I ran into Justin Verlander on a cold Saturday in Detroit at Comerica Park in January of 2006. He was coming off a strong season in the minors in which between High A Lakeland and Double-A Erie he posted a dominant line of 1.29/0.90 with 136 K’s and just 26 BB’s in 118 IP. I knew that scouts raved about his fastball, but I didn’t know how fast it was. So I asked him. With a slight scowl on his face and even more disdain in his voice he replied, ‘I don’t know…it gets up there.’ Ha. It was a simple question. Was it really that offensive? Somehow I felt that he would have been less offended if I’d asked him the size of his jockstrap.
I was preparing for the 2006 NFBC draft, looking for endgame fliers to fill out my staff. From other sources I would glean that the former Monarch could dial it up to 101 mph and could compliment it with a plus curve. Fortunately, Justin’s cup of coffee in September of 2005 was bitter (7.15/1.76) and kept him off of fantasy radars, enabling me to nab him with the 29th pick of the 2006 Main Event.
Matt Moore’s cup of coffee last year was sweet. In fact it came with 5 lumps of sugar and lots of cream (2.89 ERA/1.28 WHIP/15 K’s/9 IP). He topped it off with a dominant win against the Texas Rangers in the playoffs. Through three games this season Matt Moore has a 5.12 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 11 K’s, and 12 BB’s in 19 IP. One could argue that the effectual ‘fantasy’ difference between Verlander and Moore as rookies is hype, a cup of coffee, and twenty-plus rounds (Matt Moore: 85 ADP). Repeat after me: There is no such thing as a pitching prospect on draft day. Even if there were such a thing, you should never draft them in the first twenty rounds of a 15 team NFBC mixed league draft. OK, with that out of the way, let’s look at some pitching prospects to track in the coming weeks.
With three stops between High-A and Double-A last year, Joe Wieland filled the stat sheet with a 150/21 K/BB ratio in 155 innings while posting a 1.97 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. In his first career major-league start at Chavez Ravine, the Rangers’ fourth round pick was hit hard, giving up 6 earned runs in 5 innings. In Petco he posted a much more roto-friendly line, striking out 7 with only 1 walk in 6 IP. He held the Phillies to just one earned run. He’s someone to watch as he could get more results like this at home as his 2-seamer gets more sinking action closer to sea level.
Wily Peralta had a solid year at Double-A Huntsville last year (3.46/1.29/117 K’s/120 IP) before turning it up a notch for 5 starts in Nashville (2.03/1.03/40 K’s/ 31 IP). I like his 2-seamer that breaks away from lefties and quickly gets in to jam right-handed hitters. His off speed stuff is decent. My concern is whether or not he’ll continue to locate his secondary pitches once he faces National League competition. He was called up Saturday to replace Kameron Loe (bereavement leave) on the Brewers 25-man roster, so his stay may be a short one, but the Dominican should get a chance later in the year to break into the rotation.
Jarrod Parker will take the mound for the Athletics Wednesday. His 13 free passes in 11 innings this spring do not instill confidence in the short term. I need to see strike one on the first pitch and a lot of 1-2 counts from Oakland’s number one pitching prospect before I forecast good things in the box score.
Drew Hutchison made his MLB début Saturday and the Royals gave him a rude welcome. It’s just one start, but I think Hutchison may need more seasoning in the minors. His 2-seamer has good movement when he has it working well, but the amount of movement he get’s out of it is inconsistent. It’s very hittable when it flattens out and it’s not good enough that he can afford to make mistakes with it over the plate or good hitters will tee off once they’ve seen him a couple of times. His 4-seamer can be an effective pitch that he can dial up to 94 and he should be able to get some K’s getting hitters trying to chase it up in the zone. His slider should be an effective pitch against righties but lefties will feast on it. On the bright side, I love pitchers who limit the walks and Drew is typically very stingy with handing out the free passes. Hutchison struggled with his command when he got in trouble during the 5th inning Saturday night against the Royals, but that should change with more experience as long as he trusts his stuff.