Did you hear? Major League Baseball is back! It’s the best time of the year! The conundrum for me in my position as a MiLB correspondent for Major League Fantasy Sports is that Opening Day for Full-Season leagues doesn’t start until the April 6th, which leaves me with a lack of material. So what I’ve decided to do this week is to provide our readers with a list of arms to either stash on your bench or keep at the top of your watch list. All these guys are on their MLB affiliate’s 40-man roster likely to get the call at some point this season and will have extra value for those of you in keeper league formats.
Martes was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Miami Marlins before arriving to the Astros’ system in the Jarred Coast trade. He offers two plus, plus pitches in an electric fastball that touches 100 mph but sits in the mid-nineties, and he also has a devastating power curveball. His changeup has improved in the past two season and flashes plus but lacks consistency. When he gets called up later this season he will likely serve in a reliever role, but his electric stuff profiles as a top of the rotation starter long-term if he can continue to refine his command and control the strike zone consistently.
Giolito got a cup of coffee at the end of last season with the Nationals without much success and was then one of the headliners in the Adam Eaton trade. A power pitcher with three above-average offerings, he has touched 100 mph in the past but regularly sits in the mid-nineties with the heater. His secondaries include a power, 12-to-6 curveball and a quality changeup with late life. He’s a big boy with a 6-6 frame that carries 250 pounds and his control got away from him at times last season. He needs to focus on working ahead in counts so that he can keep hitters off balance with his quality off-speed offerings. Giolito’s stock dropped after his tough end to last season but he possesses tremendous upside.
When Lopez signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 he was sitting in the high 80’s with his fastball without command or any real other pitches. Since then, he has put 10+ mph on the heater and added a pair of offspeed offerings. His curveball now flashes plus with sharp 11-5 movement. Some evaluators were concerned with Lopez’s ability to remain in the rotation due to his lack of third pitch and erratic control, but he’s made strides with both in recent years and now offers a solid changeup. Lopez made his debut last season with the Nationals with limited success but included a lights-out performance against the Braves late in the season. He may end up getting called up in a reliever role later this season but profiles as a mid-rotation starter with juicy strikeout production in the future.
De Leon changed teams this offseason as the Dodgers moved him to Tampa Bay in exchange for veteran infielder Logan Forsythe. His fastball sits in the mid-nineties with late fade but his favorite pitch is a deceptive changeup. De Leon’s third pitch is an average slider that he needs to use more consistency if he wants to sustain success at the next level. One concern is durability as he has yet to pitch more than 115 in any of his professional seasons, and he recently went on the DL with forearm discomfort. He has some hurdles he still needs to overcome but is a potential mid to top of the rotation if he can iron out the kinks.
Mendez is the top arm left in the Rangers’ system and earned three promotions last season as he ended up making two appearances in the bigs after beginning the season in High-A. He’s battled the injury bug during his young career and surpassed the 100 inning threshold for the first time in his career last season, but his 6-5, 200 pound frame can carry a workload when he is healthy. His fastball sits in the low nineties and his favorite offering his a filthy plus changeup. His slider flashes average but is inconsistent and needs to improve, and he also has a curveball in his repertoire but doesn’t have much confidence in the pitch. He will start the year in Double-A but is fully expected to make it back to the Ballpark at Arlington later in the season.
Newcomb was drafted 15th overall in 2014 by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim before serving as an important piece in the Andrelton Simmons trade. Newcomb is a tall, thick lefty that sits in the low to mid-nineties with his fastball and complements it with an average changeup and power curveball that flashes plus. His downfall up to this point in his career has been his control, and his prospect stock has dropped in the past two years as he has been unable to remedy the problem. He’s a long levered pitcher from a cold weather state so it may take him longer to find than others. He was once pegged as a future top of the rotation starter but he’ll need to refine the command and control soon if he wants to reach anywhere close to that potential.
Hader was acquired by the Brewers at the 2015 trade deadline in the deal that included Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. He is a deceptive lefty with an electric mix of offerings that produce big strikeout numbers. His best offerings are a fastball that sits in the low to mid-nineties which he primarily complements with a sharp slider. Both are plus offerings. His third pitch is a changeup that he has been unable to throw with any consistency, and his command is sometimes erratic. The sky is the limit if he improves these two deficiencies in his repertoire and if he does he’ll become a top of the rotation starter.
Drafted ninth overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014, Hoffman was a centerpiece in the blockbuster Troy Tulowitzki trade at the 2015 trade deadline. He had Tommy John surgery in 2015 which delayed his professional debut, but since then has worked his way through the farm and made his MLB debut last season. He features a sinking fastball that sits in the low to mid-nineties with a plus curveball that he complements with a slider and changeup that are both average offerings. He’s a power pitcher with a four-pitch mix that profiles as a mid-rotation type of starter, he just needs time to refine his pitch sequences and gain confidence with all four pitches.
Weaver is a wiry right-handed pitcher out of Florida state that was drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He debuted for the Cardinals last season and ended with a 1-4 record and 5.70 ERA. Weaver’s repertoire includes a sinking fastball that sits in the low nineties and an above average changeup. He is known for his plus, plus control with both pitches and he plays with a slider and curveball but doesn’t use them very often. He’s a mid-rotation type of starter in the long term that will likely be the first call-up to St. Louis when they need an arm.
Banda was acquired by the Diamondbacks in 2014 along with Mitch Haniger and is now viewed as the top prospect in the farm system. At the time, he was considered a reliever or No. 5 starter but has improved his stock and is now seen as a potential mid-rotation starter. He offers a three-pitch mix that includes a mid-nineties heater and changeup that are both above average at times. His bread and butter is a slow curveball that flashes plus and serves as his out pitch. He has a slow, smooth delivery that allows him to repeat his mechanics give him above average control. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday April 9th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #82 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will be previewing the coming week’s key matchups and discussing key fantasy information.
Our guests this week are Craig Mish, and Professor Mark Rush. Mark is the Chief Editor for MLFS, a writer, and occasional guest on our shows. Craig Mish is the host of a fantasy baseball show on Sirius Satelitte Radio along with Jim Bowden from 9-11am EST Monday through Friday. Craig is also the host for a show on Sirius every Sunday morning with FSWA Hall of Famer Lenny Melnick from 7-10am EST.
You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”