MLB Stock Watch: Week of May 19, 2014
Here at MLB stock watch, the value of players rise and fall. Pegging Randal Grichuk the day he was recalled was bittersweet as a slow start to the center fielders career resulted in a demotion back to Triple-A. A few weeks back, this series pegged Kyle Blanks as a players whose stock was up. Apparently, the Athletics agreed, trading for the right-handed hitter to play some outfield and first base. The baseball landscape including fantasy baseball values are in constant motion. Mike Newman (pinch hitting for me last week) provided an update on well-known prospect risers last week and the fantasy staff helped spend fantasy owners’ FAAB dollars on hitters and pitchers. This week, we’ll speculate on a trio of pitchers including a former closer returning to St. Louis, a “fringy” pitching prospect deserving of more attention and a struggling Triple-A arm for the Dodgers worth adding on the cheap.
Jason Motte, RP – St. Louis Cardinals (DL)
Normally considered a strength, the Cardinals bullpen has been pedestrian this year. One of only 10 teams to post a four-plus bullpen ERA, their combined 8.73 K/9 rate is just 15th in the league. And despite only one blown save, closer Trevor Rosenthal sports a 5.14 BB/9 rate, 24.5% GB rate, and 4.29 ERA. Needless to say Motte’s return on Tuesday couldn’t come at a better time.
On rehab assignment, Motte is touching 95 mph and saved 42 games in 2012 with an elite 5.06 K/BB ratio. He generates whiffs with a fastball he works middle-up in the zone, a sinker with down-and-in movement against right handers and cutter to keep opposing hitters honest. While he’ll be used in low-leverage situations initially, the potential is there for him to supplant Rosenthal in time.
Despite Newman’s love for the Cardinals’ starters-turned-relievers, Motte can steal away closer duties by the All-Star break should Rosenthal continue struggling. A fully healthy starting five with a Martinez-Rosenthal-Motte arsenal in the later innings will restore normalcy to the NL Central as the Cardinals are poised to return to pitching dominance. Motte was largely forgotten in this year’s drafts but has the stuff to be a top-5 closer for pennies on the dollar — assuming his command returns fully.
Daniel Winkler, P – Colorado Rockies (Double-A, Tulsa)
Despite a +49 run differential the Rockies remain three games out of first in the NL West because of their atrocious starting rotation. This group boasts the worst FIP (4.60), second worst K/9 (6.06), third worst BB/9 (3.37), fourth worst HR/9 (1.11) in the league. Since their last playoff appearance in 2009 Rockies’ starters have posted the 5th worst ERA in all of baseball.
The two most hyped Colorado Rockies starting pitching prospects in the MLB stock watch this offseason were Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler, a Newman favorite. No one had ever heard of, or mentioned Danny Winkler outside of fringy prospect reports. However the numbers are compelling:
IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP Winkler 48.2 9.43 2.22 0.92 0.173 97.10% 1.48 3.40 Butler 51.1 5.44 2.10 0.53 0.273 77.50% 2.98 3.42 Gray 42.1 8.08 1.49 0.64 0.267 69.60% 2.98 2.81
A year older than both Butler and Gray, Winkler is unknown and outperforming both top prospects. Despite the unsustainable strand rate and BABIP his FIP numbers are still strong. In high-A ball last year Winkler posted a 4.12 K/BB ratio, before finishing in the Texas League. Back in Tulsa to begin 2014, his strikeout rate has jumped 18% from last year’s stint. Furthermore his walk rate has continued to decline every year since rookie ball in 2011 to 2.22 BB/9 this year. In general, players — even at a more advanced age who continue to improve can become quality arms. At some point, production catches projection.
With Tyler Chatwood and Brett Anderson both nursing injuries an opportunity exists for Winkler to sneak into the back end of the rotation. With Chad Bettis and Tyler Matzek underwhelming in Triple-A, look for Winkler to earn the next spot start. Winkler is nothing more than a flier but he’s peaking at a time when the Rockies need it most.
MLB Stock Watch Bonus – Garin Cecchini, 3B – Boston Red Sox
On Saturday Will Middlebrooks went on the 15-day DL with a broken finger. Before the injury, he wasn’t helping much anyway, posting a pitiful .197/.305/.324 line with two home runs in 71 plate appearances. Meanwhile Garin Cecchini has been productive in in Triple-A, posting a .305/.396/.375 line. Point to his unsustainable BABIP, surging K-rate, and lack of power (.070 ISO) to acquire him. He’ll eventually become a quality MLB third baseman, but those expecting smooth sailing after a strong Double-A campaign may be disappointed by the power production and instead search for a more traditional third base prospect.
The MLB stock watch is committed to researching depth charts to find talent and opportunity for fantasy baseball owners to reap the rewards. Why break the bank when one can win on the cheap?
19 May 2014 / Joseph Pytleski / 2
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