Welcome back! If you read the intro to part one, you would’ve known that this one was coming. In part one, I broke down why I view Alec Bohm, Alex Kirilloff, Dylan Cease, Triston Casas, and Michael Kopech as buys in dynasty points leagues. All are relatively young and are armed with the tools to be perennial high-end fantasy options. More than that, most, if not all of their market values will likely never be lower, meaning that the time to buy is right now.
This piece won’t be much different, except I’ll be mostly touching on pitchers this time around. In most points leagues, pitching tends to be prioritized over hitting. Because of this, securing young arms who could return high-end value in future seasons is a great way to stay ahead of your league-mates in dynasty points leagues. Baseball never sleeps and neither should your desire to continually improve your dynasty rosters.
Dynasty Points League Targets
Bobby Miller SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
When it comes to the Dodgers, they tend to almost always find success in fully harnessing the abilities of their prospects. Dating back to 2008, just a few names who’ve found success developing in the Dodgers’ system include Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, and Cody Bellinger. Enter Bobby Miller, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound righty who’s armed with a high-octane four-seam fastball, a slider that can touch 90 mph, a split-change that works well against left-handed hitters, and a developing curveball.
Through the first 56 ⅓ innings pitched of his professional career – playing in High-A and Double-A – he has an impressive 24.8% K-BB (5.7% walk rate) and sparkling 2.40 ERA (2.82 FIP). Coming into the minors, Miller was a proven strike-thrower and he has continued to throw strikes at a high rate early in his minor league career. There’s a strong chance that he’ll always be a solid control pitcher, but his command still needs some refinement. His delivery was slightly violent in college, which led to spotty command. Fortunately, reports have indicated that as he’s gotten more acclimated to starting against better competition, his delivery has become more fluid and his command has been gradually improving. Some still wonder if he’ll be a high-leverage bullpen arm as a major leaguer, but I think he pretty easily projects as a starter long-term.
The talented righty will be 23-years-old when the 2022 MiLB season commences and I believe that there’s a strong chance he pitches in the majors as early as this year – assuming there’s an MLB season in 2022. His physique should help him remain fairly durable as a major league starter and if he can learn to consistently command his arsenal against better competition, he has the upside to be a number two or three starter on a major league roster – maybe better. As of today, his dynasty market value is very low, meaning that now is the time to make sure he’s locked up on your dynasty points league rosters.
George Kirby SP, Seattle Mariners
I’m an absolute sucker for young arms who are already gifted with strong command skills. To be able to command your pitches consistently at a young age is a strong indication that you’ll find success in some capacity at the major league level. Moreover, it’s easy to project arms like this as future high-floor major league starters who could also have high ceilings. While the command of some of his secondary offerings is still being refined, George Kirby projects as a strong fantasy option in the making.
Drafted 20th overall in the 2019 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners, Kirby’s ability to limit walks, strategically attack the strike zone, and rack up strikeouts was always well documented. Per MLB.com, Kirby had this to say about his overall approach after being drafted:
“I’ve always just tried to throw strikes,” Kirby said. “That’s true for a lot of pitchers, but just being able to command the zone well and expand out when I want to, I developed that a lot the past two or three years at Elon, and I had to do a lot of that in the Cape [Cod] last summer against a lot of those good hitters.”
At just 21-years-old, Kirby not only understood that there was more to pitching than just throwing strikes, he understood that you have to know how to strategically throw strikes while also expanding the strike zone accordingly. This is a mature mindset for a young pitcher to have and it’s no wonder he’s already had a fruitful minor league career up to this point.
Over 90 ⅔ innings pitched – playing in the now discontinued Class-A short, High-A, and Double-A – Kirby earned a 24.8% K-BB and a marvelous 2.48 ERA (2.29 FIP). Moreover, he’s only allowed two home runs as a minor leaguer. Two. He’s been inducing ground balls at a high rate and he always attacks his opponents with a plan. In regards to his arsenal, the gifted righty is armed with a four-seamer that has good arm-side run and touched 102 mph in 2021, a slider, a changeup, and a curveball.
Possessing an upper-90s fastball that you can command gives you a huge advantage while on the mound. Not only can that fastball be a strong putaway pitch in and of itself, but you’re now able to regularly stay ahead in counts, which can help you routinely go deep into games. Additionally, Kirby stated that his changeup is his favorite pitch, and for good reason.
There’s about a 10 mph difference between his changeup and fastball, and given his very repeatable delivery, the tunneling between the two pitches should prove to be extremely effective against major league bats. Beyond that, the break and movement on his changeup has reportedly been improving, meaning that it could be a plus-offering upon his arrival to the majors. His curveball has strong vertical movement, his slider’s horizontal break has improved, and when you put it all together, you get a pitcher who possesses well above average command and a deep arsenal that’s filled with putaway pitches. I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like the makeup of a future frontline starter.
There’s a very real chance that we see Kirby up in the majors at some point in 2022 and given his overall profile, he could make an immediate impact. However, like with most young pitchers, anticipating an adjustment period would be wise. Nevertheless, the hype surrounding Kirby is at an all-time high and those who have him rostered likely understand his potential. Even with that being the case, continue to try and acquire Kirby in your dynasty points leagues. If you wait, the likelihood of acquiring him in the future at a reasonable price could be slim-to-none.
Sixto Sánchez SP, Miami Marlins
Discovering hidden international gems is just another part of the beautiful game we love. Countries across the world thoroughly enjoy playing the game of baseball, but sadly, a lot of these countries are filled with talented players who are never going to be discovered by major league scouts. Fortunately, in the fall of 2014, Sixto Sánchez was discovered by the Phillies during a tryout that was originally centered around a 26-year-old Cuban catcher named Lednier Ricardo. Sánchez was only there to throw to Ricardo, but the late and well-respected scout Bart Braun liked what he saw from Sixto and soon after, the Phillies signed the 16-year-old for $35,000.
In his early minor league days, Sánchez was regularly sitting mid-90s with his four-seamer and two-seamer. But then, in 2017, he started to top out at 101 mph with his four-seamer. That’s dynamic velocity for an 18-year-old to possess and with the help of these high velocity fastballs – along with a slider, cutter, and changeup – Sánchez had a very productive minor league career. Over 335 ⅓ career minor league innings pitched – playing at every level between rookie ball and Double-A – Sánchez earned a 17.3% K-BB (4.8% walk rate) and a 2.58 ERA (2.65 FIP).
That sparkling 4.8% walk rate illustrates the strong control he possesses – he’s a true strike-thrower. His overall command is still improving, but he knows how to throw all of his pitches for strikes, which should help him continue to limit walks as a major leaguer. What’s more, his most productive minor league season came at the highest level he played at in Double-A, earning a 19.0% K-BB and a 2.53 ERA (2.69 FIP) over 103 innings pitched.
It’s always a good sign when a young pitcher’s production improves as they begin to face tougher competition and that’s exactly what happened with Sánchez in 2019. All things considered, it’s easy to understand why many have been high on him for years now. However, given his slightly undersized frame (6-feet; 185 pounds), some were worried that his fastball plane would cause him some trouble in the future. Let me explain:
A pitcher’s overall physique, arm angle, spin rates, and release points can affect the movement of their pitches. When it comes to fastballs, having above average vertical movement allows you to successfully and consistently throw your fastball at the top of the strike zone. Why? Because more vertical movement on a fastball essentially helps the pitch resist the pull of gravity and as a result, the pitch remains at the top of the zone for a longer period of time. Consequently, this induces plenty of swings and misses because hitters are swinging under the pitch more. Why? Again, because the pitch is sitting at the top of the zone for a longer period of time, and it’s not moving how the hitter expects the pitch to move.
Now, when you have a four-seamer that sits upper-90s and is thrown consistently at the top of the strike zone, but it doesn’t possess above average vertical movement (rise), you have a pitch that’s more predictable, and thus more hittable. More specifically, you have Sixto’s Sánchez’s four-seam fastball. Sánchez throws from a typical three-quarters arm slot and naturally generates a lot of horizontal movement on his pitches.
However, his four-seam fastball generates below average vertical movement when compared to fastballs that are similar in velocity and extension to Sánchez’s, but he still pounded the top of the strike zone with his four-seamer in 2020. The results? His four-seamer allowed a lot of hard contact (95.6 mph average exit velocity against) and two of the three home runs he allowed came against his four-seamer. And yup, you guessed it, both of those home runs were against a four-seamer that was sitting at the top of the strike zone.
More importantly, both of the home runs came against right-handed hitters. The horizontal movement on his pitches results in his four-seamers moving towards RHH, making it very a hittable pitch for a RHH when it’s thrown at the top of the strike zone. The pitch is still successful at times when used against batters who struggle against high-velocity four-seamers, but on average, the pitch was hit hard every single time a batter made contact with it. The chart below shows us just how more effective his four-seamer was against LHH as opposed to RHH in 2020:
A 133-pitch sample size is very small, but given what we know about his four-seamers movement, throwing it at the top of the strike zone to RHH just isn’t ideal. He did allow a lot of hard contact to LHH as well, but that’s easier to fix given the fact that his four-seamer will always move away from LHH as opposed to moving towards them. The below chart gives us an even better idea of just how much damage his four-seamer allowed when thrown at the top of the zone to RHH in 2020:
Not good. So, what’s the solution? How can Sánchez make his four-seamer a more effective pitch? To start, throwing it less against RHH could help. In 2020, his four-seamer had a pitch utilization percentage of 24.7% against RHH, only behind his cutter. More two-seamers down-and-in to RHH and less four-seamers at the top of the strike zone could help his four-seamer become a more effective pitch against RHH.
In addition, throwing more sliders (9.5% usage rate against RHH in 2020) against RHH will give RHH another pitch to worry about when facing Sánchez. When you take a step back and look at the big picture, it seems like his future success is going to come down to his pitch sequencing, how well he locates his four-seamer, and his ability to stay healthy. Additionally, how he decides to attack LHH and RHH going forward should be monitored closely. Hopefully, we see much fewer four-seam fastballs at the top of the strike zone against RHH.
Despite these adjustments that I believe he should make, Sánchez’s overall talent is undeniable. At just 23-years-old, the flamethrower has a bright future ahead of him and I’m excited to see how he utilizes his arsenal going forward. Also, don’t let his injury concerns scare you off. No player in the world is invulnerable and once he’s 100% healthy, he’ll be able to continue to work on his game. With all that being said, when he finally figures out how to successfully utilize his arsenal against both LHH and RHH, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with. The time to buy Sixto Sánchez in your dynasty points leagues is right now.
Andrew Vaughn OF, Chicago White Sox
After the White Sox drafted Andrew Vaughn third overall in the 2019 MLB Draft, they knew that they had just secured one of the most esteemed hitters to ever grace a college baseball field. From his patience at the plate, to his elite bat speed, to his high-end raw power, Vaughn was – and will always be – an offensive force at the plate. Just take a look at his awe-inspiring collegiate stats:
His ability to regularly barrel baseballs using his bat speed, strong pitch recognition skills, and patience when at the plate is well known. Moreover, his knack for regularly making loud contact and his overall strong hit tool make it easy to see him regularly posting high batting average campaigns at the major league level. The only real knock on Vaughn’s profile is that he doesn’t project as the strongest defender. But at the end of the day, his bat is just too polished to keep out of lineups.
So polished, in fact, that the White Sox only needed to see 205 minor league at-bats before calling him up to the majors in early April 2021. An injury to star outfielder Eloy Jiménez likely played a role in Vaughn receiving the call-up, but the White Sox believed he was ready to help the big league club. Unfortunately, from a results standpoint, his rookie season was just serviceable. But when you consider the context surrounding his rookie campaign, the results make sense.
Over 417 at-bats, he finished with a .235/.309/.396 slash line, a 8.7% walk rate, a 21.5% strikeout rate, and 15 home runs. He played at five different defensive positions and more notably, Vaughn jumped straight from High-A competition to facing major league arms. That’s a rare jump for a prospect, and even though Vaughn is extremely talented, an adjustment period was always likely. However, his underlying metrics reassure us that his future remains very bright.
Over 321 batted ball events, he posted a strong 115 mph maximum exit velocity, a 46.4% hard hit rate, a 10.9% barrel rate, and very solid 94.5 mph average exit velocity on fly balls and line drives. He has legitimate 30-homer upside, but with MLB stuck in limbo, we might have to wait until 2023 to witness a true breakout campaign from the young slugger – which could actually be a good thing for fantasy managers. Now, you have more time to buy him before everyone realizes just how productive he can be. Vaughn is a rising star. Don’t miss out.
Reid Detmers SP, Los Angeles Angels
It’s not common to see a prospect – let alone a pitching prospect – make their MLB debut a little over a year after being drafted. But when a prospect begins their professional career pitching in Double-A – and performs well – it’s easy to understand the swift ascension. Enter Reid Detmers, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound southpaw who was one of, if not the most MLB-ready prospect to come out of the 2020 MLB Draft, where he was selected 10th overall by the Los Angeles Angels. Armed with a four-seamer that can now reach 94-95 mph, a Clayton Kershaw-esque curveball that he commands well, a mid-to-high 80s slider that’s a great weapon against LHH, and a changeup that he used exclusively against RHH in the 2021 MLB season, he has the stuff to succeed as a major league starter.
Known for his advanced pitchability, above-average command of his four-seamer and curveball, and the ability to throw all of his pitches for strikes, Detmers easily projects as a backend starter at the major league level, at worst. However, I believe he’ll be more of a number three starter in time. As I touched on earlier in this piece, when you have a young pitcher who possesses strong command – especially of their primary offerings – the likelihood of them finding success in some capacity at the major league level is fairly high. Now, add in the fact that Detmers also possesses a slider and a changeup that he can work into his arsenal accordingly, and we’re looking at a guy who could soon have a rock-solid four-pitch mix.
Understandably, with just 60 career minor league innings pitched under his belt, he struggled in his first taste of major league action. Over 20 ⅔ innings pitched, he earned a 7.40 ERA (5.27 SIERA) and a 7.9% K-BB. He allowed a whopping 11 earned runs (17 earned runs allowed in total) over his first 9 ⅓ innings and simply put, he looked like a young and inexperienced pitcher who was facing some of the best hitters in the world. Going into 2022, there’s a possibility that Detmers starts the season in Triple-A. There’s no question that more time against Triple-A competition will help him further refine his command of his slider and changeup, which in turn would hopefully help make him more effective whenever he’d return to the majors.
Detmers is the type of pitcher who has the potential to be a mainstay in an MLB rotation for years on end. He’s (probably) not going to ever reach frontline status, but mid-rotation starters can provide very useful depth on any dynasty points league roster. Use his poor 2021 MLB sample size and the fact that he lacks an overpowering fastball to try and pry him out of the hands of whoever has him rostered in your leagues. And if he’s somehow on your waiver wire, pick him up immediately. His future fantasy floor is very stable and I expect him to be a reliable contributor for your dynasty points league rosters for years to come.