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The Outsiders: Pitching Prospects to Know for Deep Dynasty Leagues

fantasy baseball prospects MLB prospects rookies call-ups

Welcome the latest update of The Outsiders, where I highlight pitching prospects that should be on your radar in deep dynasty leagues.

For "standard" dynasty leagues, we have RotoBaller's Premium Top 250 Dynasty Prospect Rankings, updated and maintained by our prospect guru Marc Hulet. But for you degenerates who participate in the deepest of dynasty leagues, you always need more of the next big thing. Therefore, I bring you...THE OUTSIDERS.

The Outsiders are MLB prospects currently outside RotoBaller's Top 250 Prospect Rankings. Each week, I will update rankings of players outside the Top 250 that should be on your radar for deep dynasty leagues and highlight some new players that could be showing up on the rankings in the future. My method is to use statistical analysis and in-game video looks of players to project what their future fantasy value could be at the MLB level.

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This week, I'm going to use my "classic" Outsider+ formula to review the top pitching performances in the "rookie levels" of minor league baseball. Outsider+ is a league-adjusted score that combines several league-adjusted metrics into a single overall score. Some of the top pitching performers in all MiLB by Outsider+ this season are the top pitching prospects in baseball: Shane Baz, Cade Cavalli, Grayson Rodriguez, Nick Lodolo, Alek Manoah, D.L. Hall, Josiah Gray, Reid Detmers, and more!

The players on my Outsiders list are posting similar scores to these top pitching prospects. So you can say that they are performing with a similar profile as some of the top young pitchers in the game.

I'll provide the Top-10 pitchers aged 20 or younger by Outsider+ in each of the Arizona Complex League, Florida Complex League, and Dominican Summer League below.

I've also included two more metrics for reference points. EstRA is my ERA estimator that just uses K%, BB%, and GB%. Read it just like you would ERA or FIP. ZoneDominance+ (ZnDm+) takes a blend of a pitcher's strike-throwing ability and whiff-generation ability relative to league average. In other words, his ability to dominate in the zone.

Arizona Complex League

Name Team Level League Age OUT+ EstRA ZnDm+
Gabriel Aguilera CIN CPX ACL 20 286 1.25 148
Nick Lockhart TEX CPX ACL 20 196 1.95 139
James Gonzalez OAK CPX ACL 20 126 3.36 125
Reny Artiles CLE CPX ACL 19 125 3.07 93
Sonny Vargas SFG CPX ACL 20 115 3.66 112
Manuel Mercedes SFG CPX ACL 18 114 3.66 107
Cristian Mena CHW CPX ACL 18 113 3.62 104
Freddery Paulino SFG CPX ACL 20 110 3.83 107
Esmerlin Vinicio SFG CPX ACL 18 108 3.78 98
Porter Hodge CHC CPX ACL 20 107 3.83 102

Gabriel Aguilera actually turns 21 today (happy birthday!), but he was 20 on my data pull from FanGraphs so here he is! As suggested by his otherworldly 286 Outsider+ rating in the ACL, Aguilera has moved on to full-season ball with the Low-A Daytona Tortugas. This Venezuelan righty is one to keep an eye on as he works his way up the minor league ladder.

Nick Lockhart began his season in the bullpen for the Low-A Down East Wood Ducks, where he struggled out of the gate with an 11.09 ERA. However, since being demoted to the ACL, he's been starting (4 out of 5 appearances). If you look past his surface stats, he has been performing really well in that starting role with a 1.95 Estimated ERA. His K-BB% is a stellar 34.2% in the complex.

Lockhart is a big time athlete, listed at 6'6", 204 lbs. In high school, he was also an excellent football player where he played both ways as a tight end/defensive end. He's way under the radar right now, but look for him as a bounce-back candidate in 2022 based on his ACL performance this year.

Manuel Mercedes is a lanky Dominican right-hander who made his stateside debut this season. Baseball America listed him as a prospect with his stock on the rise this season, noting that his fastball has touched 98 mph. He's also been above average at both throwing strikes and generating swinging strikes this season, suggesting that he might have the potential for good control to go with his promising stuff.

Cristian Mena was a top signing in the White Sox international free agent class of 2019. He's already pitching stateside despite being just 18 years old. His ERA is brutal (over 8!), but his Estimated ERA of 3.62 shows the danger of relying on ERA over small samples. He's throwing a lot of strikes, not walking many batters, and getting an above average amount of ground balls so far in his stateside debut.

Esmerlin Vinicio is another young Giants arm. He doesn't turn 19 until January of 2022. He's posted a sparkling 2.61 ERA through 9 starts so far in his stateside debut. Vinicio was one of the top left-handed pitchers in the 2019 international free agent class. He's long and lanky with a good changeup. Look for him to add some good weight and velocity as he continues his development.

Florida Complex League

Name Team Level League Age OUT+ EstRA ZnDm+
Po-Yu Chen PIT CPX FCL 19 204 1.99 149
Jean Pinto BAL CPX FCL 20 183 2.09 108
Wilkelman Gonzalez BOS CPX FCL 19 156 2.66 125
Juan Carela NYY CPX FCL 19 151 2.71 116
Yaifer Perdomo TOR CPX FCL 19 143 2.99 122
Raul Rangel BAL CPX FCL 18 138 3.20 131
Juan Daniel Encarnacion BOS CPX FCL 20 127 3.42 119
Yordy Richard STL CPX FCL 18 125 3.50 119
Rainiery Rodriguez ATL CPX FCL 20 113 3.94 114

Po-Yu Chen is a Taiwanese righty who has looked fantastic in his stateside debut so far in 2021. He has made six starts for the FCL Pirates Black squad. Chen has good size and a starting pitcher's build. He repeats his delivery very well and has the feel for spinning a breaking ball that makes batters uncomfortable. Definitely an "arrows up" pitching prospect.

Wilkelman Gonzalez is a Venezuelan righty that the Red Sox signed back in the 2018 IFA period. The Red Sox have used him as a traditional starter in both the DSL and FCL, which is a good sign for his future pitching role. He will be climbing up prospect rankings lists this offseason. I'm impressed by his Zone Dominance in the FCL as a teenager.

Juan Carela is a name you should remember simply because he's another international pitching prospect in a Yankees system that seems to get good results with these types of arms. He's been bumped up to the Low-A Tampa Tarpons after a successful run in the complex league to start the 2021 season.

Raul Rangel is really throwing strikes and generating whiffs, posting an eye-popping 131 ZoneDominance+ rating this year. He doesn't turn 19 until October. He's very athletic and has plenty of room to add muscle to his 6'3" frame.

Yordy Richard was signed by the Cardinals as part of their 2019 international free agent class. He actually started the year as an 18-year-old with the Low-A Palm Beach Cardinals, but went back to the complex when the complex leagues opened up this summer. He got work as a reliever in Low-A, but has switched to a starting role in the FCL where he's performing much better. He's a muscular righty that can run his fastball up to the mid-90s at present.

Dominican Summer League

Name Team Level League Age OUT+ EstRA ZnDm+
Victor Juarez COL DSL DSL 18 402 0.89 148
Jose Cedeno WSN DSL DSL 19 227 1.68 129
Joel Diaz NYM DSL DSL 17 185 2.16 128
Raynardo Cruz CIN DSL DSL 19 181 2.25 132
Mikell Manzano SFG DSL DSL 18 170 2.45 139
Hansel Rincon ARI DSL DSL 18 162 2.61 135
Stiven Cruz MIL DSL DSL 19 156 2.67 125
Edwin Jimenez MIL DSL DSL 19 151 2.82 127
Anthony Morillo BAL DSL DSL 19 148 2.90 131
Oswald Medina PHI DSL DSL 19 148 2.83 124

It's tough to say just how much one should care about pitching statistics from the Dominican Summer League. That being said, Victor Juarez's season for the DSL Rockies so far has been eye-popping from a statistical standpoint. In a league where the average Swinging Strike% is extremely high to begin with, Juarez has posted a Swinging Strike% that's 81 percentage points better than league average. He's also just refusing to walk anyone, with a BB% standing a full 261 percentage points above average for the league. Juarez was the top prospect out of Mexico in the 2019 IFA class.

Joel Diaz of the DSL Mets has impressed out of the gate as a 17-year-old. He's a Dominican hurler that doesn't turn 18 years old until February of 2022! He's got a great, athletic frame and could possibly be making his stateside debut next summer.

Mikell Manzano of the DSL Giants is another player to watch. Giants' International Scouting Director Joe Salermo identified Manzano as a player to watch on a recent episode of Roger Munter's "There R Giants" podcast. He is throwing a ton of strikes and he's also generating a bunch of whiffs so far in his professional debut.

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