Once upon a time, we were uncertain how teams would handle their prospects in this the final season of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Major League Baseball and the players union. 

Today, I feel like everyone could’ve seen this coming. 

Given one last chance to squeeze their prospects for an extra year of team control, teams just can’t help themselves. Nico Hoerner will have to stay in the minors for about 37 days to grant the Cubs an extra year on his contract, so that’s that. Easy call. Let’s keep Eric Sogard and Matt Duffy instead, bumping some other more promising pieces off the roster. 

Teams act like this is just free money, but that feels like folly if we consider the 41st man and 1st man off the roster who theoretically earned a spot he can’t occupy because of Matt Duffy

And it doesn’t take into account another big question: will they even want Nico Hoerner six seasons from now? Perhaps his ultimate value is allowing the club to hold onto a promising young arm who might’ve otherwise aged off the 40-man roster. 

No time for tears, though. Lots to cover this week. 

With Hoerner off the club, Cubs 2B David Bote looks like a potent power option in the late-stages of drafts.

The Tigers optioned fantasy flop Joe Jimenez. Good news for Gregory Soto and Bryan Garcia. Soto’s the one we all want to get the gig, and I’ve gotta think Derek Holland helps. Nice to have some lefties lying around when you want to close with a southpaw. 

IF Yu Chang made the club in Cleveland. He’s been hitting well this spring and playing some first base. I think he’s already the short side platoon there for Jake Bauers, and I think Bauers is below replacement level. Bobby Bradley awaits at the training site, so even if Chang banishes Bauers, he’ll have another platoon mate soon, but the arc of history is long, and Chang is the only constant among this triumvirate. 

Baltimore optioned Jahmai Jones then dropped Yolmer Sanchez. What’s that groovy sound? Is that Ramon Urias’ music?

Boston RHP Matt Barnes has tested positive for the Covid. Hey remember when we worried about HIPAA laws with this stuff? Like early on when we thought people might melt and were watching Tom Hanks’ vlog posts with more fervor than we generated for his last fifteen movies put together? Yeah, me neither. 

News of the World for our purposes is Adam Ottavino, who’s been dominant this spring, steps into his first real closer’s gig in a long, successful career. 

This time of year, a victory lap of hype surrounds everyone in all fantasy baseball, except David Peterson. He’s a 6’6” lefty recent first round pick about to break camp in the starting rotation on a good team after an excellent debut in 2020, but you won’t find him in any sleeper articles despite an ADP in the 300s. Why not? I genuinely have no clue. I guess it’s velocity related? Trevor Rogers is all the rage because he can touch 97, but Peterson, with a similar profile and better track record, is considered a bad fastball guy, according to a notable pitching pert who frequently employs that phrase. One nice thing about statcast is its power to debunk some of our good-ole-boy aesthetic baseball myths. 

In 2020, Peterson threw 304 four-seam fastballs to major league hitters, averaging 92.1 mph on those pitches comprising 37.4 percent of his arsenal.

Batters tallied ten total hits against those fastballs: six singles, three doubles, one home run. That’s a .164 batting average and a .262 slugging percentage. 

Publicly available scouting reports grade the pitch somewhere in the 40-45 range. 

If Peterson throws a below average fastball, I don’t know how one earns a plus. 

So why does it work so well at 92 mph? 

Well, stop me if you’ve heard this, but it’s all about drop, as in, his four-seamer has almost three inches less drop (-2.8) than the typical heater. It also has almost twice as much horizontal break: 11.4 inches or +4.6 compared to a typical FF. 

If you watch him pitch, it’s easy to see why this happens despite his pedestrian spin rates. Peterson is a low-slot, plus-extension lefty in the vein of Madison Bumgarner or Andrew Heaney.

Part of the issue here is Peterson throws two fastballs, and his sinker is bad. He threw 128 of them (15.8 percent of arsenal) last year and gave up a .368 batting average and .474 slugging percentage. His changeup, which he threw 18.7 percent of the time, got hit even harder: 556 SLG. I’m not saying he should junk these pitches entirely, but I’m hoping they comprise less than 34.5 percent of his pitches this year. 

His sinker (91.8 mph) lives in the same velocity band as his four-seam fastball (92.1). 

His changeup (83.4) neighbors the velo band occupied by his slider (81.3).

While the change was his worst pitch, his slider was dominant: .119 BA, .254 SLG as a 25.9 percent offering, and his command of the pitch is impeccable. 

Pretty simple solution here, really: fewer sinkers and changeups; more fastballs and sliders. 

A wildcard is a 74.4 mph curveball Peterson threw just 18 times last year, yielding zero hits. If he can command that pitch, he’d access three disparate velocity bands with pitches that have strong results so far. I’m guessing that curve could be a nasty strike-stealer to get ahead early in at bats. 

Off-speed command is kind of my pitching mantra around here, and Peterson is an example I really like where it’s difficult to see why he’s effective via the well-worn pitcher-evaluation paths. I’ve heard announcers say he’s trying to get to the slider—that he peppers his fastballs just outside the zone (or in the shadow zone) hoping he can get ahead and wipe guys out with his slider. That’s fine, I guess, but his four-seamer is a swing and miss pitch, especially atop the zone, and I think he found a formula as the season wore on in 2020, rounding out his year with three straight solid starts and a 2.00 ERA over those final 18 innings. 

In a world where everyone gets their moment under the hyperbolic heat lamps of fantasy baseball in the time of Twitter, Peterson’s spotlight has yet to shine. I was able to snag him at pick 338 in the 30-team, five-year dynasty best ball at Prospects Live after a whole host of players less appealing to me in that time-compressed, volume-heavy format were off the board: JT Brubaker, Shane McClanahan, Brailyn Marquez, Corbin Martin, Jackson Kowar, Tom Hatch, Spencer Turnbull, Caleb Smith, Matthew Boyd, DL Hall, Nick Lodolo, Michael Kopech, Matt Manning, Clarke Schmidt, Dane Dunning, Spencer Howard.

This draft is built from 30 of the best minds in the prospect and dynasty game, but few seem intrigued by Peterson, who’d be my favorite format-fit on this list regardless of price. 

I guess Marquez is kinda close, but there’s timeline and relief risk there. 

Can make a case for Dunning based on the enormous ballpark and lack of competition for innings, but Texas wants to use a six-man rotation, which all but eliminates the ever-important double starts required to thrive in this format. 

I’m not saying Peterson is head and shoulders above all these arms in any objective sense, but half these guys went at least 100 picks ahead of him, and that’s, well, odd to me.

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

48 Comments
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183414
183414
1 year ago

Drafted last night.
My starters:
Darvish
Lynn
Urias
Bundy
Montas
McKensie
Means
Skubal

Shorted myself with 8 starters. Then after the draft I read how McKensie won’t be starting anytime soon, and will be severely babied. Sure hope Urias can get 150 innings.
Starters available as free agents:
Peterson
Canning
Sheffield
Happ
Houck
Richards
M. Kelly
Shoemaker

Definitely need another starter, if not 2.

Was worried about speed, and drafted Madrigal and Wendle, whom I really don’t plan on starting .

How would you rank the starters who you would put in bids for ?

Thanks.

JB
JB
1 year ago

Itch….. 10 team dynasty. 6×6 w/obp……… I have to cut A Rosario due to roster size, but have space in my minor slots. Cant really ask for India because he too will take up a major lg roster spot, but anyone else on this list make sense?

2B Xavier Edwards 2B | TB
3B Jonathan India 3B | CIN
SS Orelvis Martinez SS | TOR
SS Ronny Mauricio SS | NYM
OF Jordyn Adams OF | LAA
OF Hunter Bishop OF | SF
OF Luis Matos OF | SF
Mick Abel P | PHI
P Josiah Gray

Moon Shots
Moon Shots
1 year ago

Hi Ho Itch!

Good tidings.

I have someone all hot and bothered for my Joe Adell in 30-team dynasty, where i have a rich collection of prospects on my rebuilding team. First they offered Lux, which i declined. Now more recently they offered Lux, Ed Howard, and a middling 1st round pick for this year. That’s not a bad package methinks, but if Adell is as good as he’s hyped to be i’m still probably holding. So i’m curious for your read: is Adell a hold no matter what guy? He’s not specifically someone i love and i ended up with him because i did a bit of drunken bidding war during our auction. I’m more partial to my Luciano, Vaughn, Abrams, etc. Still some say he’s a generational type talent. A penny for your thoughts!

Moon Shots
Moon Shots
Reply to  The Itch
1 year ago

A mighty thanks for your thoughtful and thorough message. Happy to have been the recipient of article mode.

Fool that i am, i botched my description: first it was on offer of Lux for Adell, now its an offer of Alex Thomas (not lux!) plus Howard and a pick that would be—checks notes–18th. My guess is that this changes the math for you and that Thomas doesnt move the needle enough, but i usually make an ass of myself when guessing so by all means tell me im wrong if im wrong!

Lucky Dog
Lucky Dog
1 year ago

Excellent article, Itch!

Do you like David Peterson more than Skubal for 2021, non-keeper purpsoses in a 6×6?

Also, do you like Robbie Ray with his increased velo more than one, the other, or both?

I have Ray & Peterson, but I’ve got a twinkle in my eye fir Skubal.

Thanks!

Rick Brown
Rick Brown
1 year ago

Hey Itch,
Great read. I want to pick up Peterson in a 16 team H2H league. Is he worth dropping Sheffield for?
Thanks,RICK

Nitemare 2
Nitemare 2
Reply to  Rick Brown
1 year ago

Great info. !! Love the Peterson piece
You like Peterson over Rodon , who has looked healthy ?!
Appreciate your insight !!

thehombre
thehombre
1 year ago

Thank you.

Thank you for telling me about CJ Abrams. I own him in all of my dynasty leagues, BUT

I also own 69 of his various 2019 Bowman Chromes including 2 autos. I bought in December and even now that is looking like a crazy smart investment. We will see how it goes, but for right now…. thank you.

TualatinTwoStep
TualatinTwoStep
1 year ago

Peterson is almost guaranteed to be a top 50 pitcher now, as I traded him away in my dynasty league today just before reading this article. Lmao!

Junior 56
Junior 56
1 year ago

Nice write up on Peterson. Hail the Junk throwin’ Lefties! True statement about the state of baseball it’s all about the money on both sides.
I’m in a 12 team 6×6 Dynasty league. Pedro Pineda is available trouble is finding space would you drop Aaron Brachio or Blake Walston to pick up Pineda?

Thanks!

Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey
Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey
1 year ago

see what yr take is here:

16 teamer shallow yahoo rosters (2 utils though), h2h. 6 keepers at no cost these options (these keepers getting old after all my years in this league as no worse than 5th or something, 3rd last year): other than ozuna not sure if any of these is an easy yes anymore (probably lynn too).

torenado, goldy, l.gurriel, ozuna, lynn, karinchak (generally here go 7-8 SP, 6-7 RP, QS/holds/OPS/total bases added), hayes, gallo, mountcastle, cronenworth, gausman, otani (hitter only).

Prawn Lord
Prawn Lord
1 year ago

Interesting Peterson analysis! Thanks!
Maybe similar to Peterson, do you have any thoughts on Logan Allen? With some prospect track record, Cleveland’s recent history developing pitchers, and his performance this spring is it wrong to think he could be a decent target and is being overlooked?

Joe Shmoe
Joe Shmoe
1 year ago

Hi,
Really like reading your articles on prospects and prospecting.

Ottavino is a “cuddle boy” for sure.

I’m in a 15 team dynasty with QS and OBP. I have hoskins, N. Lowe and Candelario as my CI’s and I wanted to trade for a pitcher. I am trying to move on from Hoskins (he seems to be staying in one place rather than living up to his potential) I am terrible at pitching trades and could use QS. I might have the chance to trade him for one of the following pitchers: D. German, Montas or Peterson. Any of these an pitchers worthy of his value? Or is this a hold?

Thanks for your time.

Ryan
Ryan
1 year ago

Excellent… for my bench which starter pitcher do you prefer Peterson or Alzolay?

Sal
Sal
1 year ago

Do you expect ottavino to hold onto the gig?

Racehorse
Racehorse
1 year ago

Akil Baddoo (aka Killer Baddass) made the Tigers opening day roster …

I immediately snapped him up in my 16 team keep-forever dynasty league.

Looking at MLB Pipeline’s 2019 scouting report on Baddoo, when he was a Twins prospect, there’s allot to like.

He’s a Rule 5 guy — but A.J. Hinch said that they’re going to play him, versus just sitting around to carry him on the roster …

The Tigers are not all that good now, but Baddoo could be there in CF when the Tigers become good again.

What do you think?

Racehorse
Racehorse
Reply to  The Itch
1 year ago

Itch

Very HAPPY you are way ahead of me ;-)

And I should have looked around Razzball before wondering aloud about Addoo …

But still, in my deep 16 team dynasty format, bring on on Addoo!

***makes muscle-y arm***

toolshed
toolshed
1 year ago

Do you think jt brubaker takes a step forward and is a decent add in dynasty to fill some innings this year in the back end of a rotation? I have a few pitchers who are on the IL and I need innings. Thanks

Racehorse
Racehorse
1 year ago

It’d be kinda ironic if Ramon Urias becomes an everyday player at 2B Orioles — while his younger bro, the once highly touted Luis Urias, still trying to establish an everyday role with the Milwaukee Brewers.

big league choo
big league choo
1 year ago

12 team dynasty pts league

My pitching staff is Darvish, Gausman, Urias, Sale, Syndergaard, Ohtani, Brailyn Marquez, Espino, and Ryan Pressly. A few teams dropped out so we have a bunch of talent available. Should I grab one of luzardo, Gallen, burnes, plesac or grab a bat gleyber, Kelenic, rendon?

C
1B Olson
2B Lowe
3B Chapman
SS Bichette
MI Hampson
CI Walker
OF Soto
OF Happ
OF
Util Stanton
Util Ohtani

BN JD Davis

Jeter Downs, Brujan, ONeil Cruz, Alek Thomas, Bracho, Michael Busch, Orelvis, Brennen Davis, Puason

dill
dill
1 year ago

Great article Itch. In the bold prediction article, you mention in the comments that you gave 4 cheap closers good for 30 saves. I was wondering who were they, on top of Bass.
Thanks as always !

Baggie John
Baggie John
1 year ago

Good morning from Birmingham, England !

Great, well-reasoned article, as always. I already owe you a debt of thanks for the Relief Pitchers post that came out the day before my RCL Draft. Got shares in Victor Gonzalez everywhere (endorsed by Baseball Prospectus), plus Brusdar Graterol, Demarcus Evans – and Joely Rodriguez is available across all my Leagues atm. Stashing Jonathan Hernandez where I can as well.

Last night was my first ever Auction League Draft, a Dynasty Points league with 30 spots and 5 NAs’. I take the long view with Dynasty, so I’m hoping to be competitive 2-3 years down the line. Thanks to your posts and a few others, I went Prospect-heavy, so I’ve now filled all 5 NAs and need to look at Waivers / Free Agents.

My OF is loaded – Eloy, Robles, Adell, Kyle Lewis, Julio Rodriguez, Clint Frazier (with Carroll and Marsh in reserve) so I don’t really need anyone there

SS is Ketel Marte, Correa and Luciano in reserve, and I’m happy with that

2B is Albies and Dylan Moore (covers other Positions too), so I’m thinking to add Brujan there

1B is Matt Olson – maybe take a chance with Sabato ? or Bryce Ball ?

Pitching is weaker, but I don’t really trust prospect arms (I have Hancock, Lacy and Corbin Martin already) – Brailyn Marquez is your highest ranked SP available

The others I’m considering are Jung, Riley Greene, Greg Jones (from your write-up)Pena, Larnach, Luis Matos and Hedbert Perez. I like Roansy Contreras and Woods Richardson as arms.

If I can only add 5, then Brujan and which 4 would you go with ?

Thanks for your time!

Baggie John
Baggie John
Reply to  The Itch
1 year ago

Thanks – I guess you can never have too much OF talent!

Duda Want to Build a Snowman?
Duda Want to Build a Snowman?
1 year ago

Hey Itch! Do you think India makes the team with a full time gig? How would you prioritize snagging him vs Senzel (or both?) at the back of drafts?

Member Berries
Member Berries
1 year ago

Great breakdown, Itch. I have a few Trevor Rogers but his free value is now gone. I will likely be swapping Peterson for Rogers in drafts and it may be an upgrade according to what I just read.

I’m a big Joc Pederson fan in drafts but he also stopped being free. As a Dodger fan, I always felt Joc would do something big as soon as he went to another club and got every day at bats – could help win you a league at .240 40hrs 7Sbs – he wrote a piece in the athletic thanking LA and had a few great anecdotes – one with Tommy Lasorda. worth the read if you havent already.

Took over a OPS league where you keep 8 – was very pleased with my draft walking out with Kelenic, Bohm, KHayes, and Torkelson to add to my 8. Obviously there’s more but this is a prospects post – also grabbed LGilbert – he’s looked great

I know Grey will never buy Robbie Ray and Tyler Glasnow – they’ve looked good in spring. Thoughts?

As always, thanks for the great content!