Drafting a player taken in the recent amateur draft yields a special sort of rush. All promise and potential, your pick could theoretically turn out to be the next Mike Trout and lead your Scoresheet team to championship after championship. Of course, that almost definitely isn’t going to happen. And while dreams of championships to come may be dandy, there’s a pennant race this season to consider. So below are some players who might be available in your league to consider taking instead of a second or third draftee.
Players who can count on getting a Choomongous at Globe Life Park in Arlington:
Daniel Norris (75% available in AL-only leagues, 79% in BL)
We’ll discuss this in more detail in next week’s podcast and article, but when you’re picking in Scoresheet’s Round 40, it’s sometimes too easy to fall in love with the shiny new toy and jump on draftees. Daniel Norris remains available in 75 percent of AL-based leagues, and unlike every draft prospect, he’s already succeeding in High-A ball. There are still a few warts with Norris, mostly around a record of health and his distance from the majors, but his issues are shared by much of the draft cohort.
Scott Sizemore (64% / 68%)
We’ll confess that we missed the Yangervis Solarte train, too, only giving him cursory mention as a sleeper pick in favor of the deposed Dean Anna. We had our eye on Sizemore as well, though, as someone who could take the third-base job in the long run. That’s not likely anymore now that Solarte appears to have a hammerlock on the position, but Sizemore can help in a pinch, and now that he’s been called up, the pressure of inertia is on his side.
Matt Shoemaker (83% / 88%)
We didn’t see this coming either, as Shoemaker seemed to be destined to be either an emergency starter or designated for assignment for the remainder of his career. His relatively hot start after Hector Santiago’s implosion means that he has a fairly stable hold on a rotation slot for the foreseeable future, and he might be a solid backend starter there. A likely worst case scenario sees him moved to the pen, where, as Baseball Prospectus 2014 suggests, he has the potential to thrive.
Kevin Kiermaier (98% / 92%)
Wil Myers’ injury is crippling both to the Rays’ depth and to their season. Someone has to play the outfield, however, and it’s likely to be a player who has some potential to contribute in the season ahead. Enter Kiermaier, who is a defensive specialist with limited offensive upside. If you need the at bats, and you’re in a very deep league, Kiermaier should be getting some run. Also, check out Mikie Mahtook (96% available), former first-round pick and poor man’s Eric Byrnes, who’s having the best run of his career at Triple-A Durham and may soon get a call.
Johan Santana (77% / 82%)
That’s not a typo, we swear. The 2004 and 2006 Cy Young winner is back in the bigs with your Baltimore Orioles. Well, almost, as he’s scheduled to come off the DL on the 19th. The O’s were making every possible noise about him cracking the starting rotation, even dropping hints they could go to a six-man, and that was before Miguel Gonzalez started looking dicey. With a tragic inability to predict the future, we haven’t the slightest notion of what Santana will do, but there isn’t a more fun short-term lottery ticket out there.
Players who can count on getting a Pulled Pork Parfait at Miller Park:
Raimel Tapia (58% available in NL-only leagues, 62% in BL)
He’s not showing much power and not showing much patience, but Tapia looks hitterish in his debut in full-season ball. This Jason Parks fave is holding his own in Asheville while being young for his league, and has tools left to unlock. Even a skeptical projection is likely to land him as a second-division regular in Coors Field, which is still of value in this game.
Brad Boxberger (57% / 58%)
After spending the past couple of years as an emergency option, albeit one generally better than several members of the Padres’ and Rays’ bullpens, Box has finally landed as a shutdown reliever. He’s still prone to wildness, but he’s a hard thrower and strikeout machine who should be going early to the doomy bullpen types. He may even be worth drafting by some rebuilding teams, if they would prefer to extract a ransom from a contender to taking a Rule Four draft pick.
Jesse Winker (75% / 70%)
He’s unlikely to field well no matter where he plays, can sometimes look ungainly, and may not have profile power, but Jesse Winker can hit. He’s hit everywhere he’s played, and he’s beginning to make believers of initial skeptics. Because Scoresheet’s evaluation of defense is imperfect, Winker makes for a great speculation pick for non-contenders, as he may be the major league caliber college-age bat that’s missing from most of the upcoming draft.
Mike Fiers (82% / 85%)
The stats versus scouts war is over, so far be it from us to re-litigate old ground, but trick pitchers such as Mike Fiers sometimes have to prove themselves even after a run of major league success in a way that traditional fireballers never need to. After surprising in 2012, Fiers lost his job early in 2013 after only a few (admittedly bad) starts convinced management that the long-awaited adjustment to his off-pace pitch assortment had arrived. Now, even though his numbers in Nashville are approaching videogame status (34 percent strikeout rate versus a three percent walk rate), Fiers is running into trouble getting back to the majors. No call-up is imminent, but risk-loving GMs should pounce on a player who could help them in the playoffs if given a shot.
Blake Treinen (49% / 86%)
If, like us, you are a sucker for stories of players who took indirect paths to the big leagues, we encourage you to read Adam Kilgore’s piece on Blake Treinen, which involves Treinen developing a precursor to diabetes while in high school and attending a clinc for middle schoolers while in college, held by former minor leaguer Don Czyz. Treinen relies on his rather speedy fastball, which can hit the upper 90s. His 1.40 ERA and 0.00 HR/9 stats scream regression, but his .364 BABIP and a walk rate out of line with his minor-league career suggest there’s no need to jump ship.
In the podcast: This week, the Outcomes, like the rest of the country, are just killing time until the amateur draft. They answer reader questions on minor league relievers and the temptations of AAA Player. And they discuss non-amateurs to consider taking in the upcoming supplemental. Speaking of non-amateurs, the Outcomes handle technical difficulties like pros.
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