Last week's column included several new(ish) pitchers. Unsurprisingly, Jose De Leon was the most impressive. Sure, he allowed three runs over his six frames, but he also recorded nine strikeouts with a superb 18.6 percent swinging strike rate. He made his second big league start last night (it's still in the future from my perspective). Brock Stewart and Jharel Cotton flashed some of the skills that could make them future dynasty contributors while Raul Alcantara scuffled through his first two outings. His second outing was substantially better than the first.
We have three weeks left in the season. It's time to begin your final tinkering in preparation for the offseason.
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Dynasty Advice for Week 24
Renato Nunez - Oakland Athletics
The Athletics are preparing to release Danny Valencia despite solid production. Valencia is a better fantasy than real world player due to abysmal defense. Still, every major league club should have a place for him. His impending dismissal is part clubhouse chemistry, part budget consciousness, and part minor league depth. That's where Nunez enters the picture. He was re-called yesterday.
Oakland's other active third base prospect, Ryon Healy, has already made successful adjustments. Early-career adjustments are one of the leading indicators of future success. While Healy's bat should continue to play in the majors, his glove hasn't been up to the task.
Enter Nunez. The 22-year-old's season has left much to be desired. His plate discipline eroded, leading to a .228/.278/.412 line anchored by a .249 BABIP. Low minor league BABIPs are generally a sign of a serious flaw rather than mere bad luck. Polished prospects usually dominate the competition. Nunez did maintain his impressive power with 23 home runs in 550 plate appearances. While Nunez isn't regarded as a plus defender, he is expected to outperform Healy's glove at the hot corner.
Nunez should receive plenty of playing time down the stretch. I expect him to return to Triple-A to begin 2017.
Dan Vogelbach - Seattle Mariners
Adam Lind is day-to-day with a sprained finger. The door is wide open for Vogelbach to make some noise in the midst of a playoff push. Since joining the Mariners Triple-A affiliate at midseason, he's batted .240/.404/.422 with seven home runs and more walks than strikeouts (198 plate appearances).
For the older fans out there, Vogelbach is a body clone for late-career John Kruk. Fortunately, Vogelbach's swing is eerily similar too. He has the same raw profile as a high average, high OBP hitter with solid power production. Continuing the Vogelbach-Kruk comparison, I noticed more explosiveness out of vintage Kruk. In this age of ever-increasing velocity, I worry about Vogey's ability to keep pace.
Vogelbach, 23, profiles as a designated hitter. Assuming the bat translates to the majors, he'll likely fall to a UTIL-only designation within a few seasons. He'll fit best in OBP leagues. Seattle has the challenging job of testing Vogelbach's mettle in preparation for 2017 while staying alive in the AL Wild Card race. They were 3.5 games back of both slots as of yesterday.
Roman Quinn - Philadelphia Phillies
Quinn made his major league debut on Sunday. Philadelphia has every reason to get a good, long look at him down the stretch. I anticipate five or more starts per week. He should steal a base roughly every 10 to 12 plate appearances. That puts him on pace for five steals over the rest of the season.
Jorge Alfaro - Philadelphia Phillies
Whenever a bat first catcher reaches the majors, it's tempting to grab a share - especially in two catcher formats. Alfaro is unlikely to make more than one or two token starts. Cameron Rupp still has at least half a season atop the depth chart, and I suspect the club hopes to re-sign A.J. Ellis as a pseudo-player manager (there's a reason they insisted on acquiring him in the Carlos Ruiz trade). Someday in the next couple years, Alfaro will offer a Mike Zuninoish profile. Just not yet.
When hunting for the next great breakout pitcher, it's often wise to look for singular talents. Lugo's is a curve ball - it has the highest spin rate of any major league curve ball. He's pitched relatively well to date with a 2.40 ERA (4.27 xFIP), 6.84 K/9, and 2.22 BB/9. Even if the rest of the repertoire lags, he should have no issue channeling a right-handed Rich Hill. Among the Mets second-string armory, he's the best option available. He'll still be blocked to start in 2017 barring some unforeseeable changes to the rotation.
After another bad outing last week, Berrios now has a 9.27 ERA through 11 starts (44.2 innings). For a pitcher with his raw stuff, he's been very hit (.377 BABIP) and homer prone (2.01 HR/9). This offseason may be your best opportunity to buy a share of Berrios. The stuff exists for a breakthrough in the near future.
If I had to diagnose a single problem, it's a reliance on his fastball and curve ball in the minors. His changeup is underdeveloped which could result in a move to the bullpen. If he were to appear in relief, I'd expect him to be an immediate candidate for saves.
Tim Tebow - New York Mets
This is a friendly note to let somebody else fall for the Tebow hype wagon. The Mets signed him for spectacle. They'll make their money back on ticket sales, appearances, and shirseys. The odds of him actually developing enough at the plate to contribute to a big league roster - let alone a fantasy roster - are witheringly small.
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