Major League Baseball may still be in a lockout, but Fantasy Baseball draft season is in full swing. Drafting prospects for redraft leagues can be risky, especially when it comes to pitchers. So often prospects struggle upon debut and do not fulfill their draft cost. It may not be worth paying up for an arm like Shane Baz (SP – TB), who has a FantasyPros Consensus ADP of 122. But some rookie pitchers going later in drafts may be worth taking a shot on. Let’s take a look at who those arms are.
Late Round Rookie Pitchers to Target
Joe Ryan consistently flew under the radar as a prospect in the Rays organization from 2018 to 2021. Ryan posted a career MiLB ERA of 2.67 over 226 innings with 326 strikeouts. It always baffled me that Ryan never checked in higher on prospect rankings. This was likely because Ryan’s fastball sits between 90 and 92 mph, and he does not spin the ball well. Ryan showed that was irrelevant due to his negative 4.2 Vertical Approach Angle (VAA). This means the ball enters the zone on average just 4.2 inches below Ryan’s release point. His VAA was better than Robbie Ray (SP – SEA), Sandy Alcantara (SP – MIA), and Walker Buehler (SP – LAD), who all have high-end VAA’s.
Upon being traded to Minnesota in the Nelson Cruz (DH – FA) deal, Ryan showed what he was capable of in five starts. He posted a 4.05 ERA with a .79 WHIP in 26.2 innings with 30 strikeouts. Again Ryan’s velocity was not impressive, as he averaged 91.2 mph on his fastball that he used 65.8 percent of the time. When you watch Ryan pitch, you can see the deceptiveness because of how he releases the ball. His elbow drives toward the plate, and he has a late snap which causes hitters to struggle to identify what pitch is coming their way.
According to FantasyPros Consensus ADP, Ryan’s ADP comes in at 217. In some formats, this makes Ryan a late-round target. In NFBC 15-team formats, you can get him in the middle rounds. Ryan will likely never be an ace, but he should be an excellent ratio stabilizer with good strikeout numbers, making him a great target in this range.
There has been a lot of hype around Aaron Ashby’s name, but surprisingly his ADP comes in at 260 on the FantasyPros Consensus. Due to the stuff and the way Milwaukee has developed starters (Corbin Burnes (SP – MIL), Brandon Woodruff (SP – MIL), and Freddy Peralta (SP – MIL)), many believe Ashby could be on the same path.
Last season, Ashby pitched 31.2 innings in Milwaukee in 13 appearances. Only 4 were starts, with two being as an opener. Ashby’s ERA was inflated a bit by his first and last appearances of the season. He allowed seven runs (four earned) in 2/3 innings in his first outing against the Cubs. Then, in his final outing against the Dodgers, Ashby allowed six earned runs in 2/3 innings. If not for those two outings, Ashby’s ERA drops to 1.78, and his ADP is probably much higher than 260.
Ashby is intriguing to draft because he generates a ton of ground balls (61.3 percent in MLB and 66.9 percent in AAA) and generates a ton of whiffs (13.3 percent in MLB and 17.1 percent in AAA). His slider is elite and his go-to strikeout pitch. Ashby’s walk rate is a bit concerning, and he does not have a rotation spot locked, but if he pitches an entire season in the rotation, this price could look like a steal.
Deep League Targets
Hunter Greene checks in at a consensus ADP of 348, surprisingly his lowest being NFBC at 402. With reports of the Reds wanting to tear down their roster and only having three stable starting pitchers as is, Greene could get a look in the rotation sooner than later.
The former second overall pick was dominant in double- and triple-A ball last season after not pitching in a game since 2018 due to Tommy John and the lost 2020 MiLB season. Greene did not miss a beat, pitching to a 3.30 ERA with 139 strikeouts in 106 innings.
Greene’s arsenal is elite. His fastball averaged 99 mph last season, according to Baseball America. But according to Geoff Pontes, Greene’s beset pitch his slider. Greene’s slider averaged 88 mph and generated a 46 percent whiff rate last season.
All Greene needs is a chance in the rotation to shine, and he should get it relatively quickly given the circumstances in Cincinnati.
Copy and paste everything I said about Hunter Greene’s rotation chances for Nick Lodolo. Lodolo has never received the kind of hype that Greene has, but that does not mean he cannot be a high-end arm like Greene.
Lodolo pitched in double- and triple-A last season, but only 50 innings due to injuries. His 2.31 ERA and sub-one WHIP will get the job done, though. Lodolo never gets pegged as a high strikeout arm, but he did strike out 78 batters in those 50 innings. For those counting, that is a higher strikeout-per-nine than Hunter Greene. Not to mention Lodolo only walked 11 batters last season.
Lodolo devastates hitters with a mid 90s fastball and a curve/slider hybrid pitch. He also mixes in a changeup that is a solid offering. In the past, we have seen pitchers with elite command like Shane Bieber (SP – CLE) evolve into high-end starting pitchers, and Nick Lodolo could follow this path.
Unless the Angels revamp their rotation after the lockout ends, Reid Detmers should get a crack to win a spot in the rotation. He was not impressive in his five starts with the Major League club last season, but that is not a reason to be down on him. Detmers was highly dominant in double- and triple-A before his debut.
Detmers arsenal is also one of the best in the Minor Leagues with a four-pitch mix. He features a fastball to which he has added velocity over the last year. His curve is 0ne of the best in the minors, with amazing shape. He also features a slider and changeup that both generate a ton of whiffs.
If Detmers wins a rotation spot out of camp, and I believe he will, he will provide an excellent return on investment for redraft leagues.
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