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Sunday 25th Feb 2018

Last week, I wrote about drafting in an extremely deep league, trying to balance reasonable expectation with speculation. 

The league and format discussed, Strat-O-Matic, is different by definition than DFS and regular season roto formats in that the game is H2H simulation, using the previous season's stats.

However, even though the format and manner of play of Strat is different than a lot of the set-ups for most players, I am a strong believer that whatever format you play will shine some light on play in other formats.

Well, one advantage to assessing players after the season--and a lot of times MLB debuts--is you have that first foray of high level competition to balance against age and experience in the Minors.

In the MidWest Strat League, we are just finishing our 37-player draft which allowed for the freezing of up to 29. There are no salaries in the league, but there are usage parms and penalties, meaning just about every selection and player must contribute at some time.

Since the league is just grabbing 37th round players, it is safe to say we are scouring through the dregs, as it were. Allen Craig, John Mayberry, Jr. and David Aardsma are among the hopefuls bubbling within the free agent pool and hoping to make the team.

However, there are some potential gems among the 75-odd players still available, so this time I want to look at a few for speculation maybe into 2016, but possibly even a little further out. Note that I have nabbed players like Carlos Marmol and Shane Victorino in the later rounds of said Strat draft, two players who became useful in any kind of fantasy ball, especially as cheap keeps on a freeze list.

So, let's take a bit of a look.

Keyvius Sampson (Reds, P, 25): Sampson was originally drafted by the Padres in 2009, then grabbed off waivers by the Reds just a year ago--and turned 25 just a month ago. He has 434 minor league strikeouts over 607 frames, logging a decent 3-6, 3.38 mark last year at Double-A and Triple-A before spending time with the young Cincy pitching staff. Sampson did get pounded to the tune of 2-6, 7.39 with a 1.77 WHIP, but the strikeouts (42 over 52.3 innings) were ok, and Sampson is sure to be dismissed all over the place. His bane are the walks (302) in the Minors, but for a younger pitcher, wither goest whiffs, goest walks. Sampson might start the season at Triple-A, but I would track him.

Severino Gonzalez (Phillies, P, 23): The Phillies have become the hometown for "who?" when a member of their squad, and in particular their bullpen, is mentioned, making Gonzalez one of many pitching in obscurity at the highest level. Signed as a free agent in 2011, the native of Panama is 26-29, 3.36 in the Minors with a 1.106 WHIP and 394 strikeouts over 485.3 innings with just 83 walks. He was 3-3, 7.92 with the big club, but there is definitely some talent lurking, and time as well, for when Gonzalez fills out from his 6'2", 155 pound frame, I am guessing the power numbers go up.

Mayckol Guaipe (Mariners, P, 25): Signed by Seattle in 2006, when he was just 15, Guaipe has 31 saves in the Minors, 22 of them since 2012 when he moved to the pen permanently. At Tacoma last year, he was 0-4, 2.87 with five saves over 47 innings before a promotion and an 0-3, 6.41 mark over 26.3 innings. It should be interesting to see if the 6'4", 235 pound right-hander can eventually find himself in the closer role.

Jose Pirela (Padres, IF, 26): Thought perhaps to be the next big thing in the Bronx, Pirela was .310-3-23 with 42 runs over 69 minor league games in addition to 37 with the Bombers, hitting .230-1-5. Pirela was rather unceremoniously dumped off to the Padres for Ronald Herrera at the end of last season. The Pads, though, hardly have much of anything set anywhere, so Pirela could emerge with a bench gig to start 2016, and maybe even parlay that into something else.

Ryan Rua (Rangers, OF, 25): Rua gets props to start for being an Amherst graduate, meaning he is smart to go with any physical skills on his DNA profile. After the outfielder hit .295-2-14 to close out some 2014 playing time, big things were thought for Rua, who then struggled with a .193-4-7 mark over 83 at-bats. The Rangers are a team that can find hitters and score runs, and Rua just seems like the kind of guy to contribute accordingly.

Daniel Muno (Mets, IF, 27): Muno turns 27 on Tuesday, and for full disclosure, was drafted in the eighth round in 2011 after attending Cal-State, Fresno. He was a shortstop at Triple-A Las Vegas last year, hitting .277-3-24 over 83 games before a call-up that featured the somewhat abysmal totals of .148-0-0 over 32 at-bats, but played second and third at Citi Field. The downside is the Mets are fairly set up the middle with starters and bench, but Muno, his defensive flexibility, and his .390 minor league OBP (280 strikeouts to 321 walks) all point to a Jim Gantner kind of career. That ain't bad.

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