Welcome back. Before we start part two, let’s stop and think about where we are in the draft. If this is a 12-team 40-pick best ball, we’re around round 29/30. So while I’m going to start advocating aggressively for buying some of these guys, I’m not suggesting you should have any expectations that they project as top of the rotation arms. In fact, I like most of these Birds (pitchers especially) in draft and hold formats; they’re going to log a lot of innings for a contending team with progressive player development/optimization in one of the most pitcher friendly parks in baseball.
Cole Irvin (351.3 BUY)
I do wish we had a little more information on Irvin; there’s been some mention in interviews about a small potential velocity boost that could do wonders for his swinging strike percentage, and ultimately, strikeout totals. But even putting that aside, a left-handed pitcher at Camden Yards who’s inheriting a stronger supporting cast, both in terms of run support and defense, already coming off of a high-inning sub-4 era season is an easy buy for me this late in a draft. He’s not going to give you a ton of strikeouts, but late in draft-and-holds, you mostly want to find innings eaters who have assured rotation spots. Irvin fits the bill.
Kyle Bradish (378 BUY !!!)
It seems like the Orioles have been enamored with Bradish since he shined at the alternate site during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. Bradish showed us glimpses of why against the Astros and Cardinals in 2022. I already trust Orioles evaluators and scouts better than I do my own player evaluation; however, I also found myself enamored with Bradish’s tight, high-spin slider that he can command well enough to practically assemble the rest of his arsenal around. Bradish is probably my number one breakout pick on the Orioles this year; I’d expect him to push 180 innings (he approached 150, even with an injury hiatus in 2022) and will hopefully avoid duds (avoid starting him against Toronto or in New York) and spike starts similar to those I mentioned against Houston and St. Louis.
Adam Frazier (379.2 SELL)
I don’t hate Frazier as a real-life bench piece who can provide some infield depth. However, I really wish they would have just given the job to Jordan Westburg or Joey Ortiz. Water under the bridge I suppose. That being said, I think the rising tide in the Orioles infield is more likely to immediately impact Frazier than it is to impact Jorge Mateo, who has nearly irreplaceable defense (Frazier is above average defensively but not elite). Furthermore, Terrin Vavra’s dominant spring performance including a ~420 foot HR to dead-center field showed that his power upside may be greater than he showed last year and he could sap playing time from Frazier. I’d avoid him, even in deep leagues.
Ramon Urias (431.7 BUY)
Urias shows surprising power to RF/CF and I think has a chance to focus on this a little more in 2023. I think the Orioles love his defense and will find him ~500 ABs unless another team likes him enough to merit inclusion in a deadline deal. Urias is a very solid pure-hitter and 6/7 hitter in the lineup, even on a contending team and a very useful guy to keep around. This draft price (36th round in a 12-teamer) is certainly worth the flier that Urias can tap into a little more of that opposite field power and expected batting average. If not, he still has a very appealing playing-time floor that’s invaluable this late in a best ball draft.
Dean Kremer (432 BUY) & Kyle Gibson (435 BUY)
I decided to group these two together because they check a very similar box for me: innings eater with a strong supporting cast who is a lock for 150+ innings, assuming health. I don’t think Kremer has much strikeout upside, but he came into 2022 with a new bulldog mentality that allowed him to grind deeper into games. Gibson, with a late season slider addition may have some hidden strikeout upside. Even putting that aside, the change in supporting defense and ballpark context for a pitcher between Philadelphia and Baltimore is immense. He’s one of my final picks in most draft and hold leagues.
DL Hall (448 BUY)
Earlier this offseason, I made a list of potential Spencer Strider-type players for 2023. The criteria for this list was 1) uncertain 2023 roles 2) fantastic stuff 3) questionable command/control. The three players I felt best fit this list were Matt Brash (the Mariners have since committed a 2023 bullpen spot to him), Nate Pearson (who also projects to start in the Blue Jays bullpen), and DL Hall. While Hall is an appealing late flier in draft and hold formats, he also could be an interesting free agent to monitor in shallower formats. I had the wherewithal last year to stash Strider on my bench when there were rumblings that the Braves could move him to the rotation. He now has an ADP of 32 and is projected to front the Braves 2023 rotation. If Hall starts in the bullpen and dominates, keep a close eye on whether the Orioles start to stretch him out so you can beat the bidding and stash him. The same could be said for Pearson or Brash as underperformance, injury, and player dominance cause teams to change their minds on intended roles every year.
John Means (477.3 HOLD)
While it’s tempting to draft Means, dreaming on the upside of a peak-Means with a drastically improved ballpark, defensive and lineup context (not to mention Adley Rutschman catching), I’d only draft Means in leagues with deep ILs. The Orioles have some nice rotation depth this year and aren’t going to rush Means back. Assuming the rest of his rehab goes well, I expect to draft him everywhere in 2024.
Tyler Wells (494 HOLD)
Wells has Hall’s uncertainty of role with less transcendental pure stuff. That being said, I do expect Wells to accumulate at least 20 starts/125 innings between the bullpen and rotation. The depth of his arsenal is appealing and Wells might have some sleeper appeal to pick up a few saves while he’s in the bullpen. Definitely snap him up in deep formats if there’s any injury rumblings about rotation locks.
I hope this list was somewhat helpful; feel free to reach me on Twitter @AngelusNovus3 for any other fantasy advice or clarifications! I hope to produce a future article that digs into some of the guys on the prospect/dynasty side.