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Sleepers & Busts: Kyle Farnsworth, Adam Wainwright

Two pitchers. Each has four letters in his first name and 10 letters in his surname. Coincidence? Probably so ... or is it? OK, enough nonsense. Let's get on with the column. As always, I issue the standard disclaimer: The terms "sleeper" and "bust" are relative to average draft position (courtesy of MockDraftCentral.com).

Kyle Farnsworth, CL, Rays
ADP: 224

In the words of Biggie Smalls, things done changed for Kyle Farnsworth. Once a guy who seemed incapable of effectively harnessing his immense raw potential, the right-hander has refined his craft as he's settled into his mid-30s, culminating in last season's unforeseen and surprisingly successful run as the Rays' primary closer.

Considering that Farnsworth owns a long track record of disappointments and late-inning meltdowns, you can hardly hold it against mockers for casting a jaundiced eye (18th round) toward his 25 saves and 2.18 ERA in 2011. But a look beyond the surface stats indicates that K-Farns could in fact again be a late-round bargain on Draft Day as he was a year ago, when Tampa broke camp with a short-lived three-headed closing monster of Farnsworth, Joel Peralta and Jake McGee.

It's all there, clear as crystal: You stole Fizzy Lifting Drink Farnsworth is a different pitcher than he was during his frustrating youth. The right-hander has added an extra pitch, a cutter, to his arsenal over the past three years, which has furnished him with the dual benefits of inducing more grounders and preventing hitters from sitting on his old fastball/slider two-pitch mix. He's also significantly reduced his walk rate, down to a solid 2.64 BB/9 in 2010 and then a minuscule 1.87 last season.

Now, there are a couple of concerns that are worth mentioning. First, don't count on a repeat of last year's ridiculously strong ERA, as Farnsworth was exceedingly fortunate in strand rate, at 85%, and BABIP, at .250 (vs. .294 for his career). SIERA liked him for a 2.77 figure last year, which is still excellent, but again: bank on a figure closer to 3.00 than 2.00.

Next, Farnsworth missed time in September due to a tweaked elbow, which is always something worth taking into consideration. He didn't undergo offseason surgery, which is encouraging in that it's safe to assume he mended with simple rest, and the notoriously frugal Rays exercised their club option on him, suggesting they weren't overly concerned. If the club's not worried, I'm not going to get all in a tizzy, either.

Farnsworth is currently the 27th reliever being drafted, even behind the underwhelming Chris Perez and two setup men in Sergio Romo and Francisco Rodriguez. The closer's job is Farnsy's in Tampa, and he's got the stuff to once again provide surplus value relative to what you'll pay for him on Draft Day.

Adam Wainwright, SP, Cardinals
ADP: 104.5 

I hemmed and hawed on listing Adam Wainwright as a "bust" here, because I don't want to root against a guy who's coming off Tommy John surgery. In truth, though, I won't be pulling against Waino; I just happen to think too many mockers are taking an unnecessary risk.

Wainwright, 31 in August, missed the entirety of 2011 after undergoing Tommy John in Spring Training. He'll be a full year removed from the surgery by Opening Day, and though I'm not a doctor, we all know that there's a long list of pitchers who have returned from TJ and regained their old form or something close to it -- some sooner than others.

But what exactly does that mean for Waino in 2012? Will he pick up and be the awesome pitcher that he was in 2009 and 2010? Maybe he'll be effective but not quite as effective. It's not far fetched to think his strikeout rate might dip from 8-plus K/9.  As well, much of his value was tied to his 230-inning workloads in 2009-10, but it's hard to imagine him doing that again coming off major surgery and a year-long layoff. I think the Cards will limit him to something like 160-180 innings. And finally, there could be other kinks to work out. Perhaps there will be a minor setback -- the tearing of scar tissue or some such -- at some point.

You get the idea.

Currently the 29th starter being drafted in mocks (mid-8th round), that places Wainwright right in the middle of the No. 3 starters, which is hardly a throwaway roster spot. Consider some of the starters being drafted after Waino: Brandon Beachy, Yu Darvish, Anibal Sanchez, Shaun Marcum, Max Scherzer and Brandon Morrow, to name a few. These guys bring different skills to the table, and I like them to varying degrees, but depending on who you take as your first and second starters, any of them could be very nice complements.

With pitching as deep as it is, I'd rather focus on filling out my lineup in the eighth round than taking a flier on a guy with health concerns. The long odds of the potential upside being realized just doesn't seem to justify the risk.



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