Thursday, February 8, 2007

Story Of The Day Part II: Top Young Pitchers 2007

Here's Part II Of The Article Of The Day from fox

1. Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets

Mike Pelfrey has been one of the Mets' top prospects for a while, and this could be the year we see him get his chance to shine. (Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)

Pelfrey stands an imposing 6-foot-7 and pitches behind one of the strongest lineups in the game. He struck out a total of 117 hitters over four levels last season while rapidly ascending to the big club. He pitched in four games for the Mets and compiled a record of 2-1 with a sizable 5.48 ERA. Don't let the small sample throw you, though. This 23-year-old fireballer is ready to roll and could contribute at a No. 2 level this spring. He's developed a slider to complement his fastball and will just need some seasoning to reach his enormous potential.

2. Philip Hughes, New York Yankess
Hughes is a wild card hurler for the Yankees this season, as the specter of a return by Roger Clemens looms. He absolutely dominated the Eastern League in 2006 with a record of 10-3 with a 2.25 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 116 innings. That level of dominance, backed by the potent Yankees lineup, equals huge contributions from his young hurler. Hughes may return to the minor leagues for a spell to open the year if Clemens returns to the Bronx, or he may find himself on the roster to learn on the job under the tutelage of the sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer. Either way, he stands at the precipice of big things.

3. Jason Hirsh, Colorado Rockies
The move to Colorado doesn't serve to help his value. But it's not as if home runs are scarce in Houston, either. Hirsh is a strong power pitching prospect who threw an uneven 44 2/3 innings for the Astros last season. At Triple-A last year, he dominated with a record of 13-2 and 103 strikeouts in 129 2/3 innings of work. The red flag in his stat line is the inordinate number of walks allowed (65). He'll need to reduce that mark at the big league level or he'll be watching opponents circle the bases.

4. Luke Hochevar, Kansas City Royals
Hochevar is another Kansas City prospect who may technically need another year of seasoning in the minor leagues, but where's the harm in bringing a future stud onboard now? It worked for Detroit with Jeremy Bonderman and company following some early career beat-downs. Hochevar pitched 15 innings at the Double-A level last season with 16 strikeouts against just two walks. That's an impressive total for one's introduction to professional baseball. He stands 6-foot-5 and could contribute to this team and fantasy lineups right now.

5. Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds
All reports have Bailey challenging or a rotation spot in Cincinnati this season after posting a dominant 7-1 record with a 1.59 ERA for the Chattanooga Lookouts in 2006. He struck out 10.2 hitters per nine innings pitched and three hitters per walk, impressive totals for a young hurler. He also only allowed seven home runs in 138 2/3 innings last season, something that can't be overstated in the homer-happy Great American Ballpark.

6. Adam Miller, Cleveland Indians
Miller excelled last season for the Indians in the Eastern League, earning Pitcher of the Year honors with his 157 strikeouts in 153 2/3 innings and a 15-6 record. He also struck out 3.65 hitters per walk, impressive control for a young pitcher. He plunked 14 hitters last season as well, but that isn't enough to overpower his huge strikeout potential. Look for him to work his way into the rotation this season.

7. Kevin Slowey, Minnesota Twins
The major injury to Francisco Liriano served to open an opportunity for Slowey to ascend to the big club this season. Slowey pitched to an overall 8-5 record with a 1.88 ERA in 148 2/3 innings pitched on two levels last season. Most impressive was his rate of nearly seven strikeouts per walk allowed. That type of potential has him on the fast track for the rotation and a fixture of fantasy lineups.

8. Scott Elbert, Los Angeles Dodgers
Elbert appears to be set for a role in Los Angeles this season after tossing 173 strikeouts in 146 innings pitched last season, when opponents hit just .190 off him. There are two knocks on him right now, as he's allowed 85 walks in those 146 innings and allowed 15 home runs. He'll be aided by making a pitcher's park his home. He may not open the year with the squad, but he's coming fast.

9. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
The Giants typically take a slower approach with their pitchers, and that's the one thing that could hold Lincecum back from assuming a huge role this year. It certainly won't be his performance. Lincecum struck out 48 hitters in 27 2/3 innings of High Class-A ball last season and limited opponents to an amazingly low .135 batting average. He struck out four hitters per walk and appears a perfect fit to roll into the closer slot should Armando Benitez struggle. He's worth stashing on your bench on draft day in case he gets his shot.

10. Deverm Hansack, Boston Red Sox
Hansack was plucked from Nicaragua by Ben Cherington during Theo Epstein's brief hiatus from his general manager role in Boston. He's always shown phenomenal control (3.5 strikeouts per walk in 2006) and could find himself in the bullpen mix this spring with no established closer other than Jonathan Papelbon on the roster.

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