Fantasy Baseball Tumbling Dice: Pitching Prospects, Ultra Style

by Lawr Michaels, on February 19, 2013 @ 09:26:02 PDT


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If it is not apparent by now, I really love playing in Dynasty Leagues, like my MidWest Strat-O-Matic, Scoresheet, and XFL configurations.

For the uninitiated, Dynasty, also known as Ultra Leagues, is usually a keeper format that allows the long term drafting and retention of minor league and even amateur (usually high school) players.

Cincinnati Reds P Tony Cingrani
Cingrani a sleeper

Dynasty Leagues generally allow for rosters of up to 40 players where you can freeze somewhere between 15 and 30 players, and truly allow an owner to build a team from the bottom up. Furthermore, by having such a large roster and access to so many prospects, owners can turn over their team via draft and trades to keep a solid roster strong. Similarly, if your team has been taking it on the snout, owners can really rebuild from the bottom up.

At Mastersball, my home away from KFFL, we publish a Top 250 Prospect List each season and that list is geared towards Dynasty owners, for our approach looks just at the skill set of the player, relative to age and level of experience.

Of course that means prodigies like Jurickson Profar and Wil Myers will score well, but the problem with those players is two-fold: First, everyone knows who they are, and second, in most Dynasty formats, both players were snatched up a couple of years ago.

By applying the algorithms we do, those likely suspects are indeed on the list, but our methodology reveals a lot of players who are beneath the standard radar of most fantasy players.

So, this week, I want to highlight some of the pitchers on our Top 250 you may not have heard of for your Ultra Roster, should that be your game. And, if Ultra is not your cup of tea, they are names you might be hearing from in the next couple of years. Note: Number is parentheses is the rank on the Top 250).

Jose Fernandez (#19): Perhaps the best known of this list, Fernandez was picked in the first round of the 2011 draft out of Braulio Alonso High School in Tampa. The 20-year old Marlin had a wicked 2012 split between Greensboro (7-0, 1.59) and Jupiter (7-1, 1.96). That makes a cumulative 14-1, 1.75 over 134 innings, with 158 strikeouts to just 35 walks with 89 hits allowed, good for a 0.925 WHIP.

Yordano Ventura (#50): A 21-year-old right-hander signed by the Royals out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, Ventura tossed at basically two levels (he did go 3.2 innings at Rookie ball) in 2012, starting with 3-5, 3.30 totals at Wilmington over 76.1 innings, then 29.1 more at Northwest Arkansas with a 1-2, 4.60 mark. Ventura, however, is an excellent example of why we need to look beneath the surface 4-7, 3.62 totals, as he whiffed 130 over 109.1 innings, allowing 92 hits and 42 walks (1.226 WHIP). More important, he weighs in at 5'11", 140 pounds. Imagine his gaining 25 pounds and the impact on his strikeouts.

Jefferson Olacio (#102): Olacio represents the highs and lows of our mathematics. A 19-year old Dominican signed by White Sox in 2010, Olacio logged 59 innings at Bristol (2-6, 5.03) and then 37 more at Kannapolis (1-5, 5.35). Certainly performing at A-ball at age 18 helped Olacio a lot on our rankings, as did his whiffing 89 over 96 innings. But, what really caught my eye about Olacio is he is 6'7", 230 pounds, kind of the opposite of Ventura. But, a big hard thrower can indeed be a boon, and though there is a fine line between Randy Johnson and Daniel Cabrera, if you have a 40th roster slot on your Ultra team, Olacio is a perfect kind of flier.

Nicholas Pasquale (#128): A 22-year old Bay Area arm, drafted by the Tribe in the 20th round in 2012, Pasquale totaled 50.1 innings at three levels in last year, starting with Rookie ball (1-1, 6.23 over 13 innings), then Low-A Mahoning Valley (0-0, 4.23 over 8.1 frames), finishing at Lake County (3-0, 2.17 over 29 more innings). The totals were 4-1, 3.58 during his first pro season, with 32 punch-outs to just five walks with 51 hits allowed, good for a 1.13 WHIP.

Read on for more sleepers....

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About Lawr Michaels,

Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.

Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for as a statistician. Fantasy Baseball

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