I often struggle to come up with players and topics to write about this time of year. Thankfully, colleague Justin Mason has provided me with something to piggyback off of. He’s done an awesome job rounding up participants and conducting industry mock drafts, and you can check out the ADP from those here. The ADPs will change as players change teams and roles change for individuals, but this is a great starting point. Using that data, three pitchers stood out as enticing dice rolls in the 300-plus range.
Tyler Glasnow: ADP – 303.25
Glasnow simply hasn’t translated his minor league success to The Show. In 22 appearances (17 starts) since debuting in the Bigs in 2016, he has an ugly 6.75 ERA (5.74 FIP, 5.35 xFIP, and 5.62 SIERA) and 1.88 WHIP. The righty’s biggest problem is horrendous control. He’s walked 13.9% of the batters he’s faced in the majors. The 24-year-old’s 19.5% K% simply hasn’t been nearly good enough to offset all of the free passes he’s issued. Glasnow’s routinely struggled with control in the minors, too, but he’s punched out so many batters that he’s been able to work around the walks.
He opened the year in Pittsburgh’s rotation, but after dozen starts in which he tallied a 7.45 ERA, 1.91 WHIP, 10.9% BB%, and 18.9% K%, he was sent to the minors in the middle of June. Glasnow shoved at the Triple-A level, and unlike in previous years, his walk rate was palatable. In 15 starts spanning 93.1 innings at the Triple-A level this year, he baffled hitters to the tune of a 1.93 ERA (2.23 FIP and 2.17 xFIP), 0.95 WHIP, 8.8% BB%, 38.5% K%, and 16.2% SwStr%. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t able to build on that in three September appearances (one start) for the parent club. In 7.2 innings in September, Glasnow walked 15 batters. Adam Berry of MLB.com recently wrote about Glasnow’s 2017 season, and the piece is a good read. Glasnow is a high-ceiling lotto ticket I anticipate on having numerous shares of next season.
Luiz Gohara: ADP – 362.75
If the mock drafts took place in October instead of September, I suspect Gohara’s ADP would be inside the top 300. The 21-year-old’s 4.91 ERA in five starts totaling 29.1 innings belies stronger underlying numbers, as evidenced by his 2.75 FIP, 4.05 xFIP and 3.89 SIERA. Gohara’s season began at the High-A level and ended in the Majors. He missed lots of bats at every level with a 13.4% SwStr% in seven High-A starts, 12.1% SwStr% in 12 appearances (11 starts) at the Double-A level, 14.5% SwStr% in seven Triple-A starts and a 13.4% SwStr% in five stats for the Braves. The southpaw’s ability to coax empty swings isn’t smoke and mirrors. He features a high-octane fastball, slider and changeup.
Gohara’s average fourseam fastball velocity of 96.3 mph was the highest for a lefty starting pitcher with a minimum of 20 innings pitched, and the fourth highest of any starting pitcher who hit the 20-innings threshold. His changeup offered plenty of velocity separation at 87.9 mph, and he could slow things down even more with a slider that had an average velo of 83.7 mph. The lefty’s changeup had a 15.2% SwStr%, and his slider was a devastating put-away pitch with a 24.3% SwStr% and a 48.0% K%. Gohara’s plus stuff resulted in a 28.4% K% in 123.2 innings in the minors — High-A, Double-A and Triple-A combined — this season, and it was accompanied by acceptable control (8.5% BB%). He did an even better job of avoiding free passes in the Majors with just a 6.5% BB%, and he continued to punch out batters at an above average rate (25.2% K%). Gohara’s 4.91 ERA was largely inflated by a .366 BABIP — almost 50 points higher than his .317 BABIP in the minors this year — and 61.8% LOB%. Gohara didn’t exhibit strand rate issues in the minors in 2017 (77.6% LOB%) or 2016 (81.6% LOB%). Both of those issues look like the product of a small sample and should right themselves with more innings. After yielding a .376 wOBA to 102 right-handed batters faced in the Majors, Gohara will have to tighten that up, but his work against right-handed batters in the minors as well as a three-pitch mix that includes a changeup are reasons to be optimistic about him making gains against them in 2018 and going forward.
Kyle Gibson: ADP – 389.50
I’ve been burned by Gibson on numerous occasions in the past, but I’ll be going back to the well again in 2018 after a strong finish. He was twice optioned to Triple-A Rochester this year, but the second time was for just one start on July 27, and he returned to Minnesota’s rotation on August 5. From August 5 through the end of the year, Gibson made 11 starts that totaled 63.1 innings, and he recorded a 3.55 ERA 3.84 FIP, 3.54 xFIP and 3.79 SIERA), 1.26 WHIP, 5.8% BB%, 22.6% K%, 48.9% GB% and 11.7% SwStr%. Absent of any changes, I would chalk the 11-start stretch up to good luck. However, Gibson did make changes. In the middle of September, Matthew Trueblood tackled some of Gibson’s changes for Baseball Prospectus. Trueblood examined a new arm slot, a move to the middle of the mound, more usage of his legs and an expanded repertoire. Derek Wetmore of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities also dove into Gibson’s changes. All of these changes make it easier to believe in Gibson continuing to have success as opposed to falling apart as he has after previous good stretches. Sign me up for drafting Gibson with a nearly last-round pick or for a buck or two in auctions in 2018.
You can follow Josh on Twitter @bchad50.