Small Sample Size Schmample Size B-Side Arms: College Draftees
Nate Handy discusses Five B-Side Arms in depth with video breakdown.
By: Nate Handy (Follow @ PitchingSpecs)
My co-host Matt and I strapped on our mudding shoes and dug into every system’s full-season levels, focusing on very lightly to completely un-rostered Fantrax prospects (in some cases not even in the player pool yet), sharing our observations on the Prospect B-Sides podcast. The hope is to find some very low-investment/high-reward players who eventually help our dynasty big league clubs or add chips on our trade tables. We find such endeavors and “wins” imperative to winning certain types of leagues, or at least maintaining sustained success, putting ourselves in contention year after year.
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We’ve engaged in some competitive mudding, if you will, and are also stamping a hitter and a pitcher from every system as our official B-Side choices in a way to express which of the bunches we want to either watch most closely or perhaps even get a cheap investment in this offseason. We’ve had a few “draft” episodes highlighting the finds we found most interesting and have now worked our way through half of the MLB division’s systems, with three left to go, but he and I have some different approaches to this endeavor.
On the pitching side of things, Matt has gravitated toward arms he feels have a high probability of making the major leagues. Despite his personal disdain toward walks, he chose Giants’ RHP Kai-Wei Teng as his #1 arm in our process, for example. Teng was just added to the Giants’ 40-man roster and has led the minor leagues in strikeouts over the last three seasons. Dynasty owners have stayed away because of a lack of velocity and command. Yet, a potentially excellent B-side selection, in our opinion. As we’ve moved along, Matt has leaned toward upper-level “soft-tossing lefties” with above-average to great command who might have more strikeout upside than meets the eye.
I, on the other hand, am realizing I’ve gravitated toward much riskier swings on arms who have barely pitched in full-season ball, and have as little as one video archived outing. The two approaches have led to more ideas for anyone listening, but leaves me in a position to come up much emptier than Matt...or win really big if one of them realizes potential I wonder might be there.
Sometimes, a player just strikes you as different and gets your attention in an obvious way. That was the case for some of these. Here’s a little visual aid to the “new” arms I’ve come across and found to be my best B-Side option in their respective systems. Let’s get into it a little bit.
Check out Part 1: International B-Side Arms
Check out Part 2: Prep B-Side Arms
B-Side High School Arms
Injured 2022 College Arms
Injuries can play a big role B-side’ing. When it interferes with pro debut years and the like, interesting talent can slip by the dynasty owner.
Hayden Mullins, LHP, BOS, 23
Mullins isn’t a highbrow name in Dynastyland, but ask any committed follower of prep prospects, and they know who Mullins is. Once Perfect Game’s Class of 2019’s #3 LHP, injuries derailed his Auburn career. Well, he made his way back for two R-ball and two A-ball appearances in 2023. Mullins wasn’t even really pitching yet, more knocking off the rust, yet still struck out 15 in his 6.1 IP of work. Staying on the mound will be key, but if he does, and the highbrow talent of yesteryear he flashed during our 3.2 viewable IP comes out. This could get very dynasty interesting.
Ryan Jennings, RHP, TOR, 24
Jennings’ 2023 season was derailed by injury in June, but he did get back for an unbroadcasted September start. None of Jennings’ A-Ball appearances were broadcast, and only one of his High-A was. Jennings went on the shelf after the lone look, showing a fairly polished fastball/curveball attack. Jennings has the rest of the kitchen sink, too, but these two offerings are the bread and butter in what may be more of a bullpen-looking future but the book isn’t closed on starting, as he may have the stuff and command combination to make it happen at the highest level. Jennings struck out 55 batters in 43 IP, while walking 17. We’ll talk more about him too, when we get there.
Of course, the 2023 draft is a copious land of potential finds. When the Mariners, Mets, and Tigers systems failed to produce an arm I was truly interested in, they happened to produce three draft-year arms not talked about much in the dynasty world I happened to find impressive outings of. Evans logged four post-draft starts, including one in the playoffs. All of those were broadcast. Morris’ 2.1 IP debut was broadcast and his only outing. Hamm’s debut was also broadcast while his three other appearances were not. We’ll get into them during our FYPD episode.
Logan Evans, RHP, SEA, 22
Kade Morris, RHP, NYM, 21
Jaden Hamm, RHP, DET, 21
Matt and I are well aware the odds are stacked against arms lacking velocity and very young pitchers in A-ball, especially ones with little track record you’ve caught a few innings or outings of. But therein lies the point of mudding; finding the exceptions that beat those odds. Which, when you really think about it, isn’t all that different than ciphering through the more recognized pretty boy prospects, we just like to proceed like their slightly better chances are astronomically better. Regardless, there’s some very tiny looks at some arms with dynasty appeal for your mudding pleasure.