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Outfielders to Consider After Pick 300

Five names to keep in mind when looking for outfielders late in drafts.

A standard 10-team, mixed fantasy baseball league generally runs about 250 players deep or so. However, deeper league managers (12-team, 15-team, etc.) need to be prepared to mine for gold in the later rounds of drafts to search for value, especially when considering outfielders since most fantasy rosters include anywhere from three to five of them.

Below is a list of five outfielders, being drafted outside the Top 300 players overall, who could emerge as draft-day values.

Now keep in mind, at this late stage of drafts, finding an All-Star or Top 100 fantasy player is going to be a stretch, so let’s keep expectations in check. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t value to be had after pick 300, and that’s what we are aiming for here.

 

Dominic Smith (NYM)

ADP 308 (via FantasyPros)

 

A former 2013 first-round draft pick, Smith flashed in 2019 with a .282 AVG and .881 OPS in 89 games. Then, the left-handed slugger enjoyed a true breakout during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season when he hit a sparkling .316 with an unexpected yet sensational .993 OPS in just 50 games, homering ten times in the process. Even more impressive were the underlying advanced metrics which backed up his strong 2020 performance as Smith ranked amongst the league-leaders in terms of xBA, xSLG, wOBA, xwOBA, and xwOBAcon.

However, in his age-26 season, Smith’s 2021 performance cratered as he hit just .224 with an awful .667 OPS. In particular, it was surprisingly his performance against right-handers, not lefties, that led to his ultimate demise. After hitting .331 against righties in 2020, he hit just .218 against them in 2021 with a .622 OPS that would make Kurt Suzuki blush. Meanwhile, his performance against left-handers remained strong, hitting .312 against southpaws after hitting .283 against lefties the year prior.

Despite the struggles, it’s worth noting that Smith’s strikeout rate (22.7%) and exit velocity (89 mph) remained consistent compared to his breakout 2020 season (22.6%, 89.8 mph).

The strong track record against left-handers for a same-sided slugger like Smith is certainly atypical and suggests that Smith would not be a victim of the platoon issues that plague many other outfielders (especially lefties) in today’s game. He simply needs to get back to mashing right-handers like he did in 2020 to fully unlock his true fantasy potential. At his current ADP, there is little risk in figuring out if he can do just that.

 

Julio Rodríguez (SEA)

ADP 325 (via FantasyPros)

 

Considered by most a top-three prospect entering the 2022 season (along with Adley Rutschman and Bobby Witt, Jr), Julio Rodguez will very likely begin the season in the minors given that he has yet to appear in a Triple-A game. However, after spending a little more time on the farm, the 21-year-old should join the Mariners in the not-too-distant future. And once he does, Rodguez and his prodigious power will become an immediate fantasy asset, joining Jarred Kelenic and Kyle Lewis in what Seattle hopes will be their core outfield for the next decade.

Rodguez’s value (and subsequent ADP) will be radically different in dynasty and keeper leagues obviously, as the ranking mentioned here speaks more specifically to redraft formats. Even so, the uber-talented right-hander certainly possesses difference-making fantasy potential after hitting .362 with a 1.007 OPS and seven homers in just 47 games at Double-A last season.

If you are willing to draft-and-stash Rodguez for the first month or two of the season, the reward could prove worthwhile given the other options being drafted around him in the same tier at this stage in drafts.

 

Nick Senzel (CIN)

ADP 427 (via FantasyPros)

 

For some reason, I just can’t quit Nick Senzel. He was a sleeper target of mine each of the past two seasons, and then we all watched and witnessed Jonathan India become what Nick Senzel was supposed to be: a fantasy-relevant second baseman with good contact skills and 20/20 potential.

India emerged as the National League Rookie of the Year in 2021 while Cincinnati continues to wait and hope that Senzel finds his way after injuries have derailed the early stages of his career. A consensus Top 10 prospect from 2017-2019, Senzel simply has not been able to stay on the field, playing in just 163 games since his debut in 2019.

The now 26-year-old, drafted second overall by Cincinnati in the 2016 draft, underwent right shoulder surgery in 2019 (torn labrum), missed 27 games with COVID-19 in 2020, and then underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery in 2021. It’s been….a mess. But after homering 12 times and stealing 14 bases in just 104 games as a rookie, it’s easy to get drawn back in to the post-hype rhetoric with Senzel, who was a career .311 hitter in the minors.

Cincinnati boasts a powerful offense and plays half their games each season in the scoring haven that is Great American Ballpark. This is an offense that supported excellent fantasy seasons from Nick Castellanos, India, Jesse Winker, and Joey Votto in 2020 and to a much lesser extent Eugenio Suárez, Tyler Stephenson, and Kyle Farmer. Great American Ballpark is the proverbial rising tide that lifts all boats. With Castellanos likely headed elsewhere as a free agent, there could be a path to playing time for Senzel. At this price tag with an ADP well outside the top 400, Senzel is worth a late-round dart throw in deeper leagues to see if he can carve out a regular role on a good team and try to recapture his rookie season potential, health permitting.

 

Lane Thomas (WAS)

ADP 348 (via FantasyPros)

 

Acquired in a deadline deal from the Cardinals in exchange for Jon Lester last July, the 26-year-old was mostly an afterthought. A fifth-round pick in 2014 by Toronto, Thomas has a lifetime .230 AVG in 129 career MLB games and was hitting just .104 for the Cardinals at the time of the trade last season. Not great.

However, once joining the Nationals and being afforded regular playing time and the premium lineup protection that comes from hitting in front of Juan Soto, Thomas flourished. In 45 games with Washington, the right-hander slashed .270/.364/.489 while homering seven times, stealing four bases, scoring 33 runs and driving in 27 more to go along with a solid .853 OPS. Certainly fantasy-worthy numbers as Thomas found himself being added to fantasy rosters last September.

Thomas’ lack of pedigree and poor performance in limited playing time thus far in his career make him a risky pick, as he might not even get regular at-bats if he struggles early in the year. However, currently slated to hit leadoff atop the Nationals lineup again to begin the season, he’s someone to keep in mind in the event that he can build on his strong second-half performance from 2021 in the nation’s capital.

 

Connor Joe (COL)

ADP 316 (via FantasyPros)

 

The adoption of the universal designated hitter is a development that prompted Joe’s inclusion on this list. The 29-year-old first baseman wouldn’t be seeing regular playing time behind starter CJ Cron if pitchers were still hitting in the Senior Circuit, but with the assumed implementation of the DH in the National League, there is now a pathway for regular playing time for Joe in Colorado.

And when a player earns regular playing time in Coors Field, the fantasy community collectively takes notice.

Enter Connor Joe, a former 2014 first round draft pick, who hit an impressive .285 with eight homers and an .848 OPS in limited action (179 at-bats) last season before a hamstring injury ended his season prematurely in September.

The impact of Coors Field on offensive performance and subsequent fantasy value is well chronicled and doesn’t warrant much discussion here today. But for a player who boasted a solid power profile last season – including exit velocity (88.2 mph), maximum exit velocity (113.3 mph), hard-hit percentage (39%), and a respectable strikeout rate (19.4%) – Joe is a player with a clear pathway to easily outperform his current ADP if he finds his name regularly being penciled onto the lineup card. Teammate Sam Hilliard (ADP 505) is another name worth mentioning if he finds playing time as an everyday player in Coors Field as well.

 

Rapid fire: 

Late-round outfielders that I’m not excited about:

 

Photo by Icon Sportswire|Adapted by Shawn Palmer (@PalmerDesigns_ on twitter)

Lucas Spence

Writer for Pitcher List and contributor for FantasyPros and InStreetClothes. Certified Physician Assistant. Proud husband and father of three whose favorite baseball highlight of his lifetime occurred in the bottom of the 11th inning of the 1995 ALDS. Twitter: @lspence24.

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