So if you are like me and you play in way too many leagues with dynasty or minor league rosters that run deep, then you are always searching for the next bullpen arm to turn into a usable fantasy commodity.  Possibly even the team’s closer.  Baseball is becoming more reliever centric, and what I mean by that is that there are more and more players that are strictly being drafted and used as relievers in the minors.  Yes, you get the usual transient failed starter that catches on in the bullpen, but the numbers are growing for the straight cash homies of the reliever ranks persuasion.  So for today, I will look at some of the guys that you most likely have never heard of if you are only playing redraft leagues or DFS.  These guys are the future and on a journey to climb the minor league ladder to see who can hang tough and make it to the show as a set-up guy or closer.  I will squeeze one more NKOTB reference in there, so stick around and please don’t go you (four) girl readers.

Keone Kela, Rangers – Raise your hand if this scenario makes sense: Near the trade deadline, Papelbon has already been traded to the Blue Jays.  Who is the number two trade target out there?  For me, it’s easily Neftali Feliz.  Relievers with experience are a good commodity to have for contending teams. Now the Rangers will try out Kyuji Fujiwaka there, and will most likely settle on Keone Kela when all is said and done for next year.  So what has he done to warrant some consideration? Three straight years above 12 K/9 in minors, and if you are paying attention, he hasn’t ever started a game in the minors.  He is a straight strike throwing sex tornado.

Nick Burdi, Twins – A 2014 draftee is going to be green lit to make it to the majors this year.  By this time next season, he will be in the discussion as the Twins closer.  I get that Perkins is signed through 2017, but when you have a better, cheaper option, that has a K-rate north of 16, you get him the ball when you need to shut things down.  The former Louisville closer knows nothing else other than to collect the ball after the 9th from the catcher, and it will continue that way in the future.

Enrique Burgos, Diamondbacks –  Silvino Bracho, Kaleb Fleck, Jake Barrett and future set-up ace Jimmy Sherfy form one of the best groups of minor league-only relievers in the MiLB and they all are on one team.  Even better Burgos, Bracho, Fleck and Barrett all had over 15 saves and combined for 96 saves last year.  Barrett is the first to get to the majors as a highly rated closer for Arizona State, but Burgos has the goods to be really really awesome with a plus fastball that was tops in the AZ Fall league last year (97MPH).  He also has a washout slider that gave him a hefty 13 plus K/9 rate last year.  All of these guys are going to be a factor in the future with the Diamondbacks. As Addison Reed looks to be darn near out of gas and has been losing MPH off his fastball so much that the difference between his FB/Slider is only three… well, that my friends is never a good mix.

R.J. Alvarez, Angels – Acquired from the bullpen factory known as Jay(Wrong)’s favorite team the Padres…  It’s a toss up for me if he or Cam Bedrosian is the future bullpen stopper there.  Alvarez has never had a K-rate under 10 at any level, and is a 30% strike-out guy.  Which if you translate that to MLB closers, is top-10 type results.  Huston Street is going to be looking for David Robertson type money come this offseason. So if Alvarez shows out well enough and they don’t add a veteran to the mix, it could come down to him and Cam as the future save tally guys in the land of Angels

Aaron Barrett,  Nationals – The most important piece of info I can give you is Drew Storen is going to be a free agent after this year.  Aaron is a bit older then most on this list, but has only had four career starts in his minors career and has been throwing harder since his TJ surgery in 2013.  He has a repetoire of a a great mid 90’s sinker and a slider combo that has him at a career SwStr% of 16 plus.  Oh, by the way, he’s a pretty good holds guy for arguably the best team in baseball right now.

Steven Okert, Giants – If the D-Backs are reliever rich then, the Giants are at least pulling in CEO type money.  They have 3-4 guys including Okert, Ray Black and even a super sleeper this year for saves Hunter Strickland.  As far as closer good and make-up go Okert is the man.  He has developed into a sinker/change and fastball only pitcher after basically ditching the slider.  With Casilla and Romo battling to see who will be older first and fall off the reliever wagon, it will inevitably open the door for Strickland and Okert in the coming years.

  1. RJ Alvarez is now in Oakland. Even with Cook banished to minors, I don’t think he can pass Doolittle and Clippard.

    I stayed away from Arizona situation because there are just too many guys in the competition.

    Obtain Ray Black and Nick Burdi now! I also got Kela, but I’m not super-jazzed on him like the other two.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Joseph Buccellato: yea totally bonked there. I think I carried the one and divided by pi. I personally like Okert better than Nlack due to blacks arm injuries. Thanks.

  2. Beastman says:
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    Hey all, need one more team for a $100 Razzball league. Draft is this Sunday at noon EST.

    Email [email protected] to join

    • DonSlaughtOnslaught says:
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      @Beastman: just sent you an email.

  3. Mostsuckass says:
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    Hey Smokey,

    Thanks for this list of closer prospects. Definitely helpful for my deer keeper/dynasty league (more dynasty than keeper).

    I’m wondering if you might be willing to rank some bullpen guys for me. My league counts both saves and holds, and we also include K/BB as a scoring category (in addition to the usual roto categories). So I’m looking for guys who’ll get holds, won’t kill me in the ratio categories (or might even help), and could be in the mix for saves (though this is less important). How would you rank these?

    Steve Delabar
    Tommy Hunter
    Oliver Perez
    Neil Ramirez
    Pedro Strop

    • Mostsuckass says:
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      @Mostsuckass: That’s a *deep* keeper league. To my knowledge, there are no deer playing in our league.

      • Baggiejohn says:
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        @Mostsuckass: Unless they’re playing for some serious doe

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Mostsuckass: Strop, Ramirez, Hunter Perez Delabar

      • Mostsuckass says:
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        @Smokey: I see Delabar was just optioned, which makes it an easy call to move him to the bottom of the list. Too bad for him; he actually looked pretty good this spring. But Osuna is better.

    • Colonel Angus says:
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      @Mostsuckass: To me, this list is headed by Strop for sure. He seems to have found a groove and I’m not exactly sure that Rondon is better than him. Other than that keeps your eyes out for Miguel Castro and Robert Osuna who forced Delabar to the minor leagues. Oliver Perez, Neil Ramirez and Tommy Hunter are all questionable to me. Another name to watch for is Tyler Olson. He’s the real deal in Seattle.

  4. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    thanks,i love these post on future stars

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @AL KOHOLIC: well I did it just got you then. Enjoy

  5. Joeg414 says:
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    As a Box owner, should I be more worried about McGee coming back or Tampa going with Balfour early on ? Or maybe even Jepsen ?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Joeg414: it’s McGee’s job when he comes back. Balfour I think is being showcased based on money owed. Jepsen is the contrarian rah-rah guy the manager is feeding to the press that he may close. Nothing pumps you up as a reliever more then saying your good enough to close.

  6. Smokey!

    Was wondering if you could give me a couple targets of guys that are not closing to start that I should target for the end of my RP in an upcomming auction draft.

    I normally try to get two closers and two potential closers on my team. Last year grabbed Allen in the auction for 5 bucks and it worked out real swell.

    These are some guys that are available heading into the draft that I really like:
    Andrew Miller
    Kevin Quackenbush
    Soria
    Farquhar
    boxberger
    Familia
    Joe Smith
    Shawn Kelley
    Romo
    Evan Marshall
    Jordan Walden

    which of these guys float your boat with the most boyancy?

    THanks!

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @The Bandit: Miller, soria, Box, walden. Farquhar, quackenbush

      • @Smokey: In that order?

        Also, do you know where the keys to the Trans Am are?

        • Smokey

          Smokey says:
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          @The Bandit: Yes that order. Cledius has them

  7. Pete says:
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    Trying to decide if I should keep Jansen or Blackmon as my last keeper in my H2H points league. I could keep Jansen in round 10 or Blackmon in round 15. we only need to stat 3 OF’s, so OF runs fairly deep. Would you go Jansen?

    • @Pete: who are your other keepers? Any other options? how many RP slots?

      I would say blackman out of those two cause you can prob just redraft Jansen close to round 10.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Pete: Blackmon.

  8. the swinging says:
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    Djbf h kj ncddhbfssajkkn

  9. russell says:
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    Any thoughts on Osuna making the Jays?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @russell: love it. Besides Loup there isn’t another guy I would touch there. It’s set up for him to get some high quality innings.

      • A Hill O' Beans says:
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        @Smokey: I’m thinking Miguel Castro will be closing by May, so I’d take him over anyone else there.

  10. Zeus says:
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    Any clue on the Astros closing situation

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Zeus: I’m still in the Wualls followed by Gregerson corner.

  11. snarf says:
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    As a Giants fan, I find it hard to believe Strickland will have an impact with a flat (albeit fast) fastball and no number two pitch. His slider isn’t that accurate or nasty. Is there something I’m missing? He got roped in the playoffs with hanging too many hittable balls.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @snarf: the cutter is coming along. He throws harder and is younger then anyone else being discussed for saves by a lot. Power arms make for intriguing late gane options In second year.

  12. jacque jones says:
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    Drop Joe Smith or Watson for Jace Peterson? (Streets been awful so far)…14tm roto. Peterson has the sb/r upside and has 2b/3b (only 3b if necessary)

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @jacque jones: do you need a middle infidel over a rp?

  13. OldMilwaukeePounders says:
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    Smokey! What’s up my dude? As a fellow bullpen-ophile myself, dig the post as always. Are you thinking that Barrett is going to get holds for WAS right now? Will he be the main set-up man for Storen?

    Had my draft last night and landed a Davis/Miller duo but got shut out on my other holders, could Barrett gonna be that dude? Also, what are your thoughts on Evan Marshall or Familia either getting holds or saves?

    Thanks my man!

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @OldMilwaukeePounders: Sup OMP! Thanks. He has Janssen in front of him at least right now. I think with the amount of wins that the Nats are predicted to win if he got you 20-22 on the year that would be a win. Love Marshall in the desert, Reed is not long for anything and Zig-Zag is blah

  14. Tehol Beddict says:
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    THank you, without this post I would have ZERO clue who any of these guys were. #SmokeDog

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Tehol Beddict: that’s just what I do, people helping people

  15. WThothot says:
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    can we set the Over/Under on Nick Burdi to the majors at July 15th?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @WThothot: after I would think, unless injuries

  16. B-murph says:
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    Hey Smokey!

    Quick question. The theory of SAGNOF suggests they got no faces, but do they have shadows? And how far do those shadows stretch?

    My league has added Blown Saves this year (not my choice). Does that change the strategy? Do saves have faces now?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @B-murph: hmmm, not really because BS are impossible to predict, stick with the better guys and leave the question marks

  17. Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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    except for barrett all those ARI guys are actually available in my 30 team dynasty with 25 minor spots. barrett was drafted since he went in the 3rd round, but all those others aren’t owned. Nice. if i’m out of competition by mid july i can probably bid on these guys for cheap. how would you rank the 4 not named barrett?

        • Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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          @Smokey: as nobody else mentioned above is available in this league, all 4 of those might be attempted to be grabbed by me when i can. i missed kela by like 4 picks back in january.

  18. buclover says:
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    Hi Smokey,
    I’m looking for advice on how to approach my draft this evening, specifically in regards to pitching, in a 10 team, 7×7 roto snake draft. The pitching categories are IP, Saves, K’s, ERA, WHIP, K/9, and QS. There are no limits on innings pitched. Do you see a general strategy to follow considering the cats? Starter heavy, closer heavy, fill up the back end of my draft with guys like Boxberger, giles, miller, ottavino? If I rely heavily on SP I’ll get the counting stats – IP, K’s, QS, but could sacrafice ERA/WHIP, even K/9 unless I invest early and often on starters. I could wait on SP and try to snag the top closers, like Chapman, Melancon, Allen, Robertson and do well with saves, ERA, WHIP, and K/9. Or do you go even keel and not think too much into it? Thanks much!

    • buclover says:
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      @buclover: btw, my starting spots are 2 SP, 2 RP, 3 P and I have 6 bench spots, 3 DLs, and 1 NA…thanks again!

      • buclover says:
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        @buclover: I was talking to a buddy about these stat cats and he seems to think this league would be a streamer’s delight….what about picking up a couple of top 15 starters and then 3 of the top 15 closers and fill out the rest of my pitching staff with “streamables” that could become regulars and save a couple of spots for guys like Boxberger, Giles, Diekman?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @buclover: I like grabbing at least one, stud sp then filling in with 1-2 of the top 15 RP.

  19. Andy says:
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    6×6 w holds saves ks wins era whip

    Drop carlos Martinez, soria or peralta for mujica??
    Other Rps I own
    Allen
    Benoit
    Clippard
    Boxberger
    Wade Davis

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Andy: Peralta and Mujica have about the same value right now and hold onto Martinez until we definitely hear what his role will be. So i am saying hold

  20. slimbo says:
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    What’s up smokey!

    Do you have an updated list of the top holds guys for this Year? So hard to find on my phone ughhhh #isuckatphones

  21. Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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    in 12 team 5×5 with 4 RP slots i have mcgee/benoit/perkins/cecil. who’s best grab when mcgee gets DL’d?
    hatcher/j.peralta/jepsen/marshall/quack/soriano

  22. Andy says:
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    I own peralta in a holds saves league
    Is he the best lad to own or go paco?
    Higher k upside?

  23. JP says:
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    Smoke-I am in a 6×6 roto= w, whip,era,s, ip and holds. I need to grab a guy off the wire. I am going for it this year and would love to grab keone do you see him getting enough holds for me now? Bryan Shaw, Y medina and C furbush are out there and safer I think but love this kid. Will I regret picking him up for this year for holds? Thanks

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