Fantasy rookie report, part four

Starting Pitcher

I have put together top-tier pitching staffs in previous years without even drafting a single pitcher among my first ten picks. It can happen. Breakout candidates are ripe for the picking every year in the middle to late rounds, and this year is no different.

The only rookie who fits into that category is Jeremy Hellickson, and really he is the only draft-worthy rookie around. He has big upside and was able to put it on display late last year. But he has an injury history to think about and, with all young pitchers, he could wear out toward the end of the year as he approaches 180 innings or more.

Mike Minor heads up the next tier of rookie pitchers. He looks like the frontrunner for Atlanta’s No. 5 job and has a great minor league pedigree. I’m not sold on his strikeout numbers sticking around, but he’s definitely worth a look if gets off to a hot start.

Kyle Drabek looks like a safe bet to open the year in Toronto’s rotation. He has good stuff but questionable control, and his minor league numbers haven’t been as dominant as you would like. He could take off, but I will wait and see.

Jordan Lyles and Michael Pineda are two potential aces who play for ball clubs in desperate need of their services. But we won’t see these guys in the majors until at least June. Either one could explode in the minor leagues and face a promotion that rivals the likes of Tommy Hanson or Stephen Strasburg of previous years.

In order of upside potential, Mark Rogers, Zach Britton, Andrew Oliver and Dillon Gee are among a group of advanced pitchers who have a good shot at some major league rotation time if an injury strikes.

And that leaves Jarrod Parker, who is hoping to put Tommy John surgery behind him. His upside is still immense, so he’s a lottery ticket worth keeping an eye on.

Relief Pitcher

This crop of relief pitchers has the potential to make a bigger impact than any other position.

Craig Kimbrel is the closest rookie to a closer job at this point. The only concern I have are his past command issues, but I’ll be all over him in the late rounds. He has to iron out his control, but Kimbrel has the talent and the job opening to finish the year as a top-5 closer. For real.

Jake McGee doesn’t have Tampa Bay’s closer job yet, but he has the potential to not only nail down the job early on this season, but put up some great numbers across the board.

Like Tampa Bay, the White Sox have a closer-by-committee setup at the moment, but Chris Sale is the most talented option and, like McGee, a high upside late-round addition.

Aroldis Chapman might be the most talented pitcher among this group of extremely talented relievers, but he doesn’t have the opportunity of the others thanks to Francisco Cordero. Where he’s being drafted, I’m letting him go this year.

Jordan Walden and Tanner Scheppers are two more talented relievers worth mentioning. Both have a shot at closing if injuries hit.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

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13 years ago

Nobody, with the exception of his mother, thinks that Jordan Lyles is anything more than a No 3 starter.  I wouldn’t throw the word “ace” around in the same sentence.

Karl Weathers
13 years ago

I assume you submitted this article a few weeks ago?

Pineda won’t be up until June? Might want to look into that.

13 years ago

Pineda will not be up until June. The speculation surrounding him is nothing that hasn’t been seen before with promising prospects this time of year. Why would the Mariners sacrifice a year of arbitration to bring this guy up now? Pineda just had a sub par outing; before the start of the season the headline on him will read something like this: “Pineda is being sent down to get some more seasoning and work on his pitches, yada, yada, yada.” Mark my words. Same thing for Brandon Belt too.

Bobby A
13 years ago

Great article, Matt.

What’s your ETA for Teheran??

Karl Weathers
13 years ago

They may wait a week, considering he wouldn’t be needed to start until April 11 anyway, but they will not wait until June.

13 years ago

Could just be an elaborate runaround as you suggest, but I’m with Mr. Weathers on this one. Same thing as when Longo came up without waiting on the clock, the Mariners are willing to put up a long term deal when the time comes, making that last year either way moot. Word out of the clubhouse has Pineda starting the season with the club after they break camp, unless he pitches his way out of the job. Considering Luke French is the other option, this M’s fan is looking forward to a sweet start to the season.