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Late-Round Starting Pitcher Prospects - Fantasy Baseball Draft Values And Targets

Hunter Brown - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

Most fantasy drafts have been completed by now, as Opening Day for the 2023 season starts Thursday. Pitching prospects can emerge to become fantasy aces and are worth taking a chance on later in the drafts or picking up through free agency. Prospects can provide a boost to fantasy managers' teams later in the season, and in some cases, right off the start if they make the Opening Day roster. Finding the right prospects through the draft or adding through free agency can be the difference between a middle-of-the-pack team to a championship contender. Finding those hidden prospect gems in the later rounds or stashing them for future use is essential.

Today, we're looking at some late-round starting pitcher prospects for you to consider drafting in your season-long leagues for 2023. Are their ADPs undervalued? Will they make significant fantasy contributions and become a priority late-round draft target? Read on to see our take.

Our editors have hand-picked these specific MLB players for your draft prep enjoyment. Usually only available to Premium subscribers, the five outlooks below are meant to give you a taste of the in-depth analysis you receive with our industry-leading 2023 Draft Kit. Be sure to subscribe today to start reading all of our in-depth 2023 player outlooks and many other premium articles and tools, including Team Sync, the Live Draft Sync assistant, Custom Rankings Service, and so much more – available exclusively in our 2023 Draft Kit.

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Hunter Brown, Houston Astros

A decade ago, the Houston Astros began a rebuild with early draft picks that brought in high-profile talent. The organization has had to rely on developing players from later in the draft since becoming a perennial contender. Hunter Brown (back) was a fifth-round pick in 2019 out of Wayne State University in Michigan.

He came back after the missed 2020 season with a vengeance, making short work of Houston's upper-level clubs. He dominated in Triple-A to open the 2022 season before getting a late call to the majors for the stretch run. He showed that he would be ready to join the rotation when Justin Verlander left in free agency.

Brown utilized a fastball that averaged 97 mph to head a five-pitch mix. His low-90s slider and low-80s curve helped him reduce weak contact. While it was a 20-inning sample, the righty could hold hitters to a below-average barrel rate and a significantly lower launch angle than the league average.

The Astros may employ a six-man rotation to manage innings among their starting rotation. Still, there's plenty of injury risk among their front five. Brown will be ready to take one of the starting roles with one of the best offenses in baseball to support him in putting up substantial fantasy numbers.

ATC projects Brown with a 3.45 ERA, 3.49 FIP, and a 9.44 K:9 across 102 innings in 2023. Brown is dealing with a back injury but is on track to start the season. The Astros' right-hander is a high-upside pick at his current NFBC ADP of 259. 

-- Benjamin Chase - RotoBaller


Hayden Wesneski, Chicago Cubs

Last season, Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Hayden Wesneski had an up-and-down season. He pitched to a 3.51 ERA in AAA before a midseason trade sent him from the New York Yankees' system to the Cubs. He started four games in AAA for the Cubs to the tune of a 5.66 ERA but was given a chance with the Northsiders down the stretch.

In six games with four starts, Wesneski pitched to a 2.18 earned run average and 3.20 FIP. He struck out 25% of the batters he faced during that time, a number equal to that of Cleveland Guardians starter Shane Bieber. His minor league numbers don't indicate that number being a fluke, either.

The 25-year-old was striking out 26.7% of hitters in his brief time with the Cubs' AAA affiliate. Wesneski has a fastball and slider combination that makes him tough on righties, and his overall batting average against was .197 in the majors last season. ATC has him projected for a 4.40 ERA, but he could beat that number if he keeps the strikeouts up.

The right-hander currently has an ADP of 320 and won't have big win totals on a mediocre team. Nevertheless, Wesneski is worth a late-round pick with his upside after winning a spot in Chicago's rotation this spring.

-- Justin Raffone - RotoBaller


Eury Perez, Miami Marlins

Eury Perez will still be a teenager on Opening Day, but he's already reached Double-A after a dominant 2021 in Single-A and High-A. His Double-A numbers last year might not seem overly impressive, with a 3-3 W-L record, 4.08 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 106 Ks in 75.0 IP (17 appearances). But Perez recovered from a rough beginning at Double-A and had a 1.98 ERA over 50.0 IP while putting up a 34.1% K% and 8.0% BB%.

If it wasn't for a lat strain that cost Perez two months of the season, his stock could be even higher. Perez is the Marlins' number one prospect and is considered by many as a top-three pitching prospect in baseball. Given his age, lack of professional workload (he's totaled 155.0 IP over the last two years), last year's injury, and the fact the Marlins aren't going to compete for the playoffs in 2023, it's highly unlikely we see Perez in Miami to start the season and probably won't until late in the year.

His potential will make him a highly sought-after addition when the time comes for him to make his MLB debut. In redraft leagues with deep benches, he makes a nice stash option late. Just keep in mind you may need to stash him for months rather than weeks.

-- Jamie Steed - RotoBaller


Ricky Tiedemann, Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays left-handed pitching prospect Ricky Tiedemann (shoulder) will likely begin the 2023 campaign with Double-A New Hampshire. He could be in line for a quick promotion to Triple-A if he can continue to build off his 2022 professional debut.

In 2022, across three levels (including Double-A) and 18 starts, the 20-year-old lefty posted a dominant 2.17 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 117 strikeouts against 29 walks in 78 2/3 innings pitched. Thanks to his breakout season in which he held opposing batters to a .149 average and .252 on-base percentage, Tiedemann quickly shot up prospect boards.

He is currently the 32nd overall MLB prospect, as per MLB Pipeline. He is also the 31st-ranked prospect by Baseball America, the top Blue Jays organizational prospect, and widely considered the top left-handed MLB prospect arm. Tiedemann possesses three dominant pitches, including a plus-plus fastball and slider, with excellent control.

In 2023, Tiedemann will get a good look at the Blue Jays' spring training camp to see how he fares against MLB hitting. While optimistic insiders believe he could see the majors sometime in the middle of the season should he perform well at Double-A and Triple-A, it is more likely Tiedemann will be a late-season addition to the Blue Jays' roster if he gets the call. The Blue Jays have a deep starting rotation, which now includes Chris Bassitt, creating a barrier for Tiedemann.

A current preseason 669 ADP reflects this fact. Though he is a must-roster in dynasty formats, only those managers in the deepest of mixed or AL-only redraft formats should expend draft capital in the spring to hold him for four-to-five months.

Tiedemann dealt with a bout of shoulder soreness in Spring training but is expected to start every sixth day for Double-A New Hampshire. That said, managers should keep an eye on his progress during the season and be ready to pounce if imminent call-up rumors begin and persist.

-- Nick Ritrivi - RotoBaller

Kyle Muller, Oakland Athletics

Left-hander Kyle Muller finds himself in the Oakland Athletics organization in 2023 after spending his first couple of major league seasons with the Atlanta Braves, the team that selected him in the second round in 2016. He was part of the three-team trade last December that sent catcher Sean Murphy to Atlanta. Muller was one of the Braves' top pitching prospects.

He made his MLB debut in 2021 and has a 5.14 ERA (4.05 FIP), 1.37 WHIP, and 22.9 percent strikeout rate in his first 49 big-league innings in 12 outings (11 starts). The 6-foot-7 southpaw has plenty of upside to become a full-time MLB starter, and he now has a much better path to a full-time role with the A's.

In Triple-A in 2022, Muller improved his strikeout rate and dropped his walk rate while being dominant at times. The 25-year-old was named the A's Opening Day starter after posting a 5.65 ERA and 10:3 K: BB over 14 1/3 innings this spring. There are certainly questions about the 25-year-old's control, but he'll be a fine target in deep-mixed and AL-only leagues.

-- Keith Hernandez - RotoBaller

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