Well, last week officially marked the end of my chances at a fantasy baseball championship this year. I was within one category of advancing to the second round of the playoffs in a 16-team head-to-head mixed league but, in the end, I came up short. So now what do I do? I could take the rest of the season and just enjoy the games and watch the remaining teams in my league compete. Or I can start gearing up for next year. I can start to prepare for the offseason and preliminarily prep my roster for next year. One way to start working on your roster for the next season is to add players that you think have potential for next year. Late in the season can be a great time to acquire these players because you can grab them cheap while other players are no longer paying attention. Here are a few guys that I’m looking to add because I think they can have value next year.
Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals
Duffy was sidelined for the first few months of the season as he recovered from a torn UCL and Tommy John surgery but has been lights out in three starts since his return to the majors. Before the injury, Duffy had spent parts of two years in the bigs and showed promising strikeout potential but struggled with his control. His K:BB in the minors was 3.52 so he’s shown that he is capable of better control than he’s shown with the Royals so far. Duffy is a hard throwing lefty who is able to hold his velocity deep into his starts and works in an above average change up. He also throws a curveball and slider that could use some work but show promise. In an extremely small sample size this season, Duffy has increased his strikeout rate and reduced his walk rate. His fastball velocity sits just below 94 mph and I believe that Duffy can string together a few more good starts this year and will be a sleeper going into next year.
Nathan Eovaldi, Miami Marlins
Eovaldi was the prize of the Hanley Ramirez trade and, while Hanley would be in MVP consideration if he could stay healthy, Eovaldi is looking like a decent return. Eovaldi works with a big fastball that’s averaging 96.4 mph this year – the fastest of any pitcher with at least 80 innings pitched. He also throws a plus slider giving him a two pitch mix that some think is best suited for the bullpen but he’s shown promise as a starter. His changeup has been coming along and may be the third pitch he needs. At 23, he has room yet to improve and the Marlins play in a pitchers park with a defense that I think can be much improved next year.
Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres
Tyson Ross climbed prospect lists after being drafted out of Cal in the second round of the 2008 draft. Ross uses a fastball that averages 94 mph and features good sink to induce ground balls at a rate over 50%. Ross also has a wipeout slider that is death to righties but he’s also been able to hold left handed hitters to a .238 average. Ross’s biggest problem has been his up and down control. This season he’s walked batters in 9.1% of plate appearances which worse than the league average, but it’s an improvement for Ross and he’s improved his strikeout rate as well. His K% is 23.3% for the season, a full ten percent higher than last year’s mark and his singing strike percentage has drastically increased as well. Ross has a 2.16 ERA in nine starts since moving back into the rotation and a 2.79 ERA on the season with a 3.57 xFIP. Ross has all the stuff to be a number two starter and it might be time that he starts realizing that potential.
Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics
Sonny Gray is showing everyone why the A’s made him the 18th overall pick in the 2011 draft – one of the strongest drafts in recent memory, especially for pitchers. He’s allowed two runs or fewer in six of seven starts since being called up while striking out a more than a batter per inning. He’s only given up 32 hits and 11 walks in 43 innings so he’s limiting base runners at an excellent clip. Gray’s LOB% and BABIP are both low at 69.7% and .263, respectively, which would suggest some regression. Even so, Gray has been a top pitching prospect and the A’s have had success developing young pitchers. Being a member of a rotation that includes Jarrod Parker, Dan Straily and AJ Griffin; Gray has a chance to be overlooked a little bit next year but I think he could be the best of the group.