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Breakout: SP Shohei Ohtani
Over five seasons in Japan, Ohtani went 42-15 with a 2.52 ERA and 624 strikeouts over 543 innings.
His walk rate (3.3 – 3.8 in 2018) needed some improvement while offering a plus strikeout rate (10.3 – 11.0 in 2018).
His best season came in 2015 (15-5 with a 2.24 ERA and 196 Ks over 160.2 innings).
In his first action in the majors, Ohtani flashed electric upside in three starts (three runs over 21 innings with 32 Ks). He allowed two runs or fewer in five of his first eight games, leading to a 3.18 ERA, .196 BAA, and 57 strikeouts over 45.1 innings.
His command trailed vs. lefties (13 of 22 walks over 90 at-bats).
His AFB (97.3) was an edge in velocity, but batters hit .382 against his four-seamer. Ohtani had an exceptional split-finger (.036 BAA) and a plus slider (.140 BAA). He also threw a low-volume curveball.
With a full 18 months to recover from his elbow issue, his arm should be ready to go when the lights get back turned on for baseball. Ohtani should make a minimum of one start per week while failing a couple of starts below the top arms in baseball in 2020.
With an ADP of 131, a fantasy owner will be buying a discounted ace with high value in strikeouts. His ERA and WHIP should be an edge, and Ohtani should win half of his starts. Anything on the hitting side would be a bonus for leagues with dual-eligibility.
Sleeper: OF Jo Adell
Last year Adell caught a bad break in March when he suffered a left hamstring and a right ankle injury on the same play. His first appearances in the minors came on May 24th at High A.
After success over six games (7-for-25 with two home runs and five RBI), LA pushed him to AA. He played well over the next two months (.308 with eight HRs, 23 RBI, and six SBs over 159 at-bats), earning him a call-up to AAA (.264 with no HRs and eight RBI over 121 at-bats).
Adell looked overmatched at AAA based on his strikeout rate (32.6) and lack of power (AVH – 1.344).
Over his three seasons in the minors, he hit .298 with 35 home runs, 143 RBI, and 30 stolen bases over 904 at-bats. His walk rate (7.6) comes in just below the league average (8.2) with risk in his strikeout rate (25.4).
The Angels drafted him 10th overall in the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft. I expected him in the majors at some time in 2020, but he doesn’t look ready to make an impact this year. His average hit rate in the minors gives him 30 home run upside while offsetting his swing and miss approach with a high contact batting average.
Fantasy owners priced him as a starter this year based on his ADP (206) in the early draft season, but his price point fell to 250 in drafts after March 1st.
Upside player for sure who may come-on quickly, but his opportunity for this year remains a question mark.
Bust: SP Griffin Canning
The Angels drafted Canning in the second round of the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft. Over three seasons at UCLA, he went 19-13 with a 2.99 ERA and 301 strikeouts over 291.1 innings. His arm had the most value in his junior season in 2017 (2.34 ERA and 140 Ks over 119 innings).
Griffin pitched great at AA (1.97 ERA and 49 Ks over 45.2 innings) over ten starts in 2018. After a promotion to AAA, he struggled over 59.0 innings (5.49 ERA and 64 Ks).
Last year Griffin dominated in three starts at AAA (two runs over 16 innings with 17 Ks). His walk rate (3.2) came in too high with strength in his K rate (9.9). In his first three starts with LA, he had a 5.65 ERA and 19 strikeouts over 14.1 innings.
Griffin helped fantasy owners over his next eight games (3.23 ERA and 44 Ks over 47.1 innings). His arm didn’t look healthy in July (8.15 ERA), which led to two trips to the injured list with an elbow injury.
All three of his secondary pitches played well (curveball – .184 BAA, slider – .236 BAA, and changeup – .220 BAA) while featuring a live fastball (94.3 MPH).
Even with an early ADP of 226, I viewed him as a much better bet in 2020 than some of the Angels secondary starters.
A spring training setback with high right elbow raised enough red flags where I can’t draft him in any league even with some positive news about his throwing in May. He’s trending toward TJ surgery and a lost season.
Deep Sleeper: SP Patrick Sandoval
After dominating Single-A in 2018 (7-1 with a 2.49 ERA and 71 Ks over 65 innings) and pushing his way to through High A and AA (1.54 ERA and 74 Ks over 58.1 innings), Sandoval tripped up at AAA in 2019 (6.41 ERA) with regression in his walk rate (5.2).
In his minor league career, he walked 3.4 batters per nine innings with an edge in his strikeout rate (10.4).
Sandoval did pitch better in the majors last year (5.03 ERA over 39.1 innings with 19 walks and 42 Ks) than at AAA.
His AFB (92.8) is below average while flashing a plus changeup (.188 BAA) and a viable curveball (.063 BAA).
I’m a fan of pitchers with good changeups. A sneaky back-end arm that needs more time to develop. Player to follow if he’s throwing strikes, and the Angels need another starter after an injury.
Value: OF Justin Upton
The early sign to get off the Upton bus in 2019 came in mid-February when he suffered tendinitis in his right knee. He teased fantasy owners in mid-March after returning to game action. About a week later, Upton sustained a toe injury in his left foot, costing him 11 weeks of the seasons.
His bat didn’t look right all year, which led to only a slight spark in August (.200 with four HRs and 22 RBI over 80 at-bats). Over his other 139 combined at-bats, he only eight HRs and 18 RBI.
His strikeout rate (30.5) was a career-high, but he did take walks (12.5 percent). Upton ended the year on the injured list when his right knee flared up again in September.
Over his previous three full seasons, he hit 30 or more home runs each year with 288 combined RBI. His batting average is going to have risk, and his speed looks to be a lost asset based on his knee issue.
Upton didn’t have surgery in the offseason while hoping his PRP injection in September clears up his patellar injury.
Veteran bat with an 80/30/85 skillset if healthy. His ADP improved to 203 in drafts completed after June 1st.
READ MORE: 2020 Los Angeles Angels Fantasy Team Preview