Fantasy Baseball Breakout Candidate: Danny Salazar
Danny Salazar is a young pitcher for the Cleveland Indians who you should definitely have your eye on this spring as you prepare for your fantasy baseball draft. The 24-year-old rookie had his first cup of coffee in the majors last season, and he was quite impressive in limited action. In 52 innings last year, Salazar posted a 3.12 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and a very impressive 65:15 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Salazar is a flamethrower who boasts a fastball that ranges from 93-97 mph (it averaged 95.9 mph in the majors last season), and he also offers a splitter that’s effective against both lefties and righties. Salazar recorded a 13.3 percent swinging strike percentage with his fastball last season, compared to 6.3 percent for Clayton Kershaw, 6.0 percent for Stephen Strasburg and 9.7 percent for Yu Darvish.
Salazar’s fastball is absolutely electric — arguably already one of the best in MLB — and recently he’s shown that he’s capable of harnessing its powers and using the pitch as a real weapon.
The primary red flag surrounding Salazar is that when batters did make contact with his fastball , they generally hit it pretty hard. I don’t think it’s a huge concern (after all, Salazar did have 13 more strikeouts with his fastball in 2013 than he had hits allowed) but it’s definitely noteworthy. Six of the 24 hits batters got off of Salazar’s fastball left the park and 12 of them (home runs included) went for extra bases.
Obviously we’re dealing with a small sample size when we discuss any aspect of Salazar’s 2013 performance, but in order for him to improve upon his impressive 2013, he’s going to need to do a better job at keeping his fastball down, preventing hitters from driving it into the gaps, or worse, out of the ballpark.
I have the Salazar ranked as the 50th starting pitcher heading into the 2014 season (ahead of guys like Matt Garza, Matt Moore and Clay Buchholz) and I have him projected to record 11 wins and 174 strikeouts to go along with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. The young pitcher is poised to breakout this season and if he falls to you in the 15th round, you may want to consider making an early hop onto the Danny Salazar bandwagon.