Greetings, and welcome back for another week of trying to make rational sense out of the seemingly irrational numbers baseball players produce.
A quartet of young arms were advanced over this past cycle who merit a look, starting with a couple of personal favorites. We'll begin with the Padres' Robbie Erlin. Selected in the third round of the 2009 draft out of Scotts Valley High School, Erlin put in parts of two seasons with the Rangers before being shipped to San Diego along with Joe Wieland for reliever Mike Adams as the Rangers tried for a Series push. With 278 punchouts over 340 innings (296 hits, 57 walks, and a 1.038 WHIP) Erlin, now 22-years old, was 2-0, 4.72 at Triple-A Tucson so far this year (10 whiffs, 13.1 IP, 18 hits) and will likely go into the Friars rotation. If available, the lefty is a good addition to your roster, although as a rookie pitcher expect some lumps (also expect with guys like Wieland, Andrew Cashner, and Cory Luebke for the Pads to have a pretty solid rotation before long).
I also really like the Dodgers' Matt Magill. In fact, I highlighted Magill on our Top 250 (he logged in at #220) Prospect list this year because I liked the 11-8, 3.75 mark at Double-A Chattanooga last year, with 168 strikeouts over 146 innings, allowing 61 walks and 127 hits, good for a 1.285 ratio. Drafted out of Simi Valley High School in the 31st round in 2008, Magill has 532 strikeouts over a like number of minor league innings and was 0-0, 2.84 this year over four starts and 19 innings at Albuquerque before being summoned by the Dodgers for at least one start while L.A. sorts out its rotation injury issues. Magill turned in 6.2 solid innings, allowing four hits and a pair each of walks and runs in his first major league start. I really like the future of this kid.
Phillies' right hander Jonathan Pettibone is yet another draftee selected out of a California high school (like Erlin and Magill), having been selected in the third round of the 2008 draft out of Esperanza High School (in Anaheim). More of a control arm, Pettibone struck out 356 over 497.2 innings with 464 hits allowed and 164 walks. Pettibone registered #37 on our Top 250, and has a 1-0, 4.35 mark over two big league starts. Of these three starters, I have the least faith in the 22-year-old, however.
Bruce Rondon was signed as a free agent by the Tigers in 2007 out of Valencia, Carabolo, Vemezuela. A very hard thrower, Rondon has 68 saves over 147 games and 203.2 innings, with 222 strikeouts to go with a 6-10, 2.43 record. Rondon was summoned last week and I saw his first performance, where the right-hander certainly threw hard, clocking near 100 MPH, but also showing control issues (113 walks). To be successful in the Show, however, Rondon is going to have to throw something aside from his fastball, meaning he is likely a closer of the future (Rondon was #45 on our Top 250).
A better bet for saves in Detroit is ex-closer Jose Valverde, who did convert 35 saves for the Tigers last year, posting a 3-4, 3.78 record, finishing 67 games (to lead the league for the second straight year). Valverde was hittable during the stretch, and thus the 35-year-old Dominican signed in a hurry to help the leaky Tigers' pen. And, he does have a pair of saves so far, meaning he is the best bet right now for conversions. Bid accordinly.
While we are looking at resurrected veterans, Brandon Inge was brought back up by the so far surprising Pirates (15-10), filling in at first, second and third. Inge has some definite pop and also can be streaky, like most power hitters, so if you have a hole in your NL-only roster, Inge is a reasonable gamble, and he could even give 10 homers over a couple of hundred at-bats. Just expect an average around .220 (his career mark is .234) in the bargain. But, also note that Inge has played first, second and third, making him potentially a versatile addition, something that does not hurt.
Brandon Belt has picked up his average over the past ten days but Joaquin Arias has been logging time at first in San Francisco, as well as playing all the other infield positions, hitting just .200-0-2 over 25 at-bats. In a deep format, Arias could have some value, but were I to choose between Inge and Arias, I have to say Inge would be the choice.
Looking at two young hitters who are first-time major leaguers, the Yankees promoted catcher Austin Romine to fill the Francisco Cervelli void. Another high school draftee out of California (2nd round in 2007, out of El Toro High in Lake Forrest), Romine posted a .280-44-258 line over seven minor league seasons with a .334 OBP (142 walks to 320 strikeouts) to go along with a 2011 major league mark of 0-0-.150 over 19 games, Romine might be a stop-gap to help in a deep AL format, but like it or not, the 20-year-old Gary Sanchez (.287-47-197 over 989 at-bats) is probably the Pinstripe prospect to chase.
Finally, I am a big fan of Robbie Grossman, another high school draftee, although out of Cy-Fair High School in Cypress, Texas in 2008. An outfielder, Grossman was selected in the sixth round by the Buccos but then swapped to Houston as part of the Wandy Rodriguez deal last trading deadline. Grossman is a hustling player who does a lot of things well, having posted a .269-32-201 record in the Minors to go along with 90 steals and a solid .381 OBP (342 walks to 541 whiffs). Grossman is getting a chance to start every day in Houston, and I think manager Bo Porter is going to be rewarded giving this guy a chance. For sure, pick him up if you have the need (he is also worth stashing in your Minors).