2019 MLB ADP and Draft Trends: Beyond the 15th Round
Greg Jewett continues his ADP and draft trends series by exploring the 15th round and beyond of fantasy baseball drafts.
Although it’s still early in the draft preparation season, identifying targets in the later rounds makes sense. Given the variance each draft can provide, being pliable will lead to success when crafting a roster. Using the NFBC average draft position data as a guide, five potential targets at each position after round 16 (pick 240 and above) with a synopses of each one. Think of it as players who fit the “Five Below” mold. Each of the draft positions reflect the numbers as of January 24th.
At a position bereft of depth, finding production without sacrificing average could be difficult. One obvious name’s missing from this list, Danny Jansen . Due to Toronto’s trade, his average draft position continues to climb and will push him above this barrier by March. As to potential fliers, here’s my five:
Jorge Alfaro , Philadelphia - ADP 246
With Wilson Ramos heading to the Mets, this paves the way for Alfaro to garner the majority of playing time with Philadelphia. Alfaro slashed .262/.324/.407 over 344 at-bats last year with 10 home runs. Although his struggles with contact and high propensity of swinging strikes, he’s still worth a look. In the second half, Alfaro’s hard hit rate spiked to 48.6 percent and he also increased his fly ball rate by over 13 percent, which could translate to 15 or more home runs.
Welington Castillo , Chicago White Sox - ADP 260.77
Not sure of all the drafters will be going vegan, but ignoring the reduced price on “Beef” could be a mistake. Yes, he did get suspended last year, but over the last three years he owns a .270/.319/.444 slash line with 40 home runs in 927 at-bats. Plus, his 24.2 line drive percentage, 17 home run per fly ball percent and 38.9 hard hit rate should play well on Chicago’s south side.
Robinson Chirinos , Houston - ADP 278.85
One of last year’s hyped below the radar catcher options could actually come to fruition in Houston. He’s launched 35 home runs over his last 735 at-bats. Of more interest, his 47.9 fly ball percentage, pulling the ball over 50 percent of the time and a 40.3 hard hit rate. Here’s all of his fly balls and line drives within this sample with Minute Maid Park as the overlay:
Kurt Suzuki , Washington - ADP 317.03
Like Chirinos above, Kurt Suzuki could be very productive even as the second catcher in Washington. His home run per fly ball percentage normalized last season, but among catchers with at least 500 plate appearances the last two years, Suzuki ranks first in weighted on-base average (.351) and tied for third in weighted runs created plus (116). Over his last 186 games, he’s slashed .276/.341/.485 with 83 runs, 31 home runs and 100 RBI.
Tyler Flowers , Atlanta - ADP 404.82
Hampered by an oblique injury in 2018, Tyler Flowers still surged in terms of hard hit rate (48.9 percent) while reducing his chase rate, swings at misses outside the strike zone. During the last two years, Flowers hit .257/.362/.406 with a 9.9 walk percentage and 23.8 strikeout rate. With a clear path to playing time and chance to rebound, he makes perfect sense.
Jake Bauers , Cleveland - ADP 256.93
Making his appearance on a second list, Jake Bauers represents upside with some risk. He could end up in a platoon for Cleveland, but racked up 16 home runs and 16 stolen bases between Triple-A and the majors last year. Bauers reached base over 36 percent of the time during his career in the minors, can play corner outfield and first base. With double digit projections in home runs and steals by Steamer, THE BAT and ATC, Bauers enhances rosters looking for stolen bases.
Jay Bruce , Seattle - ADP 283.61
First, noting he’s eligible in leagues with 20 game minimums at first base helps add length to a position viewed as volatile. Over the last three years, Bruce has accrued 1,413 at-bats with 187 runs, 78 home runs, 237 RBI and a .246/.315/.476 line. This equates to a home run every 18.12 at-bats with a 9.1 walk percentage and a 21.7 strikeout rate. Also within this time frame, Bruce averaged a 37.7 hard hit percentage, 16.1 home run to fly ball rate and the 18th best isolated power (.230) among his peers. Not too shabby nearing pick number 300 in most drafts.
Brandon Belt , San Francisco - ADP 328.16
Injuries and ballpark tag team do work against Brandon Belt each year it seems. He’s only averaged 108 games the last two seasons limited by concussions and knee problems. Belt’s adjusted his launch angles, increased his fly ball rates and finished with a 41.8 hard hit percentage in 2018. A trade would boost his appeal, but at this price, even if he only plays in 110 games, he could produce 15-to-18 home runs with decent counting statistics hitting in the heart of lineup.
Justin Bour , Los Angeles Angels - ADP 457.3
There’s many moving parts within the Angels lineup, but they signed Justin Bour for a reason. First, with the fences lowered in right field, it’s a potential soft landing spot for Bour. He’s looking to rebound from a disappointing season from a fantasy standpoint, but focus on his .210 isolated power, .258/.352/.469 slash the last three years. Against right-handed pitching, this jumps to a .270/.365/.504 line with 52 home runs in 838 at-bats. Bour reduced his chase rate, swinging strike percentage and increased contact last season. Consolidation? Also, does anyone believe in Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols playing full-time?
Peter O’Brien, Miami - ADP 577.42
Trying to find value on the Marlins will be tough to do, however, those searching for power upside late can look to Peter O’Brien. During his small sample with Miami, O’Brien swatted four home runs with 10 RBI and a .273/.338/530 slash in only 22 games. He’s not going to replicate anything close to this line in regards to average or on-base, but O’Brien cut his swinging strike percentage to 12.6 in this sample, made 71.8 percent contact of which 46.7 percent rated as hard hits by Fangraphs. Even if he hits .220-to-.230, he’s a right handed Joey Gallo -lite.
Jed Lowrie , New York Mets - ADP 273.93
With the premise Jed Lowrie missed 100 RBI by one last year and only 16 more players in the majors finished with a higher total, he’s too low on average draft lists. Shifting to Citi Field could affect his power numbers, but Lowrie logged time in Oakland, so he’s used to a spacious park. Presently slated to hit second, fantasy owners will need to scale back his RBI but he could see a rise in runs. Solid, not spectacular but overlooked fantasy value at a depressed cost.
Asdrubal Cabrera , Texas - ADP 296.52
No one enters a draft targeting Asdrubal Cabrera , but he turns in solid production when on the field. This year, he can be used at second base, shortstop, third base, middle infield and corner infield. Five position versatility combined with hitting in Texas could provide a tidy return on investment. His pull power as a left-handed hitter should translate well to Globe Life Park. When pulling the ball from the left side of the plate, Cabrera recorded a .481 isolated power with matching 42.9 home run per fly ball percentage and hard hit rate. This could result in him matching his career best of 25 home runs.
Adam Frazier , Pittsburgh - ADP 346.74
After surging in the second half, Adam Frazier will open the season as the Pirates starting second baseman. He slashed .277/.342/.456 in 113 games on the year, but over three hundred over his last 55 games with a 45.3 hard hit percentage and boosting his fly ball rate by almost seven percent. Frazier scored 29 runs with seven home runs during his strong finish to the season and if he returns to attempting to steal more bases, he’s a very stealth option later in drafts.
Dustin Pedroia , Boston - ADP 559.65
Can one trust his health? Absolutely not. But owning cheap pieces of the Red Sox offense makes sense. Especially a stable batting average player at a time when league averages continue to dissipate. If he plays in 80-to-100 games, this price will be appreciably too low.
Daniel Descalso , Chicago Cubs - ADP 649.51
When deep diving, it’s not going to be pretty at times. However, Daniel Descalso continues to evolve as a hitter trading grounders for fly balls, he upped his hard hit rate and qualifies at second and third base. Chicago will use a bevy of lineups and if Addison Russell remains in trouble or injuries occur, Descalso could benefit from hitting at Wrigley.
Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego - ADP 312.18
While Vladimir Guerrero Jr. garners all the fantasy attention, San Diego’s yet to sign a veteran for shortstop and Fernando Tatis Jr. continues to tear up the Winter League. Dripping with talent, Tatis Jr. racked up 77 runs, 16 home runs, 43 RBI, 16 stolen bases and a .286/.355/.507 slash in only 88 games at Double-A last year. It could be more second half thunder, but not having to bid on Tatis Jr., like with Juan Soto last year, would preserve precious FAAB money.
Orlando Arcia , Milwaukee - ADP 366.56
One year removed from 15 home runs and 14 stolen bases, Orlando Arcia cratered last year leading to a demotion to Triple-A. He returned with a vengeance hitting .290 in 49 games in the second half, reaching base 32 percent of the time. Arcia’s still a work in progress, but could register double digits in both home runs and stolen bases as a part of the Brewers offense. Still buying at this reduced cost.
Brendan Rodgers, Colorado - ADP 456.67
As the Garrett Hampson hype train leaves the station, do not forget about Brendan Rodgers. With Daniel Murphy slated to play first base, Hampson and Rodgers could battle for the second base job in camp. However, beat writers for the Rockies suggest Hampson could serve a super utility role, which could open the door for Rodgers. Between two levels, Rodgers appeared in 114 games with 54 runs, 17 home runs, 67 RBI, 12 stolen bases and a .268/.330/.460 slash. Keep close tabs during the spring.
Tim Beckham , Seattle - ADP 495.75
Former top pick Tim Beckham will start out with Seattle this year. He’s probably not going to repeat his strong 2017, but he’s better than last year’s nadir suffering from an 83 point drop in BABIP. Beckham’s a placeholder while JP Crawford develops, but in deeper formats, his ability to be used at shortstop and third base with a career .252/.304/.424 slash should be used as a guide for a potential bounce back season.
Richie Martin, Baltimore - ADP 690.50
Rule 5 selection Richie Martin could open the year as the Orioles starting shortstop. With so many owners searching for cheap stolen bases, Martin could provide them. He played in 118 games at Double-A with 68 runs, six home runs, 42 RBI, 25 stolen bases and a .300/.368/.439 slash. Moving up to the majors will be a challenge, but if he can maintain his on-base skills with the propensity to run, he could hit .230-to-.240 with a chance at 20 or more steals for pennies on the dollar.
Jake Lamb , Arizona - ADP 282.99
Mashing his way to the nickname “Rake” Lamb, last year injuries befell him. Lamb did hit 59 home runs between 2016 and 2017. He will transition to first base which could land him in a platoon. Residing on the plus side of this, Lamb could hit 20 or more home runs with an improved average. Over his career, Lamb owns a .269/.350/.488 slash with 65 home runs, a .219 isolated power and 39.4 hard hit percentage versus right-handed pitchers in just under 1,400 at-bats.
Jeimer Candelario , Detroit - ADP 352.43
About to embark on his age-25 season, Jeimer Candelario appeared in many sleeper or breakout lists last year but it did not come to fruition. However, he did score 78 runs with 19 home runs in 144 games. Candelario also increased his fly ball and hard hit percentages, reduced his swinging strike rate and made more contact. He may not hit for high average, but an improved 2019 as a post-hype candidate could be in the offing.
Zack Cozart , Cincinnati - ADP 498.23
Another potential bargain due to an injury riddled 2018 campaign resides in Zack Cozart . His breakout 2017 featured 24 home runs with a 12.2 walk percentage versus 15.4 strikeout rate. Using his .251 career average as a baseline, if Cozart’s on-base gains from 2017 stick and he’s healthy, 20 home runs with 80 runs and 65 RBI could be rostered near pick number 500, not too shabby.
Jung-Ho Kang, Pittsburgh - ADP 508.53
With his debut in 2015 and 21 home runs in 2016 in the distant past, trying to gauge Jung-Ho Kang’s 2019 will be difficult. He could platoon at third base with Colin Moran or second with Adam Frazier . This will put him on the wrong side of at-bats, but in deep formats, he could still possess some upside due to his power. However, with DUI’s in his past, definitely a risky profile.
Cory Spangenberg , Milwaukee - ADP 694.02
Owning a profile not for the faint of heart, if Cory Spangenberg opens the season in a platoon at second base for the Brewers, he becomes more intriguing. He strikes out too much, hits too many ground balls and will not hit for average. However, moving to one of the best hitting venues for left-handed batters, his ability to steal bases and ability to be used at two positions adds to his potential appeal.
Randal Grichuk , Toronto - ADP 252.16
Perhaps he’s a personal Kryptonite, but Randal Grichuk fits the bill as a high upside power option later in drafts. He launched 25 home runs in only 124 games and slashed .280/.326/.569 in the second half with a robust .289 isolated power. He’s a Statcast hard hit hero and with continued growth in approach, could be a 30 home run option with a .245 average or better as he enters his Age-27 season.
Max Kepler , Minnesota - ADP 259.19
Although the many moves of the Twins to bolster their lineup keeps Max Kepler off the radar, he’s another post-hype player who improved last year. Kepler actually hit better versus left-handed pitching than right-handed, finished with a 11.6 walk percentage compared to a 15.7 strikeout rate and with simple regression to the mean versus right-handed pitchers, a rebound could yield profit.
Domingo Santana , Seattle - ADP 325.33
One year removed from his 2017 breakout, it will be very interesting to see what career trajectory Santana follows. For those old enough to remember, Milwaukee also gave up on Nelson Cruz as a post-hype player, which makes this chart intriguing:
There’s no guarantee Santana will take the trajectory of Cruz, but giving up on him too soon will be a mistake.
Cedric Mullins, Baltimore - ADP 343.33
Intriguing blend of power and speed could breakout in 2019. Steamer projects Mullins for 581 at-bats, 76 runs, 17 home runs, 62 RBI, 17 stolen bases and a .257/.313/.409 line. Yes, the Orioles will not be very good, but ignoring a player who will hit in the top third of the lineup who could produce 15 or more home runs and stolen bases seems foolish.
Steven Duggar, San Francisco - ADP 470.57
Late round speed fliers will be worth noting heading into this year’s drafts. Given the outfield situation in San Francisco, Steven Duggar should start in center field and potentially hit atop the lineup. If this happens, his 16 stolen bases in 119 games between Triple-A and San Francisco last year could result in 20 or more steals this season. His defense and on-base abilities will keep him relevant, if the stolen base chances increase, so will his potential value.
Kyle Gibson , Minnesota - ADP 276.18
Never a sexy pick, but Kyle Gibson continues to log innings for the Twins. With an improved lineup, and potentially better defense, Gibson’s 3.62 ERA and 3.91 xFIP set a nice baseline along with his 179 strikeouts. He will need to issue fewer walks, but there’s room for growth here. Just heed the xFIP when planning on his 2019 ERA.
Collin McHugh , Houston - ADP 281.15
With starting pitchers defecting the Astros, Collin McHugh should open the year with a spot in the rotation. He refined his arsenal in the bullpen leaning more on his curve (47.6 whiff per swing rate) and slider (39.8 whiff per swing) which could translate into a productive 2019 if he replaces Morton. His value will be tied to how many innings he can log, but a Morton-lite type season could ensue.
Sonny Gray , Cincinnati - ADP 290.63
Once a popular fantasy target, Sonny Gray spent the better part of 2018 languishing on most leagues waiver wires. His transition to New York seemed to exacerbate his struggles. Last season, Gray finished with a 6.98 ERA, 5.10 xFIP and 1.90 WHIP in 59.1 innings at home. However, on the road, his 3.17 ERA, 3.27 xFIP and 1.15 WHIP over 71 innings prove much more appealing. If Gray uses his curve and slider more, his transition to the National League could provide profit based on this price.
Mike Minor , Texas - ADP 298.63
A trade would only enhance Mike Minor ’s value, but he made strides in the second half which coincided with his gains in velocity. After the All-Star break, Minor logged 57.2 innings with a 17.5 strikeouts minus walks percentage, 2.97 ERA and 4.16 xFIP. Whether he starts the year as a starting pitcher or in a Josh Hader type role, there’s room for profit on taking Minor late in drafts.
Anibal Sánchez - ADP 317.23
No longer a dirty pick in drafts, Anibal Sánchez signed with the Nationals and will look to build on his breakout from last year. Sanchez added a cutter to his arsenal and finished with the second lowest average exit velocity yielded among starting pitchers last year according to Statcast. There will be some regression to the mean, but he can record double digits in wins with an ERA closer to his 2018 xFIP of 3.81 which translates to value this late.
Mychal Givens , Baltimore - ADP 249.94
Given the price of closers in this year’s FSTA draft, it will be important to know late round options with a clear path to saves. Mychal Givens does not jump off the page, but he’s the only arm equipped to close with the Orioles right now. He will not accrue many chances and could be a trade candidate, but to start the season, Givens will be a nice late round pivot.
Trevor May , Minnesota - ADP 271.01
Minnesota signing Blake Parker puts a bit of a damper on the Trevor May breakout noise, but May surged as a reliever last year. As a reliever, May recorded a 1.85 ERA, 2.54 FIP, 0.86 WHIP and 32.6 strikeouts minus walks percentage. May’s curve yielded a .063 batting average against while his change limited hitters to a .125 average last season. Even if Parker opens with the role, May could and should take over.
Trevor Rosenthal , Washington - ADP 469.51
Like running backs, taking closers this year may necessitate drafting their handcuff. One such case, Sean Doolittle with the Nationals. Trevor Rosenthal will be returning from Tommy John surgery, but if his velocity bounces back, he could not only close when Doolittle lands on the disabled list, but reach double digits in the category if the team lets him ascend to high leverage as the season progresses.
Ray Black , San Francisco - ADP 696.34
While rumors of trading Will Smith continue to linger, perhaps the hard throwing Ray Black could find his way to saves this year with the Giants. Black features two plus pitches, his slider (47.22 whiff per swing percentage) and curve (42.86 whiff per swing) which points to his upside in strikeouts in the season ahead. His control needs work, but strikeouts will keep him relevant.
Dan Altavilla , Seattle - ADP 735.6
Does one really want to invest a draft pick on either Hunter Strickland or Anthony Swarzak ? Seattle will continue to turn over its roster, but taking a gut call here and saying Dan Altavilla saves at least 10 games this year.
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