Every year, after the draft, fantasy baseball managers look to bolster their lineups with minor league talent, hoping the call to the majors is not far off. Already in 2011 we have seen one of these moves pay off, for the Orioles as well as fantasy owners. Zach Britton, a hard throwing lefty who has, to an extent, taken the league by storm: five wins in the first six weeks of the season, along with a sub-2.50 ERA and a phenomenal WHIP (1.02). Is this the start of a top-of-the-rotation type career, or a sell high opportunity?
Well, probably both. Britton is one of the top pitching prospects in the game, and he’s left-handed to boot. His secondary stats are phenomenal, which will win fantasy leagues; under the surface his BABIP of 0.219 gives some indication that he has had the benefit of more than a few lucky bounces. Nonetheless, a propensity to make bats miss coupled with a tendency to throw ground balls makes Britton a fantasy catch.
Here are some other young pitchers that are already working their magic or are primed to do so:
1) Brandon Beachy – Beachy is established as a starter, and has solid numbers that should solidify his standing there. He doesn’t have fantasy baseball managers drooling quite like his fellow Braves’ farmhand, Julio Teheran, but there is a reason he is with the big club.
2) Alexi Ogando – Alexi Ogando is a standout young pitcher with the rangers whose cover was blown with several appearances in last years World Series; nonetheless he qualifies as a ‘young stud.’ His BABIP is a bit low for our taste, and the HR ratio is also a hair above where you want it to be. I’m predicting a few bumps in this road.
3) Michael Pineda – Only 22 years old, this righty from the Dominican Republic is a stud among studs. Unfortunately the odds are against him being available in your, or any, fantasy baseball league at this point. He could very well be not just an ace but a Cy Young winner in the not-so-distant future.
4) Jeremy Hellickson – Jeremy Hellickson was one of the top pitching prospects coming into 2011; thanks to the dispatching of Matt Garza, he has arrived. A control pitcher with an excellent fastball/change combo, his most recent gem was a complete game shutout of the Orioles last Friday.
These guys are all destined to help a fantasy team near you compete, however the odds may be against their availability at this point in the season. That said, next time we’ll take a deeper look at young pitchers who may not have made an impact yet, but who will certainly grace fantasy rosters before the year is up.