Fantasy Baseball FAAB Five: Players To Target In Dynasty Bidding

Image credit: James Karinchak (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

One size does not fit all.

The following analysis is to be considered for dynasty leagues with moderate to deep minor league farm systems and is not necessarily recommended for those in shallow, one-year leagues.

James Karinchak, RHP, Indians

Karinchak gained notoriety in fantasy circles last season when he struck out 22 batters per nine innings (!!!) over 30 minor league appearances, all but three of them at Double-A or Triple-A. His swing-and-miss stuff has translated to results in Cleveland, where he owns a career 12.5 SO/9 and 0.64 WHIP. Karinchak is a new age pitcher with a high-spin fastball and high-spin curveball. He could also be the Indians’ closer of the future after he picked up his first career save this week because Brad Hand, who has looked shaky, was unavailable.

Edward Olivares, OF, Padres
Priority: High

Olivares played so well at summer camp that he made Franchy Cordero expendable and consigned Taylor Trammell to the club’s satellite camp. In his first week of major league play, Olivares flashed the well-rounded tool set he displayed last season at Double-A Amarillo. The 24-year-old may not have a carrying tool or dominant fantasy category, but his upside is worth speculating on in all dynasty leagues. 

Cristian Javier, RHP, Astros
Priority: High

Javier quietly led the minor leagues in ERA (1.74) and opponent average (.130) last season, while striking out 170 in 113.2 innings. There was nothing quiet about his first major league starts. The 23-year-old Javier struck out eight while allowing one run and two hits against the powerful Dodgers lineup. The fastball-forward starter got 20 strikes looking, in part because he hides the ball from hitters for a long time in his delivery. The ride Javier generates on his fastball helps him miss bats up in the zone. Given Houston’s depleted rotation and Javier’s encouraging first start, the rookie looks poised to keep his spot for the foreseeable future.

Jonathan Hernandez, RHP, Rangers

The Rangers will be without projected closer Jose Leclerc for an extended period of time after he suffered a shoulder injury. That Texas would turn to a closer committee in Leclerc’s absence is not surprising, but that the club would consider a 23-year-old rookie with 20 career innings part of the committee speaks volumes about said rookie’s upside. The rookie in this case is the lightning-armed Hernandez, who wowed manager Chris Woodward with his turbo 96-98 mph sinker at summer camp and also throws a plus slider. The Rangers have used Hernandez, who earns rave reviews for his intelligence and competitiveness, in spots that indicate their trust level. He has entered games most often in the eighth inning and has the highest average leverage index in the Texas bullpen. Bonus points for Hernandez’s starter pedigree in the minors.

Jordan Romano, RHP, Blue Jays

A former starter who is adapting to a full-time bullpen role, Romano has made two notable changes. Firstly, he added nearly two ticks to his fastball and has averaged 96 mph in the early stages of 2020. Secondly, he has upped his slider usage dramatically—nearly 60% of pitches so far—and with excellent results. Batters have gone 0-for-8 in at-bats against Romano ending with a slider. Sure, that’s a small sample, but what do you expect for a pitcher who is 2% owned? While the Blue Jays seem more inclined to give save chances to Anthony Bass or Rafael Dolis in the absence of Ken Giles, that could change if Romano can sustain his early gains.

Veterans Of Note

Jeurys Familia, RHP, Mets

Familia came to camp this year (both of them) in much better shape and with his once-feared splitter in his back pocket. He has looked crisp in his four outings this season and could be in line for save chances if Edwin Diaz continues to falter. This is just a hunch, because Dellin Betances and Seth Lugo would also be realistic closer candidates.

Donovan Solano, 2B, Giants
Priority: Medium

Solano found his bat in San Francisco. After putting up a 117 OPS+ for the Giants in 81 games last season, the 32-year-old has continued his hot hitting at the outset of 2020. Solano’s multi-position eligibility makes him a good fit to round out a bench in a daily lineup league. The biggest downsides are lack of a stable lineup spot—he has hit low in the order versus righthanders—and a tough home park.

Orlando Arcia, SS, Brewers
Priority: Medium

Arcia entered the season as an all-glove, no-hit shortstop with a career 70 OPS+ to his name. But now he could be in the beginning stages of a breakout. Through the early stages of 2020, Arcia’s average exit velocity, hard-hit rate and barrel rate are up dramatically. He quieted his lower half and could be on the move up the Brewers’ batting order (he began the year batting ninth) if he keeps connecting like he has. Also worth keeping in mind: Arcia once ranked as the No. 8 prospect in baseball. He could be on the verge of realizing that potential.

Quick Hits From Opening Week

• Angels lefthander Patrick Sandoval generated 11 swinging strikes in his first start against the Mariners. The Statcast indicators for his changeup and breaking ball remain excellent, but his fastball remains troublesome. He’s worth stashing if you have roster space and patience. Sandoval appears to be a part of the Angels’ six-man rotation. Priority: Medium

• The Mariners seemingly have a lineup full of rookies this season. The “name” prospects like Evan White and Kyle Lewis are most likely owned already in your league. Other young players like Shed Long and J.P. Crawford, while not rookie eligible, are also likely owned. Minor league journeymen Tim Lopes (92nd percentile for sprint speed) and Jose Marmolejos (85th percentile for exit velocity) have stepped into everyday roles in Seattle and showed glimpses of usefulness. At the very least, they offer playing time upside in deep leagues. Exercise caution in both cases, because neither Lopes nor Marmolejos had drawn a walk as of this writing. Priority: Low.

• The Astros are without Justin Verlander and Jose Urquidy at the outset of the season, but they have enough pitching depth to exclude righthander Brandon Bielak from the rotation. For now. Bielak throws a high-spin fastball and nasty changeup that have helped him rack up six strikeouts through his first 5.1 big league innings, all in relief. He could be in line for starts this season. Priority: Low

• Giants lefthander Conner Menez quietly missed bats at Double-A and Triple-A last season, posting the 39th highest swinging-strike rate among minor league pitchers with 100 innings. He has pitched effectively in low-leverage relief for the Giants this season and could be working his way into more trusted spots, possibly at the back of the rotation if veterans are traded. Menez isn’t a loud stuff guy but throws a good breaking ball and generates deception on his low-90s fastball thanks to the extension in his delivery. Priority: Low.

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