Man, the sound of the words rookie sleeper pitcher just makes my skin crawl. Prospect and rookie hitters are so much more exciting to own, and just as fun to write about. Pitchers, on the other hand, not..so..moooouch. Outside of the top 100 type guys, I typically stay away from spec arms in leagues of all shapes and sizes. Increasingly, over the past few seasons, some what unheralded starters and relievers have come from nowhere and made an impact in deeper leagues and dynasty’s. So to round out our rookie sleeper posts for the pre-season, we’re going to dive into some of the off the radar arms that should reach their rookie limits this season. Just to be clear, we’re not talking about Giolito, Urias, Berrios, Snell, Glasnow, etc. You should know those guys, if you don’t, go back and read my previous posts. BTW….you should know those guys. Rookie sleepers for 2016 fantasy baseball, this time with 113% less The Band and Da Band mix ups. Seriously, I was getting attacked in the comments and on Twitter, and all over a silly definite article mixup. Is Da a definite article?

 

Zack Godley, RHP | ARI: After making the jump from High A to the bigs in just one season, Godley returns in 2016 with a chance to log some for the D-Backs innings again this year. While certainly behind Robbie Ray in the battle for Arizona’s 5th rotation spot, Godley should see the first opportunity should anyone in the starting 5 go down. He mixes an arsenal of 4 pitches with good movement, but can struggle with control. He’s put up relatively good strikeout numbers in the minors, and tends to induce a good % of ground balls. So there’s a reasonably exciting profile here.

Zach Davies, RHP | MIL: I was initially pretty jazzed about Davies upon the trade to Milwaukee, from the spec arms killing monster know as the Baltimore Orioles farm system. He’s just the kind of arm I love in deep leagues. Overlooked because he’s not a hard thrower, but he gets by pitching down in the zone and inducing groundballs at an elite clip. He hits the corners consistently, and mixes a plus-plus change with a plus sinker and an average curveball. He won’t be in the opening rotation, but there’s still a very good chance we see him make some starts in the early part of the season.

Brian Johnson, LHP | BOS: After putting together a very nice year for the Red Sox AAA affiliate in Pawtucket, Johnson was still an outsider this spring in the competition for the Red Sox 5th starter spot. He’s likely to begin the season once again in Pawtucket. The stuff isn’t overpowering, but he knows how to pitch. Keeping hitters off balance with his ability to throw any of his four pitches in any count. He induces weak contact and grinds down hitters, as he works at an accelerated pace. He should be up within the first few months if some of the uncertainty in the back end of the Red Sox rotation is, well, uncertain?

Mike Clevinger, RHP | CLE: The Indians acquired Clevinger from the Angels in a August of 2014 waiver trade for Vinny Pestano. In other words he wasn’t any more than an after thought in a rather barren Angels system. Well, no wonder it’s barren, because in 2015, his first full year in the Cleveland organization, Clevinger bloomed. Leading all pitchers in the Indians system in strikeouts, and anchored a very good Akron rotation. He had a strong spring, but was optioned back to AAA for more seasoning, or for service clock purposes, we’ll see. He should get the first call should an opportunity open in the mistake by the lake. He’s a long-haired scoundrel with a 97 mph fastball, like a grown up Mitch Kramer. What’s not to like?

Brian Flynn, LHP | KC: After just missing out on the final spot in the Royals bullpen to Ryan Madson last season. The 6’7 lefties’ season was over just a few days later due to a torn oblique. He’s back again this year, and in the mix for the final spot in the Royals bullpen. I think he fares better this time around. Then again what’s worse than just missing out on a spot in “The Beatles” of bullpens and then tearing your oblique in your first AAA outing? Maybe finding pictures of your wife on Dan Bilzerian’s boat? As for actual useful information, he’s a capable reliever who’s equally effective against righties and lefties. He has an above average fastball-changeup combo, and some fringe offspeed offerings in his curveball and slider.

Ariel Pena, RHP | MIL: With injuries to Sean Nolin and Yhonathan Barrios, an opportunity for Pena to make the opening day roster has become an almost certainty. He was mediocre in his 5 starts with the Brewers last season, but has produced very nice K rates throughout his career. He may not be someone you own outside of very deep holds leagues. The thing is with the uncertainty in the backend of the Brewers bullpen, it’s worth keeping an eye on any of the potential closing options.

Colin Rea, RHP | SD: After destroying the Texas League in his first 12 starts last season, Rea was promoted to AAA and the majors, where he wasn’t met with as much success. He’s another guy without any real stuff, that gets by on knowing how to pitch. So boring, I feel asleep just writing this blurb. He looks to have the inside track for the 5th starter spot in the Padres rotation. So, we could be in for a little bit of the HodgePadre action with Rea.

Tim Cooney, LHP | STL: About a month ago I wrote this about Cooney “If not for a mid-season appendectomy Cooney would be listed at the top of the page with the graduated specs. He’s 25, so he’s older for a prospect, but the lefty college standout moved quickly up the minor league ladder after leaving Wake Forest. He mixes 5 pitches, and uses his plus plus change to make them all work. He’s got a very good chance of landing a back of the rotation spot with the Cards in 2016”. Injuries have delayed his season but Cooney could and should be the first arm called up to start.

Jon Moscot, RHP | CIN: A total BORP that will more than likely get the 5th starter spot out of camp. He’s only interesting because he’s keeping the seat warm until Cody Reed is ready. He’s not going to give you much in the way of wins, strikeouts, or anything but innings pretty much.

Miguel Almonte, RHP | KC: Another player I covered in the minor league previews, here’s what I said then; “After a rough MLB debut (4 homers, 6 earned in 9 innings), the hard throwing Dominican righty should head back to AAA Omaha for some more seasoning. He mixes an excellent change with a 94-97 mph fastball, and an average to below average curveball. Many project the finished product to be a mid rotation starter, but in order for Almonte to get there he’s going to need to work on commanding his pitches”. He was recently optioned to AAA where he’ll work on continuing to improve his command. Should be up by July, though I can say for sure whether it will be as a starter or reliever.

 

Others: Nick Travieso, Manny Banuelos, Kendry Flores, Michael Feliz

  1. booya says:
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    How bout Michael Fulmer and Francis Martes? Both look like they’re gonna be studs and should be up by midseason…

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @booya: Those are both top 50 – top 100 guys, this listed was more focused on the off the radar guys. That said I like them both, Martes is probably a year and a half away. He has like 14 innings above A ball and is 20.

      Fulmer to me seems more like a spot start callup or Sept 1st guy. Kind of depends how Detroit’s season and rotation go.

    • mauledbypandas says:
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      @booya: Don’t think you see Martes this year at all. Fulmer maybe has a quicker path depending on how things at AAA go, but probably not until late this year.

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @mauledbypandas: Get out of my head! Haha

        • mauledbypandas says:
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          @Ralph Lifshitz: haha, I was thinking you would come along and do a round of answers but obviously I decided to chip in just a little to late!

          • Ralph Lifshitz

            Ralph Lifshitz says:
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            @mauledbypandas: must have been 30 seconds Panda baby

  2. RicoSuave says:
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    Great job Ralph!
    who do you think is better for this season Nola or J. Ross?
    thanks

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @RicoSuave: Good question, probably Ross by a hair due to the slight K/9 advantage and better opportunity for W’s. Long term it’s Nola

      • RicoSuave says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: thanks man… I just realized, K Hendricks is also available… between Ross and Hendricks?
        Thanks again

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @RicoSuave: I go Hendricks for this season.

          • RicoSuave says:
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            @Ralph Lifshitz: awesome! thanks man…

  3. Hey-oh says:
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    Looking to shore up 1B in my dynasty league. Who do you like long-term between AJ Reed and Greg Bird?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Hey-oh: AJ Reed by quite a bit.

  4. PancakeMaker says:
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    Doesn’t John Lamb still squeeze in as rookie eligible? Only 49 innings last year, figuered he’d make this list.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @PancakeMaker: Good call, he’s probably out until sometime in May coming off back surgery. So didn’t include him. I like him more than Moscot for sure so it’s not bad suggestion.

      Thanks!

      • PancakeMaker says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: No problem! I’m hoping he’ll come back and keep showing off those nice, nice Ks for me.

  5. Sasquatch slugger says:
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    Missed two posts ago (streaming strategy). So I’ll bug you a bit….since you guys helped me win a league without streaming pitchers. Just fluked it hitting four hot pitchers a couple of years ago. Anyway I’ve never been in a 15 team league but that’s gonna change in 3 days. I’m still sooo new to things (I’ll try to learn to stream) as quickly as possible. But for now I need a basic strategy for attacking this 15 team ‘live standard draft’ custom rotissiery league so I don’t look like a fool. 162 max games…1300 max innings. C 1B 2B 3B SS 3OF 2UT 2SP 2RP 4P 5BENCH 2DL. Believe me..any strategy will help.
    By the way this shows how I threw “My Church RCL” team together 3days ago. Obviously NOT using war room. (Can’t get it on my computer).12th pick so I reached…ave seems way low and probably too many SP. At least I got fun upside players I like. Sooo..should I kind of draft the same way and then pick up a “Panik” type player later to bolster ave etc. or is 15 custom a completely different animal. Thanks.
    C Realmuto
    1B Belt
    2B Odor
    3B Bryant
    SS Semien
    MI Segura
    CI Castellanos
    OF Springer
    OF Cespedes
    OF Deshields
    OF Khris Davis
    OF Hicks
    UT Ozuna
    P deGrom
    P Syndergaard
    P T Walker
    P Rodon
    P Wei Yin Chen
    P Nola
    RP McGee
    RP Storen
    RP Jeffress
    RP Diaz
    RP Romo
    RP Siegrist

  6. Noam says:
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    You’re killing it with these posts. Perfect deep league material. Thanks!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Noam: Thanks!

  7. Woodrow says:
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    Speaking of Cody Reed…

    According to the restraining order, and I didn’t think this was possible, I apparently love him TOO much. Is my love justified?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Woodrow: Totally justified

  8. Rendell Locke says:
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    none of these guys are in Yahoo

    • For an Armenianless vacation come to Akron says:
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      @Rendell Locke: yahoo gonna yahoo.

  9. thorbs says:
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    Nice writeup – I have a few of these guys on my watch list in my dynasty league.

    What are your thoughts about a few reclamation projects that are dealing right now, specifically Foltynewicz and Nicasio? Both of them have hard FBs and wipeout sliders, but just haven’t been able to match the stuff with results.

    Also, is Alen Hanson droppable in dynasty leagues now? I’ve got Reed, Robles, Verdugo, Happ, Clark, Olson, Wall and Tapia, and would be dropping Hanson for a RP in a NS+H dynasty league as I’ve got Chapman on my bench for a month.

    In my head, his value was based mostly on his proximity to the majors versus his ceiling (Elvis Andrus upside?) and with Kang’s return on the horizon and the signing of Freese I think he’s an injury or September callup at best.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @thorbs: I’d hold on Hanson in deeper dynasty but if it’s like 10 minors or something sure.

      Folty and Nicasio are worth a look if you have the bench.

    • OldMilwaukeePounders says:
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      @thorbs: Honestly, the Pirates just don’t promote prospects until the Super 2 date has passed. I don’t get why so many expected him to factor in to opening day AB’s. This has been the Pirates philosophy since the current front office has been in place.

      He should get his chance at some point this year or potentially be traded.

  10. Kenneth says:
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    Thoughts on Joe Musgrove for later this year?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Kenneth: Amazing control, K rate was a little too low in AA last year for my liking. He’s injury prone so he’ll need to make it through the year. But he could contribute if the opportunity arises

  11. Oranje says:
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    Would you put a 4-year contract on Matz @ $7? What Joe Ross? Is he worth a 2-,year contract? Thanks.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Oranje: Yes do that deal with Matz, what’s Joe Ross’ contract? What’s the salary cap?

      • Oranje says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: Ross is $4. Cap is $300. My other contracts are Hosmer–$19 and Belt–$2. I am looking at the last contract as either Ross, D. Santana–$1 or Polanco–$24. Thoughts?

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Oranje: Santana is interesting that cheap. It’s tough because I love Polanco but $24 seems very high

  12. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    nice list to know,thanks

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @AL KOHOLIC: No problemo Al

  13. Cram It says:
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    I looked over your prospects list for reference but I gather that’s for 2016 relevance? I’m in my first keeper league, so first time having to navigate prospects for future consideration. If you were to draft one batter yet to play in the majors to be a fantasy cornerstone for years to come, who would you put your money on?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Cram It: 2016 is more important but it’s not everything in that list. Thats an example of how I would draft a brand new dynasty that had minors specific draft, or the order I would pick in a mixed player pool format.

      I’d say Maraza. Obviously if you count Seager and Buxton you take those guys, but I really like Maraza.

      • Cram It says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: Right on. Thank you, sir.

  14. Phil says:
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    Ralph, I am in my first dynasty league this year, and I have really enjoyed everything that you have written. I feel like an expert now (but I am someone who is prone to feel-like-an-expertism so I may be rudely awaken soon).
    Who would you rather have in a Dynasty league, Jake Thompson or Lance Lynn? 20 teams, 30 man rosters, no DL, 18 active slots.
    Am I crazy thinking I will find plus $ value people to stream?
    Lastly, and most importantly, can we get a Dynasty league top 400 or 500?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Phil: If there’s no DL you’d have to keep Lynn active which sort of sucks, plus it could be mid next year before he’s back. I say go Thompson, I’m a believer.

      You will find gems on the wire even in dynasty. Guys come out of nowhere.

      Yeah, it could be done, might be too late in the pre-season at this point.

  15. David says:
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    Ralph, please rank these hitters for dynasty: DeShields, Benintendi, Devers, Swanson, Brinson.

    Thanks!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @David: Grey might fire me for this, but….

      Devers, Benintendi, Swanson, Brinson, DeShields.

      Nice knowing all of you! Haha

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Don’t forget your stapler *throws stapler out window*

  16. David says:
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    I will leave Delino out of future questions!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @David: Haha, I don’t dislike him but hose are four very good prospects. You’re talking a potential contributor in 5-6 categories in Benintendi, the best 3b prospect in the minors, one of the top 2-3 SS prospects, and a top 5 OF prospect. I expect all their ceilings to be higher than DeShields. It’s more a reflection of how high I am on that group of 4, than me being low on DeShields.

      I do like DeShields.

  17. David says:
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    Just having some fun, hahaha.

    Thanks for your good work!

Comments are closed.