If you're searching for a pitcher with serious potential to impact your team in 2023, it's time to take a closer look at a dynasty baseball prospect: Brandon Pfaadt.
To get your attention right off the bat, Pfaadt led the minors in strikeouts last season with 218. The workhorse started 29 games and pitched 167 innings between Double-A and Triple-A for the Arizona Diamondbacks. His performance in 2022 earned him the title of the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
His rise through their farm system makes him look like a steal for the Diamondbacks. Drafted in 2020 as a reliever out of place called Bellarmine University, early projections for next season now have Pfaadt playing a sizable role as a starter in the big leagues.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander might not have the most eye-popping stats, but when you dig deeper into his profile, you'll understand why you are probably too low on him.
Under-the-Radar Dynasty Baseball Prospect: Brandon Pfaadt
2022 in Review
As I said, maybe not the ridiculous numbers we're used to in some of these underrated player profiles. But Pfaadt's control and consistency deep into games are two impressive attributes.
Only five pitchers threw 100 innings in 2022 and posted a K/9 above ten and a BB/9 below 2: Tanner Bibee, Richard Fitts, Brant Hurter, Jack Leftwich, and – you guessed it – Brandon Pfaadt. Only 12 pitchers with that same workload posted a lower BB%.
I can't ignore that some of his numbers might concern dynasty owners a bit. But, on the other hand, Pfaadt did give up 19 HRs in 20 starts at Double-A. His home ballpark certainly played a factor, though. Baseball America's Geoff Pontes said Amarillo is "long viewed as one of the most difficult run environments to pitch across all professional baseball."
That environment didn't hold Pfaadt back. He jumped to Triple-A in late August and started ten games to close the year. In those ten starts, he posted at least 6 IP in seven games and only had one outing with more than 3 ER.
Pfaadt finished his stint in Reno with a 5-1 record, a 2.63 ERA, and 74 strikeouts through 61.2 IP with opponents batting .209 against him. Keep in mind this all happened in the Pacific Coast League. Fangraphs' Dan Szymborski noted that the Pacific Coast League had its best offensive season since the early 1980s, with a league ERA of 5.40 and nearly six runs scored per game. "To survive and thrive in a hitters' park in that league is a feat."
Pfaadt will be in the mix for the Diamondbacks rotation in 2023. That's no secret at this point. But some projections REALLY like his chances.
Full #Dbacks ZiPS are out, and Brandon Pfaadt's projection is off the charts for a guy who has yet to throw an inning in the big leagues:
152.1 IP, 139 H, 62 ER, 32 BB, 153 K, 3.66 ERA, 2.8 fWAR.
— Jesse Friedman (@JesseNFriedman) December 15, 2022
Steamer projections are a bit more modest: 13 GS, 8.10 K/9, 2.29 BB/9, 1.31 HR/9, 4.24 ERA, 0.8 WAR.
Regardless of projections, dynasty owners need to jump on the opportunity to grab a solid starter with promising long-term potential.
His control shined with the Reno Aces. Pfaadt posted a 69 percent strike rate in Triple-A. But he also recognized the need to adjust as he reached higher levels. Here's what Pfaadt said about picking his spots vs. pounding the strike zone:
"For a little bit, I was throwing too many strikes. It seems like a good thing, but it's not a good thing at higher levels, especially with two strikes. So we tried to keep honing in [during] bullpens on leaving the zone with two strikes. I think that helped get more strikeouts."
Pfaadt's advanced command of his four-pitch mix and his ability to hold his velocity deep into his starts should solidify him as at least a mid-rotation guy. However, outside of Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, the Diamondbacks are looking for consistency among their starters.
F6P's Mike Schneider put Pfaadt at No. 193 in his end-of-season prospect rankings, and Dave Eddy listed him at No. 487 in his latest dynasty rankings. That shows you should be able to grab Pfaadt at a low cost. It's a good time to invest before he builds on his case to be a regular in the Diamondbacks rotation.
Check out more excellent Fantasy Baseball content from the F6P team!