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Small Sample Size Schmample Size B-Side Arms: International Arms
Nate Handy discusses Four B-Side Arms in depth with video breakdown.
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.
International Pitching Prospect B-Sides
A bit of a blind spot, and understandably so, is unheralded international free agent arms who start hitting full-season. If they happen to hit leagues with fewer broadcasts than most, even more so.
Samuel Aldegheri, LHP, 22, PHI
Aldegheri actually made his full-season debut back in 2021, but those five Clearwater outings weren’t broadcast. 2022 was a comeback from injury year, logging only 12 R-Ball innings. Finally getting eyes on Aldegheri in 2023, there were still only five outings to watch given the FSL’s lack of broadcasts. Some Savant data helped supplement the looks.
The Phillies protected Aldegheri from the rule 5 draft, adding him to the 40-man roster last week. Despite only a handful of High-A outings, the Phillies didn’t want this young lefty with a well-commanded full starter’s kit (and then some) to get away. We’ll talk more about him during the forthcoming NL East episode.
Felix Arronde, RHP, 20, KC
Arronde came stateside in 2023, culminating in two September A-ball starts, the first of which he really flashed an ability to execute plans of attack, unlike most 19/20 year olds during their first taste of A-ball, like the AB above. Paired with a fairly nasty looking arsenal I’m still not sure the depths of, Arronde got all of my attention quickly. Whether he is or isn’t throwing varietals of fastballs, he spots them well, garnering whiffs all over the zone. There’s an ability to spin it, a traditional changeup was tried (sent yard), and I may have spotted a split-finger fastball, which seems like a Cuban thing. Pairing Arronde’s statistical R-Ball dominance with our few looks, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a dream of plus stuff meeting plus command here. Or at least MLB caliber of both.
Haminton Mendez, RHP, 19, LAA
When you’re watching hundreds of arms over the course of weeks, every once in a while, you come across a break in the monotony and sit up in your chair. That’s what happened, flipping Mendez on who’d started the season in the DSL and ended it in High-A. There was a grand total of 1 IP to watch. Mendez came in from the pen, struck out two to get out of a jam. The next inning resulted in 5 ER and only one out earned, but it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. I could be off my rocker here, but I wonder if the pushy Angels like what they have here. Mendez is an arm I’ll be tracking early in 2024.
Chen-Wei Lin, RHP, 22, STL
The Cardinals signed Lin in July, and he made his A-Ball debut a month later. The tall lanky Taiwanese flame thrower’s 2 IP debut was all we got to see. Having deadly weapons isn’t the problem here. Can the Cardinals get all those moving parts more in synch? If so, Lin could go nuclear in the dynasty world. Eligible in FYPD this offseason too, yet I’m not seeing him on any lists.