Archive for February, 2010

Thursday: 02.25.2010

2010 Echelons of Starting Pitching: Part 4

Continuing the monster starting pitcher list…

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Echelon 4, Part I – Upside Hotel

As with the Echelon 5, I’m going to sort this subset of players by age with 26 again being the cutoff point. This group of 25 and under arms is further along than the group in Echelon 5. Almost all of them have some major league experience and/or a clear path to their team’s rotation with an impressive spring performance. The long term upside of some of them might not be as high as some 5s, but their chance to make a 2010 impact is much higher. This 26 and over crowd is significantly better than their Echelon 5 counterparts and though there is still a chance they’ll implode, it’s not the near certainty it is with the 5ers. Crafting a scenario where they are fantasy viable doesn’t involve a set of 7-10 “if” phrases, instead maybe just two or three.

20 Year Olds

1. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco (MLB) – Much has been made over his significant drop in K/9 at AA (from 8.6 to 5.8), but I think it’s still far too early to overreact. He struck out 10.5 per nine in 141 innings in 2008 and then suffered the drop in 107 innings at AA-Connecticut last year. So he has one great and one awful similarly sized sample. He still kept the ball in the yard remarkably well (0.5 HR/9) and had sparkling results (1.93 ERA, 1.03 WHIP). Oh and he’s 20! It’d be nice to see his velocity return this year, but judgments need to be held at least until he is able to legally drink. He’s still an excellent investment for 2011.

21 Year Olds

1. Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds (WBC) – Big time prospect defected from Cuba and surprised everyone by signing with the Reds. He already possesses a plus-plus fastball both in terms of speed and movement with a strong slider to complement it. He is still very raw and hopefully the Reds handle him with care. Realistically he should have an ETA of June 2011 at the earliest unless he just OBLITERATES the high minors for significant periods of time.

2. Hector Rondon, Cleveland Indians (AAA) – He could probably use another 75-90 innings at AAA, but he’s proven himself at every level thus far with great control, above average to great strikeout rates and the ability to limit home runs. His changeup is coming along well to go with a low 90s fastball and two breaking pitches. It wouldn’t be totally out of the realm of possibilities for him to win a spot out of camp, but at least some AAA time this year is probably best for his development.

3. Chris Tillman, Baltimore Orioles (MLB) – Owns a great fastball/curveball combo that he used to dominate the minor leagues to the tune of 10 K/9 across 399 innings and posting a 3.79 ERA in the process including a 3.18 at AA and 2.70 at AAA in the past two seasons. He got a 65 inning taste of the big leagues last year and it was rocky to say the least. I think that the experience will serve him well this season and he will make his adjustment to the league and succeed more than he fails. His control was actually better in the majors (3.3 BB/9 to 3.9 in the minors) than it was coming up through the minors so if he holds onto that and the strikeouts get to 80% of his minor league level, then the league is in trouble.

22 Year Olds

1. Jhoulys Chacin, Colorado Rockies (MLB) – Made it from AA to the majors in 2009, but struggled mightily with his control in the quick stops at AAA (14 IP) and MLB (11 IP). A full season or at least three-quarters of a season at AAA will serve him well as polishes his control against better competition. He already has an above average changeup to go with his excellent groundball-inducing fastball. This is the kind of repertoire you want for a Coors Field pitcher. If he can get his cutter and curveball to catch up, then he can be a #1 guy. He is definitely someone worth investing in with an early minor league pick.

2. Kyle Drabek, Toronto Blue Jays (AA) – Hopefully the Jays don’t rush Drabek in an effort to show fans what they got back for Roy Halladay. He still has a raw arsenal including a changeup that needs plenty of work. It wouldn’t be awful to start him at AAA out of spring, but another 40-50 innings at AA first might even be the best solution followed by AAA work the rest of the year before a September call-up and then another 50 or so innings at AAA in the beginning of 2011 before getting to the show. Obviously this is dependent on how he performs this season, but there is absolutely no need to rush him.

23 Year Olds

1. Michael Bowden, Boston Red Sox (MLB) – He doesn’t jump off the page with gaudy numbers or an overwhelming set of pitches, but all three (fastball, curveball and changeup) are above average and have some room to get better. He strikes me as someone similar to Jair Jurrjens at least in terms of his peripheral numbers. Jurrjens teeters on that 2.0 K/BB line mainly because of a passable but not overwhelming 6.0-6.5 K/9 rate. That doesn’t mean Bowden will be posting a 2.60 ERA anytime soon if for no other reason than the fact that Jurrjens didn’t deserve his in 2009. Bowden profiles as a middle-to-back of the rotation guy who could raise his ceiling as he becomes more polished.

2. Brett Cecil, Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) – Simply lost his ability to strikeout batters at the elite rate he had in 2008 across three levels. Having pitched just 31 innings at AAA in 2008 and only 49 more in 2009, he was clearly rushed into his major league duty. He would be best served with another 75 or so innings at AAA to start 2010, but most depth charts have him in the big league rotation right now. There will be more growing pains, but he has middle of the rotation ability.

3. Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays (AAA) – His changeup was identified as the thing to work on for 2009 and he met the challenge turning it into an above average pitch en route to a brilliant season. He’s been the total package of power and control throughout the minors and he isn’t far from pushing way onto the major league roster. The Rays have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to their starting pitching and continued AAA success from Hellickson could put someone else out via trade or even Hellickson himself who could fetch a mint for the Rays.

4. Tommy Hunter, Texas Rangers (MLB) – His underlying numbers belied the resulting success he enjoyed in 2009 and he is in for some significant regression if he posts the same kind of peripherals again in 2010. He’s a back end of the rotation starter who can be useful in spurts, but he will soon be squeezed out of the Texas rotation by the influx of talent they have coming down pike. The one caveat is that Mike Maddux is a very good pitching coach and he coaxed the 4.10 ERA in 112 innings out of Hunter, so perhaps there is even more magic where that came from. That’s not a hedge, though. I’m avoiding Hunter at all costs and I’ll happily eat crow if he miraculously becomes a 7.0+ K/9 pitcher while maintaining his solid control.

5. Vincent Mazzaro, Oakland A’s (MLB) – Profiles pretty similarly to Hunter across the board including the part about eventually being squeezed from the rotation by better talent. Mazzaro has displayed 6.5-7.0 K/9 talent in the minors, but only brought 5.8 K/9 with him to the majors in his first tour. He can display the kind of K/BB ratio he enjoyed at AA-Midland and AAA-Sacramento the past two years then he might stick in the back end of that rotation, but I wouldn’t bet on him over Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Braden or even Josh Outman once he’s fully healthy late in 2010.

6. Jake McGee, Tampa Bay Rays (AA) – See what I mean about Tampa Bay’s depth? McGee spent 2009 returning from elbow surgery so he essentially started over again in hopes of regaining his arm strength. He only threw 30 innings of work, but struck out 40 batters while walking 12 across two levels in low A ball. He has always been a dominant type who overpowers hitters with a sharp fastball and deceptive curveball and changeup offerings as his secondary pitches. He’s a bit of unknown as he returns from injury and he could detour to the bullpen where his high strikeout/somewhat erratic control profile would flourish and perhaps develop into closer-worthy status should the control get better.

7. Jonathon Niese, New York Mets (MLB) – Acquitted himself well enough when forced into duty at the major league level before being shutdown like so many Mets were in 2009. He is in line to win a spot in the rotation more out of necessity than anything else, but he could be similar to teammate John Maine if all goes well. That is probably the ceiling for his profile right now with a mid-4.00s ERA and decent strikeout totals being the low end of a healthy season from Niese. You could do worse in an NL Only while filling out your rotation.

8. Aaron Poreda, San Diego Padres (MLB) – You know what is better than pitching in Petco? Nothing. And that is why Poreda will get a look in most NL Only leagues even if he doesn’t break camp in the rotation (which he shouldn’t). His spotty control needs about 100 more innings of AAA work before he is ready to make any type of impact in the majors. He has got a low-to-mid 90s fastball that he is living off of at this point while his slider and changeup require attention. He could make an impact during the dog days of summer, even if as a spot starter at home in spacious Petco Park.

24 Year Olds

1. Jake Arrieta, Baltimore Orioles (AAA) – Part of the wave that Baltimore hopes can make them the next Tampa Bay in the coming seasons. Arrieta has two money pitches with his fastball and slider while the changeup is becoming more and more effective. He dominated AA for 59 innings before getting a promotion to AAA where he remained strong, but lost three strikeouts off of his K/9 (down to a still solid 7.7). He needs more time at AAA to work on his command and continue to improve that changeup, too. He could be a midseason call up perhaps after the deadline if veterans Kevin Millwood and/or Jeremy Guthrie are moved out to contenders, but I wouldn’t expect any significant contributions until 2011.

2. Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds (MLB) – After four straight season on the Baseball America Top 100 from 2005 to 2008 (topping out at 5 in 2007), Bailey had been left dead at least in terms of an elite prospect as he not only failed in two small, nearly insignificant major league stints, but also struggled to master AAA (4.77 ERA in 111 IP in 2008). Of course once he was written off and the limelight went to roast some other “next big thing”, he excelled. First in AAA and then in majors. Actually his first 62 major league inning of 2009 were abysmal (6.82 ERA), but from August 28th on he went 5-1 with a 1.76 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 8.7 K/9 and 2.5 K/BB in 51 innings. Plus he had also laid waste to AAA posting a 2.71 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8.2 K/9 and 3.0 K/BB in 90 innings before the big league success. Now even taking it all together, it’s still just 141 innings of success, but Bailey proved what many often forget: you can’t rush to judgment on young pitchers. Don’t rush back to the other end of the spectrum for 2010 though, either. He’s still very young. Buy in with an expectation of a 4.30 ERA over 170 innings and anything better will be a bonus.

3. Collin Balester, Washington Nationals (MLB) – Young enough to believe he can improve into a useful piece on the fantasy landscape, but even his minor league profile wasn’t terribly exciting so expectations can’t be terribly high for him. It is kind of an obvious thing to say, but Balester’s key to success is greatly improved control. He doesn’t have enough stuff to give away free passes and overcome it. Again, it’s not groundbreaking, but for some pitchers it’s much more important whereas someone with overpowering stuff can learn the control piece later on.

4. Brad Bergesen, Baltimore Orioles (MLB) – This guy is snake bitten. He took a shot off the shin cutting his season short last year and now this offseason he gets hurt filming a commercial. He’s got very good command which is probably why the O’s were confident enough to let him pitch just 11 innings in AAA before bringing him to the majors. He will need to have sub-2.0 BB/9 stuff if he plans to stick with fewer than 5.0 K/9 and be successful. I will go back to my favorite comp for this profile, he is very Nick Blackburn-ish meaning he could experience more success in 2010, but the margin for error is Mary Kate Olsen thin.

5. Luke French, Seattle Mariners (MLB) – French wishes he had the profile of Bergesen or Blackburn. He’s got the middling K-rate that they have, but nowhere near the control. The Seattle defense seems to give pitchers a boost similar to what Petco does for guys in San Diego, but that still doesn’t really make me want to roster French. He needs to recapture the seemingly anomalous 7.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 skills he showed in 82 innings at AAA-Toledo last year before I will approach the bandwagon.

6. Sean Gallagher, San Diego (MLB) – He gets the Petco boost off the bat, but that’s mitigated a bit by the fact that they have 94,000 options for their rotation who could be equal to or better than Gallagher at this point. He has shown the talent to be a very good top of the rotation guy with good command and a strikeout per inning stuff, but health has been a major roadblock to this point. A clean bill of health plus Petco Park could result in one of those $1 gem seasons where you get 150 innings of 3.60 ERA. Watch closely this spring.

7. Matt Harrison, Texas Rangers (MLB) – There isn’t a ton to like here, but he did manage 3.1 K/BB ratio in 640 minor league innings, so he can’t be completely ignored, especially in Texas because of the Mike Maddux Effect. He’s waiver wire fodder in all scenarios even if he somehow broke camp in the rotation.

8. Kris Medlen, Atlanta Braves (MLB) – He got better as the season went along posting a 3.4 K/BB ratio from July on and become a very reliable reliever for the Braves. The Braves rotation seems pretty set 1 through 5 right now, but that doesn’t mean Medlen won’t ever make his way back as a starter. He’s an ideal swingman for them as he continues to develop a third offering to go with his plus slider and solid fastball.

9. Franklin Morales, Colorado Rockies (MLB) – Like Medlen, Morales looks to be locked into a bullpen spot for 2010, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be there permanently. His control needs plenty of work and the bullpen is a better place to figure it out than every fifth day as a starter. He may catch some spot start duty unless he becomes their left-handed 7th/8th inning guy several games a week. Provided he is used regularly, he has value as a high strikeout reliever who could vulture a handful of wins and a handful of saves.

10. Marc Rzepczynski, Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) – Fared pretty well in 61 major league innings despite essentially skipping AAA (just 11 IP) en route to the majors. He’s a groundball pitcher with excellent strikeout ability which is usually a recipe for legitimate success. His command is a bit sketchy having walked over 4.0 batters per nine, but as long as he’s approaching nearly a strikeout per inning he can get by with those walks. He’s a bit under the radar and I really like him for 2010 if he can secure a rotation out of spring.

11. Anthony Swarzak, Minnesota Twins (MLB) – Fits the low strikeout/high control profile we’ve come to expect out of Minnesota, but his command isn’t quite to the level of teammates Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Carl Pavano and Kevin Slowey. He has just 80 innings of AAA ball under his belt so I suspect we will see him start there and refine that control before getting another shot in the majors. His profile isn’t terribly appealing because it lacks the flashy strikeout total, but the Twins have a strong enough track record that you want to keep your eye on their prospects just so you don’t miss out on a potential gem.

12. Sean West, Florida Marlins (MLB) – Didn’t pitch much at AA (64 innings) and skipped AAA completely, but actually fared relatively well in 103 innings at the big league level. He got his feet under him in the late summer closing out with a 2.6 K/BB ratio across the final two months after failing to top 1.5 prior to that point. He’s an intriguing option for 2010 after gaining some invaluable experience last year. He has some serious strikeout potential for an endgame pick and might not cost more than a dollar.

25 Year Olds

1. David Huff, Cleveland Indians (MLB) – He wasn’t able to bring much of his 8.1 minor league K/9 rate with him to majors as he failed to reach even the 5.0 mark in 128 innings. That and a host of other factors led to a dismal 5.61 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. But he would hardly be the first pitcher to struggle mightily in his first shot in the majors only to mature and become the viable option his minor league performance suggested he could become. The Indians rotation is wide open for 2010 so he shouldn’t be short on opportunities unless he completely implodes. Someone to watch, but best case is still a mid-4.00s ERA.

2. Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB) – Injury wiped out most of 2009, but he impressed the D’Backs enough with a 5.6 K/BB ratio (28 Ks, 5 BB) in the Arizona Fall League for them to seek him out in the blockbuster Curtis Granderson/Max Scherzer trade. He has a 9.9 K/9 rate in 249 minor league innings along with a 2.8 BB/9 so the skill is there. He’s drawing a lot of attention as a sleeper so far this year. So much so that he is headed toward the other end of the spectrum, but there will still be plenty of leagues that undervalue him. Look out for his health reports throughout the spring and be ready to pounce if he is given a clean bill of health and a spot in the rotation.

3. Andrew Miller, Florida Marlins (MLB) – It’s been a helluva rollercoaster ride for Miller already and he’s just 25 years old. He has shown flashes of brilliance, but they have been fleeting. This year is a do-or-die kind of season at least in terms of projecting Miller as a top of the rotation starter. If he fails to show improvements in his command, then it is time to reset expectations on what he can become. He does a great job limiting home runs and holds an above average strikeout rate which leaves the mental aspect of the game as his final hurdle to stardom. That mental game goes hand in hand with improving his control. I’d rather wait-&-see with him unless he came at a truly rock bottom price.

4. Bud Norris, Houston Astros (MLB) – He has been rumored as a future closer type, but the Astros went out and acquired two potential closers for their bullpen so they obviously won’t be looking to Norris for that role in 2010. He only has two worthwhile pitches, so barring vast improvement of the changeup his future is in the bullpen. The rotation is a mess after Wandy Rodriguez and Roy Oswalt so Houston will likely shoehorn him into the rotation regardless of the progress of that third pitch which could mean trouble. He offers strikeouts, but they could come with an ERA approaching 5.00.

5. Yusmeiro Petit, Seattle Mariners (MLB) – It seems like he has been around forever since he first started in pro ball at 18 back in 2003, but he still hasn’t hit his prime. He has a very live arm having struck out over a batter per inning in 612 minor league innings, but he has only brought 73% of that effort to majors with a 6.9 K/9 in 229 innings across the last four seasons. That’s a passable rate as is his 2.9 BB/9 in the same span. The problem has been his atrocious 2.0 HR/9 rate. That is simply unacceptable and is the sole reason for his 5.57 major league ERA. As an extreme flyball pitcher, the Seattle defense will help him, but they can’t help save balls that are knocked 400 feet to right or left field. He bears watching and could definitely be worth a flier if he finagles that fifth spot this spring, but be prepared to cut your losses if the home runs remain an issue.

Wednesday: 02.24.2010

2010 Echelons of Starting Pitching: Part 3

Continuing the monster starting pitcher list…

Part 1
Part 2

Echelon 5, Part II – A Mixed Bag

This group, at 26 and above, has used up their prospect status on the low end while the older guys are retreads looking to recapture magic or make good on promise they once had. There are 30 guys in this group and only a few will have legitimate fantasy value this year. If your rotation is populated with too many guys from this list, you are likely in the throes of a difficult season.

26 Year Olds

1. Mitchell Boggs, St. Louis Cardinals (MLB) – Displayed awful control in 58 innings last season (5.1 BB/9), but still managed a 4.19 ERA somehow. He’s a 6.5-7.0 K/9 pitcher and with Dave Duncan on his side, he could become a useful arm for deeper NL-Only leagues. He bears watching.

2. Billy Buckner, Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB) – His skills should’ve netted him the 4.19 ERA Boggs had, but he was unlucky and suffered a 6.40 ERA/1.59 WHIP. Like many youngsters, he needs to refine his control in order to be consistent start to start.

3. Thomas Diamond, Chicago Cubs (AAA) – Has a live arm, but absolutely not control whatsoever. He has a 10.1 K/9 in 435 minor league innings, but has also walked 5.0 batters per nine which just won’t cut it. Twice a top 75 prospect back in 2005 and 2006, but hasn’t fulfilled that promise to date.

4. Dana Eveland, Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) – Been around forever having spent parts of the last five seasons in the majors, but his only real success was 2008. Control has been an issue from the jump, but a fluctuating strikeout rate is sapping any discernible value now, too. And he’s fat.

5. Doug Fister, Seattle Mariners (MLB) – A poor man’s Nick Blackburn right now who still allows too many home runs. Considering that a Blackburn owner is poor, owning Fister seems like a terrible idea.

6. Scott Olsen, Washington Nationals (MLB) – Remember when he was worth a look? He’s still young enough to be viable if he gets back to his 2006 days of 8.3 K/9 which he had over 181 innings.

7. Mitch Talbot, Cleveland Indians (MLB) – Doesn’t have the pedigree of his former teammates in Tampa Bay, but now has a legitimate opportunity to get into the rotation. His 2.8 K/BB ratio in 905 minor league innings suggests he can be an asset. Monitor him this spring.

27 Year Olds

1. Jeremy Bonderman, Detroit Tigers (MLB) – His strikeout rate has been in a free fall since 2006, but he’s also pitched just 82 innings in the last two years. He was once a fantasy favorite, but injuries have derailed his ascension. Worth tracking through the spring and April.

2. Jeff Karstens, Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB) – He doesn’t have nearly enough control (3.8 BB/9 in 2009) to strikeout so few batters (4.3 K/9). A mid 4.00s ERA is probably his ceiling at this point.

3. J.D. Martin, Washington Nationals (MLB) – Another low strikeout control artist who has a small margin for error making his a profile I’m not terribly fond of. He was excellent at limiting home runs in the minors with 0.7 HR/9 in 744 minor league innings.

4. Joe Martinez, San Francisco Giants (MLB) – Displayed almost a 4.0 K/BB rate in 592 minor league innings, but his debut last year was cut short by a ball to the head. Would be an injury replacement at best.

5. Fernando Nieve, New York Mets (MLB) – Had absolutely no business posting a 2.95 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in 37 innings. The rotation is so wide open in New York that he could get a chance, but that doesn’t mean he deserves one on your roster.

6. Carlos Torres, Chicago White Sox (MLB) – He’s got some pretty good stuff, but no one pitch is overwhelming despite the lofty strikeout numbers in the minors. Could nab the fifth spot.

7. Jason Vargas, Seattle Mariners (MLB) – Low strikeouts, solid control, too many homeruns… it’s become a mantra for the 26+ group so far.

28 Year Olds

1. Daniel Cabrera, Chicago White Sox (MLB) – Even when he failed back in the day, he at least provided strikeouts. The past two seasons has seen his K/9 rate drop below five rendering him entirely useless. Draft him if you hate winning.

2. Dustin Nippert, Texas Rangers (MLB) – Displayed some solid skills in 70 innings of work last year shaving nearly a full walk off of his BB/9 from 2008. Likely a bullpen option at least in the short term.

3. Dontrelle Willis, Detroit Tigers (MLB) – Once an elite level pitcher who has spiraled into the abyss of suckiness. A mental block has impeded him as much as anything physically at this point. His name will keep him on the radar for at least one more year.

29 Year Olds

1. Sergio Mitre, New York Yankees (MLB) – Mostly awful in 2009 as little more than a 5-inning starter. Injury would be his only avenue back into the rotation.

30 Year Olds

1. Lenny DiNardo, Oakland A’s (MLB) – Kick yourself in the DiNardo if you draft him.

2. Eric Stults, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB) – Has shown glimpses at the major league level, but overall he’s far too erratic to be trusted on any level. He was good for 39 innings in 2008 and that may end up as his career year.

32 Year Olds

1. Tim Redding, Colorado Rockies (MLB) – He was awful in favorable parks, what do you expect the carnage to be like in Coors?

2. Brian Tallet, Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) – Had three straight solid seasons leading up to ’09, but all were tiny samples between 54 and 62 innings. He was exposed in 161 innings last year. Tread very lightly.

3. Josh Towers, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB) – Has pitched all of five major league innings the past two years. A control artist wannabe at his best, he could be a spot start option if he gets hot a la 2005.

34 Year Olds

1. Rodrigo Lopez, Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB) – He really wasn’t that bad in July last year, but that’s a one month sample. His best seasons are six and eight years ago, respectively.

35 Year Olds

1. Freddy Garcia, Chicago White Sox (MLB) – Showed some decent stuff in 56 innings with the White Sox last year and enters 2010 with a chance at the last spot in the rotation. You could do worse for a $1 at the very end of an AL Only.

2. Livan Hernandez, Free Agent (MLB) – No. Just, no. He will probably get a chance somewhere, though so I listed him.

3. Russ Ortiz, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB) – If he gets a real shot at the fifth spot, it’ll be embarrassing for LA.

36 Year Olds

1. Ramon Ortiz, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB) – If he gets a real shot at the fifth spot, it’ll be embarrassing for LA.

Wednesday: 02.24.2010

2010 Echelons of Starting Pitching: Part 2

Continuing my mega-list of starting pitchers for 2010…

Echelon 5 – Lottery Tickets

For this grouping, players will be broken up by age instead of ranked. After all, what does it really mean if I rate Junichi Tazawa over Tanner Scheppers or vice versa? It doesn’t. Both are deep AL-Only options in dynasty leagues or leagues with a “keepable” minor league roster and hopefully my 1-2 sentence insight will help your decision one way or another. This echelon is more of an informational session than anything else bringing names to light who you may need to know about later in the season. There are 66 guys in this echelon and I see them in two separate sets: 25 and under and 26 and over. Anyone in the latter has probably had a shot in the majors, but has enough warts on him to merit this low of ranking. At the same time, they have talent that could be refined and parlayed into a modicum of success in the right scenario. The former is a group that likely hasn’t reached the bigs for any significant time as of yet and they need a lot more polish before becoming viable options for your starting roster. As I mentioned earlier, they are for the hardest of hardcore players with very deep rosters.

I’ll break it into two parts starting with the 25 and under set.

19 Year Olds

1. Tyler Matzek, Colorado Rockies (no pro ball) – Excellent high school lefty with a plus fastball and two solid breaking pitches. An unpolished changeup will be what he needs to work on to get himself to the majors. He projects as a #1 right now, but there’s no legitimate data to suggest otherwise. A late pick even in minor league drafts unless you are interested in waiting.

2. Martin Perez, Texas Rangers (AA) – Drawing comparisons to Pedro because of his slight stature and excellent stuff. Enjoyed a breakout in the Sally League, but came back down to earth a bit in a tiny AA sample. He cracked Baseball America’s Top 100 last year before the breakout so he’s likely no fluke, but he’s still at least a full year away, perhaps even a year and a half.

20 Year Olds

1. Jenrry Mejia, New York Mets (AA) – Hopefully the Mets don’t let their major league pitching deficiencies dictate how quickly they move Mejia. He’s got an amazing fastball, but little else right now which could relegate him to the bullpen as he moves forward. Control and a bankable second pitch should be his areas of focus in 2010.

2. Mike Montgomery, Kansas City Royals (A+) – Reinforcements for Zack Greinke are on the way and Montgomery is part of the cavalry. He has had three stops over the past two seasons and managed an ERA of 2.25 or better each time. His changeup is already very strong which could fast-track his route to the majors if his fastball improves across AA and AAA.

21 Year Olds

1. Tim Alderson, Pittsburgh Pirates (AA) – His K/9 dropped by nearly two to below 6.0 in concert with a significant dip in velocity. The results, a 3.89 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, were still passable, but there is cause for concern. The 2010 season is a huge one for Alderson and will give insight into whether he’s a top half of the rotation starter or back-end innings eater type.

2. Phillippe Aumont, Philadelphia Phillies (AA) – A solid two-pitch guy with a huge arm capable of consistent high 90s fastballs, but also lacks the control that usually comes with this profile. This could mean a future in the bullpen, but likely as a closer if he maintains the kind of dominance he’s shown thus far. The progression of his changeup (which is virtually unusable at this point) will determine his future path.

3. Casey Crosby, Detroit Tigers (A-) – An excellent return from TJ surgery put him on the prospect map in 2009. Sparkling K/9 (10.1) overshadowed a high 4.1 BB/9. Fastball-changeup combo already effective, but needs to refine his breaking stuff to reach his full top of the rotation potential.

4. Deolis Guerra, Minnesota Twins (AA) – Results (4.89 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) overshadowed a decent seasons skills-wise, especially with his control (2.5 BB/9). He will likely be given every opportunity to succeed with the Twins just so they don’t come away completely empty-handed from the Johan Santana trade. He’s fantasy’s version of a draft-&-follow because it could take awhile.

5. Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays (A-) – Yes, the Rays have even MORE excellent pitching on the way. Moore destroyed the SALLY league to the tune of 12.9 K/9 in 123 innings which helped cover up an ugly 5.1 BB/9. Already owns a 4-pitch arsenal, but needs to become a smarter pitcher as he moves through the system or he will burnout.

6. Jarrod Parker, Arizona Diamondbacks (AA) – Out for 2010 with TJ surgery, but still worth keeping on the radar if you can stash him at a next-to-nothing cost. He’s obviously a long-term investment, but should be worth the wait.

7. Trevor Reckling, Los Angeles Angels (AA) – May be at least part of the reason the Angels were OK with letting John Lackey move on as he projects to be a future top of the rotation starter. Already possesses an above average changeup and slider, command of his decent fastball is the missing ingredient.

22 Year Olds

1. Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles (A+) – Yes, they have even more pitching on the horizon in addition to the group of excellent arms on the cusp for 2010. Britton’s stuff isn’t that great, but he induces throngs of groundballs and has enough to maintain a passable 6.0-6.5 K/9 rate as he advances through the system.

2. Brandon Erbe, Baltimore Orioles (AA) – Better pure stuff than Britton, but lacks a third pitch right now which combined with the influx of starting pitching talent in Baltimore could lead him down a path towards future closer. Even moving his changeup from well below average to average could make him a mid-level starter.

3. Christian Friedrich, Colorado Rockies (A+) – He’s got three explosive pitches already, but the missing piece is a more consistent changeup. He has at least added it to his repertoire, but refinement of it will determine how quickly he can get to Denver. Of course even without it being a reliable pitch, it will be hard to keep him down too long if he continues to strike out 12.0 batters per nine as he has in his first 168 innings of pro ball.

4. Jeremy Jeffress, Milwaukee Brewers (AA) – Possesses a top speed fastball, but often fails to command it resulting in some ugly BB/9 numbers. He’s going to be serving his second suspension, this time a 100-gamer, essentially costing him the 2010 season. He’s very raw and at least a full year away, tread lightly.

5. Kasey Kiker, Texas Rangers (AA) – His changeup is the most effective pitch in his arsenal which includes a low 90s fastball, too. His K/9 held strong in the jump to AA, but control nearly doubled to 4.7. How that control develops at AAA will determine Kiker’s progression towards Arlington.

6. Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds (AFL) – I saw a lot of polish for a 22-year old in his first pro ball experience in Arizona this past fall. I really like him, but instead of trying to express that in 2-3 sentences, I’ll recommend the Base Heads scouting report of Leake done by Paul Bourdett.

7. Sean O’Sullivan, Los Angeles Angels (MLB) – Performed about as well as you’d expect for a low strikeout/low walk guy. Home runs killed him (2.1 HR/9), or else he might have been able to keep his ERA closer to 5.00 than 6.00. Profiles as a Nick Blackburn type as a ceiling.

8. Jordan Walden, Los Angeles Angels (AA) – Basically your standard big fastball pitcher who needs work just about everywhere else. Has a decent secondary pitch with the slider, but the changeup needs quite a bit more polish and control is too erratic even for someone striking out a batter per inning. A worthy long-term investment.

23 Year Olds

1. Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians (MLB) – Excellent fastball/changeup combo projects as top of the rotation stuff, but struggles to consistently display his best work. Peripherals portend at least a #3 starter if not a #2 or ace, but the mental game stands in front of him and that level right now.

2. Andrew Cashner, Chicago Cubs (AA) – Elite fastball and decent breaking pitch haven’t produced the kind of strikeout results you’d expect just yet. Relieved in college so the adjustment could be messing with him a la Joba Chamberlain. Might end up back in the ‘pen in the long run.

3. Aaron Crow, Kansas City Royals (AFL) – Has a beautiful fastball to build his arsenal around which should all but guarantee him at least a future in the bullpen if his changeup doesn’t continue to develop throughout the minors. Tough to project with no pro work under his belt besides the AFL, but he seems to be legitimate.

4. Daniel Gutierrez, Texas Rangers (AA) – Like many others on this list, the development (or lack thereof) of his changeup will determine his future in the majors between the rotation and the bullpen. You have to like that he’s being developed in the Texas system which has established itself as one of the league’s best.

5. Dan Hudson, Chicago White Sox (MLB) – Zoomed through five levels in 2009 including a 19 inning stint in the majors. May seem rushed, but he acquitted himself well at every stop before the majors never falling below 9.0 K/9 or topping 3.4 BB/9. After a half season of polish at AAA, Hudson’s 4-pitch repertoire could be ready to stick in bigs permanently.

6. Shairon Martis, Washington Nationals (MLB) – He wasn’t terribly special in the minor leagues so his lackluster major league performance shouldn’t really surprise anyone, either. If you’re relying on him for anything, you’ve already lost your league.

7. Tanner Scheppers, Texas Rangers (AFL) – His brilliant fastball was on display in Arizona this fall, but there is uncertainty around his future as a starter since he lacks a legitimate changeup at this point. Worthy of investment while role is sorted out, though.

24 Year Olds

1. Eric Hurley, Texas Rangers (AAA) – Torn rotator cuff cost him the 2009 season and he’d had a rough 2008 before that, however he’s got enough velocity and control to not give up on just yet. Definitely a wait-&-see guy given the injury, though.

2. Chuck Lofgren, Milwaukee Brewers (AAA) – Twice a top 75 prospect, Lofgren has been dismal the past two seasons leading to his departure from Cleveland via the Rule 5 draft. He has dropped a strikeout per nine in each of his last three stops bottoming out at 5.7 last year. Has enough control to fill back end spot in the rotation.

3. Brad Mills, Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) – Nothing overpowering within his arsenal, but that hasn’t kept him from keeping a decent K/9 throughout each stop along the way to the majors. The control has gotten a tick worse along the way, too which would be a recipe for disaster in the majors.

4. Esmil Rogers, Colorado Rockies (MLB) – Everything about him right now suggests a future in the bullpen: no discernible third pitch, significant fatigue as game wears on and shaky control. Improvements to a very weak changeup could make him fourth starter material.

5. Junichi Tazawa, Boston Red Sox (MLB) – Moved from AA to the majors last year, but his peripherals were awful at AAA and MLB levels albeit in tiny samples. Lacks a dominating out pitch, but he is crafty enough to stick in the rotation if he holds 85% of his 8.1 K/9 from AA.

25 Year Olds

1. Sam LeCure, Cincinnati Reds (AAA) – Solid fastball, but not a lot else. He is becoming a pitcher and using what he does have to the best of his ability. That ability might cap out as a back of the rotation starter, though.

2. Brad Lincoln, Pittsburgh Pirates (AAA) – A good fastball/curveball combo afforded him a solid if unspectacular 2009 season, but the development of his changeup will determine his future at the next level. It’s a popular refrain, but it’s accurate, too.

3. Adam Miller, Cleveland Indians (AAA) – He just can’t stay healthy. He’s spent his last three years at AAA, totaling 99 innings and he missed all of 2009. Too big of a risk to invest in right now.

4. Kevin Mulvey, Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB) – A pitch-to-contact type who will likely struggle to strikeout 6.0+ batters per nine at the big league level, but could still be effective by utilizing his defense. A back end starter at best.

5. Craig Stammen, Washington Nationals (MLB) – Doesn’t walk anybody, but doesn’t strike anybody out, either. He’s the kind of guy who could have 4-5 good starts before giving up 8 ER in 2.1 IP. Very thin margin for error with this skillset.

6. Donnie Veal, Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB) – Big power arm, but lacks any control whatsoever. It doesn’t hurt the Pirates to try the Veal, but he’s still pretty raw (pun-intended).

Tuesday: 02.23.2010

2010 Echelons of Starting Pitching: Part 1

I haven’t posted for three weeks, but it hasn’t been without good reason. I have been working on my favorite piece of the winter, the Starting Pitcher Echelons. It’s my third year doing this and this year’s is the biggest yet. Last year, I went 154 deep and in 2008 there were 112. This year, I have 263 names. I’d be surprised if I was missing anybody of consequence but I will rely on you the reader to let me know if there are glaring omissions.

There are five distinct echelons this year and it is meant to emulate a starting rotation. The 1s are your aces that will be taken early and cost the most money in most leagues. They have reliable track records and excel across the board. Meanwhile the 2s are guys I really like and their best-case-scenario season would be ace-level. There is usually just one small thing missing from their equation that keeps them out of the top echelon, but you can reasonably anchor your staff with these guys if you choose to wait on pitching. The 3s are a mix of young guys on the rise still putting it all together and crafty veterans capable of eating a boatload of innings without destroying your team. All of them have enough discernible skill to put up a very good season, but it would definitely standout either because they are returning from injury, have yet to do at the big leagues or haven’t done in several seasons. The 4s are essentially 3s with bigger, more glaring questions surrounding them. They are likely further away from the majors if they are youngsters. The veterans found within the 4s have some skill, but lack any clear path into the rotation or simply have a bigger chance at hurting your team should they get several starts. And the last echelon is the 5s which contains severely unpolished young arms who are likely a year or two away in most cases, but merit some consideration in dynasty leagues or leagues with minor league rosters and veterans who should be spot-started at best and should only be considered as stopgaps in disaster scenarios.

The 4s and 5s won’t have a whole lot written about them since their projected impact for 2010 is much lower by comparison to the 1s, 2s and 3s. For the 5s especially, I’ll probably stick to one sentence about them and move on. Some of the 4s who could be a factor later will get a little bit more detail included, but the meat of the analysis will be on the 2s and 3s. Even the 1s don’t need a ton of breakdown as we already know why they are there. Also this year I’ve included a special 6th echelon which is a 10-pack of 4s and 5s who will miss a significant amount of time in 2010 due to injury or who are returning from a major injury in 2009 and should be approached with the utmost amount of caution in terms of expectations. Let’s start with that group.

Supplemental Echelon “Six” – The Infirmary

1. Jesse Litsch (right elbow; July return), 24 years old, Toronto Blue Jays (echelon 4) – He enjoyed some success in 2007 and 2008 (combined 3.67 ERA in 287 IP) despite striking out just 4.7 batters per nine.

2. Edinson Volquez (Tommy John; late ’10 if at all), 26 years old, Cincinnati Reds (echelon 4) – If you have a reserve roster where you could get Volquez on the cheap and hold him over for 2011, he’s worth a look late just for the long-term investment. Could pitch 30-40 innings down the stretch, but who knows how valuable those would be?

3. Erik Bedard (left shoulder; August return), 30 years old, Seattle Mariners (echelon 4) – Same old story with Bedard. I heard a rumor that Rich Harden was quoted as saying Bedard is a candyass. Bedard could be a stretch run asset if he returns for the final two months, but I wouldn’t bend over backwards to land him, even in a league with a reserve roster.

4. Justin Duchscherer (back, right elbow, depression; Spring Training return), 32 years old, Oakland A’s (echelon 4) – Didn’t throw a single pitch in 2009 after a tremendous 2008 breakout. Like Bedard, Harden and the next guy on this list, he will ALWAYS carry significant risk no matter how well he pitches.

5. Kelvim Escobar (shoulder; Spring Training return), 34 years old, New York Mets (echelon 4) – I’m a huge fan of this guy but the simple fact is that he can’t be trusted. Word out of the Mets camp is that he could be used as a reliever, but I’m including him on the starting pitcher list because there’s a good enough chance he will get starts for that lame rotation sooner or later.

6. Ross Detwiler (hip; June return), 23 years old, Washington Nationals (echelon 5) – He has struck out nearly a batter per inning in 234 minor league innings, but managed just five per nine in 76 innings last year in 14 starts. Need to see some consistent performance upon return to even recommend a spot start duty.

7. Jordan Zimmerman (elbow; late ’10 if at all), 23 years old, Washington Nationals (echelon 5) – Like Volquez, Zimmerman is worth snapping up late if he can be reserved and kept inexpensively for 2011. I love his potential and would have had him possibly as high as echelon 2 if he were pitching this year. He and Stephen Strasburg will be a viable 1-2 for the Nationals for the coming years.

8. Josh Outman (Tommy John; late ’10), 25 years old, Oakland A’s (echelon 5) – The only reason Outman is echelon 5 is because I’m uncertain how much he can really offer upon his return in 2010. Plus by the time he returns, the Oakland rotation might be locked up so he might be relegated to relief work.

9. Dustin McGowan (shoulder; mid ’10), 27 years old, Toronto Blue Jays (echelon 5) – He didn’t throw a pitch last year and likely won’t throw one until midseason this year. Plus he’s really only had one above average season thus far. He’s displayed solid skills in his 354 major league innings (7.3 K/9, 3.6 BB/9), but he’s complete wildcard with this much time off.

10. Shawn Hill (Tommy John; mid ’10), 28 years old, Toronto Blue Jays (echelon 5) – He’s another guy who always seems to be injured with one thing or another. He doesn’t have overwhelming stuff, but holds enough control to manage a 2.0 K/BB rate. I liked him better in Washington and even better in San Diego. Even a healthy Hill could have some tough sledding in the AL Beast.

Tuesday: 02.2.2010

2010 First Basemen Tiers

Let me start off by stating the obvious: first base is remarkably deep this year. I mean, remarkably. That said, it’s still a position that is worth grabbing early on given the abundance of elite-level players at the position sure to go in the first few rounds/for some of your auction’s highest dollar values. In fact, it would not necessarily be out of the ordinary to see five first basemen go in the first round of a standard 12-team mixed league draft followed by a few more in the second and still a few more in the third and fourth. But that doesn’t even begin to dry up the pool which is why matched with the lack of depth at third base, many teams will be looking to scoop two first basemen to cover their 1B and corner infield roster slots.

Unlike with the third basemen, I’m not going to write a full capsule on everybody. The simple fact is that I won’t have enough time this offseason to hit every position with a full rundown if I go that route and I really enjoy the outfield and pitcher lists so I plan to devote my time there. With the podcast taking off, that saps the time that would’ve been used for in-depth capsules on first base, second base, shortstop and catcher. Don’t worry; there will be countless magazines and several other sites available to satiate your need to read more details about each infielder available this year. Besides, I know you’re just here for the rankings anyway.

Tier 1 – The Elite
1. Albert Pujols, STL Cardinals
2. Miguel Cabrera, DET Tigers
3. Prince Fielder, MIL Brewers
4. Mark Teixeira, NY Yankees
5. Ryan Howard, PHI Phillies

Depending on where my pick fell and how the opening round played out, I could envision rostering any one of these five with my first pick. Pujols and Cabrera are obvious to most, but Fielder and Teixeira are almost as obvious to me, too. Fielder is just 26 years old and has already posted two 46+ home run seasons, three straight 100-RBI seasons and has proven to be a batting average asset in two of his four years including a .299 last year. In the two “off” seasons, he still hit a passable .271 and .276.

Teix has disappointed by failing to reach the 43-144 heights of 2005, but I’m more than happy with a four-category beast who promises 100-30-100 with an excellent batting average year after year. And when he does fall short of those thresholds, it’s barely noticeable. In 2006, he “only” scored 99 runs followed by 86 the year after. Those are the only two instances since 2004 where he hasn’t hit those figures. His only departures from the .300 range include seasons of .281, .282 and .292. As for Howard, he doesn’t get much run as a first round because of the fluctuating batting average, but I’m more than willing to subsidize his AVG with an Ichiro or Michael Young later on for the power production he delivers. I think sometimes the fantasy baseball community forgets that we’re not in the early ‘00s anymore so 40+ home run seasons are elite level, let alone 45+ ones. Since 2006, there have been just 13 instances of the latter and Howard owns four of them. That’s right, he’s done it four years in a row and his total accounts for 31% of the whole list. Need more convincing? There have been a whopping five, yes five, 140+ RBI seasons since 2006. Howard has three of them.

Tier 2 – Star Power
6. Joey Votto, CIN Reds
7. Adrian Gonzalez, SD Padres
8. Justin Morneau, MIN Twins
9. Kevin Youkilis, BOS Red Sox
10. Lance Berkman, HOU Astros

A cursory look at Votto’s 2009 line against his 2008 one shows no substantial gain when you see 24/25 home runs, 84/84 RBIs, .297/.322 AVG and 69/82 runs scored, but you have to be careful not to overlook a very key number: 526/469 ABs. He matched or improved his production across the board in fewer at-bats. He’d have had a full on breakout season had he not battled through injuries and depression. Massive gains in OBP (.368/.410) and SLG (.506/.567) show the real growth for Votto in 2009. At 27 years old, he’s poised to follow through on the breakout promise we got a taste of last year. I’d much prefer to take Youkilis as a third basemen, but that doesn’t make him worthless at first, especially if you lock up Alex Rodriguez or Evan Longoria prior to taking Youk.

Injuries sliced into the production of Morneau and Berkman, but I’d happily roster either in 2010 with Morneau the preferable choice if for no other reason than his five year age advantage at 29 years old. In OBP leagues, Berkman remains a true superstar having reached or topped .400 in four of the past five seasons. This year should be no different and while he is showing a four year decline in home runs since 45 in 2006, I think he actually has another 30+ HR season left in his bat. Last year fell short of that mark because of the injury, not because of a skills decline. Big Puma could return a nice little profit on his draft day price, even as a 5th rounder.

Tier 3 – A Mixed Bag
11. Adam Dunn, WAS Nationals
12. Pablo Sandoval, SF Giants
13. Billy Butler, KC Royals
14. Kendry Morales, LA Angels
15. Derrek Lee, CHI Cubs

Do you see what I mean about the depth here? This group is a nice mix of youth and age all with distinct skill sets. They don’t necessarily have flaws, but they lack a little something that keeps them from cracking the top 10. Dunn has the consistently excellent power, but he does negatively impact the batting average. I maintain that the impact is largely overblown in most circles, but it’s still an issue. Sandoval set the world on fire last year, but he’s better suited to fill your third base slot not only because that position is thin but because he doesn’t bring the power you typically like to see out of your 1B.

Butler is similar to Sandoval in that he doesn’t quite bring the power totals you’d like to see for the position and he doesn’t have the luxury of qualifying at another position offset that slight deficiency. However, as one of only two players in 2009 to top 50 doubles, I’m betting on a power spike in 2010 and could see Butler chasing down 30 HR by season’s end. The reason he still rates 13th though is because he is just 24 still and the power spike could still be a year off. I realize that’s a hedge and seems to straddle the fence, but anyone who has done a mock draft with me this winter knows that I fully believe the spike is coming this year. I’m comfortable enough betting on a repeat from Morales in 2010, but the fact that he was waiver wire fodder until last year’s breakout makes him at least somewhat risky. Lee’s age (35) and seemingly aberrant power spike stand out as red flags. Injuries, both nagging and severe, seem to have sapped his power in the previous three seasons so perhaps he was just displaying his 2005 skill with a bit of age progression last year. We will see in 2010.

Tier 4 – Worthy Investments
16. Carlos Pena, TB Rays
17. James Loney, LA Dodgers
18. Chris Davis, TEX Rangers
19. Michael Cuddyer, MIN Twins
20. Paul Konerko, CHI White Sox
21. Todd Helton, COL Rockies
22. Jorge Cantu, FLO Marlins
23. Adam LaRoche, SF Giants
24. Nick Swisher, NY Yankees
25. Nick Johnson, NY Yankees

As the tier name suggests, these are good players to own but either their skills ultimately fall short of those they are listed behind or they have a glaring risk or two that puts them in this 16-25 range. Pena has absurd amounts of power, but he hasn’t topped 500 at-bats ever in his career and while I’ll build a case that a .255-.260 average won’t kill your team as much as many believe, I’d have a helluva time doing the same for a .227 average, which Pena hit last year. Meanwhile on the other end of the spectrum, Loney has the batting average and logs the playing time but simply hasn’t displayed the power desired at 1B. He is entering his prime this year at age 26.

Davis flopped last year, but has tremendous power and ended with a great September. Cuddyer has a spotty track record after posting his first useful season since 2006 and if he struggles, there are capable replacements on the Twins. Konerko has a few more 30-90 seasons in him. Helton is 100 years old and hasn’t topped 20 home runs since 2004. Cantu has displayed Cuddyer-like inconsistency, but at least managed to avoid being a total bust after his 2008 rebirth unlike his follow-up to his 2005 breakout. LaRoche and Swisher are infuriating to impatient owners, but reward those who wait them out all season with bankable consistency each year. The other New York Nick is a health nightmare, but could put up a 90 run, .290 average, 12 home run odd, but useful season best suited for your corner infield or DH position.

Tier 5 – Still Mixed-League Worthy
26. Matt LaPorta, CLE Indians
27. Garrett Jones, PIT Pirates
28. Carlos Delgado, Free Agent
29. Martin Prado, ATL Braves
30. Troy Glaus, ATL Braves

LaPorta is a guy I’m rather high on for 2010. He had some surgery this offseason which could cause him to start slowly in Spring Training and perhaps through April, but once he gets going he will be a legitimate power source capable of mid-20s home runs with a boatload of RBIs, too. If he hits the ground running right out of spring, he could top 30 homers. Many don’t believe in Jones’ excellent 314 at-bat sample from 2009, but there are parts worth buying into. He won’t knock 40 homers with a 600-AB season, but he could reach 30. Don’t pay for a .293 batting average, look for closer to .270, but the power is real with a tick of speed (another 10 SB season, but in a full season). Delgado is just a season removed from a 38-home run season back in 2008, so I’m reticent to write him off just yet even at the advanced age of 38. Prado’s value is tied to his multi-positional eligibility which includes second and third base. He doesn’t have enough power for first base, but I listed him because he could fill in at corner-infielder. I like him for 2010, but mostly at second base. Glaus doesn’t qualify at first yet, but he will very quickly into 2010 giving him 1B/3B eligibility.

Tier 6 – Single League Options (Youth, Mid Prime, Past Prime)
Brandon Allen
Daric Barton
Kila Ka’aihue
Steve Pearce
Gaby Sanchez
Brett Wallace
Brandon Wood

Garrett Atkins
Willy Aybar
Hank Blalock
Ryan Garko
Micah Hoffpauir
Travis Ishikawa
Casey Kotchman
Daniel Murphy
David Murphy

Russ Branyan
Jason Giambi
Aubrey Huff
Lyle Overbay
Ty Wigginton

There’s a real grab bag of players here from unproven young lottery tickets to uninspiring but capable mid-primers to veterans with a little something left in the tank. Only the deepest mixed leagues (15+ teams) would consider these guys, but single leagues will see these guys filling corner and DH spots as well as reserve rosters. My favorites from each group are Wood, David Murphy and Overbay.