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10 Late-Round Pitchers to Target in a Standard-League Draft

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re very excited for the fantasy baseball season to start. And because the beginning of Spring Training is still about two months away, you’re probably also the type of person who likes to be prepared. That works out really well because here at Fantrax we share your affinity for both fantasy baseball and preparedness.

With that in mind, I wanted to take an early look at ADP and find some late-round pitchers you should consider targeting whenever your draft date finally arrives. In this article, I focused on late-round pitchers for standard 12-team category and roto leagues. I started at about pick 190 (according to NFBC) so all 10 players below are routinely being chosen from round 17 or later. It’s worth noting that values will evolve and change over the next few months, so stay tuned for updates.

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10 Late-Round Pitchers to Target

Shane Baz SP Rays ADP 190

2023: Did Not Play

Heading into the 2022 season, Shane Baz was considered by many as the favorite to win Rookie of the Year. That was based on his domination of the minors (2.06 ERA/0.80 WHIP/12.9 K/9 in 2021), his successful taste of the Majors (three earned runs in his 13.1 innings with 18 strikeouts), and the fact that the Rays entrusted him with a playoff start. Sadly, the phenom just made it 27 innings before arm injuries led to Tommy John surgery. Fast forward to 2024 and the former first-round pick is penciled into the Rays’ rotation. The sky’s the limit with his level of talent, but the hype train hasn’t left the station yet. If for some reason your draft occurs before Spring Training starts, this is the sort of late pick whose value can increase ten-fold based on how healthy he looks. In any case, monitor his ADP closely.

Ryan Pepiot SP Rays ADP 204

2023: 2-1 42IP 38K 2.14 ERA 0.76 WHIP

After an oblique injury derailed the start of his season, Ryan Pepiot sure opened some eyes in his eight Major League appearances in August and September. The sparkling ERA and WHIP (2.14/0.76) will immediately catch your attention. Perhaps most impressive, though, was a 3.1% walk rate and 1.07 BB/9 rate. Considering that was the 26-year-old’s biggest weakness in the minors (9.8% and 3.55 in 2022), this could mean the final piece of the puzzle is now in place. It’s also important to note that his new team, the Rays, is likely to slot him directly into their rotation. And that his new home, Tropicana Field, ranks fourth-best for pitchers according to Park Factors. As long as the walks don’t regress too much, there’s no reason why the righty can’t return massive value late in the draft.

Bryan Woo SP Mariners ADP 192

2023: 4-5 87.2IP 93K 4.21 ERA 1.21 WHIP

With only 101 professional innings under his belt, all of which came in Double-A or lower, the Mariners tested Bryan Woo last season, their former 6th-round pick of the 2021 draft. He ended up compiling 87.2 innings at the highest level. Despite a few ups and downs, I think we can all agree he passed the test. If his 4.21/1.21 ERA/WHIP doesn’t wow you, perhaps take a quick look at his Statcast page. Lots of red (which is good). The average exit velocity and hard-hit rates (82nd percentile and 81st, respectively) are especially encouraging. Along with an xERA of 3.48, and a home ballpark that ranks as the most pitcher-friendly, there’s a ton of optimism that the soon-to-be 24-year-old will have even better results in his second season. The Mariners, who recently traded veteran Marco Gonzales, seem ready to give him a rotation spot. And with 133 combined innings last season, he might just be allowed to have a normal workload. Seems like one of the best bets among late-round pitchers.

Reese Olson SP Tigers ADP 253

2023: 5-7 103.2IP 103K 3.99 ERA 1.12 WHIP

After putting together a K/9 rate of 12.6 over 119.2 Double-A innings in 2022, Reese Olson sure opened some eyes. It earned him a shot at the big-league rotation in 2023. His 21 appearances (18 as a starter) went generally well. His ERA and WHIP (3.99/1.12) might not wow you, but that seems based on inconsistency from start to start. For example, he yielded only one run or fewer in 10 of his 18 tries. This variance appears to be based on his feel for the slider, a nasty pitch that compiled a 41.6% whiff rate. Can we chalk it up to a rookie honing his craft on the fly? At this range in the draft, and with the 5th starter job his to lose, that feels like a sound theory.

Emmet Sheehan SP/RP Dodgers ADP 257

2023: 4-1 60.1IP 64K 4.92 ERA 1.19 WHIP

After a rash of injuries in the middle of the 2023 season, the Dodgers promoted Emmet Sheehan directly from Double-A. Though the overall results (4.92 ERA/1.19 WHIP) weren’t nearly as eye-popping as the minor league numbers had been (1.86 ERA/ 0.89 WHIP with a 14.92 K/9 rate!), the rookie seemed more comfortable when he got called back up for the last month. Over those last five starts, he finally showed the big strikeout upside and fanned 34 batters over 22 innings. As it happens, the Dodgers are still dealing with a rash of starting pitcher injuries and look likely to keep Sheehan in the rotation to open the season. Will the 24-year-old take the next step and solidify his spot? Sure seems worth drafting him in case.

Kenta Maeda SP Tigers ADP 263

2023: 6-8 104.1IP 117K 4.23 ERA 1.17 WHIP

OK, let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first. Kenta Maeda will be turning 36 at the beginning of the season, he had an unimpressive overall ERA of 4.23 last year, he recently had Tommy John surgery that kept him out for all of 2022, and even had nagging injuries early in 2023. This all explains why his current ADP would make him a last-round pick in standard leagues. But consider this: after a triceps injury kept him out for two months (and resulted in him yielding 10 runs in an April start), he pitched to a 3.36 ERA/1.09 WHIP while striking out 103 over his last 88.1 innings. Bottom line: when healthy, Maeda is still capable of front-end-of-rotation numbers. Will being a full year removed from surgery result in less time on the IL in 2024? At the end of the draft, I’m sure willing to find out.

Edward Cabrera SP Marlins ADP 349

2023: 7-7 99.2IP 118K 4.24 ERA 1.44 WHIP

Ever take a look at Edward Cabrera’s Statcast page? Don’t worry, I’ll sum it up for you: a cacophony of red colors surrounding a dark blue dot. The red tells us how dominant the 25-year-old can be, while the lone blip pretty much tells us why he’s only achieved it on rare occasions. The blue, of course, signifies the walks. Last season, the righty had an unsightly walk rate of 15.2% (1st percentile) and his BB/9 was a very ugly 5.96. Can the kid find some control before the Marlins get impatient? I’d sure bet my last pick in a standard-league categories draft on it.

Luis Severino SP Mets ADP 451

2023: 4-8 89.1IP 79K 6.65 ERA 1.65 WHIP

There’s really no way to sugarcoat it, Luis Severino has earned his current ADP. Injuries have mounted for the righty the last few seasons and finally, in 2023, the results weren’t there even when he was on the mound. The late-round pitchers are all about upside, however, and up until very recently, effectiveness was never the issue (2022: 3.18 ERA 1.00 WHIP 9.88 K/9 2.65 BB/9). And his velocity is still a major strength (ranked 88th percentile). Can we just say the veteran was thrown off by a lat injury suffered in Spring Training and then never fully adjusted to the new pitching rules (clock, pickoff moves, etc.)? That’s what I’ll say here. And I’ll also add that his new home (even though he probably didn’t need to sell his house) is a much better environment for pitchers. Park Factors ranks Citi Field third best. So it seems like a worthy very late-round target. If he stinks the first couple of times out, no problem dropping him.

Chase Silseth SP/RP Angels ADP 469

2023: 4-1 52.1IP 56K 3.96 ERA 1.28 WHIP

Due to injuries, the Angels gave Chase Silseth a shot in their starting rotation in July of last year. His seven starts in that role went really well. He compiled a 3.21 ERA (3.43 xFIP), a 1.10 WHIP, and struck out 41 over 33.2 innings. This peaked with a dominant August performance against the Mariners when he set career highs in innings pitched (7), swinging strikes (21), and strikeouts (12). Sadly, the 23-year-old missed the last month of the season with a concussion (he did make a final start during the last week). But that injury, along with the possibility that the Angels make an off-season pitching signing, have kept the righty very much under the radar. In any league where your draft is early, and you need very late-round pitchers, he’d make a perfect last pick.

James Paxton SP Red Sox ADP 545

2023: 7-5 96IP 101K 4.50 ERA 1.31 WHIP

The return of James Paxton was one of the fun stories of 2023. After not pitching for essentially two full seasons, his velocity returned to pre-injury levels and his curveball was back to generating a 38% whiff rate. If you exclude his last three starts, when a knee injury prevented him from “finishing pitches,” he compiled a 3.34/1.14 ERA/WHIP with a 9.96 K/9 rate. Conclusion: Big Maple’s still got it. The only question is health. That’s the reason, combined with not actually having a team yet, why the 35-year-old is in very late-round pitcher territory. Considering he held up well in Fenway Park, ranked second highest in Park Factor, there’s great bargain potential wherever he lands.

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