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“Alluhring Strategy” MiLB Pitching Tiers Part 4: Dynasty Gold

Welcome back Baseball Fans!

This is our fourth and final installment of pre-season MiLB pitching tiers going into the 2018 season. We looked at “draftable” prospects that could break camp in the rotation or at least right after the Super Two threshold. We then looked at other pitchers that could possibly impact fantasy teams at some point in 2018. Last week we looked at those who should dominate in the upper levels of the minor leagues that should be stashed for 2019 in keeper and dynasty leagues. Finally, today, we look at “dynasty gold.” These are the players that have are young and/or have limited pro ball experience, but they have the tools that project them as a star during their prime. I don’t expect them to see the Majors for at least two more seasons which renders them useless for redraft leagues. These guys will mostly be relevant to extremely deep rostered keeper leagues and/or dynasty leagues. So here is some “dynasty gold” that should now be on your radar before the cost to acquire them skyrockets…

 

10

Adonis Medina

PHI

RHP

21

2020

2007: A Level – Lakewood Blue Claws

22 GS, 119.2 INN, 3.01 ERA, 1.19 WHIP

10.0 K/9 (26.3%), 2.93 BB/9 (7.7%), 3.41 K/BB (18.6% K-BB%)

Medina had a breakout season in A ball in 2017 as he nearly doubled his innings, improved his control and drastically improved his strikeout rate. He had more confidence to attack the strike zone and developed his curveball into a slider as a true put-away pitch. He does have three pitches that all project to play at the Major League level. He features a plus fastball with movement, flashes a plus slider and above average changeup. He does throw strikes but allows a lot of fly balls that may become an issue in that band-box in Philly. With another year or two learning to command those pitches down in the zone, he could develop into and #2 or #3 starter. He seems to be still under the radar as I was able to pick him up in two dynasty leagues this off-season. One more year of progress like last year and he will be on everyone’s Top 100 list by the end of 2018.

 

9

Jesus Luzardo

OAK

LHP

20

2021

2017: Rookie Level WAS/OAK, Low A Level – Vermont Lake Monsters

11 GS, 43.1 INN, 1.66 ERA, 0.92 WHIP

10.0 K/9 (28.1%), 1.0 BB/9 (3.9%), 9.6 K/BB (24.2%)

Another deep prospect that hasn’t cracked many Top 100 lists coming into the season, Luzardo will likely be on all of them by season’s end. MLB.com and Fangraphs really like him. In fact, the MLB.com has him as #8 on their LHP rankings. He likely would have been a 1st round pick in 2016 if he didn’t have Tommy John Surgery that Spring. The Nationals selected him in the 3rd round (out of Stoneman Douglas, FL) but waited until 2017 to let him pitch to ensure he was fully recovered. He proved to be just as dynamic as before the injury and despite only three starts in pro ball, Oakland insisted he was part of the package that sent veteran relievers, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle, to Washington for a playoff run. Jesus already features two plus pitches which he can control and completely command. His hard sinking fastball sits in the mid-90s and can reach the upper 90s. His changeup is very advanced for his experience and his curveball will keep hitters honest. All these pitches break down which allows Luzardo to keep the ball in the park and put away hitters making them look silly. He put up video game type numbers in his limited work in 2017 and I expect Oakland to push him up to around 100 innings in his first full year of pro ball. The A’s are known for letting pitchers move quickly through their system and Luzardo is an excellent candidate for this progression.

 

8

Jay Groome

BOS

LHP

19

2020

2017: Low A – Lowell Spinners, A Level – Greenville Drive

14 GS, 55.1 INN, 5.69 ERA, 1.43 WHIP

11.7 K/9 (29.6%), 4.9 BB/9 (12.3%), 2.40 K/BB (17.3%)

Groome is a high risk, high reward guy that arguably is the Red Sox top prospect. Many thought This tall, power lefty might be the top pick in the 2016 draft, but his college commitment and character concerns dropped him down to the Sox late in the first round. Boston has indicated that they have been happy with the off-field maturity despite the distraction of his father being arrested on drug and weapons charges last July. On the field, he has barely pitched 60 innings over his first two seasons of pro ball due to lingering injuries. To be honest, his stats haven’t been great for such a highly regarded prospect. His ability to produce strikeouts has been evident, but he has been hit hard and has struggled with his control. He features a plus fastball and plus-plus 12-to-6 curveball is regarded as the best in the 2016 draft. Now that he is getting healthy and he has had an off-season to deal with his family issues, I expect him to put together a breakout season in 2018. Although they should expand his innings, I don’t expect Boston to be aggressive with his progression this year. His stuff has the makings of an Ace, but he needs to develop his control and command before that can be a reality at the Major League level. He always needs to develop a third pitch getting his changeup to play at least at Major League average.

 

7

Matt Manning

DET RHP 20 2021

2017: Low A – Connecticut Tigers, A Level – West Michigan White Caps

14 GS, 51 INN, 3.18 ERA, 1.29 WHIP

10.9 K/9 (28.4%), 4.4 BB/9 (11.5%), 2.48 K/BB (16.9%)

Manning represents the third consecutive first-round prep talent from the 2016 draft. Like Groome, Matt was a risk to go to college and took a substantial signing bonus to get him to sign. In the Tigers’ eyes, he is worth the risk as a tall, athletic, power pitcher with pedigree (father was an NBA player). He had an up and down 2017 after a strong start to his pro ball career in 2016. He dominated at the short-season level but got hit around with a promotion to A ball. He did end the season with a great performance to build on. His plus-plus fastball is complemented by a plus curveball, however, his command needs to be developed before it will play as a plus pitch in the Majors. He also has a changeup that really needs development before he can be considered a legitimate option in Detroit. Perhaps the most impressive feat in 2017 is zero HRs allowed in his 51 innings. He is young so his velocity and command should improve. If so, he has Ace projection.

 

6

Alex Faedo

DET

RHP

22

2020

2017: Did Not Play Pro Ball

Well, look at these Tigers! After many seasons as one of the worst farm systems in baseball, Detriot has loaded up on high-end pitching prospects. They follow up their Manning pick in 2016, with another tall RHP with two plus pitches as their first-round pick in 2017. Due to injury and a heavy workload in college, Detriot chose to hold off pitching Alex in pro ball after the draft so he will be ready to hit the ground running in 2018. He would have been drafted higher if his injury didn’t get him off to a slow start. He finished his college career strong and he projects to be a top of the rotation starter. His slider is his best pitch and may have been overused in college, but his fastball will offset it just fine with its sinking movement. His third pitch, a changeup, is a distant third but should develop enough to be Major League average. The Tigers may have one of the best rotations in baseball going into the next decade.

 

5

Adrian Morejon

SD

RHP

19

2020

2017: Low A – Tri-City Dust Devils, A Level – Fort Wayne Tin Caps

13 GS, 63 INN, 3.86 ERA, 1.29 WHIP

8.3 K/9 (21.8%), 2.3 BB/9 (6.0%), 3.63 K/BB (15.8%)

If we thought the Tigers future rotation looks good, San Diego is even deeper. After discussing Baez and Quantrill in previous weeks, Morejon is the first of two Padres that are dynasty gold. The Cuban defector is still a teenager but is this high on the list due to his combination of polish and tools. He fared well in his North American pro ball debut but wasn’t exactly dominate. I wouldn’t be too concerned as he was pitching against competition that is older than him. I expect him to take a large step forward this year as the Padres look to stretch him out and let him further test his full arsenal. To complement his plus fastball, Adrian throws a curveball, knuckle curveball and changeup. These are all potential above-average Major League pitches and are thrown with command. This is your last chance to get him under the radar before he hits all the Top 100 lists by the end of 2018.

 

4

Ian Anderson

ATL

RHP

19

2020

2017: A Level – Rome Braves

20 GS, 83 INN, 3.14 ERA, 1.35 WHIP

10.95 K/9 (28.5%), 4.66 BB/9 (12.1%), 2.35 K/BB (16.3%)

So Detroit and San Diego both have excellent pitching depth in the farm system. However, no one can boast a deeper pitching system than the Atlanta Braves. Anderson marks the sixth prospect we are breaking down during this four-week journey. The former 3rd overall pick in 2016 completed his first full season of pro ball in 2017 with very respectable numbers. Still a teenager, Anderson worked through some mechanical adjustments during the year and is primed to take a big step this season. He probably is the 2nd or 3rd best pitching prospect on the team (even lower on some sites), but he still needs to grow into his frame and his velocity and polish should improve with experience. He didn’t give up any HRs in 2017 which is always a good sign of a high floor. When he reaches the Majors, he should have better command over his plus fastball, potential plus curveball and a serviceable changeup. Braves may be turning back time to their 90s pitching dominance as the next decade approaches.

 

3

Brendan McKay

TB

LHP

22

2020

2017: Low A – Hudson Valley Renegades

6 GS, 20 INN, 1.80 ERA, 0.75 WHIP

9.45 K/9 (28.8%), 2.25 BB/9 (6.9%), 4.20 K/BB (21.9%)

149 PA, .232 AVG, .376 SLG, 14.1 BB%, 22.1 K%, .350 wOBP, 123 wRC+

So why did I bother with a hitting stat line for a pitching prospect? Well, the #4 overall pick in last year’s draft was a star two-way player in college. The Rays drafted him as a pitcher but had to give him a $7 million bonus and promise to let him hit and play the field in order to get him to sign. He could have a productive career as either a hitter or pitcher, but is it possible for both? It is unlikely, but he may be more suited to pull it off than Ohtani. Scouts and experts don’t seem to buy into him being a dual threat in the Majors continue to speculate which one he will ultimately become. Ohtani is turning fantasy leagues upside with the possibility of a pitcher getting regular at-bats at DH. If McKay continues with both, he will likely play 1B and is arguably the top 1B prospect in the game. So why do some dismiss him as a hitting prospect? That is an excellent question. He is NOT just a projected pitching prospect that can hit a little. He does have four potential Major League pitches however only one projects as a true plus pitch at that level (curveball). His fastball and cutter should develop as above average with a serviceable changeup. Add in his command, you have the makings of a #3 starter, perhaps at #2 if everything falls into place. He may not have the raw power of Ohtani, but he does process a plus hit tool and advanced plate discipline which could lead to a middle of the order bat if allowed to develop as a hitter. He can also play good defense with a strong arm. Ohtani may be setting the bar, but McKay could raise it. He likely won’t compare to Ohtani on the mound, but those who sleep on him as a hitter may lose out on incredible value. He’s one of my favorite prospects and I look forward to seeing how this plays out as he advances through the upper levels of the minor leagues.

 

2

Hunter Greene

CIN

RHP

18

2020

2017: Rookie Level – Billings Mustangs

3 GS, 4.1 INN, 12.46 ERA, 2.08 WHIP

12.46 K/9 (28.6%), 2.08 BB/9 (4.8%), 6.00 K/BB (23.8%)

Like McKay, Greene excelled as a two-way player that could have been a first-round pick as a pitcher or shortstop. Unlike McKay, Hunter will be a pitcher only as he hones his triple-digit, 80-grade fastball and potential devastating slider. Throwing 100 mph in high school didn’t require many off-speed pitches to keep guys honest so he will need to develop his changeup to live up to his Ace potential at the Major League level. Despite barely being born before Y2K, Greene is a high character and quality makeup guy. This is the type of intangible that sets prospects apart and gives him advanced polish for his age. He isn’t really under the radar, but you may be able to get him now if owners in your league don’t want to wait a few years for his debut. He should be worth the cost.

 

1

MacKenzie Gore

SD

LHP

19

2020

2017: Rookie Level – SD

7 GS, 21.1 INN, 1.27 ERA, 0.98 WHIP

14.34 K/9 (40.5%), 2.95 BB/9 (8.3%), 4.86 K/BB (32.1%)

We wrap up our journey with another advanced Padre teenager. Gore was the #3 overall pick this last Summer and was considered a possibility for #1. Clubs generally take it easy with kids coming out of high school but in his limited taste of pro ball, he saw no challengers at the Rookie level. He tops this list because, over the course of the next few years, he could enter the Majors with four plus pitches. This is a very rare talent. He is the #1 LHP prospect according to MLB.com and can keep hitters guessing with a mid-90s fastball, mid-80s slider, mid-70s curveball and a developing changeup for good measure. It should be interesting to see how many innings they let him pitch in 2018. My guess is they will be cautious for now, but once he gets stretched out, he should advance quickly despite his age. He should anchor the rotation in a few years and could be a perennial Cy Young candidate in his prime. Get him if you still can.

 

This wraps up our look at pitching prospects on the rise. Hope these four weekends have helped you plan your fantasy rosters for 2018 and beyond.

 


Bryan Luhrs

Major League Fantasy Sports
Writer & Contributor
Real Deal Dynasty Sports
Owner, League Developer & Executive Commissioner

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_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Major Fantasy Basbeall Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday March 8th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #104 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 the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.

Our guests this week are Todd Zola and Joe Iannone. Todd is the owner of mastersball.com. He is also a well known and respected man in the fantasy baseball community. Joe is a tenured writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com. Click on his name to see his portfolio of writing. His main focus is in the pitching arena and his articles publish every Sunday morning at 7 am EST.

Faith, Family and Fantasy Sports.These are the three words that best describe me. I am a faithful husband and father of 6 amazing children. I work to earn a living, but I live for every precious moment I can spend with my family and a passion for sports.

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@LennyMelnick Football will. The new QB rules just put the nail in the coffin. You can't hit him high, low, or in the mid section now. Competiton is gone in the sport. Now it's all QB and you could play until your 50 if you are good QB because you can't be touched.

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