MLB Fantasy Baseball 2011: 5 Young Arms I Am Reaching for on Draft Day

Brad WelchContributor IJanuary 29, 2011

MLB Fantasy Baseball 2011: 5 Young Arms I Am Reaching for on Draft Day

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    OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 06:  Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Minnesota Twins during an MLB game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on June 6, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    To get Roy Halladay in 2011, you will probably have to spend a first round pick on him. Sure, he's great and all, but I don't think I would want to spend my first pick on a guy that I can only use once every five days.

    I like results, and hitters are going to show me results everyday. That's why I hardly ever draft a pitcher in the first six rounds. 

    Usually, I plan on taking pitchers beginning in seventh round, but the goal is to find guys in the middle to late rounds that will give you stats somewhat comparable to the big arms of Lincecum, Felix, Wainwright, etc. 

    The following is a list of five pitchers who I believe will have great seasons. What makes them even more appealing is that you should be able to get them outside of the first 8-10 rounds of your draft. 

    If you are in a keeper league this will be even more valuable to you; as the average age of all these arms is well under 25.

    So read, enjoy, discuss and debate, but in the end, hopefully this list will help you cheaply land a player that may produce a third round type season at a tenth round cost. 

Daniel Hudson, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 01: Daniel Hudson #41 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 1, 2010 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Being from the Chicago area, I was sad to see this guy go. The talk around the town was that he was really special, and he showed that in Arizona last summer.

    In his 11 starts since joining the Diamondbacks, Hudson posted these nasty numbers (1.69 ERA, .084 WHIP, 70 K in 79 IP and a 7-1 record). His minor league numbers were also impressive. In over 300 IP, for a couple of years, his ERA was under three, his WHIP was under 1.05 and his K/9 was over ten.

    With that said, his average draft position in early mock drafts is around Round 15.

    Even if you reach and grab Hudson in the 8th or 9th round, it will pay dividends. My guess this year is an ERA around the low three's with a WHIP in the 1.10-1.20 range. His K/9 rate should sit somewhere in the high eights.

    I don't predict wins and losses because that's purely a guess. Hudson could perform at the same level as a Jon Lester.

    Reach for this guy. 

Gio Gonzalez, Oakland Athletics

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    OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 03:  Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during a Major League Baseball game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 3, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Gonzalez is only 25, but it seems like we have been hearing about him forever. In 2010, he showed flashes of why he was on peoples radar for so long. He finished with a 3.23 ERA and a respectable 1.31 WHIP.

    So why do I think he is headed for a breakout season?

    It's a close examination of his last two months of 2010. Gonzalez made 12 starts in August and September. In 10 of those 12 starts, he gave up three or fewer runs. The other two were a 8 IP, 4 ER, 11K performance against the White Sox, and the one blemish, a seven run shellacking to the Royals (yeah, a fluke).

    He plays in a pitchers park, he's nearing his prime years and the stats are there. Currently, he is going in the 12-14 rounds. Last year he went undrafted and was easily a Top 25 pitcher.

    This year you won't get him for free, but you can still get him at a price that he will outperform. The WHIP will get better, around the 1.20 range, and the ERA will be a little better. The biggest growth we will see from Gonzalez is a jump in the K/9 rate. His minor league numbers were over 10 K/9 and expected him to improve on the 7.7 from last year. 

    I'd look to grab him in the 9th to 10th rounds 

Brian Matusz, Baltimore Orioles

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    BALTIMORE - AUGUST 31:  Brian Matusz #17 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards on August 31, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    It's only a matter of time right? He was hyped, kind of fell short, but looked really good at the end of 2010.

    Like Gonzalez, Matusz really turned it on after July. In his 11 starts after July, he held the opposition to two or fewer runs nine times. The other two times,  six innings pitched, three earned runs against the New York Yankees and a four innings pitched, five earned run game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

    He went 7-1 over the last 11 and seemed to excel under Showalter who he will pitch for in 2011. He does have to play in the AL East, but in 24.2 IP (four starts) against the Yankees, he only gave up eight runs.

    Maybe he isn't all that to intimidated.

    He is still only 23-years-old, he is going well after Round 10 to 12 in most mocks. He will be the ace in Baltimore before the season even reaches the All-Star break if he isn't already considered the ace. Going into last year he was the top pitching prospect not named Strasburg.

    After his rough start, he was forgotten about, but at the end of the season, he really did show what he was made of. The overall 2010 season wasn't pretty; which is why he will be slipping in drafts this year.

    Go get this guy especially in a keeper/dynasty league. I fully expect an ERA under 3.50 and a respectable WHIP, to go along with a nice strikeout ratio. 

Brandon Morrow, Toronto Blue Jays

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    NEW YORK - JULY 04:  Brandon Morrow #23 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees on July 4, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    This guy might be the one I am most excited about, and it's not just because of the 17 strikeout, one hit performance against Tampa Bay Rays.

    His 2010 stats were not great if you are just skimming the basic ERA/WHIP categories. But if you look closer, you will see he decreased his BB/9 from 5.7 in 2009 to 4.1 in 2010. He also increased his K/9 from 8.1 in 2009 to 10.9 in 2010.

    That's right 10.9, almost three more batters per every nine innings. This tells us that he is improving his command. Another year with command improvement, we could see fewer walks and maybe even more strikeouts, which in turn would reduce WHIP and hopefully his ERA and a better K/9 ratio.

    Don't forget last year was his first as a full time starter. In previous years he had been shuffled around, but in 2010 the Blue Jays finally committed to him as a starter.

    Also don't forget that after May, his ERA was in the six range and he brought it down significantly over the last three to four months. All the signs here point to a great 2011.

    Not only do I think he will post Top 25 ERA/WHIP numbers, but I think he will lead the majors in K/9 for a starting pitcher.

    Taking this guy in a single digit round is not crazy. 

Jhoulys Chacin, Colorado Rockies

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Jhoulys Chacin #45 of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the game at Dodger Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    I may be better at rattling off this guys stats then pronouncing his name, but before long we will all be familiar with Chacin. I don't know what kept Chacin under the radar in 2010, maybe it was the monster years by CarGo and Tulo or maybe it was the Cy Young run that fell short by Ubaldo Jimenez his fellow rotation mate.

    It could have been because he posted an unlucky 9-11 record. This is the last time, however, we will speak about Chacin being under the radar. 

    An examination of his stats will show you a solid season. He was in the rotation, then spent some time in the bullpen, then went back to the starting rotation and finished the season there. He should start and finish this year, and many to come in the middle of the Rockies rotation.

    Chacin posted a 3.28 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 9.0 K/9 season. But how he finished the season was even more spectacular. While Tulo was breaking records, Chacin was posting these earned run numbers in his last eight starts: 0,1,1,2,0,0,2,2.

    Halladay like? No, even better. 

    Right now, Chacin's average mock draft position is in the 20th round. If you got him there, you'd be getting a major steal, so reach and take him around the mid-teens and still consider it a steal.