When I started this series, I told you playing in a 15-team league is far more challenging than the traditional 12-team or 10-team league. Players outside the top 250 are generally not going to be interesting to fantasy managers. But playing in The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational means that I must know about at least the top 450. This is the perils and pleasures of a deeper league.
In part one of this series, I gave you eight players to consider with ADP between 250 and 300. Last week, I presented eight more with ADP between 300 and 350. In part 3, I’m going to cover eight more with ADP between 350 and 400. These are players being drafted in rounds 24-27. It’s likely that most of these will be bench players for me unless one of my starters gets injured.
The headliner today is Bubba Thompson, a 24-year-old outfielder for the Texas Rangers. The seventh fastest man in baseball stole 49 bases in 80 games for the Round Rock Express before he was called up for his big-league debut in August. Thompson spent the final two months of the season as a fixture in the Rangers lineup. The young outfielder finished with a .265/.302/.312 slash line.
More importantly, Thompson stole 18 bases in 55 games. Do the math. If the rookie had played a full season, he would have exceeded 50 steals. Remember, he also stole 49 bases in what was equivalent to a half season in Triple-A. Thompson had become Round Rock’s stolen-base king July 23 after he swiped his 45th bag. He added four more to that total before heading to Arlington.
It’s not to say that Thompson’s MLB transition was seamless. He had 13 home runs and 48 RBIs across those 80 games with the Round Rock Club. He also had a solid .355 on-base percentage. But his OBP dipped to .302 with the big-league team. He also only had one home run and 9 RBI across 181 plate appearances. He had a 30.9% strikeout rate facing major-league pitchers.
A high strikeout rate for a rookie is not unusual, but it will need to be improved upon if he’s going to stick in the lineup. Thompson, who had demonstrated decent power in the minors, had a .047 ISO during the first taste of the majors, which was absurdly low. The rookie had only six extra-base hits. All that to say it’s no guarantee that Thompson makes the starting lineup in April.
But with an ADP of 375, the risk of acquiring Thompson is very low, and the upside is high. There aren’t many places where you can find an additional 30-40 steals this late in a draft. The eternal optimist in me can’t help but point out that Thompson has already gone 2-for-5 in spring training games, with a run scored, a .400 OBP and a 1.000 OPS. Don’t laugh, it’s a start.
In addition to Thompson, I have seven more players for consideration in your deep-league draft. One of them is even a pitcher. I’m not predicting that any of these players are going to win you a championship. However, when one of your starters goes on the IL, you will be glad to have these players. Based on my research, they won’t hurt you and they could make a positive contribution.
ADAM WAINWRIGHT, SP, ST. LOUIS
Wainwright, 41, delivered another strong season in 2022 with a 3.71 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 143:54 K:BB across 191.2 innings. But his ADP has slipped outside 350. His average fastball velocity dropped below 89 mph for the first time, and the 17.8% strikeout rate also dropped more than three percentage points, but he remains a mainstay in the Cardinals starting rotation.
NOLAN GORMAN, 2B, ST. LOUIS
Let’s stick with the Cardinals and consider Gorman. He was promoted with much fanfare in May and had 14 home runs and a .226/.300/.420 slash in 89 games. Strikeouts were an issue at times in the minors and that remained true at the big-league level with a 32.9% strikeout rate. He’s off to a good start in spring training as he tries to win back the starting job at second base.
JOSE TREVINO, C, NY YANKEES
At his current ADP, Trevino is a real bargain. After a trade from Texas, he flourished with the Yankees in 2022 with his best power numbers to date and stellar defense behind the dish which enabled him to overtake Kyle Higashioka as the primary catcher. Trevino hit 11 home runs in only 353 plate appearances, and his defense will keep him batting in a deep Yankees lineup.
MITCH GARVER, UTL, TEXAS
In a two-catcher league, finding value at the position late in the draft is a bonus. Garver, one of the top catchers in the game a few seasons ago, has had a hard time staying healthy. He was limited to 54 games in 2022. He saw action in only 14 contests at catcher and worked primarily as a DH. He’ll soon regain catcher eligibility as he enters his last season of arbitration eligibility.
MAX KEPLER, OF, MINNESOTA
Kepler hit just nine home runs last, with a big drop in power stats. He did struggle with injuries as he played just 115 games though none seem to be dogging him currently. Kepler showed outstanding command at the plate with an 11% walk rate and a career-best 14.8% strike out rate. He’s still capable of above-average power as his Max Exit Velocity was in the 98th percentile.
JOEY GALLO, OF, MINNESOTA
Looking for power late in your draft? Gallo joins the Twins after a terrible year. He put up a .160/.280/.357 slash line with 19 home runs and a 40% strikeout rate across 126 games for the Yankees and Dodgers. He won’t help you batting average, but he was one of the most prolific home run hitters in the game for the five seasons prior to 2022, and he can play good defense.
SPENCER STEER, 3B, CINCINNATI
Part of the package of prospects the Twins sent to Cincinnati in the Tyler Mahle trade, Steer finds himself in a good situation from a home park and playing time standpoint. He played 14 games at third base, nine games at first base and five games at second base, and he should again move around the diamond. Steer, 25, could hit around .240, with 20 home runs over a full season.
Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, writes about baseball and football for CreativeSports. Be sure to follow Thomas on Twitter@ThomasLSeltzer1.