2023 FYPD Pitching Targets
Pitching is hard, here are some pitchers to target in FYPDs
Let me preface this by saying I am not a big proponent of drafting pitchers in FYPDs. I don’t roster many pitching prospects on my dynasty teams. There is a saying.. TINSTAAPP. Maybe you have heard it; there is no such thing as a pitching prospect. While I do not fully buy into that theory, looking at former top pitching prospects may make you consider. Here are MLB Pipeline’s top pitching prospects since 2017.
2017: Alex Reyes
2018: Forrest Whitley
2019: Forrest Whitley
2020: MacKenzie Gore
2021: MacKenzie Gore
2022: Grayson Rodriguez
While we could argue that the jury is still out on Gore and Rodriguez, Whitley and Reyes, have not panned out as people hoped. Summed up, the bust rate is high on pitchers. I usually prefer a 75/25 hitter and pitcher split on my dynasty team’s farm just because hitters are a bit safer and have stronger success rates.
In an FYPD, the acquisition cost of higher-end pitchers is usually not worth the price of admission. But in drafts this year, pitching prices have been depleted a bit. Here are some pitchers that may be worth targeting in drafts.
FYPD Pitching Targets
Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
He is about as unique as they come from a pitcher, but Cooper Hjerpe is my top pitching prospect in this year’s FYPD. When you watch him pitch, you see an unconventional left-handed pitcher. What Hjerpe does is deceive hitters very well with a release height of around four and a half feet and nearly six and a half feet of extension. This creates weird attack angles for hitters, and Hjerpe has an outlier spin direction. His fastball sits around 92 mph but has been up to 94 in games. Despite the velocity, he commands it well at the top of the zone and gets plenty of swings and misses thanks to his spin axis and deception. If he can increase the fastball velocity to average even 94, I think it could be a 7-grade pitch. Everything outside of the velocity is just that good.
Hjerpe features a sweeping slider, which should be no surprise given his release point and arm angle. The slider sits in the upper 70s and is a plus pitch. He mixes in a changeup that he buries well at the bottom of the strike zone. It plays exceptionally well off the slider and has good velocity separation from his fastball.
When watching Hjerpe pitch, it’s easy to scream reliever risk. But I just don't think that is the case. While his profile is unique, Hjerpe makes it work well. Last year at Oregon State, he averaged over 5.5 innings per start and finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 103.1 innings pitched.
While there is a tier of top arms in FYPDs this year, Hjerpe is my number-one pitcher due to his durability, data, stuff, and even some projection left in his profile.
Dylan Lesko, RHP, San Diego Padres
If it were not for Dylan Lesko undergoing Tommy John Surgery, he likely would be going much higher in FYPDs and probably would have gone higher in the actual draft last summer. Lesko was dominant as a prep arm, thanks to an elite arsenal, an excellent frame, and great athleticism.
Lesko has a high release point which allows his fastball to generate backspin, creating plenty of ride at the top of the zone. Lesko has been up to 98 mph but usually sits closer to the mid-90s. While the fastball is impressive, his changeup is even better as it gets an excellent fade to the arm side. His curveball drops off the map with a ton of vertical and even solid horizontal movements.
The primary issue with Lesko is Tommy John, and we likely won’t see him until late in the season, if he pitches at all. But, this has created a great buying opportunity in dynasty FYPD drafts. Lesko has SP2 upside, which may not impress you, but I don’t label any arms ace upside, especially prep arms. If Lesko becomes available after pick 15, it may be time to snag him.
*Brock Porter and Cade Horton also fit into the first tier of pitchers for FYPD, but I want to discuss a few deeper arms to target.
Blade Tidwell, RHP, NYM
If not for shoulder soreness that sidelined him for two months of the season, Blade Tidwell would have been an easy first-round pick. The fall to 52 overall has severely hurt his FYPD stock. But guess what? You can exploit the misevaluation.
Tidwell pitched two seasons at Tennessee and posted a 3.53 ERA across 137.2 innings. Despite not being healthy in 2022, he still managed a 3.00 ERA with a 32 percent strikeout rate in 39 innings. His fastball averaged nearly 96 mph and topped out at 99. His slider plays up as a plus pitch and gets a ton of chase out of the zone. The changeup is an average pitch but has a chance to improve as a professional.
Tidwell was strong in his pro debut, as well as in the playoffs for Low-A, tossing nine scoreless with 13 strikeouts and two walks. Despite the strong debut, Tidwell is still going late in FYPD, creating a buying opportunity. 2023 will be a big year for Tidwell to prove his health, but the stuff, plus his command, could make him a starter in the Majors.
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