Dan Straily: A poor man's Danny Hultzen

I try to be a student of which traits in a prospect tend to be over-rated and under-rated and there's a very practical reason for this: As an active fantasy player and sometime fantasy writer, I need to get a competitive edge over other rivals in my league and other fantasy writers.

High on my radar this year has been the Athletic's Dan Straily, who has some traits that have kept him below the radar of most and, I think, still under-appreciated even as he's emerged this year.

As a college pitcher he had three and arguably four strikes against him. His velocity in the upper 80s was below average, his stats were mediocre, evidence of middling secondary pitches and command, he was not a lefty, and while not small, at 6'2" he was not a tall pitchers for whom scouts tend to project growth. The first two strikes were perfectly fair; the latter two are ones I think are overemphasized by scouts -- smaller to average size right-handers tend to be under-rated, all things equal.

Straily is on many more radars now: John did a profile of him, listed him among the also-rans in his mid-season top-120 and Straily is one injury or trade away from cracking Oakland's rotation, though returns by Anderson and Brady might compromise that.

So why am I writing about him? At 120 to 150 among prospects I think he is still under-rated, that his ranking is lagging his performance because prospect evaluators -- like many evaluators -- carry some inertia with their assessments: They are slow to adjust a prospect up or down outside a dramatic development. Straily is especially vulnerable to this bias because he possesses no singular trait that would haul him high on the prospect lists.

What he does possess is an above average fastball, an above average slider, and above average change up and above average change up, all on a frame, that while not especially tall, is strong and sturdy - he's listed at 6'2" 225-230 lbs and if you have seen him pitch he has a solid, stocky build and an easy delivery that would seem not prone to injury.

From a fantasy perspective, that he will play in pitching-friendly Oakland will help is ERA and WHIP. For comparison's sake, A.J. Griffin has had three strong starts and Straily's stuff is superior, according to the Athletic's AAA coach.

True, his ceiling is not as high as some of the top pitching prospects -- he's likely not an ace or all-star. But is his stuff at this stage that much different than a Danny Hultzen, a pitcher I quite like? I'd argue there's not much difference in their stuff -- the fundamental differences are that Hultzen is a lefty and has pitched at his current level for years - he was an All-American in high school, good enough to be drafted in the 10th round despite his interest in college (he went to my alma mater at UVA). Straily has been this good for half a season, was nearly as good last year, but was nondescript before that.

If Hultzen is a top-10 prospect - as most have him, is Straily really less than top-50? I don't think so. Straily, by the way, is nearly exactly one year older than Hultzen, an age difference that may has some relevance but I don't think a huge one.

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