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Well, the two most highly-hyped prospects in baseball -- Stephen Strasburg and Mike Stanton -- will arrive this week. Of course, from a fantasy standpoint it's now a simple question: will they deliver?
As I explained in last week's "New Kids," I have major concerns about Stanton living up to the hype in 2010. Strasburg, on the other hand, is a completely different story. As you all know, his minor league numbers are sick: 55.1 IP, 1.30 earned run average, 65 strikeouts, 13 walks, and a .158 Batting Average Against. Honestly, minor league hitters were just no match for Strasburg's stuff.
Despite his young age, Strasburg is going to be a Top 12 starter for the rest of the year. You will undoubtedly see him near the top of RotoExperts' rankings throughout the remainder of the season. Why? He has the raw arsenal -- a mid-to-upper 90s fastball, power breaking offerings, and a developing change -- to miss bats on even his bad nights. In addition, even when hitters make contact, the 6-4, 220-pound righty, has learned how to induce mad grounders (2.06 ground out to air out ratio). Finally, and most important, Strasburg has the sweet control and advanced command within the zone to have immediate success. He truly is a once-in-a-generation pitcher.
There are only two negatives associated with Strasburg for the season. First, he will struggle to rack up wins on a poor Nationals squad. Sure, this is an organization moving in the right direction, but they still have a ways to go. Second, Strasburg will almost inevitably be shutdown at the beginning of September when he reaches his innings limit. Thus, you won't have the "S.S. Express" around down the fantasy stretch.
Enjoy Strasburg's first start Tuesday night. If you've never seen him pitch, you're in for quite an experience. This dude is worth every ounce of the publicity.
It's MLB Draft time. Who's pumped? Yeah, that's what I figured. We need a Mel Kiper-like character covering the baseball draft to get the masses more excited. Possible career path for yours truly? Pass the gel and annoying voice.
RotoExperts Executive Editor Doug Anderson and I were pumped on Thursday night when we had the opportunity to interview (No. 5 pick) Drew Pomeranz and (No. 13 pick) Chris Sale -- on our weekly Fantasy War Room radio show. In this week's NKOTD, I will hit you with a fantasy scouting report on Pomeranz. Next week we will cover Sale.
The 6-5, 230-pound Pomeranz was an absolute beast in '10 with a 9-2 record, 2.24 ERA, 139 Ks, 49 BBs, and a .195 BAA in 100.2 IP. The Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year has a three-pitch arsenal that includes a 88-93 mph heater, 12-to-6 knuckle-curve, and a straight changeup. The knuckle-curve is his signature pitch and one Pomeranz told us he has thrown since he was 11 years old. Seriously, can you imagine stepping to into the box in middle school and seeing that knee-buckling pitch cross the plate? Fun times for those kids.
The scary part (for hitters) is Pomeranz believes his knuckle-curve has more room for growth because he has the ability to put a screwball-like action on the pitch when he changes his arm motion. As far as the change, Pomeranz conceded he "didn't have a need" to use the pitch much in college, but he plans to develop the offering more in the pros. In this prospect hound's humble opinion, whether he masters the change will dictate whether Pomeranz is a strong No. 3 starter or an above average No. 2. Unlike in college, where Pomeranz said he was reluctant to throw the pitch because it "sped up college bats," in the pros he will need it to keep advanced hitters off-balance.
Pomeranz has been a workhorse pitcher throughout his career. He told us pitch counts and innings pitched are things he "doesn't think about." You gotta love that mentality. From a fantasy standpoint, it's a huge advantage to own a pitcher who wants the ball and is willing to be an innings-eater. The more innings our starters hurl, the more stats they can compile. Notably, Pomeranz had a period this year where he had some control woes. He told us it was a "rhythm thing" and that he was "thinking too much." As he pointed out, he corrected the issue and only had six walks in his last 21 innings. In other words, Pomeranz is telling us all to chill when it comes to control questions. Consider me chilled.
As expected, Pomeranz had no preference for where he was drafted (which was Cleveland). I can tell you one thing. He will advance quickly no matter where he lands because of his experiences in college. Further, he will be a sweet fantasy cog due to his ability to pile up strikeouts. Target Pomeranz early in your keeper leagues.
One final note from the Pomeranz interview. He informed us Zach Cox was the best college-hitter he faced this year. Stash that little note away when you're looking at 2010 draftees in supplemental keeper league drafts.
Madison Bumgarner (SP, SFG)
Mad-Bum has taken a public beating over the past eight months because his fastball velocity dipped to the high-80s at the end of last season and into the beginning of '10. Yeah, the critics just brushed aside Bumgarner's 12-2, 1.85 ERA, and .211 BAA numbers during the '09 season and focused on this diminished velocity. Silly. The 6-4, 215-pound southpaw's stock fell drastically in April when he posted a 6.50 ERA and .373 BAA at Triple-A. In fact, in keeper leagues, you could have stolen this kid a month ago because of all the nega-hype. Bumgarner turned it around in May: 38.1 IP, 0.94 ERA, 28 Ks, 10 BB, 0 HRs allowed, and a .225 BAA. Significantly, for his vocal critics, Bumgarner got his fastball back in the low-90s range. This lefty is going to grab Todd Wellemeyer's spot in the rotation at some point in the next two months. He will have some immediate growing pains in the bigs because he's still working on his mechanics. In keeper leagues, however, this is an arm to cherish.
Jeremy Hellickson (SP, TAM)
Now that Strasburg is in the majors, "Hellboy" wears the "best pitcher in the minors" label. It's time to start the public petitions to get this dude in "The Show" ASAP. In 12 Triple-A starts, Hellickson has a 2.28 ERA, 9.00 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.15 walks per nine innings, and .238 batting average against. His signature pitch in the bigs will be his changeup because it has nice late movement and a perfect differential in velocity from his heater. Wade Davis' ERA has soared to 5.03. Needless to say, Davis is hearing the footsteps like James Jett on a crossing pattern. Look for Hellickson to receive a late July promotion.
Jake Arrieta (SP, BAL)
Keep a close eye on Arrieta if only because Bradley Bergesen is atrocious. Arrieta has also put up some strong numbers at Triple-A with a 1.85 ERA, 7.89 K/9, and .189 BAA. Arrieta was scratched from his start on Saturday and pitched in relief. This has increased speculation that Arrieta will take the 5th spot in Baltimore's rotation the next time that turn comes up -- on June 12. Of course, there's also a possibility Arrieta will pitch out of the pen once he comes to the majors. Like I said, this is a situation to monitor. Personally, I would like to see Arrieta get some more time in the minors to harness his control and master the secondary pitches he has been refining. It's difficult to patient, however, when you're the Orioles.
Pedro Alvarez (3B, PIT)
Pirates GM Neil Huntington recently indicated that Alvarez needs some more seasoning before a promotion. Dude, current Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche could have a lifetime of seasoning and still never come close to Alvarez's level of play. Give me a break. Let's get the kid up and the major league learning curve started. Alvarez is hitting .273 with 11 HRs and a .517 SLG. He's also third in the International League in RBIs with 47; the Pirates could surely use this type of run-generating stick. The Pirates have been concerned with Alvarez's ability to hit tough lefties at times in the minors. Please, he's hitting a respectable .271 against the southpaws in his minor league career. Look for Alvarez to get the call in early July and for him to be an immediate back-end corner option in mixed leagues because of his pop.
All statistics as of June 6, 2010.
Hit Bill Root with a tweet @Bill_Root or an e-mail at email@example.com if you have a burning fantasy prospect question. Make sure to check out our Xclusive Edge Rankings for help with your tough lineup decisions.