8 Late Arms to Keep an Eye On

I’m putting a little star next to these 8 arms who went 300 or later in the Too Early Mocks.

Anthony DeSclafani, CIN | Pick 301

Amped his velo to 94.7 mph and generated a career-best 24% K rate that helped him outrun a hideous 1.6 HR/9 and still post a respectable 3.89 ERA. Home runs have always been part of his profile even with a juiced ball so it’s unlikely that he magically posts a league average or better rate but imagine if he can just cut it to 1.2-1.3 in 2020. A mid-3.00s ERA could be in play.

Aaron Civale, CLE | Pick 309

I don’t want to get too annoying mentioning him as I did discuss him in this piece back in September, but I’ll give him another plug here. Not only do I think Civale himself is solid with a useful 5-pitch arsenal, but I’m also putting faith in Cleveland’s ability to develop arms. Not as good as Shane Bieber, better than Adam Plutko/Josh Tomlin.

Michael Kopech, CWS | Pick 358

Another repeat from a recent piece, but I promise it’ll be the last. His price will undoubtedly rise once he’s back on the mound throwing in Spring Training, though even a strong surge of 100-125 picks won’t make him cost prohibitive. If you happen to draft early for leagues that count, use that to your advantage and scoop your Kopech shares before the surge.

Garrett Richards, SD | Pick 382

Let’s be honest, he’ll have to retire for me to quit him. Injuries have officially tanked his price so it’s not even a question to buy in now. He was unimpressive in his 8.7 innings in September, but he finished the season on the mound and his velocity was mostly back (95.1 mph). He was still missing bats, too.

Tyler Mahle, CIN | Pick 392

Bears some similarities to teammate DeSclafani except he couldn’t overcome his hideous HR/9 (1.7) so he was saddled with a 5.14 ERA despite velo and K% improvements. A solid new splitter finally gave him a reliable third pitch and he boosted his groundball rate by eight points. If he can turn that into some HR suppression, there’s at least a low-4.00s ERA as his 4.16 SIERA hinted at in 2019.

Jose Urquidy, HOU | Pick 403

This price will rise if he’s tracking toward a rotation spot which will depend on Houston’s offseason. As it stands right now, he’s got a good shot to crack the rotation with Lance McCullers taking Gerrit Cole’s spot while Urquidy, Josh James, and Forrest Whitley via for the fourth and fifth roles. I imagine the Astros will sign at least one arm, leaving the three youngsters contending for just one spot. Urquidy made a strong case in 41 MLB innings with a 24% K and 4% BB rate thanks to a solid 4-pitch arsenal.

Zach Eflin, PHI | Pick 445

You may remember that Eflin had a 2.83 ERA through his first 14 starts of the season before a hideous six-start run of 10.46 ERA pushed him to 4.63 and cost him his rotation spot for a bit. He returned to the rotation for a solid 3.20 mark in eight starts down the stretch, though with a meager 16% K rate (it was 20% in those first 14). He doesn’t walk guys, has a good slider, and has shown some K capability in the past (23% in ’18). I do expect Philly to be active in the pitching market so Eflin will likely have to be battle with previous fantasy darling Nick Pivetta and the ever-frustrating Vince Velasquez for his spot, but that uncertainty is more than baked into this price.

Patrick Sandoval, LAA | Pick 492

Nick Pollack put me on to Sandoval, highlighting him during his First Pitch Arizona talk and I’m bought in. The unheralded lefty throws 93 mph, fanned 25% of the batters he faced in 39.3 IP (with a 14% SwStr backing it up), and had a really strong changeup to keep righties at bay. There’s room for Sandoval even if they acquire Gerrit Cole so keep him on your list in deep leagues for 2020.

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Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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Just curious, why do you feel Forrest Whitley will have a shot at that 4th/5th rotation spot over Cristian Javier? Whitley had a terrible minor league season last year while Javier had arguably the best numbers by any pitcher at any level (which he finished at AAA). I would think Houston puts Whitley back in AAA to start to showcase he can live to his potential before giving him a spot in the rotation on opening day. Barring FA signings, Urquidy seems like a lock for one of those spots. Would love to see Javier compete and beat out James.