Draft Day Sleepers (2019): Four Deep League Targets For Strikeouts

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We all know the big names and where we can get strikeouts, but if you are looking for a boost late in your deep drafts where can you turn?  Here are four pitchers who have the potential to average over a strikeout per inning who should be available in the last few rounds of your draft.  Keep in mind they aren’t being selected earlier for a reason, of course, but there’s potential value all the same.

Touki Toussaint – Atlanta Braves
Average NFBC ADP – 317.76

The big question facing Toussaint is the opportunity.  The Braves are stocked with pitching prospects, any of whom can step up and claim a role in the rotation.  Toussaint should get the first opportunity to claim the fifth spot in the rotation and, as we all know, good teams need to be able to go 7 or 8 starters deep (if not more).

Toussaint showed the strikeout stuff he brings last season, with a 9.93 K/9 over 29.0 IP and he showed even more swing and miss stuff in the minors (SwStr%):

  • Double-A (86.0 IP) – 12.6%
  • Triple-A (50.1 IP) – 11.8%
  • Majors (29.0 IP) – 9.8%

His control did regress in his short time in the Majors (6.52 BB/9), and that is something that has been a concern before.  There also could be home run issues (44.6% groundball rate in the minors), further clouding the outlook.  That’s not to say that there isn’t upside, but it’s hard to ignore the issues:

  1. How many opportunities will he get?
  2. Can he find his control?
  3. Will home runs plague him?

Trevor Richards – Miami Marlins
Average NFBC ADP – 429.86

Pitching for the Marlins it’s easy to overlook Richards, though he was solid in his rookie year with a 4.42 ERA and 1.39 WHIP over 126.1 IP.  Those numbers aren’t going to blow you away, but the underlying skills show a little bit more:

  • Strikeouts – 9.26 K/9
  • Control – 3.85 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 35.8%

The control seems questionable, but it was a slow start that plagued him and he delivered a 3.25 BB/9 in the second half.  He also should generate more groundballs (54.5% over 146.0 IP in the minors in ’17), and when paired with the other skills that should bring very good results.

While he may struggle for wins in Miami, everything else is pointing towards a potential breakout and makes him an ideal late round flier.

Jonathan Loaisiga – New York Yankees
Average NFBC ADP – 572.21

Loaisiga burst onto the scene in ’18, despite a 5.11 ERA, as he showed top end strikeout stuff (12.04 K/9 courtesy of a 13.0% SwStr%) over 24.2 IP.  That mirrors what he did in the minors, with a 10.77 K/9 courtesy of a 12.3% SwStr%.  Injuries stopped his momentum, but the strikeouts coupled with enough groundballs and what should be at least decent control there’s a lot to like when his opportunity comes.

That’s the big question, as he should open the year at Triple-A waiting for an opportunity.  The Yankees went out and added James Paxton for the top of the rotation, with JA Happ and CC Sabathia also returning.  Of course with Sabathia, Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka all risks to miss time due to injury, there is going to be a clear path to playing time.

He’s a stash in deeper formats, but when his time comes he should be able to make an impact.

Sean Reid-Foley – Toronto Blue Jays
Average NFBC ADP – 612.01

Reid-Foley made his MLB debut last season, after showing swing and miss stuff in the minors (13.2% SwStr%).  He carried that into his 33.1 IP in the Majors, with an 11.34 K/9 courtesy of a 12.1% SwStr%.  While it would be easy to get excited off that alone, especially since he should get an opportunity early behind a questionable rotation, pitching in Toronto with home run concerns will hang over him.  Just look at his groundball rates from a year ago:

  • Double-A (44.1 IP) – 54.5%
  • Triple-A (85.1 IP) – 42.7%
  • Majors (33.1 IP) – 37.2%

There also are going to be questions with his control, after his 3.47 BB/9 in the minors ballooned after his promotion (5.67 BB/9).  As is we’d expect home run issues and a walk rate in the 4.00 range (if not slightly higher).  That’s not a good combination, but if you are looking for strikeouts he’s worth the gamble.

Sources – Fangraphs, NFBC

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