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MLB Pitcher Prospect Graduates - Sophomore Fantasy Baseball Outlooks (NL West)

Ryan Feltner - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

In the sixth and final installment of a 6-part series focused on pitchers who exhausted rookie eligibility during the 2022 MLB season, I review how the pitching fundamentals of select National League West pitchers have evolved and use that information to forecast their MLB futures.

Fundamentals will be quantified using my Fielding- and Ballpark-Independent Outcomes (FaBIO) pitcher evaluation model.

MacKenzie Gore was perhaps the lone prospect graduate from the 2022 NL West who warranted a full-career analysis tailored for fantasy players and a late-season trade displaced him to the earlier NL East article. A year from now this division stands to have graduated several Dodgers and Diamondbacks starting pitcher prospects of merit. But for now, we are resigned to briefly reviewing the most recent seasons of seven 2022 NL West prospect graduates.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Quick Overview of FaBIO

An earlier RotoBaller article more fully explains the FaBIO methodology. Every plate appearance is sorted into one of 12 event-type bins (BB+HBP, K, IFFB, Pull OFFB, Center OFFB, Oppo OFFB, Pull LD, Center LD, Oppo LD, Pull GB, Center GB, Oppo GB) and the pitcher is charged with league's average runs value for that event type.

We eventually wind up with loads of fundamentals-rooted percentile ratings expressed on a 100 to 0 scale where 97 is plus-plus, 84 is plus, 50 is average, 16 is minus, and three is minus-minus.

The all-in-one Overall Rating (based on expected run avoidance per batter faced over all of that pitcher's batters faced) will be used primarily as filtering criteria with relatively more attention paid to how the three core sub-Ratings of Control (or CTL, based on BB+HBP per batters faced), Strikeout (or K, based on K per batters faced), and Batted Ball Profile (based on expected run avoidance per batted ball) combine to produce Overall Rating.


NL West Pitcher Prospect Graduates

Ryan Feltner and Tommy Henry fit somewhere in the back-of-rotation MLB SP picture.

2018 fourth-rounder Feltner first popped prominently onto the FaBIO radar via a phenomenal post-draft 100 OVERALL (75 CTL/100 K/90 BATTED BALL PROFILE) debut in high-altitude 2018 advanced-rookie ball. FaBIO fundamentals rated far more ordinary in 2019 A play (43 CTL/41 K/ 31 BATTED BALL PROFILE) and 2021 A+ through AAA ball (61 CTL/66 K/33 BATTED BALL PROFILE) before they again spiked in 2022 AAA. Those stellar AAA fundamentals earned him 428 batters of MLB SP duty where each of CTL, K, and BATTED BALL PROFILE rated around half plus. He will need to inch K and BATTED BALL PROFILE nearer to average in MLB to more permanently pin down an inning-eater rotation spot, though such an opportunity may not come too soon after a very rough MLB spring training. A Coors Field MLB home for the near term naturally tempers fantasy interest.

Henry has rated in the solid to good range at most fundamentals as a MiLB SP but has yet to establish a stronger out-generation fundamental to lean on while cutting the proverbial MLB SP teeth. A large-sample 95 LD Avoid in AAA steeply sank in a 205-batter MLB SP debut to an 11 that was more in line with his 2021 AA 23 LD Avoid. As a lefthanded starter who will disproportionately face righthanded batters, Henry must fare much better against opposite-handed batters than he did in the debut for an MLB rotation future to pan out.

Robert Suarez emerged as a standout closer in his 4th (2020) and 5th (2021) seasons of NPB (Japan) baseball then successfully transitioned into an MLB short RP role during 2022. Yet the Suarez debut FaBIO fundamentals had many holes, including a 19th percentile batted ball profile that featured too many line drives (80 AVG Avoid on Batted Balls was quite fortunate per an 11 LD Avoid) and too few infield popups (by relative flyballer standards). Any repeat of circa half minus Oppo-Handed Batters outcomes (35 OVERALL versus them in 2022) sets up poorly for the versus-all-comers setup to emergency closer opportunities that Suarez stands to get, casting him as a potential trap reliever who will sink fortunes of 2023 fantasy owners. Beyond gradually raising K% IFFB-standout bullpen-mate Steven Wilson must better avoid line drives plus walks to lessen the runs trauma of a very heavy dose of pulled outfield flyballs.

Out-of-nowhere 2022 AAA standout Mauricio Llovera re-signed with the Giants on a minors deal after electing free agency and now seems poised to re-emerge as a slider-heavy MLB late-relief option should the 2022 FaBIO fundamentals prove no fluke. Groundballer Jake Bird got surprisingly many strikeouts in 2022 AAA but was unable to translate that newfound complementary out-generation fundamental to MLB; in better MLB RP seasons LD Avoid will better match GB while CTL and K rate nearer average than half minus. Time is running out on big-armed Luis Frias, who is now down to one option year and has yet to flash any semblance of strikeout ability in 106 batters of short RP work over two MLB seasons.

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