If you are fortunate enough to remain alive in your league’s pennant race, the decisions you make in September will determine your ultimate fate. While many elite prospects will get called up, picking up the players who will actually contribute in 2011 is the key. Should you be building for next year, this is an opportune time to pick up next season’s Craig Kimbrel or Michael Pineda. Having solid keepers should be a top priority whether you are still in the money, or building for next spring. With every major league staff desperately needing extra arms, we take a look at elite pitchers “on deck”. Some are ready now, others have struggled as they move up the minor league ranks. What is common among the entire list are high expecations.
Julio Teheran- Pitcher- Atlanta Braves
Teheran is destined for top of the rotation, as soon as next season. Teheran boasts three elite pitches, including a mid-90’s fastball. Teheran was honored with an appearance in the Future’s Game and spot starts with Atlanta. In 23 minor league starts in 2011, Teheran was 15-2 with a sparkling 2.22 ERA. 121 strikeouts and only 117 hits allowed in 142 innings of work attest to his “nasty” stuff.
Jacob Turner- Pitcher- Detroit Tigers
Turner is the gem of the Tigers minor league system, loaded with poise, only needed refinement of a fine arsenal of pitches. Turner has spent almost the entire season in the minors, with only a spot start in “the show”. A top-10 draft pick in 2009, Turner has been solid at two minor league levels with an ERA of 3.44 in twenty starts.
Martin Perez- Pitcher- Texas Rangers
Perez is on track to be the ace the Rangers have long sought. Often compared to Johan Santana, Perez has the nasty change up and a low to mid 90’s fastball. The left hander spent 2010 in Double-A at the young age of 19, where he was very good when on and very bad when not. Perez was solid in the Texas League in ’11 but has struggled with Triple-A Round Rock with an ERA of 6.34 in nine starts.
Mike Montgomery- Pitcher- Kansas City Royals
Entering spring training, most experts felt Montgomery was major league ready and if not on opening day rosters a call up wouldn’t be far off. While Kansas City has auditioned many of its elite prospects this season, Montgomery wasn’t among them. Perhaps the Royals were right as Montgomery has been pedestrian at best this season with an ERA of 5.40 in 27 minor league starts.
Tyler Matzek- Pitcher- Colorado Rockies
The 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Matzek is on track to top of the Rockies rotation. A mid-90’s fastball is one of just four pitches with major league potential. After a brief yet successful debut in Class A in 2010, Matzek hit the wall in the California league in mid-’11. Matzek is still a work in progress as an ERA of 9.82 in ten Modesto starts indicates
Matthew Moore- Pitcher- Tampa Bay Rays
Moore caught everyone’s attention with 208 strikeouts in 2010 and hasn’t disappointed in ’11. While he has a trio of major league caliber pitches, it’s his unorthodox delivery that baffles hitters. Moore absolutely dominated the Southern League with an 8-3 record and ERA of 2.20 landing him in the Futures Game. Moore has been even better in the International League with an ERA of 1.35 in eight starts. Even more telling is 69 strikeouts in only 46 innings of work.
Kyle Drabek- Pitcher- Toronto Blue Jays
Many jumped on Drabek out of the gate in spring training and thought they had hit the jack pot. The league caught up with Drabek the second time around and he ended up back in the minors. Known for his major league caliber curveball, Drabek keeps hitters honest with a mid-90’s fastball. Surprisingly, Drabek had even more problems in Triple-A with an ERA of 7.41 in 14 starts.
Jared Parker- Pitcher- Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks continue to stockpile young starters with none better than Parker. Tommy John surgery in 2009, sidelined Parker for the better part of two years, but like many before him, may be stronger now than ever. In 25 Southern League starts, Parker is 11-8 with a 3.88 ERA. Parker punched out hitters at more than eight per nine innings of work.
Shelby Miller- Pitcher- St. Louis Cardinals
A top-20 pick in the 2009 draft, the Cardinals are eager to add Miller to the Major League rotation. Miller is projected at the top of the rotation eventually, but like many young hurlers is looking to add more to his repertoire than just a heater. Miller has not disappointed at two minor league stops in ’11 with an ERA of 2.94 in 24 starts. Miller certainly has the strikeout pitch working, punching out 161 hitters in only 131 innings.
Brad Peacock- Pitcher- Washington Nationals
Unlike the other “can’t miss” pitching prospects, Peacock wasn’t a bonus baby draft pick; in fact, he wasn’t taken by the Washington Nationals until the 41st round! With an ERA in the mid four range over four minor league seasons, Peacock wasn’t raising many eyebrows. That was until this season. Peacock made 16 Eastern League starts, earning mid-season all-star selection and a spot in the futures game. Peacock’s success continued at Triple-A Syracuse with a 5-1 record and 3.19 ERA over nine starts.
Tom Blaz is a writer for Fantasy Alarm and co-owner of The Recruiting Eagle a website focusing on Auburn University Athletics.
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