2010 Fantasy Baseball Breakout Pitchers
With pitchers and catchers packing their bags for the start of training camp, the 2010 Fantasy baseball season is fast-approaching.
This is a season typically reserved for only the serious fantasy-sports participants because of the daily grind managers must endure compared to the cakewalk otherwise known as Fantasy Football.
I thought I would point out a handful of pitchers who are likely to be bypassed as the normal foundations of managers’ rotations. Any manager building a team with plans of any of these guys being the Ace of their staff are eternal optimists. In fact, these players probably won’t be selected with the intention of filling the number two or even number three slots for the SP portion of their team.
I’m hesitant to refer to these players as “sleepers” but more as back-of-the-rotation “breakout” candidates age 25 and younger.
Baltimore and Florida each feature a pair of young pitchers that made the list...
Gio Gonzalez (Athletics – 24) 5-11 200 LH
Billy Beane loves bargain-hunting. He thinks he may have found an undervalued gem in the left-handed Gonzalez.
Besides the fact he offers Manager Bob Geren a solid option against predominately right-handed hitting teams. Gonzalez has always featured a good fastball and an even better curve. His bender follows a true 12-to-6 trajectory such as former A’s lefty, Barry Zito.
Every year in the minors he used his deceptive movement to rack up more than a strikeout per inning.
Aaron Poreda (Padres – 23) 6-6 230 LH
San Diego believes they grabbed quite a prospect from the White Sox in the Jake Peavy trade.
Originally drafted out of the University of San Francisco with the 25th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Poreda is a tall, flame-throwing southpaw capable of flirting with triple digits.
If he doesn’t crack the rotation by opening day it seems safe to assume an early-season start isn’t far away as the Padres would likely view him as a next-in-line player if an injury, performance, or circumstantial issue befalls any part of the Padres rotation.
At 6'6", his 96-98 mph fastball must look even faster as hitters probably feel the California-born hurler is almost directly on top of them by the time he follows-through.
Chris Volstad (Marlins – 23) 6-8 230 RH
Five of the top seven starting pitchers on the Marlins depth chart look more like an NBA team’s roster of small and power forwards.
Two of those players contributing to an average height of 6’7” made this list. One of them is this 2005 draft pick from Palm Beach Gardens (Florida) high school. Despite reported flaws in his delivery, Volstad depends on a low-to-mid 90s fastball that’s been described as “heavy.”
Like a couple others on the list, Volstad might not open the season as a starter but will in due time this season.
Sean West (Marlins – 22) 6-8 240 LH
Former first-round pick and lefty prospect is surprisingly unheralded because he missed the entire 2007 season.
West dials it up in the 94-to-96 mph range and supplements that with a circle change. His biggest drawback besides a lack of a dependable third pitch is a tendency to have control issues. Fortunately for players of his height, there’s a larger margin of error to work with when it comes to control because he has the Randy Johnson-like effect of standing directly on top of the hitter, essentially shrinking the normal 60 feet six inches distance separating them.
He could be a nice source of strikeouts throughout his career but may struggle in WHIP early on.
Wade Davis (Rays – 24) 6-5 220 RH
The book on this Florida native is an upper 90s fastball with a solid, and sometimes baffling, curve.
Watching Davis is a treat for fans who appreciate aggressive pitchers constantly challenging hitters with a good old-fashioned heater. Heading to Spring Training in Port Charlotte, Rays coaches have the luxury of alleviating extra pressure on Davis by deciding to use him in the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation unless something drastic changes.
Carlos Carrasco (Indians – 23) 6-3 220 RH
One of the more talked-about prospects just a couple years ago, the durable right-hander fell out of favor quickly after a forgettable season in Triple-A.
At least one team still thought highly enough of Carrasco, as he was a centerpiece in Cleveland’s demand from the Phillies for Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco. I happen to agree with Indians' General Manager Mark Shapiro about the future prospects for this Venezuelan-born player.
By no means will Carrasco be a consistent performer from start to start or even month to month this year, but if he can translate the games where opposing lineups light him up he’ll be just fine.
Chris Tillman (Orioles – 21) 6-5 195 RH
This lanky pitcher uses the traditional fastball-curveball as his primary pitches. Tillman’s 95-mph fastball is similar to that of teammate and fellow breakout candidate, Brian Matusz.
The Orioles are counting on Tillman to take advantage of his opportunities this year, which they hope helps make their rotation one of the surprises of the AL East.
One of the more impressive stats from his time in the O’s farm system was in the very competitive Double-A league where he held hitters to a .227 average—good for second best among all Double-A pitchers.
Brian Matusz (Orioles – 23) 6-2 190 LH
The fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft turned some heads with his outstanding, albeit brief, appearances last year. Matusz finished with a 5-2 record in only eight starts. It’s hard to find many weaknesses in his game.
He’s a polished pitcher who has a firm grasp on the art of pitching to go with sometimes unhittable stuff—most notably a devastating slider, mid-90s fastball, and knee-buckling curve.
Baltimore fans have endured some rough seasons as of late but can rejoice knowing the club has assembled an arsenal of promising pitchers ready to knock down the door to major league prominence.
Max Scherzer (Tigers – 25) 6-3 225
The Tigers have as good a shot as any AL Central team to win the division after landing Scherzer in a blockbuster deal which sent Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson packing. Despite grumblings among a few Detroit fans, several baseball executives have gushed over the bevy of riches Detroit has with pitching.
Besides being one of the only players with two different colored eyes (one brown and one blue for those of you keeping score at home), Scherzer joins Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello to give Detroit one of the best young rotations in the American League.
The former University of Missouri ace fits the mold Tigers' General Manager Dave Dombrowski looks for in his hurlers; velocity...and lots of it.
He can touch 100 mph and can adjust his fastball anywhere from the low to high 90s. Scherzer’s slider can be downright filthy at times, but pitching Coach Rick Knapp will look to make that a more consistent part of his repertoire; if he can somehow develop an above-average change-up a perennial Top-10 ranking is likely.