Welcome to another installment of “Sleepers Who Have Been Slept On.” Today, we will focus on some bargain basement pickups from the San Diego Padres.
San Diego lies about 20 miles from the Mexico border. Most of you know goods and services can cost a lot less when you cross the border into Mexico. Just across the border, the San Diego Padres have several bargains for you to grab before someone else does. One of them is a young catcher and occasional PED user. His battery mate is a flame throwing lefty coming off of Tommy John surgery.
Yasmani Grandal has been known recently for his indiscretions with performance enhancing drugs. He is another University of Miami product tied to a clinic in South Florida known for PED distribution to college and professional athletes.
Let’s put that aside for now and focus on Yasmani Grandal’s future on your fantasy team. He will be eligible to return from this 50-game PED suspension on May 28th. Around this time you can expect him to take over full time duties behind the plate from Nick Hundley.
Yasmani will give you a high contact rate with some pop from the number 4 or 5 hole in the Padres light-hitting lineup. I expect him to get 300 at-bats from his PED shortened season.
His numbers from last season will be strikingly similar to what you can expect when he returns. Last season he saw 226 at-bats with an OPS of .863. He hit .297 which was a little inflated because of his .333 BABIP. He also added eight home runs hitting behind last year’s breakout third baseman Chase Headley.
His walk rate will hover around 13%, which is a good walk percentage for a catcher. The most important statistic to focus on is his HR/FB ratio. In limited at-bats he posted a HR/FB% of 17% last season. I feel like there will be improvement when he returns and you could possibly see that percentage increase to around 19% which would give you 10-12 homeruns with 300 plate appearances. He will not have a problem hitting in the .280’s with a good on base percentage north of .360.
If your catchers are struggling early in the season you can target Yasmani Grandal when he returns to bolster your lineup. In a full season he would be a prime target for a middle round selection in most fantasy drafts. Grab him now before your competition gets wind of his impending return.
Cory Luebke started to throw from flat ground this week. He has missed the better part of a year from Tommy John surgery. This is a pitcher that a lot of people do not know about. Take a look at what Kris Medlen did in the second half last year with the Atlanta Braves and you might have found this year’s version in Cory Luebke.
He looks to return to the mound just before the All-Star break and he can be a major contributor for you team in the second half of the season.
It will be hard to pinpoint what kind of K/9 rate he will give you. Coming out of the bullpen he would approach a K/9 rate approaching 10. He will be a starter upon his return and you will see a K/9 rate between 7 and 8. He relies on his change up more as a starter to induce a groundball percentage approaching 50%. His walk rate before his injury was 2.32, which is more than enough to limit runners from getting on base with a free pass. His dominant stuff will allow him to pick up a few extra wins while playing on a bad offensive team.
Cory Luebke is a ground ball inducing power pitcher, who will play his home games in the best pitcher’s park in baseball. The best part about him is that he is a waiver wire pick up away. I really believe he will be a top-100 pitcher the second half of the season if he can keep his strand rate above 70%, which is not a lot to ask for.