After a rough opening start against the Mets, Mike Minor responded with three consecutive quality starts. Minor was suddenly a fantasy star on the rise, which was much-needed for a Braves team that had already demoted hurler Jair Jurrjens to the minor leagues.
Through four starts, Minor boasted respectable numbers including a 2-1 record with a respectable 3.42 ERA. Most impressive was the 0.99 WHIP as a result of his fine control and .233 opposing batting average. Minor had not walked a batter in the previous two games and allowed just one home run all season. Then he hit a rocky road.
The Pirates were supposed to be an easy win for Minor. Instead, the contest marked his second loss of the season, as after hurling two shutout innings he surrendered two runs in three of the next four innings and then another run in the seventh before he was removed. The good news for fantasy managers were the nine strikeouts, but he also walked three batters and allowed two home runs.
Minor’s next start might as well have been at death row. He visited the Rockies in Coors Field and while the good news was that the Braves eventually won, the bad news including 10 hits, four walks, and eight earned runs in just five innings of work. His ERA has skyrocketed to 5.97 and the once impressive WHIP has lost its luster at 1.35.
Things may get worse before they get better as Minor next takes on a very good Cardinals offense. This is a pitcher that may have a bright future, but for now should make his home on the waiver wire.
Young starting pitching is always at a premium in the real world, and often in the fantasy world. As such, serious leagues demand its owners possess knowledge of the top prospects near and far the stage of the majors. With that stated, here are the 10 arms considered the finest pitching prospects in the land by Bloomberg Sports’ Front Office Tool:
1. Mike Minor
2. Jeremy Hellickson
3. Kyle Drabek
4. Chris Archer
5. Manuel Banuelos
6. Zachary Britton
7. Christian Friedrich
8. Kyle Gibson
9. Casey Kelly
10. John Lamb
The top three already have big league experience. Minor started eight games for the Braves last season, completing 40 innings while striking out 43 and walking 11. The former Vanderbilt attendee figures to start the season in the rotation and while he’s unlikely to replicate his 2010 numbers, he’s better than most fifth starters. Hellickson impressed as well, with a similar strikeout and walk rate. Although he’s hampered with a hamstring injury now, if healthy, the Des Moines native will open the season as the Rays’ fifth starter. Drabek’s entrance to the majors did not fare as well, but he’s a top prospect for a reason and could open the season in the Jays’ rotation too.
Archer is one of the jewels the Rays received in return for Matt Garza, he should open the season in Triple-A, but a big league stint near season’s end -perhaps in the bullpen–is not out of the question. Banuelos received hype for a recent appearance, but he’s just now turning 20 and it’s unlikely he’ll get much more than a cup of coffee this season. Britton, on the other hand, should debut this season, as he spent last season in the high minors and pitched fairly well, with sub-3 ERAs at both Double- and Triple-A and peripherals to match.
As for the rest, Gibson shot through the system and stands the best chance of appearing in the bigs this season. That doesn’t mean you should ignore arms like Lamb and Kelly in keeper leagues, though, as again, they have the pedigree for a reason. Just don’t get too infatuated with these guys, as pitching prospects are more volatile than hitting prospects.