Jacob Turner, RHP, Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers right-hander Jacob Turner, 20, is on a Porcello-like fast track to the big leagues.
However, with Phil Coke grasping a hammerlock on the fifth starter spot, Turner will begin 2011 in AA Erie. Nevertheless, the organization is infatuated with his top-of-the-rotation potential.
The 2009 No. 9 overall selection made two starts this spring, pitching six innings of 1.50 ERA ball, issuing zero walks and five strikeouts (he also worked three hitless innings last spring).
Between Class A and Advanced A in 2010, Turner allowed 106 hits in 115.1 IP, posting a 102:23 K:BB ratio and a 3.28 ERA. The consensus top 20 prospect has the prototype pitcher's frame (6'5", 210 pounds), simple mechanics, easy 93-95 MPH heat and a blossoming curve. Owners not in keeper or dynasty formats, look alive on this one.
Jordan Lyles, RHP, Houston Astros
Twenty-year-old Jordan Lyles is among five candidates for the final spot in the Astros rotation. His competition is less than overwhelming with Ryan Rowland Smith, Nelson Figueroa and two Rule 5 selections.
While Lyles likely won't crack the rotation out of camp, he's an extremely seasoned arm, and his arrival is fast approaching.
It must be noted though that Lyles' MiLB stats have not been overwhelming. He allowed 133 hits in 127 innings in the Texas League and got lit up in six PCL starts to the tune of 0-3, 5.40 ERA and 48 hits in 31.2 IP. In a positive vein, he's kept the ball on the ground with 1.30 GO/AO ratio.
Lyles has taken velocity off his fastball for the betterment of command and has become increasingly reliant on his secondary offerings, particularly his changeup.
Zach Britton, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles have been reluctant to start the service clock on left-hander Zach Britton, but the time appears to be upon us.
The 6'3" ground-ball machine, now 23 years of age, has chewed up spring training bats with a 4.50 GO/AO ratio in nine scoreless innings. As he's done in every minor league stop, he continues to pound the bottom portion of the strike zone with tremendous efficacy (2.94 GO/AO in 2010, 3.61 in 2009 and 3.02 in 2008).
With Brad Bergesen dishing out batting practice and free-agent acquisition Justin Duchscherer uncertain for the start of 2011, Britton has a legitimate opportunity to break through at the No. 5 spot to open the season.
Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade, Chris Archer achieved newfound levels of success in 2010. His composite numbers between the FSL (Advanced A) and SOU (AA) were off the charts: 15-3, 2.34 ERA, 102 hits allowed in 142.1 IP, 149 strikeouts against 65 walks and a measly six homers allowed. His fastball is a solid offering, but a devastating, hard slider is his "out pitch."
In four spring training relief appearances (despite being a SP) he's allowed just a single run in 4.1 innings, striking out five, walking five and inducing a sick seven ground outs per fly out. In a Rays rotation loaded with youthful promise, and with command kinks still to work out, Archer is almost a sure bet to spend another full season on the farm. He's only 22, and the future is bright.