When a player shoots up the minor league ranks, managers should be very optimistic about their future at the MLB level. Such is the case with our next 2023 Dynasty Baseball Trade Target: Ken Waldichuk.
While not among the top young arms on our Dynasty rankings, Waldichuk is an extremely enticing arm that is relatively unknown.
The main prospect traded from the Yankees to Oakland in the Frankie Montas deal, Waldichuk entered 2021 in Single-A ball, and left 2022 pitching in the MLB. While pitchers, especially those that already played in college, move up the minor league ranks quicker than most, this is still a very impressive rise.
2023 Dynasty Baseball Trade Target: Ken Waldichuk
Become an All-Access Member to get access to our award-winning rankings, draft tools and more.
If you are already a member, sign in.
What made Waldichuk so dominant that he was able to reach the MLB so quickly?
While Waldicuk threw 90-92 in college, he used the extended 2020 offseason to really improve his velocity, now sitting in the mid-90's and even topping out at 98. Waldichuk also transformed his slider into more of a sweeper, which allowed for a greater contrast of speed and movement from his fastball.
These changes propelled Waldichuk to storm out of the gates in 2021. Waldichuk did not allow a runner to cross the plate in his first 31 innings of this year, which was his first full season in the minors.
The number that really pops out is his 349 strikeouts in just 234 minor league innings. This results in an astounding 13.4 K/9. Even though facing hitters at the major league level is a lot more challenging than facing AA hitters, Waldichuk's stuff will play at any level., as seen below.
Ken Waldichuk records his first MLB strikeout for Oakland!
He was traded from the Yankees for Montas
— Farm To Fame (@FarmToFame_) September 1, 2022
Arguably the most enticing part about Waldichuk is that he is still learning how to pitch with his new repertoire. Per Mlb.com, "Waldichuk has scrapped the 89-92 mph two-seam fastball he had in college in favor of a four-seamer that sits at 92-95. His heater's shape and carry up in the strike zone are even more impressive than its velocity, and hitters repeatedly swing under it. He also has made progress with his slider, adding sweep to it since signing, as well as his fading changeup, and both low-80s offerings grade as plus at their best."
Stay Positive on Waldichuk
Unfortunately, Waldichuk has gotten off to a slow start in Spring Training, as he has given up a few runs, including two homers. This has caused some people to overreact and already write him off.
Writing Waldichuk off is exactly what I said above: overreacting. Preseason performances don't mean much in pro sports. Both the 2008 Lions and the 2017 Browns went 4-0 in the preseason. You may have heard what else they have in common: these are the only two teams to not in a game in a season in NFL history.
Guys such as Bobby Dalbec are known to be "March Mashers", as they come alive in Spring Training and struggle during the regular season. Even though Waldichuck is struggling right now, he will settle in as he utilizes his new repertoire more and more.
Although we only saw Waldichuk for a few games in 2022, the results were a mixed bag. While he showed many promising flashes, he also walked a lot of batters and had an ERA of 4.9.
Predictions for Waldichuk
Fortunately, ZIPS is very high on Waldichuk in 2023. They project him to throw 120 innings, posting a K/9 of about 10 and an ERA under 4. These projections are already promising, and I think they are too conservative on Waldichuk's innings. Playing for Oakland, he will get plenty of chances to prove himself on a (likely) 100-loss team. With Oakland in a full-on rebuild, young players like Waldichuk should be able to rack up many innings to show what he can do.
If this happens, fantasy managers will be elated with their return. Waldichuk plays in a pitchers ballpark, which should help limit the amount of home runs that he allows. Waldichuk's situation is setting him up for a season with a lot of innings where he can rack up the K's.
Third strikeout for Ken Waldichuk. Dots 96. pic.twitter.com/JdC13sL3GX
— Conor Foley (@RailRidersTT) May 28, 2022
What Will You Have to Give Up for Waldichuk?
As Waldichuk hovers around the top 100 prospects, multiple pieces may be required to be able to acquire him.
However, Waldichuk plays for Oakland, a team who lacks national recognition. Although he is very talented, being in media attention-free Oakland may lower his asking price, as he is unknown to many Dynasty players. This means that only a small haul (a couple role players) is all that is needed for Waldichuk.
Hard-throwing lefties don't come around as starters every day. Coupling an electric fastball with a newfound sweeping slider, Waldichuk has great swing-and-miss stuff, bringing tons of potential to your Dynasty squad.
Get ready for your drafts with Fantasy Six Pack's Fantasy Baseball Content.