Everyone likes a good deal. Here is a group of prospects from the 2020 MLB Draft I’m thinking are getting consistently undervalued by dynasty owners this First-Year Player Draft (FYPD) season and may offer the same fantasy upside as more “buzzy” names. The following are five guys all taken in different fifths of the 2020 MLB draft and are left out of conversations they may deserve to be in.
The first two are a pitcher and a hitter worthy of first and second round consideration in your 12-team FYPDs, and the other three may not even be getting drafted in smaller leagues but are the kind of cheap pitchers I love to target. A couple of these low-priced pitchers have given dynasty owners better chances at viable fantasy options than one bigger name pitching prospect in the past.
There is excitement lacking with dynasty owners over these players, and I don’t know why. If you happen to find yourself landing one—I say be happy. You got a good deal.
(The number in front of each player’s name is my FYPD rank on these guys.)
No. 10 LHP Reid Detmers, Angels
The 10th overall pick of the 2020 draft is getting left out of the top college arm tier, but he belongs there. Detmers is tagged as the boring soft-tossing lefty compared to Max Meyer, Asa Lacy, Emerson Hancock, and Garret Crochet. “Boring” doesn’t come to mind watching him pitch. Detmers’ high spin curveball made some top amateur hitters look absolutely silly. He was good for 48 Ks in 22 IP over four starts in the shortened 2020 season. That’s 19.6 K/9! Matter of fact, Detmers’ had a higher NCAA career K/9 than any of his four counterparts. I’m not implying this is a huge indicator of MLB success or that he will be a big strikeout pitcher, but it is not a completely absent part of his profile.
Detmers commands his fastball better than Crochet and Lacy, and is debatably even with the other two. He has a deceptive delivery and release. Folks seem split on the spin and movement he gets on the fastball. There are viable concerns with his release point but it’s not the most unpolished fastball of the group.
Historically speaking, there has hardly been a difference between the second college arm off the MLB draft board and the 10th in terms of fantasy success, which was laid out in our previous piece Using MLB and NFBC Draft Histories To Make Informed Mistakes. So in a very broad general sense, these guys are all starting with the same chances. This knock on the soft-tossing lefty though… what if it’s actually an argument for boosting Detmers’ stock? I took a dive into this fastball velocity thing. I pulled out all college pitchers drafted picks two through 10 in the MLB Draft from 2000-2017, their peak NFBC ADPs, and fastball velocities coming out of college:
I’m just talking knocks on fastball velocity here. I am not evaluating these guys on just this, but as you can see, the knock on Detmers’ velocity, probably isn’t justified, at least from a historical standpoint. In fact, this “diss” on him, isn’t a diss at all based on what has happened.
Four out of 47 (or about 9%) of our sample went on to top 100 fantasy heights: Justin Verlander, Tim Lincecum, Matt Harvey, and Trevor Bauer. Bauer and Lincecum had fastball velocities which ranged from average to above average in our little scale here, but these are four hard-throwing righties. Take these four dynasty home runs out of the mix, and the soft-tossing lefty has been history’s best-remaining bet.
So if you wanna talk knocks on fastball velocities, there is some history here suggesting we need to knock Lacy, Crochet, and Hancock’s fantasy prognostications before that of Detmers. Soft tossing lefties have reached top 200 heights 55.6% of the time, whereas the hard-throwing lefties and average to below-average right-hand velocities, just roughly 15% of the time. These are small samples of course but large discrepancies. A hard-throwing righty has been history’s best mark in these regards, but after that, it’s history’s Detmers. Ricky Romero reached the fifth-best fantasy height from our sample, a soft-tossing lefty.
As you can see, perhaps some of the higher success rates here for lefties is because they’ve fallen back into relief roles more successfully than the righties, which makes sense. When you consider the numbers here and how hard it is to hit on a fantasy asset… I’m more and more coming around to the idea that “relief pitcher risk” in dynasty, just isn’t really a thing. If you land a solid fantasy relief pitcher, you still won.
Detmers’ counterparts have overpowered hitters with bigger fastballs and crazier secondaries, but they also haven’t been forced to learn some of the more intricate parts of pitching. One doesn’t have to look too far into the past to see what happens when a bully-type pitcher loses some power stuff and can’t power his way through hitters… the very talented Nate Pearson experienced some of that last season.
There are reasons Detmers was called the most polished and MLB-ready pitcher in the class by some. He may have a better understanding of pitch-mix. He definitely commands his stuff better than some of the other four. Reports claim he tunnels his pitches well. As far as I know, and have read, no one involved with Team USA didn’t think he was the best pitcher for them, a team that included Meyer, Hancock and Lacy.
A high floor is not a knock. It means avenues to failure others may have, have been closed for him, and his low-90s fastball is no indication he has less of a chance of becoming a FYPD win for an owner. Perhaps he doesn’t become a 230+ strikeout machine, but as you can see, all it takes to beat the odds here is to land a top 200 caliber asset. Detmers profile excites me he can win this historically tough battle.
I’m not anointing Detmers the best pitcher from this class, and there are definitely concerns about his dominant pitch being dominant against pros, knocks on the organization’s ability to develop pitchers, and if the fastball will be enough. I’m simply saying, he isn’t 20 slots worse a go at it than his counterparts like I’ve seen. He’s a steal. I have him 10th on my list and I understand that may be higher than most, but you will probably find him on your board still at 15 plus, plus, and that’s just not warranted if it’s because of fastball velocity.
I understand taking your 9% swing at the harder throwing guy, but a 50% vs 11% complete bust rate… that’s an exciting win too.
No. 22 OF Hudson Haskin, Orioles
Ugly swing discount? That’s the only thing I can chalk up to Haskin slipping in both the MLB and FYP drafts. If you could black Haskin out on video, just make him a black rectangle, and watch it run around, watch the balls fly out of it… you’d maybe like the mystery player behind the box as much as Garrett Mitchell. Haskin is a legit five-tool prospect who earned first-round grades from organizations but isn’t getting them from dynasty owners.
Haskin is not a fluid looking ballplayer, but it all works and isn’t as bad as the Unnatural, Hunter Pence comps some have given him. Baltimore selected Haskin 37th out of Tulane, and I have him No. 22 on my list, but he’s pushing up in my mind while going much later in most FYPDs. Good college bats are a dynasty owner’s best swing at finding elite assets. Haskin offers an exciting dream and a cheap go at it.
Discounted Pitcher Rack
Our last three FYPs to fleece differ from our first two, in that I’m not advocating you consider pushing these guys up into the early parts of your draft, but these could be free assets or very cheap deeper league takes worth a steeper price. After adjusting for signing amount, for right or wrong, these three pitchers fall into the same histories. This history of the college pitcher drafted 51-100 is interesting when compared to the history of some prep outfielders getting snatched up 60 spots earlier (in some cases).
In my opinion, sacrificing the relative safety college pitchers have given dynasty owners here, doesn’t feel quite worth the lightening strike chance of popping something elite, especially if you took some risky shots early and want a decent swing at something of value later. And it isn’t like these later college pitchers haven’t had lightning strikes of their own, a matter of fact, they’ve done better in these regards than some top of the draft histories we looked at earlier. (Most likely just a sample size thing, but also gives some credence to passing early and taking pitchers later philosophy.)
No. 76 LHP Nick Swiney, Giants
Swiney was selected with the 67th pick of the draft but signed under slot, so I paired him up with the corresponding history above, but don’t let that fool you into thinking there isn’t second round caliber talent. I had him 76th on my last FYP rank, but I will probably more likely start considering him 20-25 spots sooner. The shortened 2020 deprived Swiney of a full chance of showing what he can do as a starter, as he had been a reliever for N.C. State, but there are scouts who believe he is a legit starting pitcher prospect. Rumor on the street is he showed some impressive Trackman data. He’s another lefty on the softer side of velocity with a high-80s/low-90s fastball, but he spins it well and can locate. He devastated hitters with his curveball (13.5 K/9), and there is a developing changeup in there. None of Swiney’s pitches is blatantly overly impressive on its own, but as a whole package, Swiney could develop into a sneaky MLB piece.
No. 81 RHP Ian Bedell, Cardinals
Bedell was the 122nd pick of the 2020 MLB Draft out of Missouri and I have him comfortably sitting 81st on my board. Young for his class, Bedell was not as advanced a college pitcher as his draft peers, only recently stepping into a starter’s role and really riding an impressive 2019 Cape Cod performance into the draft. Billed as a command pitcher, his velocity and current stuff are not high level, throwing a low 90s fastball, a slurvy breaking ball, and a changeup I felt looked much better than the reviews. Bedell may be able to add some velocity as a pro. Plus command is a tough tool to find in a prospect and I’ll take a swing here at a pitcher in an organization that seems to grow vanilla profiles well. Pass on a more expensive name, take a Bedell and an Elder-type, and you may be making some sneaky little gains on your opponents.
No. 82 RHP Bryce Elder, Braves
Taken at the tail end of the draft with the 156th pick and signed over slot, Elder had a long successful run at Texas. Of course, this doesn’t mean much in the pros, but a long track record can make us feel better about what we are getting. Elder has polish, a 6’2″ 220 lb frame, and a solid mix which isn’t a bad get at No. 82 in a FYPD. The stuff isn’t overpowering, but he induces a lot of ground balls and gets swings and misses with his slider. His third pitch, a changeup, may be below average at this point, but he throws strikes and has a feel on the mound. Elder has some foundations of a big-league pitcher to grow on and at this point of the draft, he fits the bill of the kind of pitcher I like to stack at the end of my deep leagues.
Vanilla Is A Spice Too You Know
I know full well the profiles of these pitchers may not wow you (our hitter here is an exciting dream though), but in terms of giving yourself a chance to come away with something, these guys are exciting given the cheap price tags. As we have seen, the “ceiling” or upside getting such a premium put on it by dynasty owners… it’s starting to feel a little eye-roll yawn-y to me. I will still take my big hacks, but the worst thing that can happen in a FYPD is getting nothing out of it. Maybe a few of these guys falling into your lap is a safety net your league mates are gifting you?
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