Sleepers don’t exist anymore. My colleague Jake Ciely has touched on that numerous times. Because of all of the information on the Internet, there are very few guys who can be considered sleepers outside of your Aaron Altherr’s and Boog Powell’s of the world.
One trendy “sleeper” this year in the Fantasy community is 23-year-old Carlos Rodon, who made his debut last year for the White Sox in 26 games (23 starts). Rodon has the makeup of a future ace, as is evident in his 20.2 percent whiff rate in 2015. But control was an issue for Rodon in college as well as the minors, and the concern remains for him with his 1.44 WHIP and 11.7 percent walk rate in 2015.
As is the case with most top prospects, the former third overall pick in the 2014 draft is expected to take the next step in his sophomore season. In dynasty, I’m buying Rodon. But in redraft leagues, I’m avoiding him this year. Why? The departure of catcher Tyler Flowers.
Last year, Flowers caught 17 of Rodon’s games, as Geovany Soto and Rob Brantly split the other nine. While Flowers has never bloomed into a solid Fantasy option, he’s one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. In fact, in 2015, Flowers was the No. 2 ranked catcher on statcorner.com in pitch-framing behind Francisco Cervelli of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had 169 +Calls and his oStr% (pitches caught outside of the strike zone called a strike) was 9.9, second only to Cervelli.
Not only did the White Sox lose Flowers, but they lost Soto, too. Soto was no Flowers, but he was ranked No. 22 last year in pitch-framing with 42 +Calls and an 8.2% oStr%. Soto has since moved on to the Los Angeles Angels, while Flowers is in Atlanta with the Braves’ young staff; a big addition over A.J. Pierzynski defensively.
Entering into the picture in Chicago for Rodon are Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro, which isn’t a positive thing at all. First, for Navarro, he was the No. 99 ranked catcher in pitch-framing in 2015 with a -31 +Calls and 6.6 oStr%. It doesn’t get any better with Avila, either, as he comes in at No. 101 overall, at -42 +Calls and 6.7 oStr%. That’s 99th and 101st out of 115 catchers. Yikes.
For a pitcher like Rodon, his value takes a hit with the lack of a solid pitch-framer behind the plate. Last year, Rodon had a 22.9 percent strikeout rate, including an 18 percent strikeout looking rate. The lack of a solid pitch-framer only hurts his strikeout rate, and his WHIP and walk rate will only rise. I won’t shy away from Chris Sale or Jose Quintana, but I’ll let someone else spend up on Rodon and not get the return on his price tag.