Rookie Ladder: Pitchers Update 6/10

Here is a prospect question that applies to those of us who play in redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues: Which rookie pitcher will be the most valuable fantasy player in 2021?

The triumvirate of Ian Anderson, Trevor Rogers, and Casey Mize continue to hold onto the top three rungs of the ladder. Injuries to Sixto Sanchez, Michael Kopech, and Adbert Alzolay have opened the door to some new guys starting to climb. All that and more in this week’s update!

 

PlayerTeamRole
Ian AndersonATLRotation
Trevor RogersMIARotation
Casey MizeDETRotation
Michael KopechCWSIL
Dane DunningTEXRotation
Tarik SkubalDETRotation
Adbert AlzolayCHCIL
Logan GilbertSEARotation
Alek ManoahTORRotation
Cody PoteetMIARotation
Nate PearsonTORTriple-A
Garret CrochetCWSBullpen
Sixto SanchezMIAIL
Josh FlemingTBRBulk guy
Luis PatinoTBRTriple-A
Sammy LongSFGBulk guy
Sam HentgesCLERotation
Spencer HowardPHIRotation
Jackson KowarKCRRotation
Deivi GarciaNYYTriple-A
Eli MorganCLERotation
Triston McKenzieCLETriple-A
Brent Honeywell Jr.TBRTriple-A
Dean KramerBALTriple-A
J.B. BukauskasARIBullpen
Chris RodriguezLAABullpen
Kohei AriharaTEXIL
Daniel LynchKCRTriple-A
Nick LodoloCINAA
Zac LowtherBALTriple-A
Daulton JeffriesOAKAAA
Mackenzie GoreSDPAAA
Matt ManningDETAAA
Josiah GrayLADAAA
Brendan McKayTBRIL
Brailyn MarquezCHCAA
Adonis MedinaPHIAAA
Alex LangeDETRP
Wil CrowePITSP5

 

 

 

News and Notes

Ian Anderson has labored through two starts since our last update, only pitching a combined 8.1 innings between the two starts. He had trouble locating his stuff each time, leading to a poor strike% and requiring him to throw a lot of pitches to get outs (87 and 98 pitches thrown over the last two appearances). Still, I don’t think there’s a reason to push him off the top spot on the ladder. We might just need to recalibrate expectations to that of a 3.50 ERA pitcher from that of a 3.25 ERA pitcher moving forward.

If you’re a Trevor Rogers owner you’re dancing so far this season. He put up two quality starts since our last update. Just monitor his fastball velocity chart as the season wears on, as he’s had two lower velocity blips over his last three outings:

 

 

Casey Mize has posted quality starts in each of his last two outings and eight consecutive above average game scores. His strikeout stuff hasn’t been all that we’ve hoped for (yet), but I think that could improve as he works on harnessing his arsenal.

 

Since the last update Sixto Sanchez was shut down from throwing, and then started throwing off flat ground again. The team is probably going to continue to be cautious with him moving forward, meaning he’s holding little to no value as a redraft stash at this point. He’s sliding way down the list this week.

Michael Kopech is on the IL with a hamstring injury, but it sounds like he’s making good progress toward returning in the next week or two. No need to press the panic button with him.

Dane Dunning bounced back from a rough outing on May 26 to post two consecutive game scores above 50. He should continue eating innings in a back-end rotation role for your fantasy squad.

Adbert Alzolay was lifted from his last start and placed on the IL with a blister.

Tarik Skubal looked pretty strong in his last outing against a White Sox offense that usually chews up left-handers. He punched out eleven hitters during five innings of work. His four-seam fastball was touching 97 and working up in the zone. His slider and knuckle curve presented hitters with two distinct breaking ball shapes to change eye levels. And his changeup came in at 83 mph to keep hitters off-balance. He’s sliding above the injured Alzolay this week. If he keeps it up, he will be above Dunning in the next update.

 

Cody Poteet is off to the IL with a knee injury. The team is calling it a sprain, so hopefully he won’t miss too much time.

Nate Pearson has been way better than his 7.24 Triple-A ERA would suggest. He’s been BABIPd to death (.440), but his K-BB% is an elite 32.8%. I think he’s the next SP up for Toronto in case of emergency.

Garrett Crochet has a career 0.37 ERA in 24.1 innings. The White Sox will still probably try to move him to the rotation, but he’s already an effective bullpen weapon.

Luis Patino is back from the IL, but has been sent to Triple-A Durham to stretch out into a more traditional starter’s role.

Sam Hentges had a rough start on May 30 and then an even rougher (1.2 innings, 5 ER) relief appearance on June 6. The Cleveland rotation is kind of taking on water at this point, so Hentges could still be in the mix for starts in the short run. Long term, I still think he’s probably best as a relief option.

Spencer Howard is being used in short bursts as the Phillies remain committed to keeping his innings down this year. Don’t expect much fantasy production from him until 2022.

Logan Gilbert shook off some of the rookie dust since the last update. He posted game scores of 62 and 55 in his last two outings. I moved him irrationally low in the last update, he’s swinging back up into the Top-10 of the ladder for this update.

 

Alek Manoah has basically given us the rookie rollercoaster. The first outing was good and gave us a glimpse of a future front line starter, the second outing was a total dud, and the third outing was a middling performance that we should expect from him for the remainder of the season. Pearson has better stuff, but Manoah is probably the steadier option for the Blue Jays rotation at the moment.

Dean Kremer got optioned back down to Triple-A Norfolk.

Chris Rodriguez avoided a long IL stint and is back in the Angels bullpen.

 

New Debuts

Eli Morgan – RHP – Cleveland Indians

As I noted earlier, the Cleveland rotation is kind of taking on water at this point. The team called up Eli Morgan on May 28 to help plug a hole before optioning him back down to Triple-A. However, a quick look at the club’s Roster Resource page shows upcoming rotation holes against the Mariners on Saturday and the Orioles on Tuesday. Morgan made a Triple-A start (3.2 innings) on Tuesday June 8.

Morgan played his college ball at Gonzaga. He’s never been a high-pedigree prospect, and relies on command, control, and pitchability to get things done. He’s effective in that role, however, posting a 3.16 ERA over 336.1 innings at the minor league level. He’s fantasy irrelevant for all but very deep dynasty players right now, but if he can lock down a rotation role then he could become a possibly streaming option depending on the matchup.

 

Jackson Kowar – RHP – Kansas City Royals

The Royals are seemingly hell-bent on breaking in all their promising young pitchers at the MLB level this season. The latest call-up was RHP Jackson Kowar. Kowar was part of the Royals’ pitching-focused 2018 draft, where the team took him alongside Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, and Kris Bubic. He blew up like a bargain-basement M-80 in his debut (current ERA 54.00). However, he is scheduled to get another start this Saturday against Oakland.

I’ve prefered Kowar to fellow Royals’ draft-mates Lynch and Bubic since their professional debuts. His fastball-changeup combo should work at the professional level, as I believe the changeup can be used as a true out pitch against MLB hitters. His weakness has always been the breaking ball, which he will need to make himself into something more than a back-end rotation piece going forward. He seems to have the feel for spinning a breaker. The problem is his command and feel for the pitch wanes. The team seems to be confident enough in his abilities to let him try and figure that part out at the highest level. If he can, then there’s still big upside potential here.

 

Sammy Long – LHP – San Francisco Giants

And then there’s THIS guy. He made his MLB debut in a bulk relief role for the Giants on June 8 and looked just fantastic. The fact that he made it to the Show is a testament to his mental fortitude. Long was released by both the Rays and White Sox before joining the Giants organization. He’s been supremely good at both Double-A and Triple-A in 2021, earning the call up to San Francisco this week.

Long looked electric in his MLB debut. He went 4.0 innings in a bulk relief role, striking out seven batters and inducing 10 swinging strikes. His fastball touched 98 mph and he dotted it around the zone. His curveball generated some particularly uncomfortable swings, leading to a 37.5% whiff rate for the pitch in the outing. He also sprinkled in a changeup, sinker, and slider, giving him the potential for a starter’s repertoire. I think he’s probably going to stick at the MLB level given his stuff, and there’s even a decent chance he gets the opportunity to start the next time the rotation swings around to the ‘bullpen game’ spot.

Top 20 Dynasty Prospects – AL West Edition

The time has come to take stock of how some organizations are shaping up in the Minor Leagues. With a good amount of data out for 2021, there have been some early-season breakouts. While the typical caveat of a small sample size always applies, it would be wise to notice some trends taking place. Not every prospect with a gaudy slash line will sustain the production. But it is worth noting when players are showing noticeable statistical improvements. In many cases, we haven’t had eyes on these players for over a year. There are bound to be some surprises, likely more so than a traditional year.

When taking on this project, it seemed simple enough. Rank the top 20 prospects in each organization from a dynasty perspective. I took this on as a solo project because I thought it would be a helpful way to keep track of all the lists I was posting on Twitter throughout the off-season. I didn’t fully appreciate how intensive it is to keep up with every organization at the same time. In hindsight, there’s probably a reason most lists like this are released in the winter when everyone has time to catch their breath. With games actively taking place, it can be a monumental task to keep up with all the movement.

Originally the plan was to display all 30 organizations at once. That turned out to be more difficult than I had anticipated. I had a grandiose vision of what this could look like with all the team colors but there is probably a good reason I have never seen what I was picturing in my mind. So to make the material more digestible for myself and the reader, I have decided to display organizational rankings by each division. I was able to give more individual time to each team rather than trying to juggle all 30 organizations at once.

I will begin the series focusing on the AL West. I am familiar with the history and dynamics of the division living near the Seattle area for the better part of my life. The division is up for grabs over the next decade, and several of the players on these lists will play a crucial role in determining which organization comes out on top. There is plenty of high-level talent scattered throughout these organizations located at every level throughout the Minor Leagues.

Just like a dynasty list, these rankings are a snapshot in time. They are constantly evolving as breakouts happen, players under-perform expectations, and perspectives shift. You could ask 100 people to rank each organization, and their lists might all look a little different. I hope you enjoy this and will check out the upcoming divisions. The idea is to keep these updated regularly when graduations, promotions, and perspectives shift.

 

HOUSTON ASTROS

PlayerRankPositionLevelAge
Forrest Whitley1RHPAAA23
Pedro Leon2SSAA22
Jeremy Pena3SSAA23
Colin Barber4OFA+20
Freudis Nova5SSA+21
Richi Gonzalez6OFR18
Alex Santos7RHPA19
Jairo Solis8RHPA+21
Brett Conine9RHPAAA24
Hunter Brown10RHPAA22
Joe Perez113BA+21
Alex McKenna12OFA+23
Korey Lee13CA22
Tyler Ivey14RHPAAA25
Shawn Dubin15RHPAAA25
Dauri Lorenzo16SSR18
Jordan Brewer17OFR23
Taylor Jones181BMLB27
Zach Daniels19OFA22
Ronnie Dawson20OFAAA26

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

PlayerRankPositionLevelAge
Brandon Marsh1OFAAA23
Jordyn Adams2OFA+21
Reid Detmers3LHPAA21
Chris Rodriguez4RHPMLB22
Kyren Paris5SSA19
Jeremiah Jackson62BA21
Denzer Guzman73BR17
Arol Vera83BR18
David Calabrese9OFR18
Werner Blakely10SSR19
Jack Kochanowicz11RHPA20
Packy Naughton12LHPAAA25
D'Shawn Knowles13OFA20
Alexander Ramirez14OFR18
Francisco Del Valle15OFA+22
Hector Yan16RHPA+22
Brent Killam17LHPA+23
Ryan Smith18LHPA+23
Stiward Aquino19RHPA21
Adrian Placencia20SSR18

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

PlayerRankPositionLevelAge
Tyler Soderstrom1CA19
Daulton Jefferies2RHPAAA25
A.J. Puk3LHPAAA26
Pedro Pineda4OFR17
Robert Puason5SSA18
Brayan Buelvas6OFA19
Logan Davidson7SSAA23
James Kaprielian8RHPMLB27
Luis Barrera9OFAAA25
Jordan Diaz103BA+20
Michael Guldberg11OFA+21
Nick Allen122BAA22
Jeff Criswell13RHPA+22
Lazaro Armenteros14OFA+22
Junior Perez15OFA19
Austin Beck16OFA+22
Colin Peluse17RHPA+22
Tyler Baum18RHPAAA23
Greg Deichmann19OFAAA26
Jonah Bride203BAA25

SEATTLE MARINERS

PlayerRankPositionLevelAge
Jarred Kelenic1OFAAA21
Julio Rodriguez2OFA+20
Noelvi Marte3SSA19
George Kirby4RHPA+23
Logan Gilbert5RHPMLB24
Emerson Hancock6RHPA+21
Taylor Trammell7OFMLB23
Brandon Williamson8LHPA+23
Jonatan Clase9OFR19
Cal Raleigh10CAAA24
Zach DeLoach11OFA+22
Juan Then12RHPA+21
Austin Shenton133BA+23
Jake Fraley14OFMLB26
Victor Labrada15OFA21
Kaden Polcovich162BA+22
Isaiah Campbell17RHPA+23
Levi Stoudt18RHPA+23
Luis Bolivar19OFR17
Starlin Aguilar203BR17


TEXAS RANGERS

PlayerRankPositionLevelAge
Josh Jung13BAAA23
Luisangel Acuna22BA19
Maximo Acosta3SSR18
Sherten Apostel43BAA22
Cole Winn5RHPAA21
Justin Foscue62BA+22
Evan Carter7OFA18
Sam Huff8CMLB23
Keithron Moss9SSA19
Yerry Rodriguez10RHPAA23
Ricky Vanasco11RHPA+22
Chris Seise12SSA+22
Bubba Thompson13OFAA22
Hans Crouse14RHPAA22
Curtis Terry151BAAA24
Yonny Hernandez162BAAA23
Davis Wendzel173BAA24
Bayron Lora18OFR18
Demarcus Evans19RHPMLB24
Owen White20RHPA21

Rookie Ladder: Hitters Update (6/2)

Here is a prospect question that applies to those of us who play in redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues: Which rookie hitter will be the most valuable fantasy player in 2021?

The calendar has flipped to June, and we’ve had some movement on the ladder over the last month of the MLB season. I’ll break down all the debutants as well as updates on the rookie ladder below!

 

PlayerTeamPos
Randy ArozarenaTBROF
Ke'Bryan HayesPIT3B
Dylan CarlsonSTLOF
Nick MadrigalCWS2B
Jazz ChisholmMIASS
Adolis GarciaTEXOF
Alex KirilloffMIN1B
Pavin SmithARI1B
Yermin MercedesCWS1B/DH
Andrew VaughnCWS1B/LF
Jarred KelenicSEAOF
Zack McKinstryLAD2B/OF
Bobby DalbecBOS1B
Taylor TrammellSEAOF
Ryan MountcastleBAL1B
Vidal BrujanTBR2B
Wander FrancoTBRSS
William ContrerasATLC
Akil BaddooDETOF
Jonathan IndiaCIN3B
Taylor WallsTBRSS
Owen MillerCLEUT
Kyle IsbelKCROF
Tyler StephensonCINC
Cristian PacheATLOF
Ha-seong KimSDPSS
Luis CampusanoSDPC
Geraldo PerdomoARISS
Tucupita MarcanoSDPSS
Julio RodriguezSEAOF
Nolan JonesCLE3B
Joey BartSFGC
Ka'ai TomOAKOF
Oneil CruzPITSS
Miguel AmayaCHCC
Lewin DiazMIA1B
Seth BeerARI1B
Drew WatersATLOF
Luke RaleyLADOF
Bobby BradleyCLE1B
Adley RutschmanBALC
Josh JungTEX3B
JJ BledayMIAOF
Bobby Witt Jr.KCRSS
Josh PalaciosTOROF
Alan TrejoCOLSS
Nick MatonPHISS
Jose DeversMIA2B/3B

 

News and Notes

I said this during the last update and I’ll say it again for this one: Randy Arozarena has been just fine for fantasy. He’s projected to be a $24 player in 2021 according to the FanGraphs Auction calculator, making him a Top-10 outfielder for fantasy purposes so far this year. And, he hasn’t even really hit the ball that well, as he’s whiffing a ton and has only posted a 19th percentile xwOBA this season. This means that the ceiling for Randy’s fantasy production is probably even higher than this. He’s in firm control of the top spot on the rookie hitter ladder.

28-year-old Adolis Garcia is having a full-on Bull Durham breakout with the Texas Rangers, and he’s still ‘rookie eligible’ despite his journeyman status. He’s been the 2nd most valuable fantasy outfielder after Ronald Acuna Jr. in 2021. Massive Whiff and Chase rates combined with a low BB% likely means that we’ve seen Adolis’s best production already. But man, it’s already been a fun and profitable ride.

Ke’Bryan Hayes should be activated off the injured list this week. He has really tested the patience of his fantasy managers this season.

Dylan Carlson has been a steady real-life performer thus far. But for fantasy purposes, he’s been playing like a $5 player in 15-team leagues. He has been relatively hot over his last 50 PAs according to his rolling xwOBA, so maybe he can unleash some more pop as the summer weather heats up.

Carlson’s former high school teammate, Nick Madrigal, has been doing the usual Nick Madrigal things. He has a Top-10 fantasy 2B profile right now just based on his batting average and playing time. The next fantasy gear for Madrigal is to steal some bases, at which point he becomes a Top-5 2B. He doesn’t have elite speed, but he’s posted an 82nd percentile sprint speed score so far this year. The White Sox are just a middle-of-the-road team in terms of stolen base attempts (0.60 per game). If Madrigal played for Kansas City, you might see SB totals (and overall fantasy value) in a similar territory as Whit Merrifield. But the biggest recent Madrigal news is that he’s hit a home run since our last update!

 

Jazz Chisholm is finally back in the lineup and batting leadoff. Here’s hoping his layoff won’t cool off his performance too much.

Pavin Smith has been a fine fantasy replacement-level guy so far this year. His Statcast page features a lot of positives right now and his rolling xwOBA has picked up steam over both his last 50 and 100 PA samples. If he heats up there’s no reason he can’t finish the season more valuable than even Dylan Carlson. It looks like his days hitting near the top of the order are over for now though.

Yermin Mercedes has cooled off since “Hall of Fame person” Tony LaRussa publicly threw him under the bus for taking a Willians Astudillo 3-0 curveball to the cheap seats. He still presents a solid contact and power profile, he’s just going to be prone to streakiness given his overactive (1st percentile chase rate) approach at the plate.

Yermin’s teammate Andrew Vaughn has impressed us more this season with his glove than with his bat. He’s clearly been a better left fielder so far in his career than Eloy Jimenez ever was. He has a solid bat, but he’s going to have to get cooking in the power department to turn a profit for his fantasy owners in 2021. So far he’s been a sub-replacement level OF in 15-team mixed leagues.

Inconsistent playing time and a 36.0% strikeout-rate has been the story of the season for Bobby Dalbec so far. He just hasn’t got going so far this season.

Taylor Trammell went absolutely bananas during his time in Triple-A, and the club called him back up to the big club after Kyle Lewis went down with a meniscus injury in his right knee. He should get regular playing time once again. He needs his Triple-A hot streak to translate to making more consistent contact on pitches in the strike zone at the MLB level, where he’s struggled mightily in 2021 (68.6% zone contact rate).

Zack McKinstry is back from the IL. I’m sliding him up above Dalbec and Trammell, as I believe that McKinstry’s bat is just more consistent than either of those guys.

Ryan Mountcastle has given little glimpses of promise with stolen bases and a 113 mph max exit velocity. But, his K-BB% is nearly 30% this season, which is basically unusable for any Major Leaguer not named Javier Baez.

Wander Franco has been solid at Triple-A as a 20-year-old. But when the Rays traded Willy Adames to Milwaukee, it was Taylor Walls who got first crack at the MLB roster spot.

Jarred Kelenic got the call, and with Kyle Lewis going on the IL, he’s going to be Seattle’s everyday centerfielder. It’s very early, but it’s also clear that Kelenic will need to adjust to MLB pitching. Especially breaking stuff, which he’s posted a measly .167 xwOBA against so far this year.

Alex Kirilloff is back from his wrist injury and seems to be hitting the ball fine. I think he has as much promise as any hitter on this list and could go on a heater sometime this summer. He won’t give you stolen bases from a fantasy perspective, but he could finish the season as a Top-50 outfielder even with all the time he’s missed.

Jonathan India is holding on to the starting 2B job, but hasn’t done much of anything else to make a move up the ladder.

Kyle Isbel remains at Triple-A.

Akil Baddoo can still punish mistakes, but his contact-rate is simply too bad to count on him as a consistent fantasy contributor.

Cristian Pache is dealing with groin tightness during his Triple-A rehab assignment.

Vidal Brujan has done a little bit of everything that’s fantasy-relevant at Triple-A so far. Do we see him promoted to MLB before Wander Franco? I think there’s a good chance that happens. And if it does happen, he’s the type of player with a power/speed profile that can turn things around for your fantasy team quickly. He’s high up my personal stash list for redraft leagues.

William Contreras has shown a propensity for hitting the snot out of the ball (84th percentile max EV). He’s already a positive contributor for those of you in two-catcher leagues, and probably should be monitored even in single catcher setups.

 

New Debuts

 

Owen Miller – UT – Cleveland Indians

Owen Miller was traded to Cleveland as part of the deal that sent Mike Clevinger to the Padres. He’s a high-floor player with both a polished approach at the plate and a polished glove that can play all over the diamond. At Triple-A this year, he was hugely productive with the bat (.466 wOBA). However, his statistical line was really pumped up by a .500 BABIP at the level early on.

Miller got everyday reps out of the gate, appearing at each infield spot and DH in his first week in the Show. He’s struggled to hit MLB pitching so far, so he’s likely going to be relegated to a super-utility role in the event he can stick on the active roster. I don’t forsee him becoming fantasy-relevant in any format outside of deep dynasties.

 

Taylor Walls – SS – Tampa Bay Rays

Taylor Walls was Tampa Bay’s 3rd round draft pick out of Florida State in the 2017 draft. He’s impressed throughout his professional career, so much so that he made Willy Adames expendable at the MLB level for the club. Since his promotion, Walls has been the team’s everyday shortstop and generally hits sixth in the batting order.

In a lot of ways Taylor Walls, 24, is a similar prospect to Owen Miller. Both are high-floor guys due to their polished approach at the plate as well as their ability to sling the leather on the infield dirt. Walls has looked like a more dynamic offensive threat at times at the minor league level, so if you’re looking for cover for a shortstop or middle infield spot during the 2021 injury plague, I think Walls is the better bet of the two players.

 

Trevor Larnach – OF – Minnesota Twins

Trevor Larnach, 24, was Nick Madrigal’s college teammate at Oregon State University. Minnesota popped him with the 20th overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft. Since being called-up on May 8th, Larnach has appeared in 21 games for the Twins, seeing time primarily in left field.

Similar to his rookie ladder teammate Alex Kirilloff, Larnach has a great feel for hitting. He’s patient (below-average chase rate) but not passive (above average zone swing %), and can absolutely squash a baseball when desired (his 116 mph max exit velocity this season is good for 98th percentile among all MLB hitters). He should be able to hold down a lineup spot while contributing HRs, Runs, and RBIs for your fantasy squad for the remainder of the season.

 

Rookie Ladder: Pitchers Update 5/26

Here is a prospect question that applies to those of us who play in redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues: Which rookie pitcher will be the most valuable fantasy player in 2021?

Ian Anderson continues to impress, while Trevor Rogers and Casey Mize seem to be establishing themselves as reliable MLB rotation pieces. Beyond those three at the top, there’s a lot of uncertainty, injuries, and changing roles. I’ll go through all that, plus some recent notable prospect call-ups, to hopefully help you gain an edge in your leagues for the remainder of the 2021 season:

 

PlayerTeamRole
Ian AndersonATLRotation
Trevor RogersMIARotation
Casey MizeDETRotation
Sixto SanchezMIAIL
Michael KopechCWSSwingman
Dane DunningTEXRotation
Adbert AlzolayCHCRotation
Tarik SkubalDETRotation
Cody PoteetMIARotation
Nate PearsonTORTriple-A
Garret CrochetCWSBullpen
Josh FlemingTBRBulk guy
Luis PatinoTBRIL
Sam HentgesCLERotation
Spencer HowardPHIRotation
Logan GilbertSEARotation
Alek ManoahTORRotation
Deivi GarciaNYYTriple-A
Triston McKenzieCLETriple-A
Brent Honeywell Jr.TBRTriple-A
Dean KramerBALRotation
J.B. BukauskasARIBullpen
Chris RodriguezLAAIL
Kohei AriharaTEXIL
Nick LodoloCINAA
Zac LowtherBALAlternate Site
Daulton JeffriesOAKAAA
Mackenzie GoreSDPAAA
Matt ManningDETAAA
Josiah GrayLADAAA
Brendan McKayTBRIL
Brailyn MarquezCHCAA
Adonis MedinaPHIAAA
Alex LangeDETRP
Wil CrowePITSP5

 

 

News and Notes

 

Ian Anderson keeps plugging away in the Braves rotation. He’s still walking a few more batters than you’d like to see, but the flip side is he’s effectively wild, keeping hitters off-balance and posting an above-average number of strikeouts (25.2% K-rate in 2021). ERA, FIP, and xFIP are all nearly in alignment with Anderson — he’s around a 3.30 ERA talent that is going to give his team a shot at six effective innings each 5th day. You can’t really ask for much more than this out of a rookie hurler.

Trevor Rogers continues his breakout season. With his fastball averaging 95 mph this year, the totality of Rogers’ stuff has taken a step forward. The changeup has been a great weapon (34.9% whiff rate), and his slider has shown vast improvement (42.6% whiff rate, up over 11% from 2020). He’s had no issues working deep into games (only one start less than 5.0 innings this year), and he’s handling opposite-handed batters without much difficulty (1.99 ERA, 0.93 WHIP vs RHB in 2021). In short, he’s looking like a total starting pitcher package.

Casey Mize started the 2021 season with some bumps, but he has been dynamite in the month of May. His game scores over his last four starts (50 is average): 61, 63, 71, 72. He’s a relevant SP in all formats.

Sixto Sanchez has been throwing bullpens, but has yet to appear in a competitive setting in 2021. We might not see him in the Bigs until the end of June (or later).

Michael Kopech has shuttled back to the bullpen, but he’s been dynamite this year. He’s the next man up for the White Sox rotation in the event of an injury or ineffective performance. His stuff has been really electric, with a developing changeup as the final piece of the puzzle:

Triston McKenzie has been sent back down to Triple-A. His four-seam fastball has averaged only 91.2 mph over 7 MLB starts thus far in 2021. When you see him back again, it’s likely going to be in a relief role.

Dane Dunning was excellent the last time out against the Yankees, posting a game score of 71 while pitching six scoreless innings. He doesn’t have the ceiling of Kopech or Sixto, so I’m keeping him below those two for now. But his sophomore season is going well, making the Rangers feel good as getting him as part of the return for Lance Lynn from the White Sox.

Tarik Skubal is back making starts for the Tigers, turning in a couple usable five inning outings over his last two starts. Skubal’s issue is that his fastball has been supremely hittable, with batters posting a .688 xSLG against the pitch so far in 2021. His overall barrel rate allowed is 17.9%, putting him in the bottom 1% of the league.

Nate Pearson made one MLB start which lasted 2.1 innings before he was shuttled back down to Triple-A Buffalo. He’s been passed (for now) by Alek Manoah on the Toronto pitching depth chart for this season.

Adbert Alzolay continues to get results despite a 23.7% HR/FB rate in 2021. He’s yet to turn in a totally dominant outing this year, but he’s been usable even in 12-teamers. He’s throwing his slider 47% of the time, and with good reason, as it’s a “Big League” pitch. His next step is to figure out his fastball mix, and how to best locate each to avoid the longball.

Kohei Arihara underwent shoulder surgery and there’s a good chance that he could miss the rest of the season.

Garrett Crochet has looked like a different pitcher in 2021. His average velocity on his four-seam fastball has dipped to 96.6 mph, and he doesn’t command it well enough to get by with it as much in that lower velocity band. Hitters have posted a .357 xwOBA against the pitch in 2021, compared to a .176 xwOBA against in 2020 when the pitch was sitting 100 mph. The good news is that Crochet has shown a willingness to rely on his slider and changeup more. Both pitches have been getting good results. There’s a starter’s profile in here somewhere. We just might have to wait until 2022 to see it.

Josh Fleming has been good in his bulk inning role, and is on the way to establishing himself as YARBRO 2.0.

Chris Rodriguez is on the IL with a shoulder issue. The team thinks he might be activated by the end of the week. Here’s hoping it’s nothing too serious, given that timetable.

Luis Patino cut open the middle finger on his pitching hand, and is on the 10-day IL until that heals up. He’s been usable in an opener/bulk-inning role for Tampa this year.

“The Lithuanian Assassin” J.B. Bukauskas has struggled in a bullpen role so far this season. His fastball, in particular, has been extremely hittable and hasn’t demonstrated any characteristics of a ‘closer’s fastball’. Don’t look for him to graduate into high leverage work any time soon.

Corey Kluber left his last start for the Yankees with right shoulder tightness, so there’s a chance that we see Deivi Garcia up soon. However, Deivi has been pretty pedestrian in four-starts at Triple-A, as he’s been weighed down by borderline unusable control (17.4% BB-rate).

Sam Hentges has made three consecutive starts for Cleveland, and now Zach Plesac has been shelved with his Hulkamania-related injury. Hentges has been wild, so don’t count on him in redraft this season. However, there is enough to like to make him a hold guy in deep dynasty and keeper formats.

Spencer Howard has been recalled by the Phillies and has taken a spot in the starting rotation this time around. His first start was a bumpy three-inning affair, but he has posted a 33.3% CSW rate in 2021 thus far. One thing Howard has dealt with as a young starter is a notable velocity dip within games. While he can touch 96 mph with the fastball, especially early on, he usually settles in around 91 mph after a couple innings of work. Until he can prove that he’s got the stamina to pitch deep into games, his likeliest role is in the bullpen long term.

Nick Lodolo has been strong through four starts at Double-A, posting a 1.47 FIP. He should work his way up to Triple-A soon, and a late-season call-up is a definite possibility.

MacKenzie Gore continues to struggle mightily with his control at Triple-A. He doesn’t need to be stashed in any redraft format.

 

New Debuts

 

Cody Poteet – RHP – Miami Marlins

Man I did not see this one coming at all! The Marlins have some great young pitching depth, and I figured a number of guys would contribute ahead of Poteet. But the team’s 4th round selection in the 2015 draft has taken advantage of his opportunity, spinning three gems to start his MLB career, going 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA.

Poteet features a four-pitch mix that he can use to keep hitters from both sides of the plate off-balance. His four-seam fastball has averaged 93.7 mph, and has good spin and life up in the zone. Poteet locates the pitch well. His changeup plays very well off the four-seamer. It’s a straight-change with a great movement profile (12% more drop than the average MLB change), generating whiffs at a 37.9% rate so far. Then, he mixes in a slider with two-lane movement and a sweepy slower curveball to keep hitters off-balance. He commands everything well. He has a future as a MLB rotation arm.

 

Logan Gilbert – RHP – Seattle Mariners

The Mariners gave us a double-barreled prospect surprise by calling up future franchise cornerstones Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert on the same day. Gilbert has now made three starts for the Ms, and has struggled. He’s posted a 7.59 ERA, with MLB hitters really teeing off on his fastball in their first look at the kid.

Gilbert has projected as a starting pitcher throughout his pro career due to his repeatable delivery and four-pitch mix. However, his delivery, while repeatable, seems to be easy for MLB hitters to time up so far. And, despite flashing a good changeup in the past, Gilbert has yet to throw one at the MLB level. The fastball, in particular, has been a trouble spot. It hasn’t flashed as a pitch that will generate a lot of whiffs, and he’s been serving it up in the hart of the zone a ton. Just look at his heat map thus far:

Gilbert still has the prospect pedigree to make him a worthwhile hold in pretty much every format. But for those of us who dumped a bunch of FAAB to pick him up for his MLB debut, that’s not much consolation right now.

 

Alek Manoah – RHP – Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays called-up Alek Manoah to make his first career start against the Yankees tonight. Manoah, 23, was the team’s first round selection in the 2019 draft out of West Virginia University. Manoah has impressed at each placement during his non-traditional development period, including his time at the alternate site in 2020 and at MLB spring training in 2021.

Manoah’s primary weapon is a slider that might rate out as a double-plus pitch. It’s the type of pitch that will confound MLB hitters and provide Manoah with a security blanket that he can rely on while he figures things out at the big league level.

Manoah’s fastball should work at the MLB level. He can sit consistently in the 92-93 mph band with the pitch, and has the ability to reach back and touch 97 mph with it when needed. The slider tunnels well with the fastball, and the combination of looks should give hitters trouble. His changeup is a work in progress, but the team has said that they like the depth he’s been able to add to the pitch since draft day in 2019. Manoah is worth a stab in leagues where you are strained for starting pitching at the moment.

Rookie Ladder – 2021 Hitters Update (5/5)

Here is a prospect question that applies to those of us who play in redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues: Which rookie hitter will be the most valuable fantasy player in 2021?

We are now one month into the season now and will continue to see plenty of movement on the ladder in the coming months as players move around and new players hop on the bottom rungs. I’ll break down all the debutants as well as updates on the rookie ladder below!

PlayerTeamPos
Randy ArozarenaTBROF
Ke'Bryan HayesPIT3B
Dylan CarlsonSTLOF
Nick MadrigalCWS2B
Jazz ChisholmMIASS
Pavin SmithARI1B
Yermin MercedesCWS1B/DH
Andrew VaughnCWS1B/LF
Bobby DalbecBOS1B
Taylor TrammellSEAOF
Zack McKinstryLAD2B/OF
Ryan MountcastleBAL1B
Wander FrancoTBRSS
Jarred KelenicSEAOF
Alex KirilloffMIN1B
Jonathan IndiaCIN3B
Kyle IsbelKCROF
Akil BaddooDETOF
Tyler StephensonCINC
Cristian PacheATLOF
Ha-seong KimSDPSS
Luis CampusanoSDPC
Geraldo PerdomoARISS
Tucupita MarcanoSDPSS
Julio RodriguezSEAOF
Nolan JonesCLE3B
Joey BartSFGC
Vidal BrujanTBR2B
Ka'ai TomOAKOF
Oneil CruzPITSS
Miguel AmayaCHCC
Lewin DiazMIA1B
Seth BeerARI1B
William ContrerasATLC
Drew WatersATLOF
Luke RaleyLADOF
Bobby BradleyCLE1B
Adley RutschmanBALC
Josh JungTEX3B
JJ BledayMIAOF
Bobby Witt Jr.KCRSS
Josh PalaciosTOROF
Alan TrejoCOLSS
Nick MatonPHISS
Jose DeversMIA2B/3B

News and Notes

 

Randy Arozarena has been just fine for fantasy, contributing three home runs, four stolen bases, and 28 Runs+RBI so far in 2021. For real-life purposes, he’s struggling a bit relative to his 2020 performance, especially in driving the ball for extra bases. One thing sticking out is that he’s really having difficulty making contact in the zone, with a 65.2% zone contact rate which is well below the MLB average (82.1%). He also swings at stuff over the plate a little less frequently than your average MLBer. Generally speaking, his patient approach at the dish is fine. If he can fix his timing and get after the pitches he’s seeing in the zone, his power numbers should rebound some more as well.

Ke’Bryan Hayes should be nearing a return over the next couple of weeks. He faced off against live pitching earlier this week and the team said that his injured wrist was looking strong.

Dylan Carlson continues to have a nice season. His OPS through one month sits above .800, and he’s been playing some solid defense in centerfield. Look for him to chip in a handful of stolen bases this season as well, as he’s getting on base plenty and has the speed to be able to swipe a few (75th percentile sprint speed in 2021).

Nick Madrigal is a .330 hitter through 200 MLB PAs. He’s a great batting average buddy for your fantasy squad, and has chipped in 28 Runs+RBI so far this year. Similar to Carlson, look for him to start chipping in a few more stolen bases as the season wears on as well.

Jazz Chisholm landed on the IL with a hamstring injury. He’s just now getting back to “light baseball activities”, so it might be some time still before he’s fully back with the Marlins. He should still be held in all formats as he bounces back from his hamstring injury.

Bobby Dalbec continues to struggle to make contact, but the contact he is making is solid (.507 xwOBAcon). Howeve, he is hitless in his last five games, so Dalbec owners have to hope that his “off days” don’t morph into a stint at the alternate site to “work on some things”.

Pavin Smith keeps batting leadoff for the D’backs. He’s hit the ball hard this season (88th percentile hard-hit rate) while also making a good amount of contact (17.6% strikeout rate), and he’s even stolen a base this year. He’s sliding above Dalbec for the time being.

Taylor Trammell has really struggled to make contact both inside and outside of the zone. He’ll take his walks, hit some dingers, and steal some bags, but it seems increasingly likely that he’s going to have a stint down at Triple-A Tacoma this summer.

Yermin Mercedes was the AL Rookie of the Month in April. He’s bound to cool off some (.426 BABIP from a dude built like a NFL fullback), but his 15% K-rate and .230 ISO so far in 2021 are some real skills that you can bank on. He’s moving up above Dalbec and Trammell this week.

Zack McKinstry is still rehabbing from his oblique injury, and the Dodgers’ offense is kind of missing his bat at the moment. Look for him to regain a starting role when healthy.

Ryan Mountcastle has stolen three bags despite his .241 OBP.

Andrew Vaughn should be in line for more playing time with Luis Robert’s unfortunate injury. It’s not exactly certain how Tony La Russa will handle the outfield hole caused by Robert being out for multiple months, but Vaughn should at least see some extra PAs, even if he’s not moved into a full-time starting role.

Wander Franco went 3-for-5 and stole a bag in his Triple-A debut. If Willy Adames continues to scuffle, there’s a shot we see Franco up with the Rays relatively soon.

Jarred Kelenic is starting at Triple-A while Sam Haggerty is getting outfield looks for Seattle. The team just doesn’t appear to be in a rush to call him up.

Jonathan India has crashed back to earth after his hot start. Kyle Isbel has as well, getting sent back down to the alternate site as the Kansas City Royals look unexpectedly competitive early on this year. Akil Baddoo is hitless in his last five games.

Cristian Pache hit a grand slam against the Blue Jays over the weekend. He’s still struggling to identify MLB pitching, chasing a lot of pitches out of the zone and failing at making contact on them. This isn’t planned aggression, this is a young hitter that’s just a little lost at the dish right now.

Alex Kirilloff has had an eventful couple of weeks. He finally got a shot as an everyday player for the struggling Twins, splitting time between 1B and LF. He hit four homers over the course of three games against the Royals, flashing the high-upside potential his bat has as a four-category contributor. Then, Kirilloff re-aggravated an old wrist injury and is scheduled to see a hand specialist this week. If he can come back healthy, he’s got Top-5 rookie ladder potential. However, if he has to undergo surgery for the wrist issue, then he’s going to miss an extended period of time.

New Debuts

 

Jose Devers – 2B/3B – Miami Marlins

This 21-year-old utility infielder was unexpectedly called up by Miami to give the team some infield depth while Jazz Chisholm is out. He’s still very young and lacks professional experience above High-A ball. The team is showing some faith in his ability to tread water against MLB pitching while playing solid defense at a couple of positions of need for the club. He’s likely ticketed back to Triple-A once the team’s health situation is sorted out, however.

Devers profiles primarily as a slash-and-dash utility infielder. He’s always made a lot of contact but also shows a patient approach at the dish. The two skills should combine to give him a good OBP floor, and should also make him a batting average buoy in traditional leagues. Devers has the ability to steal bags as well, but has seemed to already slow down a step since his rookie-ball days where he posted several elite-level speed scores (7.0+).

 

Corey Ray – OF – Milwaukee Brewers

Corey Ray made a brief three-plate appearance cameo with the Brewers on April 24 before he was sent back down to the alternate site. There’s a chance he sees some playing time again with the big club this summer though, especially if Christian Yelich is out for an extended period of time.

Ray has the range and defensive ability to cover all three outfield spots, so that gives the team some versatility in the event they want to carry him as an extra outfielder. He’s also displayed some fantastic power+speed upside in the minor leagues, making him a name that dynasty owners at least want to keep their eye on. In 2018, he hit 27 home runs and stole 37 bags at Double-A Biloxi. Those are impact-level fantasy tools in the event he gets the chance to showcase them.

Jason Vosler – 3B/1B – San Francisco Giants

A former notable prospect in the Chicago Cubs system, Jason Vosler has been riding the alternate site shuttle back and forth early on in 2021. He’s appeared in five games for the Giants so far, as the team has dealt with a number of injuries to left-handed bats so far this year. Vosler is a lefty with some defensive versatility, so having him on the bench in a pinch provides the club with some cover.

Skills-wise, this is a 27-year-old utility man and is probably not much to get excited about for fantasy. He slugged .523 at Triple-A in 2019, but then again everyone was pounding the MLB ball in the hitter-friendly environs of the Pacific Coast League that year. He will work the count and draw walks, and flash some occasional pop from the left-hand side, maybe making him a platoon bat option in very deep leagues.

 

 

Rookie Ladder: Pitchers Update (4/28)

Here is a prospect question that applies to those of us who play in redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues: Which rookie hitter will be the most valuable fantasy player in 2021?

Trevor Rogers is the big story so far. I’ll break down where he fits in this year’s rookie landscape, along with news and notes from a number of top rookie hurlers. Also, we’ve had a number of exciting hitter debuts in 2021 already. So I’ll break down all the debutants as well as updates on the rookie ladder below!

PlayerTeamRole
Ian AndersonATLRotation
Trevor RogersMIARotation
Casey MizeDETRotation
Sixto SanchezMIAIL
Michael KopechCWSSwingman
Triston McKenzieCLERotation
Dane DunningTEXRotation
Tarik SkubalDETBullpen
Nate PearsonTORIL
Adbert AlzolayCHCRotation
Brent Honeywell Jr.TBRAlternate Site
Dean KramerBALRotation
Kohei AriharaTEXRotation
Garret CrochetCWSBullpen
Josh FlemingTBRBulk guy
Chris RodriguezLAABullpen
Luis PatinoTBROpener
J.B. BukauskasARIBullpen
Deivi GarciaNYYAlternate Site
Sam HentgesCLEBullpen
Spencer HowardPHIAlternate Site
Zac LowtherBALAlternate Site
Nick LodoloCINAA
Daulton JeffriesOAKAAA
Mackenzie GoreSDPAAA
Matt ManningDETAAA
Josiah GrayLADAAA
Brendan McKayTBRIL
Brailyn MarquezCHCAA
Adonis MedinaPHIAAA
Alex LangeDETRP
Wil CrowePITSP5

 

News and Notes

 

Ian Anderson hasn’t quite been shredding the competition like he was in his 2020 debut, but I’m still confident that he’s the top rookie pitcher in this class. He’s struggled with location, and Kevin Goldstein of FanGraphs recently posited that it might be related to a mechanical issue. If that’s the case, it’s even less cause for panic as there’s no reason that Anderson can’t get back to his release point that helped him dominate in 2020. And his HR/FB% isn’t going to remain at 25% either, so we might have seen the worst of his outings in 2021 already. He just needs to quit leaving his fastball belt-high so frequently:

Despite his fastball velocity jumping up two ticks this season, Casey Mize still isn’t striking anyone out. And it doesn’t matter if he’s touching 96 with his four-seamer if it’s coming in flat and high in the strike zone. His K-BB% of 7.7% is borderline unusable. His vaunted split-finger changeup hasn’t been an out pitch (a paltry 3.4% put-away rate). He’s got the talent to work through these issues, but this might continue to be a bumpy ride for him until he gets workable command of his pitch mix.

 

Sixto Sanchez is throwing from 60 feet without issue. Still going to be some time before he returns to action.

 

Trevor Rogers is moving above Mize this week. He’s just doing the damn thing! He squared off against Corbin Burnes in a head-to-head duel between the two most surprising arms of 2021, and he came out victorious. Milwaukee had been pummeling left-handers too. It matters not to Trevor Rogers, who is going to win some people some leagues this year.

 

The good news on Triston McKenzie is that he’s struck out 31.1% of batters he’s faced this year. The bad news is that he’s walked 18.9% of them.

 

Tarik Skubal has been moved to the bullpen. Dane Dunning got beat up by his old club the White Sox last week. But Dunning’s peripherals are still solid and he’s going to keep starting games for the Rangers. He’s moving ahead of Skubal.

 

Nate Pearson made a start against the Marlins at the alternate site over the weekend. He’s close to returning, and if Hyun-Jin Ryu misses some time with his glute strain there’s a rotation spot available for Pearson now.

 

Adbert Alzolay has been a bit unlucky, as his 3.32 xFIP is two runs below his 5.40 ERA. The peripherals still look good as well. He should be able to remain in the Cubs rotation.

 

Michael Kopech makes a big leap. The team has needed him with Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito dealing with minor injury issues. And Kopech has responded wonderfully. He has front-line starter’s stuff if he can stay healthy.

 

Brent Honeywell made a second start for Tampa and then was shuttled back down to the alternate site right after to make room for Luis Patino. I think anything over 50 MLB innings for Honeywell this year will be a good outcome.

 

Dean Kremer was recalled from the alternate site and will start against the Yankees today.

 

Kohei Arihara remains in the rotation for Texas. He’s going to have to cut down the free passes as he just doesn’t have the stuff to dominate MLB hitters with.

 

Garrett Crochet is dealing with a blister.

 

Josh Fleming has racked up 14.2 innings with a 1.23 ERA, but he’s also had some great luck (4.44 xFIP). A sneaky bulk inning guy for those of you playing in very deep leagues though.

 

Spencer Howard made three appearances out of the bullpen and then got shuttled back down to the alternate site.

 

Luis Patino got called up for the first time this season by the Rays. He was employed as an opener in front of Josh Fleming. Patino definitely has the stuff to flourish in an opener’s role right now. He’s moving up a few rungs on the ladder this week. The slider was particularly effective:

 

Deivi Garcia was recalled from the alternate site to make a spot start on Monday and then was immediately shuttled back down. He gave up two runs over four innings in the start. I’m still sliding Deivi up past Spencer Howard as the Yankees seem committed to letting him start games when he does get the call-up.

New debuts

 

Sam Hentges – RP – Cleveland

Hentges is a big (6-6, 245) imposing left-hander that Cleveland drafted in the 4th round in the 2014 draft. Cleveland has called him up to fill in out of the bullpen, and so far he’s performed well in limited appearances. He’s probably ticketed to remain in the bullpen this year but don’t be surprised if he makes a spot start at some point.

Unlike recent Cleveland homegrown pitching talent, Hentges is more of a power pitcher than a command and control guy. He’s really a two-pitch pitcher, throwing a fastball 60% of the time and a breaking ball the other 40% of the time so far this year. The fastball has good velocity, sitting around 96 mph, and Hentges is able to control it to his glove side, which makes it tough on both RH and LH bats. The curveball is his out pitch, and it’s displayed great depth and vertical drop so far.

 

J.B. Bukauskas – RP – Arizona

The “Lithuanian Assassin”, J.B. Bukauskas was a former first-round draft choice of the Houston Astros. He came over to Arizona in the trade deadline deal that sent Zack Greinke to Houston. He never quite lived up to his promise as a potential starting pitcher in his professional career so far, so the D’backs are going to try him out of the bullpen to see how he performs in short stints.

Based on Bukauskas’s stuff and delivery, using him in short bursts might pay real dividends. His delivery has always been a high-effort, funky affair. It’s a look that will make hitters uncomfortable but will also lead to control issues. The stuff can be very good though. His fastball is a four-seamer that sits 94 mph. It tunnels well with both his slider and changeup. The secondaries both have the potential to be above-average offerings at the MLB level. Look for him to work his way into some holds over the next few weeks.

 

Zac Lowther – SP – Baltimore

Zac Lowther was a comp round pick by the Orioles back in the 2017 MLB draft out of Xavier University. He’s performed very well for Baltimore as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues and was called up for some bullpen work this week. However, he was shipped back down to the alternate site after a single appearance.

Lowther is a left-handed command and control artist. He survives on a funky delivery, great extension down the mound, and a fastball that rides well at the top of the zone. Pairing with the fastball are his changeup and curveball, neither of which are above-average offerings on their own. However, his command and approach to pitching allow the whole package to play up enough to work in the back-end of an MLB rotation.