Minor Developments: Prominent pitchers

Rob Steingall

The Mets have finally summoned top pitching prospect Matt Harvey to the majors, although it comes following a rough final start at Triple-A (5 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 HR, 2 BB, 6 K). While I don't think it's enough to shake the kid's confidence, temper expectations for Harvey's major league debut. He has a strikeout arsenal, but with more work to do in the control department. Projection: ERA in the 4.00-4.25 range with a K/9 right around 6.5.
Next on the fantasy pitching horizon could be Athletics prospect Dan Straily, who is destroying minor league hitters this year (132.1 IP, 171 K). While much of his damage was done at the Double-A level (3.38 ERA, 108/23 K/BB), his transition to Triple-A has been even more impressive (0.93 ERA, 63/14 K/BB). Scouts don't feel he'll ever be a top of the rotation starter due to the average nature of his stuff, but he mixes pitches well, and could far exceed that conservative prediction making half his starts in Oakland. With those gaudy strikeout totals, I'd be willing to roll the dice on Straily in just about any format.
Mariners hurler Danny Hultzen needs to stay on your fantasy radar, especially with the Mariners looking to trade starters Kevin Millwood and Jason Vargas. Walks have hampered the young lefty at Triple-A (7 BB/9), and are likely the last thing he needs to get under control before making his major league debut. While more time on the farm is probably best, if a rotation spot opens up with the big club, he'll most likely continue his education against major leaguers. While he has more upside than the previously mentioned pitchers, he may make the least amount of fantasy noise this year.
The fantasy community has cooled a bit on Trevor Bauer since he was demoted following a few rough with the Diamondbacks, causing the Tyler Skaggs-hype machine to kick into high gear. Looking under the hood, his control appears to have stuck since making the jump to Triple-A (2.45 BB/9), while his strikeouts have dipped way down (5.32 K/9). This dip is the product of a 5.8% swinging strike rate, which is incredibly poor and screams to me that he isn't quite ready yet for the majors. Major league hitters would tee off on him right now, and he needs to learn to generate more whiffs before earning a promotion. Skaggs is a fantastic stock to own in dynasty formats, but is most likely not going to make a fantasy impact until next year.
The Marlins acquired a shiny new toy from the Tigers in pitching prospect Jacob Turner (and also Rob Brantly, a solid prospect as well), in return for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. Turner has been rushed from the start by the Tigers, which isn't surprising when you look at their track record with promoting and pushing young prospects (Cameron Maybin, Rick Porcello, and now Nick Castellanos). His fastball lacks some of the zip it had when he was first drafted and he still lacks the necessary command of his arsenal to succeed in the majors. The best course of action for him would be another year in the minors, allowing him to build his confidence and eventually fulfill his top of the rotation potential.
We'll close with five prospects who are a bit off the radar, but could begin to garner some Top 100 attention with strong finishes to the season.
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates: My new favorite pet prospect in the minors and a great stock to own in dynasty formats. He has a tantalizing combination of speed and power, and is just beginning to grow into his sizable frame (6-foot-4, 170 pounds). He's batting .329 with 13 homers, 70 RBI, and 38 steals and is knocking on the door for a promotion to High-A.
Alfredo Marte, OF, Diamondbacks: The power has finally arrived, and he is making quite a statement at Double-A (.299/18/60). He might earn a look in September, but is more likely to figure in to the Diamondbacks 2013 plans.
Alex Meyer, SP, Nationals: An intimidating mound presence (6-foot-9, 220 pounds), he recently earned a promotion to High-A Potomac on the heels of dominating performance at Hagerstown (90 IP, 3.10 ERA, 107/34 K/BB). As a polished college arm, he has the chance to move quickly through the Nationals system, and should make a fantasy splash in 2014.
Brian Goodwin, OF, Nationals: This is friend and colleague Michael Salfino's guy. After dominating Low-A pitching (.324/9/38 with 43 walks and 39 Ks), he was aggressively promoted to Double-A, and offers a tantalizing blend of speed and power. If he wasn't on your fantasy radar before, he should be now – despite a predictably slow Double A start.
Jefry Marte, 3B, Mets: While I don't feel he'll be Top 100 prospect material necessarily, he's always been a favorite of mine, and deserves some mention. While his .261/8/45 line is modest, he continues to make strides with his plate discipline (8.6% BB%, 13.7% K%), and could be on the cusp of a breakout performance.
Rob Steingall is a syndicated fantasy analyst. Follow him on Twitter
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