When considering rookie players to draft, they all come with a certain level of risk. We can always look at how they performed in the minors but it doesn’t mean it will translate into the majors. When it does, however, it can give you a huge advantage, especially taking these guys late in your draft. In this piece, we’ll go over a few options in both the starter and reliever role.
Brendan McKay, Tampa Bay Rays
After blowing through the minors, McKay was as advertised in his 13 appearances last season, posting an impressive 26 K%, a 7.4 BB% and inducing ground balls on 35.2% of balls in play. His stellar command and ability to generate swings-and-misses will help his rise into the fantasy chatter as the season progresses. The Rays are going to be very deep in their rotation, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see McKay on the back end, but with the shortened season he won’t have any innings restrictions. Regarded as one of the top prospects in baseball, it’s only a matter of time before he’s contributing at a high level.
Jesus Luzardo, Oakland Athletics
The A’s were very quiet over the offseason despite losing a number of guys from 2019. They lost a couple of starter to free agency and instead of going out and signing others, they made the decision to replace them with internal options. Luzardo is one of those options and the A’s are hoping the shoulder injury that derailed his 2019 season is now a thing of the past.
Like other pitchers who would have likely seen an innings limit in a full season, Luzardo should be ready to go in a full season. In Double-A in 2018, Luzardo posted a 9.8 K/9, a 2.1 BB/9 and a 13.5% swing-and-miss rate through 16 starts. His upside is something you don’t want to miss out on, especially in the later rounds.
Nate Pearson, Toronto Blue Jays
Pearson spent the majority of last season in Double-A, tossing 62 2/3 innings allowing just 18 runs on 41 hits with a 21.7 K% and a 4.3 BB%. He induced a ground ball rate of nearly 40% while giving up just four total home runs. He also threw seven spring training innings prior to the shutdown and struck out 11 while surrendering just one run.
Considered one of the Blue Jays top prospects, Pearson has shown he can excel at high levels and has the make up of a number one starter for this club. He could be held out a week to give the Blue Jays another year, as they give him the Kris Bryant treatment, but with no minor leagues, they will get him work in the majors this season.
MacKenzie Gore, San Diego Padres
Gore is by far the top pitching prospect in baseball. His strikeout numbers are elite and his command has been stellar. Last season between Single and Double-A, Gore tossed 101 innings, striking out 135 batters while walking just 28. The Padres know what they have in Gore and he has the ability to come up and make a massive difference this season.
His playing time is still up in the air, but like the other rookies here, the shortened season should allow him to be full go if called on. Like Pearson, Gore is worth taking in the final couple rounds of your draft (if he makes it that far). Stashing a pitcher who will eventually be the ace of this staff is well worth taking over a player you’ll hardly ever use and would likely end up back on the waiver wire a couple of weeks into the season. You’ll hear from Gore sooner rather than later.