Spring Training: 3 Things You Need to Know (3/18)

by Chris Bragg | @loosemoose6 | Featured Writer
Mar 18, 2017

Should Cody Reed be on your radar?

Here’s a look at a few recent happenings around baseball and the resulting things fantasy owners need to know.

Get expert advice during your draft with our fantasy baseball draft software >>

Cody Reed Changing Things Up

Cody Reed was excellent over 36 minor league starts spanning the 2015-16 seasons, but that success didn’t translate to the majors last summer. The 23-year-old had a debut to forget in 2016 as the owner of a 7.36 ERA over ten big league starts.

Right-handed hitters crushed Reed to the tune of a .329/.408/.614 triple slash and an astonishing 2.6 homers per nine. A quick look at his profile reveals the culprit as righties teed off on his fastball, posting a .394 ISO. In other words, add 50 points to Babe Ruth’s career ISO, and you have a right-handed hitter versus Cody Reed’s heater.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of Reed’s struggles is that he possessed the neutralizer in the form of an effective changeup. His change limited that same group of hitters to a putrid .063 ISO with an elite 64% groundball rate, but he only threw the pitch 14% of the time. When he fell behind in the count, his changeup usage dropped to 9% versus righties, allowing them to sit back and deposit his fastball into the left field bleachers.

Unfortunately, he struggled to locate the change, throwing it for a strike a mere 52% of the time. That’s not going to get it done as more than a “show-me” pitch. Nonetheless, he might be onto something this spring.

Over 11 Grapefruit League innings, Reed has struck out 15 hitters while surrendering three walks and, perhaps most importantly, only one home run. I don’t typically put much stock into spring stats, but if they can back up a narrative or two, they might be worthy of consideration.

Unfortunately, PitchFX only captured one of Reed’s spring starts. In said start, he threw sixteen pitches over two perfect innings. The data is limited, but something may be better than nothing in hopes of explaining the rest of his Grapefruit League success.

Reed’s fastball lit up the gun at 96 MPH — a substantial jump from the 92-93 he sat last year. I don’t know that he’s maintained that velocity in his recent starts, but who cares? That’s not even the exciting part.

Reed threw 12 pitches to right-handed hitters, and three of them were changeups, all of which came in hitter’s counts where they’d typically be sitting fastball. He stole one called-strike and recorded two groundball outs.

Okay, so a 25% usage rate over a twelve pitch sample. Anything else?

Yes. Following Reed’s second spring start a week later, he said that he threw the changeup more in three innings than he did in any of his starts last season. If this is true, Reed appears to be committing to the pitch that’s critical to his success.

Moreover, if he can locate the change, it could be the weapon that turns things around for him. For what it’s worth, he’s fired 100 pitches this spring, and 80 of them have resulted in strikes. I don’t know for certain how many of those were changeups, but whatever he’s doing is working.

Reed appears locked into a rotation spot and is currently off the radar as the 160th pitcher selected in NFBC drafts. He’s probably not worth a Draft Day selection in anything but the deepest leagues, but I’ll be flagging him on my watch list ready to pounce should the spring success translate.

Don’t Sleep on Saladino

When the Chicago White Sox severed ties with Brett Lawrie a couple of weeks ago, many assumed it was Yoan Moncada time on the South Side. In the words of Lee Corso, “not so fast, my friend.”

Moncada’s game is whiff-heavy as demonstrated by his 31% strikeout rate in AA last year. Fast forward to this spring, and the 21-year-old has struck out in 13 of his 38 (34%) plate appearances. In short, he’s not ready for Major League pitching, and the Sox have no reason to rush him.

Instead, Chicago looks poised to move forward with the versatile Tyler Saladino manning the keystone bag on Opening Day. By the time Moncada gets the call, Todd Frazier may be on his way to a contender before walking as a free agent this winter. In other words, Saladino appears in line for everyday playing time.

In 161 career games, Saladino has hit .257 with 12 homers, 66 runs, 58 RBIs, and 19 stolen bases. I dug into his batted ball profile and concluded that’s a pretty fair expectation for Saladino. I’d feel comfortable paying for those numbers and cross my fingers some upside resides in the gaudy numbers he’s posted this spring, slashing .414/.485/.793.

He flashed some pop with a .173 ISO in Triple-A a couple of years ago, so .270/15/70/70/20 isn’t totally out of the question. It would be unwise to pay for that line, then again, you don’t have to. Saladino isn’t anywhere to be found in our consensus ADP, which means he’s yours if you want him with your last pick.

Kazmir is Toast, but McCarthy…

Scott Kazmir surrendered two homers to minor league hitters over five simulated innings on Thursday. What’s more worrisome is Kazmir’s fastball sat at 82-83 MPH. Dave Roberts has admitted concern of the huge drop, and rightfully so.

There’s a zero percent chance Kazmir can succeed in the majors with an 83 MPH heater. I don’t know what he’s dealing with, but I don’t envision he adds 8-9 MPH between now and April. In other words, stick a fork in him.

Kazmir’s struggles probably solidify a rotation spot for the 33-year-old Brandon McCarthy. Save a 200 inning campaign back in 2014,

Injuries have plagued McCarthy. Nonetheless, there might be something left in the tank for the Twitter all-star.

McCarthy’s best seasons (2011-12) featured a sinker/cutter combination that he offered about 77% of time complemented by an oft-used hook (19%). Over the past few years, his pitch mix evolved and relied more on the four-seamers, rarely cutting his fastball. On the plus side, he added strikeouts to his profile.

Contrarily, his hard-hit rate jumped substantially, as with his ERA. PitchFX captured two of his three starts and revealed an apparent reversion to his approach on the mound. The sinker is back (44%) as is the cutter (33%).

He is still dropping the hook 11% of the time and flashing the four-seam fastball (94-95 MPH) that has helped him elevate his strikeouts over the last couple years. The lanky right-hander probably isn’t worth Draft Day consideration at this point but deserves a spot on your watch list as a back end guy that may become relevant for as long as he’s healthy.

Subscribe: iTunes | StitcherSoundCloud | Google PlayTuneInRSS

Chris Bragg is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Chris, check out his archive or follow him @loosemoose6


What's your take? Leave a comment

Fantasy Games
FanDuel photo
Win your first contest
Or we'll credit your entry fee
1David Johnson (ARI)RB
2Le'Veon Bell (PIT)RB
3Antonio Brown (PIT)WR
4Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG)WR
5LeSean McCoy (BUF)RB
6Julio Jones (ATL)WR
7Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
8A.J. Green (CIN)WR
9Mike Evans (TB)WR
10Devonta Freeman (ATL)RB
 View All Rankings 
11Jordy Nelson (GB)WR
12Jay Ajayi (MIA)RB
13Jordan Howard (CHI)RB
14DeMarco Murray (TEN)RB
15Michael Thomas (NO)WR
16Dez Bryant (DAL)WR
17T.Y. Hilton (IND)WR
18Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
19Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
20Amari Cooper (OAK)WR
21Doug Baldwin (SEA)WR
22Rob Gronkowski (NE)TE
23Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
24Lamar Miller (HOU)RB
25Isaiah Crowell (CLE)RB
26DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
27Brandin Cooks (NE)WR
28Demaryius Thomas (DEN)WR
29Aaron Rodgers (GB)QB
30Allen Robinson (JAC)WR
1Mike Trout (LAA)CF,DH
2Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)1B
3Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
4Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
5Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
6Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
7Chris Sale (BOS)SP
8Joey Votto (CIN)1B
9Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)RF
10Mookie Betts (BOS)RF
 View All Rankings 
11Kris Bryant (CHC)1B,3B
12Corey Kluber (CLE)SP
13Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B,3B
14Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B,2B
15Corey Seager (LAD)SS
16Manny Machado (BAL)3B,SS
17George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
18Daniel Murphy (WSH)1B,2B
19Nelson Cruz (SEA)RF,DH
20Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
21Aaron Judge (NYY)RF,DH
22Clayton Kershaw (LAD)SP
23Edwin Encarnacion (CLE)1B,DH
24J.D. Martinez (ARI)RF
25Robinson Cano (SEA)2B
26Yu Darvish (LAD)SP
27Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,LF
28Jose Ramirez (CLE)2B,3B
29Miguel Cabrera (DET)1B,DH
30Josh Donaldson (TOR)3B,DH
1Russell Westbrook (OKC)PG
2James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
3Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
4Kevin Durant (GSW)SF,PF
5Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
6Anthony Davis (NOR)PF,C
7LeBron James (CLE)SF,PF
8Chris Paul (HOU)PG
9Kawhi Leonard (SAS)SG,SF
10DeMarcus Cousins (NOR)PF,C
 View All Rankings 
11Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)PG,SG
12Paul George (OKC)SF,PF
13Hassan Whiteside (MIA)C,PF
14Damian Lillard (POR)PG
15John Wall (WAS)PG
16Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
17Paul Millsap (DEN)PF,C
18Jimmy Butler (MIN)SG,SF
19Draymond Green (GSW)SF,PF
20Kemba Walker (CHA)PG
21Kyrie Irving (CLE)PG,SG
22Al Horford (BOS)PF,C
23Victor Oladipo (IND)PG,SG
24Isaiah Thomas (BOS)PG
25C.J. McCollum (POR)PG,SG
26LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)PF,C
27Brook Lopez (LAL)C
28Klay Thompson (GSW)SG,SF
29Kristaps Porzingis (NYK)PF,C
30Carmelo Anthony (NYK)SF,PF