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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: VINNNY VELASQUEZ SP PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Next to maybe the Atlanta Braves or the Milwaukee Brewers, there may not be a more miserable team when it comes to the 2016 Major League season then the Philadelphia Phillies.  Having completely torn apart the team and with just a handful of experienced players left on the roster, it will be up to the youngsters to help keep them competitive while at the same time showing they should be big parts of the future.  Often times there can be decent fantasy baseball sleeper values on very bad teams as they tend to get overlooked.  The Phillies have a few of these kind of players, with one being hard-throwing pitching prospect Vincent Velasquez who was the main piece that came back from the Houston Astros in the Ken Giles trade.  So as we always do, let's look in a bit deeper on Velasquez in order to find out what skills he can bring to the fantasy baseball table. 

When it comes to Vinny Velasquez, the first thing that stands out here are the strikeouts as the 22-year-old righty comes off a 2015 campaign at Double-A where he registered a very high 12.27 K/9 rate and miniscule 1.91 ERA.  With a fastball that tends to rise as it approaches the dish and that comes in in the upper 90's, Velasquez also has terrific secondary stuff that makes him quite a handful for opposing hitters to deal with.  Velasquez also didn't embarrass himself in his 55.2 inning debut in the majors last season with the Astros as he put up a strong 9.38 K rate but with a bit of a high 4.37 ERA due to some control issues.  And the latter is really the only issue we have with Velasquez as his stuff has such wicked movement that walks are more than a bit of a problem.  Even at Double-A last season, Velasquez' BB/9 rate was a very high 3.55 which means his WHIP could be a bit of an issue.  However Velasquez offsets that with a low hit rate and a high amount of strikeouts.  With the Phillies having nothing to lose by having him in their rotation, the fantasy baseball upside is very intriguing. 

Right now the idea is that Velasquez may not break camp with the Phillies and instead head to the minors for April in order to get some more work in on his control.  However that shouldn't stop you from using a late-middle round pick on Velasquez given the strikeout stuff and prime opportunity in front of him. 

2016 PROJECTION:  8-6 3.60 ERA 1.28 WHIP 157 K 

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