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Edwin Rios (1B/3B, LAD) - 2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Sleepers

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If there is one thing the league does not want to see, it's the Dodgers develop another breakout power hitter, but it sure is looking like that's a very real possibility with Edwin Rios.

He did more than enough in his 83 plate appearances last year to draw our attention, so let's take a deep look at what we've got here.

Check out the rest of our draft sleepers when you're done here.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Minor League Track Record

Rios was a sixth-round draft pick in 2015 and stayed exclusively in the minors until 2019 when he finally got the call-up. In his 1,840 plate appearances in the minors, he slashed a very impressive .295/.348/.539 with 95 homers (a very strong ratio of 19 plate appearances per home run).

The big time power came with a bunch of strikeouts (28% strikeout rate), as is often the case, and his walk rate was nothing more than average (7.5%). That gives some pause to the .295 batting average sticking around moving forward, but all-in-all Rios has a really encouraging minor league track record.

 

Playing Time

None of the rest of this post is going to matter much if Rios can't find his way into 500 or so plate appearances. Right now, Roster Resource has Rios in the Dodgers starting lineup playing third base. This assumes that Justin Turner does not sign back with the Dodgers, which still seems like a real possibility. If Turner does end up back on the roster, Rios would fall out of that projected lineup and we would be depending on something else happening to get him back in there.

There is also the question of whether Rios would play against left-handed starters. While his Major League numbers against lefties aren't bad (.250/.330/.600), he's seen only 27 plate appearances against them in his young career - so there's no reason for optimism that the Dodgers would roll him out there every day especially given how deep their roster is. Right now, projection systems all have him right around 400 plate appearances, falling well short of what you want from a fantasy starter.

 

Upside

Despite the bad news above, there is a reason we are writing this piece. Rios has flashed some seriously exciting stuff in his short time in the big leagues so far. We know that max exit velocity is a good indicator of power production, and Rios checks that box with a max velocity of 112.5 miles per hour (82nd percentile).

After hitting a lot of ground-balls in 2019, he raised his fly-ball rate to a very strong 47.5% in 2020. While we can't be sure that isn't the result of randomness given the small sample size, it's a good sign that he was able to get a lot of batted balls into the angle range where homers come from.

The sweet spot for power is a launch angle between 20 and 35 degrees with a velocity above 95 degrees. Rios did a fair bit of that last year:

All of this has led to 12 homers in his 139 career plate appearances (an astounding 11.6 PA/HR).

Rios has posted strong average velocities on line-drives (100 miles per hour, although this is on very few line drives hit) and fly balls (89 mph), and he has been great at avoiding pop-ups (just a 3.5% pop-up rate). The bad news is that there is a lot of swing-and-miss in his game (67% contact rate, 15.6% swinging-strike rate) and he's pretty slow (34th percentile in sprint speed).

 

Conclusion

All of that put together gives us a guy that profiles for a ton of long balls while not providing much of anything else. I would expect a batting average around .270 in a best-case scenario, and the projections on counting stats are bleak given his likely low spot in the batting order even when he's playing.

There are few guys with this much raw power upside outside of the top 200 picks, and Rios is currently going well outside the top 300. He needs some things to go his way to find enough playing time to make a difference, but this is definitely a guy with the ability to be a huge breakout in 2021.



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