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2021 Fantasy Baseball Rankings (NL)

Expert Consensus Ranking (56 of 56 Experts) -

Rank Player (Team, Position) Overall Notes
1 Josh Hader (MIL - RP) IL10 33 30.0 -3.0
Hader wasn't quite as dominant as he had been the previous two years, largely due to a spike in walk rate and the slightest of declines in strikeout rate. But he still tallied 13 saves, third-best in baseball, and had a miniscule 0.95 WHIP. If you parse it closely, it was just a bizarre season for Hader, who didn't give up a run through his first nine appearances, but subsequently allowed four runs in an inning. He walked five batters in a game, but didn't allow a single walk in any game after that, a span of 11 appearances. In other words, there seems to be a lot of noise in Hader's "decline," which likely would have been ironed out over the course of a full season. Draft him as the top closer off the board with few concerns.
2 Edwin Diaz (NYM - RP) PL 43 44.0 +1.0
Diaz's overall numbers bounced back in a monstrous way last season. He dropped his ERA from a bloated 5.59 in 2019 to a 1.75, and upped his strikeout rate to a career-best 45.5%. He was among the league leaders in nearly every expected statistic (batting average, slugging percentage wOBA, and ERA), and he cut his HR/9 rate from 2.33 to just 0.70. Diaz's walk rate actually regressed, however, as he issued free passes to nearly five batters per nine innings. That's not often a recipe for success from a closer, but Diaz can survive at that rate if he continues to keep the strikeouts up and limit the long balls. In the end, Diaz does carry some risk given his history, but he should be drafted as one of the upper echelon closers in the game, if not a touch behind the truly elite options.
3 Corbin Burnes (MIL - SP,RP) 35 31.0 -4.0
Burnes's raw stuff was apparent to anyone who saw him pitch in 2019, but he simply couldn't stop giving up home runs (17 in 49 innings). The culprit was largely his four-seam fastball, which he threw more than half of the time and against which batters hit .425 with an .823 slugging percentage. In 2020, however, Corbin cut his four-seam fastball usage from 52.5% to just 2.5%. In its place, he relied heavily on a sinker and cutter, both of which worked better for the natural action on his pitches and which were highly effective. Considering that his slider, changeup, and curveball are also huge swing and miss pitches, Burnes's 36.7% strikeout rate from last year shouldn't be considered fluky. Even coming off a Cy Young-caliber season, there's still upside for the 26-year-old, and you should ignore entirely his 2019 disaster.
4 Kenley Jansen (LAD - RP) 66 59.0 -7.0
It feels like Jansen has been on the verge of losing his job at several points over the last two seasons, but he continues to receive nearly every save opportunity for the Dodgers. But Jansen is far from the dominant reliever he was in his prime, as his patented cutter has gone from 94 MPH in 2016 to just 90.9 MPH last year. The Dodgers have plenty of depth behind Jansen, including Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, Joe Kelly, and Corey Knebel, so Jansen's leash probably won't be all that long. At the same time, Jansen will certainly be the closer coming into the season and has a lengthy track record and a large contract. In today's day and age, that makes him a fairly desirable fantasy closer, despite the concerns.
5 Jesus Luzardo (MIA - SP,RP) 52 53.0 +1.0
Luzardo's 2020 campaign wasn't terrible, but it certainly left fantasy managers wanting more. The strikeouts were there, but not quite at the level that was expected. He rarely went deep into games. And he was just more hittable than he ever was in the minors or in his brief time as a reliever in 2019. Luzardo throws four quality pitches and is working to improve his arsenal as we head into the 2021 season, so there's little reason to downgrade your opinion of him too much from where it was prior to the 2020 campaign because of one nine-start stretch. He's an incredibly high-upside pitcher who carries with him plenty of injury risk, and the combination leaves him as a solid SP3 for fantasy leagues.
6 Kevin Gausman (SF - SP,RP) 73 75.0 +2.0
Gausman had the best season of his career with the Giants last season, and accepted a qualifying offer to remain in San Francisco. Gausman not only put up an impressive 3.62 ERA, but he upped his strikeout rate by about nine points to 32.2%. He saw a nice velocity bump on his fastball and leaned into his excellent splitter a bit more than usual. The downside for Gausman is that he really is mostly a fastball/splitter pitcher, meaning that when his splitter isn't working, he's likely to get hit hard. But, we've now at least seen the upside over a full season, and he's a pretty ideal SP4/SP5 if you can get him in that range.
7 Julio Urias (LAD - SP,RP) 71 64.0 -7.0
Urias had an interesting season (other than his postseason, which was dominant). His numbers overall were very solid, with a 3.27 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. But his strikeout rate dipped dramatically as a full-time starter, and his SIERA (4.88) and xFIP (5.06) suggest he got lucky. But the bottom line is that Urias is excellent at limiting hard contact, and he's allowed just a .257 BABIP over the last two seasons, which should keep his ERA in check. The Dodgers' rotation is overflowing, so it's possible they continue to limit Urias's innings. But for now, he should be considered an SP3, and as his playoffs showed, there's plenty of room for growth with his strikeout numbers.
8 Devin Williams (MIL - RP) 95 85.0 -10.0
You have to hand it to the Brewers - they produce relievers who put up historically great seasons. Williams wasn't just good in 2020 - he was truly beyond belief. A 0.33 ERA. One run and eight hits allowed in 27 innings. A 44% K-BB%. Williams has battled injuries for much of his career, but given what he did last year, he should be drafted among the elite fantasy relievers in the game. Even if he never gets a save chance with Josh Hader in front of him, his ratios make him more than worth it.
9 Will Smith (ATL - RP) 99 87.0 -12.0
Smith had a rough 2020 season, losing several weeks to a bout with COVID-19 and being far less effective than usual when he did pitch. His dominant slider just wasn't the same, as batters hit .263 (after never hitting better than .193) and tallied a .398 wOBA (after never totaling higher than .282) against it. But Brian Snitker appears to be willing to throw out Smith's poor season almost entirely. Although he hasn't named Smith the closer, he has professed his confidence in him, and there's been speculation from beat writers that Smith will ultimately win the role after a battle with Chris Martin and A.J. Minter. Draft Smith as the presumptive closer unless you hear otherwise from Braves camp.
10 Richard Rodriguez (ATL - RP) 112 103.0 -9.0
So long as he remains with the Pirates, Rodriguez is likely to be the closer after locking down four saves last year. He's been a quality reliever for a few years in a row now, including last year when he put up a 2.70 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP with plenty of strikeouts. There's been speculation that the Pirates will look to deal Rodriguez before the season begins. But until and unless they do, he's a decent late-round selection who will likely total a handful of saves until he's inevitably dealt mid-season.
11 Amir Garrett (CIN - RP) 108 109.0 +1.0
Garrett cut way down on his walks in 2020 and had the best season of his career, striking out 37.7% of the batters he faced. He also retired the first batter he faced in every inning, and completely dominated against left-handed hitters. He's in the mix to be the Reds' closer with Lucas Sims and Sean Doolittle, and he's been vocal about wanting the job. He's probably the first reliever to draft out of Cincinnati until there's some clarity, but it's far from a sure thing that he'll be the everyday closer.
12 Carlos Carrasco (NYM - SP,RP) 85 62.0 -23.0
Carrasco suffered a serious hamstring strain in mid-March which is likely to keep him out 6-8 weeks. It's a devastating blow to the veteran who returned strong from his battle with leukemia in 2019 to post a 2.91 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 2020. There was plenty to like about Carrasco in New York, including that the Mets will provide him with a better chance at wins, their infield defense should be above average, and Carrasco will play in a more favorable park. But at this point, he's nothing more than a bench starter for your fantasy team given his injury.
13 Jordan Hicks (STL - RP) IL60 121 101.0 -20.0
Hicks is likely to serve as the Cardinals' closer this year if he can show that he has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. He totaled 20 saves from 2018-2019 before hurting his elbow, and then opted out of last season, in part because of setbacks in his recovery. Early reports from the spring are promising, and it seems that the Cardinals want him and his 100+ MPH fastball to lead the way in the ninth inning. Monitor his health in the spring, but draft him late for now and expect saves so long as he is healthy.
14 Dustin May (LAD - SP,RP) IL60 103 100.0 -3.0
May has been named the Dodgers' fifth starter by Dave Roberts, a surprising twist given the presence of David Price and Tony Gonsolin. Given the Dodgers' depth and their history, it's unlikely that he'll remain in the rotation from start to finish, but if you haven't drafted yet, move him significantly higher on your board.
15 Hector Neris (PHI - RP) 127 153.0 +26.0
Neris has been named the Phillies' closer to start the season. Although he has been the Phillies' primary closer for the past four seasons, he's hardly been the model of efficiency. His ERA over those seasons is 3.01, 5.10, 2.93, and 4.57. And he surprisingly struggled with his control last year, seeking his BB/9 rate jump to 5.40 and his WHIP to 1.71. Neris's splitter is outstanding when it's on, but he has the tendency to get hit hard when it's not. With Archie Bradley and Jose Alvarado in tow, and Brandon Kintzler with the team on a minor league deal, Neris's leash will be short. Draft him as a low-end closer, but don't rush to do so.
16 Drew Pomeranz (SD - SP,RP) 124 106.0 -18.0
Pomeranz likely would have, at the very least, factored into the closer's mix for San Diego prior to the Mark Melancon and Keone Kela signings. After finally switching into a full-time reliever role last year, Pomeranz shined, with a 1.45 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP, and a 39.7% strikeout rate. Although he may still be in line for save opportunities, the presence of Melancon, Kela, and Emilio Pagan muddy the waters. That's especially true given that Pomeranz is currently the only healthy and reliable left-hander in the bullpen. Pomeranz is worth a late selection until and unless Jayce Tingler declares that he's not an option for the ninth inning.
17 Elieser Hernandez (MIA - SP,RP) IL60 116 129.0 +13.0
Hernandez was excellent in his six starts last season, tallying a 3.16 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP, and a 32.1% strikeout rate. But he allowed a lot of hard contact along the way, including a 91.8 MPH average exit velocity (bottom three percent in the league). He worked on his changeup this offseason in an effort to add a reliable third pitch (he threw his fastball and slider 94% of the time last year), and it has gotten rave reviews in camp. He's fourth in the pecking order of the Marlins starters, but if his changeup can be an effective pitch, he might be the one to provide the most value given his extremely modest ADP.
18 Giovanny Gallegos (STL - RP) 140 141.0 +1.0
Gallegos pitched well last year with the Cardinals despite seeing limited innings because of his difficulty in getting to the states in the middle of a pandemic. But he was effective when he pithed, and owns a career 3.06 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 31.6% strikeout rate. The Cardinals want Jordan Hicks to be their closer, but Gallegos will undoubtedly be in the mix should Hick prove ineffective or suffer a setback in his return from Tommy John surgery.
19 Freddy Peralta (MIL - SP,RP) 120 131.0 +11.0
20 Emilio Pagan (SD - RP) 130 130.0
21 Anthony Bass (MIA - RP) 132 142.0 +10.0
Bass will likely be in the mix for saves with Yimi Garcia (and possibly Dylan Floro) after he signed a two-year deal with the Marlins. He lacks the typical strikeout stuff of most closers, but he's totaled 12 saves, a 3.54 ERA, and a 0.99 WHIP over the past two years. Bass is an extreme ground ball pitcher (62.3% ground ball rate last year), which is how he's able to survive without big time stuff. But Don Mattingly likely won't name a closer until the end of spring training, so draft Bass late for now, but have plenty of other bullpen options.
22 Tony Gonsolin (LAD - SP,RP) IL10 126 128.0 +2.0
Gonsolin doesn't have a guaranteed spot in the Dodgers' rotation to start the season, and with the team signing Trevor Bauer, it's unclear just how much he'll start this season. His stuff doesn't blow you away, but he's got a 2.60 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in 86.2 big league innings. And there were gains last year, as he cut his walk rate down and upped his strikeout rate. Gonsolin is an ideal candidate to have on your bench, because if he does get a spot in the rotation, he'll be a popular waiver wire add, and he can add value as a reliever in the meantime. So draft him late, and likely reap the rewards.
23 Archie Bradley (PHI - RP) 152 127.0 -25.0
Bradley joined the Phillies on a one-year deal after a successful 2020 season with Arizona and Philadelphia. He performed admirably over the past two seasons as the Diamondbacks' closer, and last year put up a very solid 2.95 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 24.7% strikeout rate. The Phillies were open about their desire to add some velocity to their bullpen and Bradley does just that. But although Joe Girardi has indicated he'd like set roles for the Phillies' bullpen, those roles may not be decided until close to the end of spring training. Bradley is worth drafting, but only late, as he may go back to his former role as a setup man.
24 Daniel Bard (COL - RP) 145 126.0 -19.0
Bard comes into 2021 as the Rockies' presumptive closer, after he came out of a two-year retirement to pitch in the majors for the first time since 2013. Bard's control problems, which derailed his career, were largely solved, and his 3.65 ERA and 1.30 WHIP were more than passable for a Colorado closer. Mychal Givens remains, and Scott Oberg will try to pitch effectively after undergoing thoracic outlet surgery, but if Bard can maintain his control, he'll likely earn and hold the closer's job.
25 Mark Melancon (SD - RP) 146 133.0 -13.0
Melancon had another fine year as the Braves' closer, and now joins the back end of the Padres bullpen. It's unclear if he'll serve as the closer, a Drew Pomeranz and Emilio Pagan also may have a claim to the role. Melancon is entering his age-36 season and his strikeout rate is mediocre at best. Although he is still performing well, his lack of pure stuff suggests that the wheels could come off at any moment. That said, he'll have plenty of value if he can earn the ninth-inning role, so monitor the reports out of spring, and draft him late until and unless he's officially ruled out for the role.
26 Chris Martin (ATL - RP) 158 163.0 +5.0
27 Jake McGee (SF - RP) 137 139.0 +2.0
28 Tejay Antone (CIN - SP,RP) IL10 153 159.0 +6.0
Antone's role wasn't entirely clear at the outset of spring training, but he now looks destined for a starter's job, if he can stay healthy. With Sonny Gray and Wade Miley likely to begin the year on the IL, Antone should begin the year in the rotation, assuming he is healthy enough to do so. He's currently battling a groin strain, and his status is uncertain. When healthy, he's got a wipeout slider, enough to pile on the strikeouts, and has enough upside to be worth a late-round dart throw. Monitor his, Gray's, and Miley's health status closely heading into your drafts.
29 Stefan Crichton (ARI - RP) MiLB 204 157.0 -47.0
Crichton filled in admirably for Archie Bradley after Bradley was traded last season. His strikeout numbers weren't particularly impressive, but he had a 2.42 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP, and tallied five saves. He doesn't have prototypical "closer's stuff," but he's more than capable of getting major league hitters out. The Diamondbacks signed Joakim Soria to a one-year deal (and added Tyler Clippard, too), so Crichton seems unlikely to begin the year as the closer, even though it's an open competition at the moment. He's not worth anything other than an extremely late-round pick as a speculative ninth-inning option.
30 Lucas Sims (CIN - SP,RP) IL10 177 222.0 +45.0
Sims had a fine 2020, going 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA a 0.94 WHIP, and plenty of strikeouts. He'll be in the mix for the Reds' closer job with Amir Garrett and Sean Doolittle, though his early bout with elbow soreness this spring doesn't help him. Monitor the reports out of spring training, but he's a late-round speculative draft pick at best at the moment.
31 Seth Lugo (NYM - SP,RP) 181 181.0
32 Tanner Rainey (WSH - RP) MiLB 191 243.0 +52.0
33 Trevor May (NYM - RP) 172 174.0 +2.0
34 Ian Kennedy (PHI - RP) 187 199.0 +12.0
35 Alex Reyes (STL - RP) 164 193.0 +29.0
36 Carlos Martinez (STL - SP,RP) IL60 227 170.0 -57.0
37 Jose Alvarado (PHI - RP) 202 247.0 +45.0
38 Blake Treinen (LAD - RP) 237 194.0 -43.0
39 Michael Lorenzen (CIN - RP) 210 238.0 +28.0
40 Reyes Moronta (SF - RP) IL60 221 283.0 +62.0
41 Brent Suter (MIL - SP,RP) 207 201.0 -6.0
42 Sean Doolittle (CIN - RP) 280 282.0 +2.0
After missing most of 2020 with various injuries, Doolittle took a small one-year deal from the Reds in his hope of a bounceback season. He's been trending the wrong way for a couple of seasons now, but he did tally at least 24 saves in each season between 2017 and 2019. Doolittle is the only one in the Reds bullpen with much closing experience, so if he performs well this spring, he could win the ninth-inning job. But there's a ton of uncertainty, and given Doolittle's small contract, it's far from a sure thing that he sees any save opportunities in 2021.
43 Alex Wood (SF - SP,RP) 242 290.0 +48.0
44 Adrian Morejon (SD - SP,RP) IL60 240 277.0 +37.0
45 Brusdar Graterol (LAD - RP) 203 180.0 -23.0
46 A.J. Minter (ATL - RP) MiLB 226 284.0 +58.0
47 Daniel Ponce de Leon (STL - SP,RP) IL10 236 240.0 +4.0
48 Victor Gonzalez (LAD - RP) 208 177.0 -31.0
49 Tyler Matzek (ATL - RP) 199 195.0 -4.0
50 Daniel Hudson (SD - RP) MiLB 246 204.0 -42.0
51 Keone Kela (SD - RP) IL60 233 326.0 +93.0
52 Andrew Miller (STL - RP) 256 333.0 +77.0
53 Austin Adams (SD - RP) 334    
54 Tyler Rogers (SF - RP) 283 322.0 +39.0
55 Rowan Wick (CHC - RP) IL60 255 304.0 +49.0
56 Vince Velasquez (PHI - SP,RP) IL10 291 313.0 +22.0
57 Alec Mills (CHC - SP,RP) 266 173.0 -93.0
58 Adrian Houser (MIL - SP,RP) 230 261.0 +31.0
59 Kyle McGowin (WSH - RP) IL10 241    
60 Chase Anderson (PHI - SP,RP) 285 354.0 +69.0
61 David Bednar (PIT - RP) 294 358.0 +64.0
62 Kyle Gibson (PHI - SP,RP) 218 189.0 -29.0
63 Will Harris (WSH - RP) IL60 260    
64 Jairo Diaz (COL - RP) MiLB 408    
65 Tommy Kahnle (LAD - RP) IL60 301    
66 Dylan Floro (MIA - RP) 268 385.0 +117.0
67 Kevin Ginkel (ARI - RP) MiLB 275 353.0 +78.0
68 Mychal Givens (CIN - RP) 278 331.0 +53.0
69 Matt Strahm (SD - SP,RP) 276 390.0 +114.0
70 Dellin Betances (NYM - RP) IL60 282 295.0 +13.0
71 Tyler Clippard (ARI - SP,RP) 298 388.0 +90.0
72 Austin Gomber (COL - SP,RP) 358 257.0 -101.0
73 Pierce Johnson (SD - RP) 272 366.0 +94.0
74 Corey Knebel (LAD - RP) IL60 248 317.0 +69.0
75 Jason Adam (CHC - RP) MiLB 279    
76 Wander Suero (WSH - RP) MiLB 332    
77 Tony Watson (SF - RP) 341 384.0 +43.0
78 Codi Heuer (CHC - RP) 269 357.0 +88.0
79 Duane Underwood Jr. (PIT - RP) 253 402.0 +149.0
80 Miguel Castro (NYM - RP) 277 417.0 +140.0
81 Shane Greene (ATL - RP) 303 349.0 +46.0
82 Craig Stammen (SD - RP) 297    
83 Genesis Cabrera (STL - RP) 265 362.0 +97.0
84 Connor Brogdon (PHI - RP) IL10 273 356.0 +83.0
85 Robert Stephenson (COL - RP) 344    
86 Jeff Hoffman (CIN - SP,RP) 271 368.0 +97.0
87 Scott Oberg (COL - RP) IL60 323 319.0 -4.0
88 Justin Topa (MIL - RP) IL60 292    
89 Chris Stratton (PIT - SP,RP) 289 369.0 +80.0
90 John Curtiss (MIL - SP,RP) 305 202.0 -103.0
91 Daniel Norris (MIL - SP,RP) 286 350.0 +64.0
92 Brailyn Marquez (CHC - RP) MiLB   359.0  
93 Aaron Loup (NYM - RP) 307    
94 Bryse Wilson (PIT - SP,RP) 416 320.0 -96.0
95 Edward Cabrera (MIA - SP,RP) MiLB 359 316.0 -43.0
96 Tim Hill (SD - RP) 312    
97 Jarlin Garcia (SF - RP) 342    
98 Michael Feliz (CIN - RP) IL10 360    
99 Cam Bedrosian (PHI - SP,RP) MiLB 336    
100 Aaron Sanchez (SF - SP,RP) 371 312.0 -59.0
101 Trevor Cahill (PIT - SP,RP) IL60 345 209.0 -136.0
102 Jacob Webb (ATL - RP) MiLB 346    
103 Steven Brault (PIT - SP,RP) 351 288.0 -63.0
104 Tyler Kinley (COL - 2B,RP) 413    
105 Joe Kelly (LAD - RP) 330 210.0 -120.0
106 Justin Wilson (CIN - RP) 338    
107 Josh Tomlin (ATL - SP,RP) 300    
108 Ryan Weathers (SD - SP,RP)   392.0  
109 Ryan Helsley (STL - RP) 321 383.0 +62.0
110 Noe Ramirez (ARI - SP,RP) IL10 357    
111 Taylor Clarke (ARI - SP,RP) IL10 366 406.0 +40.0
112 Chasen Shreve (PIT - RP) 411    
113 Richard Bleier (MIA - RP) 348    
114 Grant Dayton (ATL - RP) IL60 316    
115 Eric Yardley (MIL - RP) MiLB 376 289.0 -87.0
116 Sean Newcomb (ATL - SP,RP) MiLB 361    
117 Rogelio Armenteros (WSH - SP,RP) MiLB 383    
118 JoJo Romero (PHI - RP) IL60      
119 Robert Stock (NYM - RP,SP) IL10 400    
120 Jeurys Familia (NYM - RP) 327    
121 Luke Jackson (ATL - RP) 352 294.0 -58.0
122 Tyler Webb (STL - RP) MiLB 337    
123 Heath Hembree (CIN - RP) 405    
124 Brandon Finnegan (CIN - SP,RP) MiLB 407    
125 Keury Mella (PIT - RP) MiLB 410    
126 Miguel Yajure (PIT - RP) MiLB 417 404.0 -13.0
127 Seranthony Dominguez (PHI - RP) IL60 387    
128 Ray Black (MIL - RP) MiLB 324    
129 Sam Howard (PIT - RP) IL10 355    
130 Kyle Finnegan (WSH - RP) 328    
131 Angel Perdomo (MIL - RP)      
132 Ranger Suarez (PHI - RP) 370    
133 Joe Ross (WSH - SP,RP) 422 302.0 -120.0
134 Jon Duplantier (ARI - SP,RP) MiLB 432    
135 Chris Devenski (ARI - RP) IL60 365    
136 Luis Cessa (CIN - RP) 378    
137 Dan Winkler (CHC - RP) 386    
138 Yoan Lopez (ATL - RP) MiLB 401    
139 Jimmy Nelson (LAD - SP,RP) IL10 356 377.0 +21.0
140 Ross Detwiler (MIA - SP,RP) 404    
141 Yency Almonte (COL - RP) IL10 406    
142 Erick Fedde (WSH - SP,RP) 409 414.0 +5.0
143 Kodi Whitley (STL - RP) MiLB 398    
144 Jhoulys Chacin (COL - SP,RP) 427    
145 Brad Wieck (CHC - RP) IL60      
146 Taylor Widener (ARI - SP,RP) 428    
147 Sam Coonrod (PHI - RP) IL10 434    
148 Shelby Miller (PIT - SP,RP) MiLB 435    
149 Wade LeBlanc (STL - SP,RP) 441    
150 Mitch White (LAD - RP) MiLB 362    
151 Scott Alexander (LAD - RP) IL10 364    
152 Riley Smith (ARI - RP,SP) IL10 424    
153 Cionel Perez (CIN - RP) MiLB 374 423.0 +49.0
154 Dan Altavilla (SD - RP) IL60 381    
155 Carlos Estevez (COL - RP) 380    
156 Kyle Ryan (CHC - RP) 429    
157 Jonathan Holder (CHC - RP) IL60 389    
158 Anthony Banda (PIT - RP) 447    
159 Nick Neidert (MIA - RP,SP) MiLB 458