Projecting young pitchers into the fantasy world is not an easy task. There are countless factors that owners need to consider before they draft a “future ace”. Some of the obvious factors include; run support, home ballpark, historical work load, age, size, past injuries, number and quality of pitches in their repertoire, control, strikeout potential, etc…
My advice is to build your starting rotation around pitchers with a pedigree. The young prospects can be used to compliment the veterans when the match ups are favorable. Owners need to be extremely cautious down the stretch run as young pitchers often wear down due to the increased number of games.
The following list identifies pitchers with enormous potential who will likely be factors in 2009.
Max Scherzer – SP Diamondbacks
Max Scherzer is a strikeout machine. He overpowered major league hitters in 2008 when he compiled 48 strikeouts in 32 innings. The fact that he doesn’t have a complimentary pitch to go along with his devastating heater may limit his effectiveness but the major concern is his health. His violent delivery and past shoulder issues make him a prime candidate to miss time in 2009. When healthy he will produce.
Clayton Kershaw – SP Dodgers
Clayton has one of the best 12 – 6 curve balls in baseball. The 21 year old southpaw didn’t have overly impressive numbers in 2008, despite a solid September where he was used primarily as a midlle reliever. Owners are hopeful that he will take a major step forward this year. He will benefit from pitching in a large ballpark and in a division with relatively weak offenses. Kid K will eventually be a dominant pitcher and it could be as early as 2009.
David Price – SP Rays
The first overall pick in the 2007 draft dominated hitters at every level in 2008. The 6′ 6″ left hander compiled a 12-1 record at the various levels in the minors. He also averaged a strikeout per inning pitched. The only concern is that Mr. Price was too effective as a relief pitcher in last year’s postseason and the team may may be tempted to keep him there. The more plausible scenario is that David will be a starting pitcher and will continue to impress.
Chris Volstad – SP Marlins
The Marlins have a nice collection of young pitchers. Among them is the 6′ 8″ Chris Volstad. He is only 22 years old and he struggles with his command at times but with the proper guidance he could be a dominant pitcher. Volstad only pitched 84 innings in 2008 but he had an era under 3. Josh Johnson will likely be the ace of Florida’s staff but Volstad should be a solid #3.
Yovani Gallardo – SP Brewers
Gallardo has immense talent. He just needs to stay healthy. Last year he only managed to pitch 24 innings due to a freak ACL injury. In that short period his era was a ridiculous 1.88. The Brewers will look to Gallardo to be their staff ace after Sheets and Sabathia left via free agency in the offseason.