Jonathan Loaisiga (SP, NYY)
Outlook Profile: Over four seasons in the minors, Loaisiga went 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA and 155 Ks over 171 innings. His career started at age 18 in the Giants’ system in 2013 (8-1 with a 2.75 ERA and 40 Ks over 68.2 innings), but he missed the next two years due to injuries. After signing with New York in 2016, Jonathan blew out his right elbow after one game, which required TJ surgery. In 2018, his season started at rookie ball and ended up in the majors. Over his 14 starts in the minors at three levels, Loaisiga went 6-1 with a 2.89 ERA and 67 Ks over 56 innings. In his first four starts with the Yankees, he went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 21 Ks over 18 innings before landing on the DL for six weeks with a right shoulder injury. His AFB (96.0) continues to grow while offering a curveball and changeup combination. Intriguing arm with huge durability issues.
Update: With Luis Severino and C.C. Sabathia expected to miss the start of the season, Loaisiga should get a chance to flaunt his stuff in April for the Yankees with the idea of adding more length to his starting opportunity. His injury risk does limit the exposure a Fantasy owner wants to take on draft day, but Jonathan is worth a buy-and-hold flier even with a so, so spring training after three games (five runs, eight baserunners, and two HRs over seven innings with eight Ks).
Ryan Borucki (SP, TOR)
Outlook Profile: After battling health issues early in his pro career that included TJ surgery, Borucki started to make a run at the majors in 2017. He pitched well at High A (3.58 ERA with 109 Ks over 98 innings) while being even better over eight starts between AA and AAA (1.72 ERA with 48 Ks over 52.1 innings). Over six seasons in the minors, Ryan has a 29-24 record with a 3.32 ERA and 401 Ks over 431.2 innings. Last year he pitched well at AAA (3.27 ERA and 58 Ks over 77 innings) helping him reach the majors. Over his 17 starts with the Blue Jays, Borucki allowed two runs or fewer in ten games while turning in two disaster starts (11 runs and 14 baserunners over 5.1 innings with two Ks). He pitched well against lefties (.242 BAA) while needing work in his command against RH batters (28 walks and 47 Ks over 276 at-bats). His AFB (91.5) below the league average while offering an edge changeup (.222 BAA) and upside slider (.222 BAA). When he adds more bulk, his velocity should improve helping his overall package. With over 170 innings under his belt in 2018, his next step is a full season of starts in the majors with a sub 3.75 ERA and 150+ Ks, which require improvement against righties.
Update: The spring reports have been positive on Borucki’s velocity, which may be a sign of a further step forward than expected. Ryan pitches in a ton division, which may lead to some massaging over a long baseball season in the Fantasy market.
Diego Castillo (RP, TB)
Outlook Profile: Over five seasons in the minors, Castillo has an 11-17 record with a 2.79 ERA, 243 Ks, and 36 SVs over 216 innings. His walk rate has been 2.5 or less in his last three years in the minors leading to ten or more Ks per nine over this span. Diego threw the ball in his rookie season in the majors (3.18 ERA and 65 Ks over 56.2 innings) with batters only hitting .178 against him. The only stat I didn’t like was his 49 percent first-pitch strike rate. HIs AFB (97.7) is elite, but batters hit .300 against it with five HRs over 110 at-bats. His edge comes via his plus slider (.117 BAA). Castillo handled lefties (.146 BAA) while holding an advantage over RH batters (.200 BAA). His overall game is more suited to close with his next step in his growth coming with better command of his fastball in the strike zone. Possible value closer in waiting if he slips under the radar in the drafts season in March.
Update: Castilla only went for $3 in the recently competed AL LABR auction in Phoenix, but I felt multiple Fantasy owners supported my opinion on his possible upside to close. One of the better arm to follow on the waiver wire if your Fantasy team needs an upside closer in waiting during the year.
Drew Smyly (SP, TEX)
Outlook Profile: In the 15-team high-stakes market, Smyly has an ADP of 630. After missing the last two seasons, Drew has become a forgotten arm in the Fantasy market. He came to the majors quickly after going 11-6 in 2011 between High A and AA with a 2.07 ERA and 130 Ks over 126 innings. The Tigers decided to use him in the bullpen in 2013 (2.37 ERA and 81 Ks over 76 innings) while flashing upside as a starter in 2014 (3.24 ERA and 133 Ks over 153 innings). He battled a left shoulder injury in 2015 and 2016 while having TJ surgery in 2017. Smyly has a low walk rate (2.5) in his career with strength in his K rate (8.7). I expected him to help in ERA, WHIP, and Ks in 2019, but his injury path does invite some risk. Worth a flier for sure. If Drew pitches well, he could be moved to a contender midseason.
Update: Smyly hasn’t allowed a hit or run over three innings of work in spring training with three Ks. With continued success, he’ll start to emerge as a possible option in deep leagues. Drew has an ADP of 630 over the last two weeks in the 15-team high-stakes market.
Corbin Burnes (SP, MIL)
Outlook Profile: Last year the Brewers used Burnes out of the bullpen, which led to an excellent season (7-0 with a 2.61 ERA and 35 Ks over 38 innings). His arm looked to be exceptional between High A and AA in 2017 when Corbin went 8-3 with a 1.67 ERA and 140 Ks over 145.2 innings. In 2018, he struggled in the offense favoring ballpark in Colorado Springs (5.15 ERA). Burnes has a mid-90s fastball and upside slider. His success as a starter will come with the development of his changeup. I like his pitch ability plus the Brewers will score with an elite bullpen.
Update: Burnes is the right type of arm a Fantasy owner should be looking for at the backend of drafts while not being a lock to earn the spot in the Brewers’ starting rotation out of spring training. Milwaukee will score runs, and they have talented arms pitching late in games leading to a chance at impactful wins.
Austin Gomber (SP, STL)
Outlook Profile: Gomber pitched well at every stop in his minor league career, which led to a 41-23 record over five seasons with a 2.92 ERA and 508 Ks over 520.1 innings. His walk rate (2.7) is favorable with strength in his K rate (8.8). After pitching well over 12 games in AAA (3.42 ERA and 76 Ks over 68.1 innings) last year, the Cardinals called him up to the majors to add a lefty in the bullpen. Austin walked eight batters over his first 14.1 innings with a 3.77 ERA and ten Ks. Over his next 11 games between starting and relief, Gomber went 5-0 with a 2.64 ERA and 41 Ks over 47.2 innings. His bad finish over his last four games (17 runs, 31 baserunners, and four HRs over 13.2 innings) led to his unfavorable ERA (4.44) for the year. Austin has a below-par fastball (92.5). He offers a plus curveball (.229 BAA) with a serviceable slider (.242 BAA) while also throwing a changeup (.250 BAA) that has some upside. Gomber could be a hidden asset in 2019 if given a chance to start. Possible sub 3.50 ERA with serviceable Ks.
Update: With Carlos Martinez battling a shoulder again in spring training, Gomber may get a chance to earn the 5th starting job for the Cardinals. His biggest obstacle is the upside arm of Alex Reyes. Over his two spring training games, Gomber hasn’t been sharp (three runs and six baserunners over 4.2 innings with two Ks), which puts him more in the watch-and-wait category.