up a bit. If the secondaries, of which he has three, can improve we could see him rise to the top of prospect pitchers lists. Logan Gilbert, Emerson Hancock, and George Kirby could all see time in the rotation soon joining a surging Justus Sheffield to form what could be one of the best young rotations in the game.
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