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Is this the year Clay Buchholz finally sticks in the starting rotation? He has all the tools, but once again the Sox are loaded at the position. Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and John Lackey certainly have their roles carved provided their healthy. That leaves a tussle between Buchholz, the expensive import Daisuke Matsuzaka, and the ageless wonder Tim Wakefield. Whether or not Buchholz can hold off the gyroballer or knuckleballer will go a long way in determining his fantasy value.

As long as he’s not traded, I’m going with the assumption that Buchholz will be a regular in the rotation. Dice-K will likely join him with Wakefield being the odd man out. Wakefield gives the Red Sox more flexibility in that he can pitch on much shorter rest, be it in long relief or a spot start. Plus, Clay and Matsuzaka have more upside.

Speaking of Buchholz’s upside, he’s a guy who threw a no-hitter in his second start. After a miserable 2008 campaign where he posted a 2-9 record with a 6.75 ERA and 1.76 WHIP, he got back on track with a 7-4, 4.21 ERA, 1.38 WHIP 2009 season.

2010 should be even better. Aside from having twice as many starts, which in and of itself will increase his fantasy value, the Red Sox bolstered their defense by adding Mike Cameron and Adrian Beltre. Plus, the addition of John Lackey gives him another veteran pitcher to lean on and learn from.

Buchholz’s brilliant September in the heat of the Wild Card race should give him the confidence he needs to succeed. He was 4-1 in six starts with a sparkling 2.87 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and .225 BAA. He even got a taste of the post season, earning a no-decision against the Angels. He gave up two runs in 5 Innings (3.60 ERA). He was in line for the win before Boston’s bullpen imploded. I expect big thing from Buchholz this year.

Prediction: 13-7, 3.65 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 160 Ks

Past profiles:
Arizona Diamondbacks:  Brandon Webb
Atlanta Braves: Yunel Escobar
Baltimore Orioles:  Adam Jones

Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve taken a look at some of the top pitching prospects in the minor leagues.  Some of these pitchers could make an impact soon, while others are still a little ways away.  Don’t see one of the young pitchers you want to read about?  Let me know and I will be sure to add him onto the next report.

Clay Buchholz – Boston Red Sox
2009 Statistics (Triple-A): 4-0, 67.0 IP, 1.75 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 59 K
The question is not if he is going to make an impact in 2009, it really is when.  If he was pitching for just about any other organization he’d already have a spot in the rotation, but he’s in Boston, a team overloaded with viable starting options.  Just sit tight, you are going to get rewarded sooner or later.

Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants
2009 Statistics (Single-A): 3-1, 24.1 IP, 1.48 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 23 K
(Double-A): 4-0, 29.0 IP, 1.86 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 29 K

Since we last checked in on Bumgarner, he has been bumped up to Double-A and continues to excel.  He’s striking out a batter per inning and continues to look like one of the best young pitchers in all of baseball.  It could be as early as 2010 for the 19-year old, so now would be a great time to stash him away in all keeper leagues.

Carlos Carrasco – Philadelphia Phillies
2009 Statistics (Triple-A): 1-7, 66.1 IP, 5.56 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 67 KThe Phillies are in desperate need for a starting pitcher.  If Carrasco had been pitching well, he would have been given every opportunity to earn a permanent place in the rotation, but he has just never gotten it going.  Yes, the strikeouts are nice, but outside of that there is just nothing positive to point to.  He has been wildly inconsistent and is unlikely to get a look before September, if even then.

Jhoulys Chacin – Colorado Rockies
2009 Statistics (Double-A): 4-5, 69.0 IP, 3.13 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 57 K
He’s been solid all year long, continuing to produce groundballs at a tremendous rate.  At 58.7%, he’s got the make-up to succeed in Coors Field if he can continue his current path.  Over his last 8 starts, the 21-year old has produced a 2.43 ERA.  Could a promotion be coming soon?  He’s certainly one to watch in the coming weeks, as he potentially could get a cup of coffee so they can see what they’ve got.  Keep an eye on him as a potential 2010 sleeper.

Neftali Feliz – Texas Rangers
2009 Statistics (Triple-A): 3-4, 49.1 IP, 3.83 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 45 K
The Rangers pushed him hard this season, placing the 20-year old in Triple-A and it is possible that it was a little too much, too quickly for him.  The control has been the biggest issue, with a BB/9 of 4.77.  You can’t get away with that type of number at the upper levels and he is going to have to get it under control in order to take the next step.  He’s young and is going to have his moments, so just keep an eye on him.

Jeremy Hellickson – Tampa Bay Rays
2009 Statistics (Double-A): 2-1, 30.0 IP, 2.10 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 36 K
He hasn’t pitched since May 5, thanks to a sprain in his shoulder he sustained when trying to pick off a runner.  Given the way he had been throwing it is a bad blow, but hopefully he’ll be able to pick back up when he returns.  Just sit tight with him and see what he can develop into.

Junichi Tazawa – Boston Red Sox
2009 Statistics (Double-A): 7-3, 67.1 IP, 2.67 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 63 K
Thanks to remarkable depth there is little chance he makes a debut at any point in 2009, but he’s certainly turning heads in his first professional season.  He’s shown no signs of slowing down, winning each of his last 3 starts with a 2.50 ERA.  If you are looking for help in 2009, he’s not your man, but he’s proving that he has the potential to have long-term value in all formats.

Chris Tillman – Baltimore Orioles
2009 Statistics (Triple-A): 5-2, 48.0 IP, 2.25 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 55 K
He has been great this season, begging the question of when will the Orioles give this 21-year old a taste of the major leagues?  He’s still raw and they have plenty of other options, so just sit tight and see what happens.  In keeper leagues, he really should be considered a pitcher worth tracking.

What do you think of these pitchers?  Anyone you are extremely high on?  Anyone you think should be avoided?  Let’s hear your thoughts.

Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Three of the games top young pitchers have made 2 starts thus far in the Arizona Fall League, excelling to say the least.  Let’s take a look at the numbers:

  • Max Scherzer – 0-0, 12.0 IP, 2.25 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 13 K, 8 H, 2 BB
  • Phil Hughes – 1-0, 10.0 IP, 0.90 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 10 K, 5 H, 6 BB
  • Clay Buchholz – 1-0, 8.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.38 WHIP, 7 K, 1 H, 2 BB

Those numbers for Buchholz are extremely impressive, no matter how small of a sample size.  Considering that he is the same pitcher that went 2-9 with a 6.75 ERA in the major leagues this season, you have to like what you are seeing here.  Obviously, it’s not against the same type of talent, but you have to take notice.  We’ll track his progress as the AFL continues, but as of right now I’d recommend taking a flier on him in the late rounds of your draft.

Hughes, while he’s pitcher well, has struggled with his control, which has to be a concern.  He needs to get that corrected if he is going to be able to rebound at the major league level.  It’ll be interesting to see if the Yankees opt to move him in the off season as part their grand scheme of rebuilding and getting back to the playoffs.  Where he ends up will definitely play a major factor in what I’d consider doing with him next season on draft day.

As for Scherzer, what else is there to say?  Those who have read the site know my feelings on him and he just continues to impress every step of the way.  He should be owned in all formats next season and has the chance to be one of the elite strikeout artists in the game.

Like I said with Buchholz, we’ll continue to track all three of these guys progress this winter, as it certainly will influence on valuable they will be for fantasy owners in 2009.

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