2011 Fantasy Baseball: Michael Pineda & Other New Faces at the 5th Spot

TheFantasyFix.comAnalyst IMarch 30, 2011

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 20:  Michael Pineda #36 of the Seattle Mariners poses for a portrait at the Peoria Sports Complex on February 20, 2011 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Brandon Beachy has officially come full circle. The 24-year-old, who was originally signed as a undrafted free agent by Atlanta in 2008, is now slotted into the fifth spot in the Braves rotation to open 2011.

Beachy has transformed himself from a reliever with pedestrian splits into a starter with outrageous strikeout frequency (148 K in 119.1 IP).

To make matters more bizarre, his arsenal does not contain what one would consider swing and miss "stuff." His low 90's fastball, quality changeup and improving curveball combine to form a nice repertoire, but his whiff rate in 2010 seems inflated.

With that said, arguing with his spring training statistics is an exercise in futility: 16 IP, seven hits, 1.13 ERA and 16 K against four walks.

Beachy overcame left-hander Mike Minor for the final rotation spot, but Minor is blessed with significantly higher upside and will be heard from again shortly. He'll have to perform to maintain his spot.

Beachy could possess solid fantasy value on a winning club matching up against bottom tier starters. He's currently being targeted between picks 225-240, which seems realistic.

Since entering the Mariners system in 2006, Michael Pineda has filled out substantially. The 22-year-old now stands at 6'7", 260 pounds and is lighting up radar guns with the occasional triple digit reading.

Pineda made mince meat of lower levels of MiLB, but tasted adversity for the first time in his 12-start stint in the PCL to close 2010, where he pitched to a 4.76 ERA and allowed nine homers in 62.1 innings. Flashes of brilliance were apparent, however, as he struck out 76 against only 12 walks.

A consensus top rated prospect, Pineda is still relying predominantly on physical gifts to succeed, but his ceiling is sky high. His command in the minors has been outstanding, but refinement of secondary offerings (slider and change) will be required to stick in the big leagues (2.12 ERA in 17 IP this spring).

The injury risk associated with his delivery is very real (history of sore elbow) but his current ADP in the 200-225 range is shortchanging his potential, especially in pitcher friendly Safeco Field.

When Carlos Silva is your competition, it's difficult to say you "earned" anything. Nevertheless, despite an underwhelming spring, Andrew Cashner will open the new campaign as the Cubs fifth starter.

Cashner has allowed 18 hits in 16.1 innings of work in the Cactus League, posting a 4.41 ERA and 11:8 K:BB ratio.

As has been his trademark, he continues to rack up ground balls with his electric, sinking fastball. He's posted a 2.60 GO/AO ratio this spring, buttressing his 1.65 ratio over 54.1 middle relief innings in 2010. His strikeout totals have been disappointing, but with mid-high 90's heat and a filthy slider, it's only a matter of mound seasoning until it clicks for him.

The 2008 first round selection has “value” written all over him in the waning rounds of fantasy drafts, currently being targeted in the 280 range. There is no risk in that draft slot, and a low WHIP-high K total could be a healthy reward.


Written by Adam Ganeles exclusively forwww.thefantasyfix.com

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