Rotoprofessor’s Prospect Report: Jhoulys Chacin

Jun 22, 2009

Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

We’ve tracked Jhoulys Chacin in our Prospect Reports (click here for the latest), but as he continues to impress in the minor leagues the time has come to give him his proper respect.  After opening the season at 1-3 with a 4.87 ERA at Double-A, he’s responded by going 4-2 with a 2.41 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 55 K over his past 9 starts (56 innings).

Signed out of Venezuela back in 2004 (though he did not make his professional debut until 2007), “Chacin is best known for his devastating changeup, which he pairs with a low-90s sinking fastball to induce groundballs by the bushel” according to Baseball America recently.

That is the key to his success, as he’s posted a groundball rate of 61.2% over his brief minor league career.  To put that number in perspective, last season there were only two pitchers who induced groundballs at a level better than 60%, Brandon Webb & Derek Lowe.

Before we point to the fact that the majority of his success came in the lower levels of the minor leagues, he has posted a GB% of 59.0% in Double-A this season.  While that still is against inexperienced hitters, as he continues to show success moving up through the minors, the more confident we can become in his abilities.

He also has some strikeout potential, though he hasn’t been overly impressive in that department quite yet.  To date, he’s thrown 346 minor league innings and has posted a 7.9 K/9.  While that would be usable, is there anything to make us believe he can maintain it as he continues to progress?

His repertoire would appear to be conducive to the strikeout.  His ability to develop a third pitch, will be vital in not only his ability to continue to strikeout batters (your not going to blow as many people away in the upper levels with a mid-90s heater), but his long-term success as a starting pitcher in general.

Prior to the season, the Rocky Mountain News’ Tracy Ringolsby rated the Rockies top 10 prospects for Baseball America.  He rated him #2 behind Dexter Fowler and described his third pitch by saying, “His curveball doesn’t have the sharpness that Chacin will need to be a big league starter. He can throw the pitch for strikes, and it has some power at 78-80 mph, but right now it’s below-average.”

The final thing to point to for his success is his control, which has been impeccable thus far during his minor league career.  He’s posted a career BB/9 of 2.4, though he has regressed just slightly at 2.9 thus far this season.  Even during his recent 9 game hot stretch, his BB/9 is at 3.2.

It should not be unexpected for his walk rate to increase slightly as he progresses.  He’s facing more experienced hitters who won’t chase bad balls as much or will foul off a pitcher’s pitch to stay alive in the AB.

He’s not going to regress up to 4 or 5 walks a game, however.  Control is control, something he has proven he has.  As long as he can maintain the current level, coupled with all those ground balls, he has the potential to be an asset in the WHIP department.  His minor league mark is 1.12, displaying that.

The 2008 Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year, he went 18-3 with a 2.03 ERA splitting time between two levels of Single-A at just 20-years old.  The righty is clearly on the fast track to the major leagues, and while it is not out of the question that he makes his major league debut this season, 2010 may be more likely.

The Rockies have had experience rushing pitchers to the major leagues, and not with positive results.  Look at what happened with Franklin Morales, for instance.

His time is going to come.  If you are in a long-term keeper league, stashing him away would not be a bad idea.  He has the potential to be a future ace pitcher and could be making a fantasy impact in the near future.  What more do you want?

What does everyone else think of Chacin?  Is he a pitcher you think will become a fantasy ace?  Why or why not?

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