After covering the hitters last week, we’re on to the pitchers. The promotion of Jose Fernandez is huge fantasy news, and we’ll get to him and others this week.
Dylan Bundy, Orioles (Y! Ownership: 9%)
Pros: One of the best high school pitching prospects to come out during the last decade, and proved it with his meteoric rise to the majors. If any of the Orioles starters falter, he could find himself promoted. His dominant arsenal should lead to strong strikeout totals immediately.
Cons: He’s starting out at Double-A, and is dealing with a barking elbow. Lost development time could lead to him being passed up by fellow prospect Kevin Gausman, who may move quickly following a standout college career.
Jose Fernandez, Marlins (Y! Ownership: 23%)
Pros: A major league rotation spot, which is shocking considering how generally cheap the Marlins are. Jeffrey Loria needs to sell tickets though, so fantasy speculators benefit. His upper 90s fastball and nasty slider should generate plenty of swings and misses.
Cons: He’s never pitched above High-A ball, so the transition could be rough. His lack of experience is the biggest fear, but the talent is there for him to shine immediately.
Shelby Miller, Cardinals (Y! Ownership: 45%)
Pros: After relying too heavily on his fastball during the first half last season, he made some adjustments and shined down the stretch. Now primed for a full time rotation gig, Miller’s strikeout arsenal will be on full display with an organization that has great success developing pitchers.
Cons: Besides the fastball issues, Miller is one of the safer rookie pitching prospects this season.
Gerrit Cole, Pirates (Y! Ownership: 6%)
Pros: He can touch triple digits on the radar gun and his slider is lethal when he’s in the groove. On paper, he may have the best stuff in the minors (although Dylan Bundy may have something to say about that). The Pirates have a weak back end of the rotation, so opportunity should be knocking soon.
Cons: Cole’s changeup is still developing consistency, and he could still use another few months of dominating the high minors and learning how to pitch. The Pirates want to control him on the cheap, so expect to see him up around June.
Zack Wheeler, Mets (Y! Ownership: 6%)
Pros: He may be even more talented than Matt Harvey, who had an awesome debut in ’12. It’s almost a given he’ll be up later this summer, so he’s worth stashing if you have a deep bench. Strikeouts will come in bunches when he arrives. v Cons: He’s struggled with walks, and while he’s improved since joining the Mets, he’ll benefit from an extra few months down on the farm. The biggest downside here is the Mets patience with him. While it may serve him well over the long haul, it’s frustrating for fantasy speculators.
Tyler Skaggs, Diamondbacks (Y! Ownership: 3%)
Pros: A lefty with an awesome curveball that buckles knees and generates Ks is always exciting. Brandon McCarthy is a solid pitcher, but struggles to stay healthy, with Skaggs being the likely first to get the call.
Cons: His fastball isn’t huge, and he has flyball tendencies. In a hitter’s park, that could lead to some issues with the long ball. Skaggs is still a bit inexperienced, so his impact in ’13 could be small.
Trevor Bauer, Indians (Y! Ownership: 9%)
Pros: You all know the story on Bauer by now: quirky guy, deep arsenal, just plan filthy stuff. He’s currently blocked by Scott Kazmir, who hasn’t been effective in the majors for years.
Cons: Carlos Carrasco could be the first guy to get the shot if Kazmir doesn’t pan out. Bauer is still a bit erratic with his stuff, and will certainly benefit from more developmental time.
Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals (Y! Ownership: 8%)
Pros: As I mentioned with teammate Shelby Miller, he pitches for an organization that knows how to develop pitchers. His electric stuff is currently on display out of the Cardinals bullpen, where he’ll learn to effectively put out big league hitters with efficiency.
Cons: He’s only a setup guy at this stage, and while he’ll rack up the strikeouts, his value is limited in fantasy this season. The Cardinals aren’t afraid to bounce guys between the bullpen and rotation though, and have had great success doing it (Wainwright, Lynn).
Julio Teheran, Braves (Y! Ownership: 68%)
Pros: He’s been a top prospect for what seems like forever. An electric fastball has always been his calling card, and coming off a great winter league and spring training performance, he’s poised for a breakout.
Cons: Fantasy players haven’t completely forgotten about his gruesome ’12 season, so the fear that he’ll struggle once again is very real. Brandon Beachy should be ready by June, so it will be interesting to see what the Braves then do with their pitchers.
Wily Peralta, Brewers (Y! Ownership: 4%)
Pros: A great debut helped his confidence. His fastball is lethal (95.8 MPH average), and coupled with his slider, led to plenty of strikeouts.
Cons: He struggled this spring, so it makes you wonder if the gains he made in control once he was promoted are for real. He’s still a bit of a two pitch guy, and will need to develop some more consistency with his changeup to effectively neutralize left handed hitters.
Brandon Maurer, Mariners (Y! Ownership: 0%)
Pros: He’s not as hyped as the other arms in the Mariners system (Walker, Hultzen, Paxton), but still a special talent. Maurer is the fifth starter to begin the year, and his big fastball and deep arsenal could lead to immediate success.
Cons: He’s been an injury risk in the past, and threw a career most 137.2 innings last season, so it’s likely he’ll be capped this year. A short leash is also likely, considering the talented arms behind him in the organization.
Other arms to monitor: Chris Archer, Rays; Kyle Gibson, Twins; Michael Wacha, Cardinals; Kyle Gibson, Royals; Kevin Gausman, Orioles
Rob Steingall is a syndicated fantasy analyst. You can follow him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/rsteingall) and email prospect questions to MinorDevelopments@yahoo.com