Top 10 Pitchers 24 and Under to Build a Team Around

Solomon RyanCorrespondent IIAugust 12, 2011

Top 10 Pitchers 24 and Under to Build a Team Around

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    Sometimes pitchers just don’t get the credit they deserve. They can be equally, if not more, valuable than a hitter, especially in the postseason.

    When a pitcher toes the rubber in a postseason matchup, he proves that he can be relied upon all season. Pitchers are subjected to the most pressure, and that is why the good ones are as cold as ice.

    A stellar pitcher can give a team two postseason wins in a series. A great pitcher is that pitcher who can get three wins and pitch his heart out.

    The pitchers on this list not only have the potential to bring in the wins in the postseason, but they also are possible Cy Young candidates in the future and right now.

    This list is limited to pitchers under the age of 25. A franchise cannot be built around an older player. Some pitchers 25 and over can make a good run for several years, but younger pitchers can dominate for six to seven years, not just produce hum-drum wins.

    Players who just missed the cut because of age: Felix Hernandez (25 years old), Yovani Gallardo (25), David Price (25), Matt Cain (26), Ian Kennedy (26).

10. Brandon Beachy (24 Years Old), Atlanta Braves

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    Beachy really broke out onto the scene this year. He pitched three games last year and did well, but this year his performance would be considered solid for any pitcher, not just for a rookie.

    He is 5-2, has a 3.43 ERA and has 105 strikeouts. Beachy is one of the few players on this list who is on a playoff contending team. He can make a serious name for himself if he pitches well down the stretch for the Braves.

9. Tyler Chatwood (21), Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    At only 21 years old, Chatwood is the youngest player on this list. This is his only year in the major leagues, and he has proven he belongs.

    Chatwood too is on a contending team, the Angels, so it should interesting to see how he pitches under the pressure.

8. Stephen Strasburg (23), Washington Nationals

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    It is difficult for me to put Strasburg on this list because of his Tommy John surgery. Don’t get me wrong, he could be No. 1 on this list because of his electrifying stuff, but Tommy John is a major surgical operation.

    Some players who get the surgery come back better than before, but others never recover fully. Also, it is not promising to be injured after your 12th start, considering all the careful monitoring that the Nationals devoted to their wonder pitcher.

    If, and that’s a big if, Strasburg can stay healthy and keep up the form he had before he was injured, he could win multiple Cy Youngs. Let’s hope for the best because seeing a pitcher like Strasburg is life-changing.

7. Jhoulys Chacin (23), Colorado Rockies

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    The Rockies have at least one pitcher to count on in the years ahead. The team needs to improve on a lot of aspects, but Chacin is something the Rockies struck gold with.

    He has already pitched two major seasons with the Rockies and his stuff baffles hitters. He has an average of 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Chacin will be a very good player in the future.

6. Jeremy Hellickson (24), Tampa Bay Rays

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    Last year, Hellickson showed us why he was hyped up so much. In the four games he started last year, Hellickson was 4-0 with a 3.47 ERA.

    This year, in his first full season, his numbers are even better. He is 10-7, has 3.05 ERA and has pitched 130 innings.

    Knowing the Rays, they will trade him because keeping Hellickson will cost too much money.

5. Trevor Cahill (23), Oakland Athletics

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    Finishing ninth in the Cy Young race last year, Cahill is going to place even lower in years to come.

    He started off great this season but has faltered a little since. That doesn’t mean he lost his pitching skill. He just has to adjust to hitters.

    Cahill is one of the best control pitchers in baseball. Last year, he finished first for starting pitchers in the American League, giving up only 66 walks.

    Look for Cahill to get back on the saddle soon.

4. Mat Latos (23), San Diego Padres

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    Latos has all the tools to be an elite pitcher in today’s game. He’s tall (6’6”), throws a good fastball and has a variety of pitches at his disposal.

    Although Latos has a 6-11 record this year, his numbers aren’t too bad. In 22 starts, Latos has 3.87 ERA and 125 strikeouts.

    He has had some injury problems, but if he can stay healthy, Latos can make even the Padres a playoff contender.

3. Tommy Hanson (24), Atlanta Braves

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    It wasn’t hard to see Hanson was going to be a star in the major leagues. Since finishing in third place for Rookie of the Year honors two years ago, Hanson has improved. Hanson did have a worse record last year than in his rookie season, but he pitched over 200 innings.

2. Michael Pineda (22), Seattle Mariners

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    A strikeout machine, Pineda is averaging 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Pineda is a scary figure on the mound, towering over the batter with his 6’7” frame and his broad shoulders.

    If the Mariners added one more pitcher and a lot more bats, they could compete for a playoff spot. With Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda leading the staff, it is hard to choose which pitcher to face.

1. Clayton Kershaw (23), Los Angeles Dodgers

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    One of the nastiest curveballs in recent memory, Kershaw is the next big thing. Here’s a pitcher who has improved every year since he came into the league.

    Kershaw is dominant most games he pitches. We are seeing a Hall of Fame-worthy pitcher right before our eyes. Hopefully, injuries don’t get the best of him.