As we wait for the 2020 campaign to hopefully get started, there are various players getting some hype as potential breakout or bounce back options. Are they names we should be buying? Is the hype driving up the cost to the point they should be ignored? Let’s take a look at a few of the names and try to decide if they are worth the risk:
Vince Velasquez – Philadelphia Phillies
He’s always been seen as a high-upside option, but injuries continually get in the way. Only once has he made 30 starts in a season and he’s never thrown more than 146.2 innings in the Majors in a year. Yes he’s shown strikeout stuff, including a career 9.72 K/9 as a starting pitcher, but he also hasn’t shown a true strength in the other two skills we look at:
- Control – 3.43 BB/9 as a starter isn’t terrible, but it also isn’t great
- Groundballs – A 36.2% groundball rate has led to an ugly 1.42 HR/9
Just to complicate matters, when he was on the mound in ’19 he was pounded to the tune of a 47.3% Hard% and his 6.8% Barrels/PA tied him for the 14th worst mark in the league (among pitchers with at least 250 Batted Ball Events).
You also have to wonder if the Phillies could opt to shift him to the bullpen, in an attempt to try and keep him healthy. It’s not to say that the opportunity isn’t there for him to claim a rotation spot, but there are alternatives including top prospect Spencer Howard as well as Enyel De Los Santos, Adonis Medina and JoJo Romero.
Questionable Skills + Questionable Rotation Spot… Upside or not, it’s a hard pass.
Verdict – Deny ‘Em
German Marquez – Colorado Rockies
Just looking at his ERA from 2018 to 2019 would make it appear that Marquez took a significant step backwards:
- 2018 – 3.77 ERA
- 2019 – 4.76 ERA
However things can be deceiving. Sure his strikeouts took a small step backwards, but Marquez continued to show all of the skills we look for from a pitcher:
- Strikeouts – 9.05 K/9
- Control – 1.81 BB/9
- Groundballs – 49.0%
While pitching in Coors Field puts him at a disadvantage, his 1.50 HR/9 should improve. Considering his 37.9% Hard%, .304 BABIP and 68.0% strand rate, everything appears to point towards an improvement. Throw in a 12.7% SwStr% and the total package is there. While his home locale could cap his potential, Marquez maintains Top 30 potential. In other words, he’s a no-brainer buy.
Verdict – Buy ‘Em
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: