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September 25, 2013

Fantasy Fool's Gold

National League Starting Pitchers

by Craig Goldstein


With the position players over and done with, it’s time to start taking stock of the pitchers. I’m going to kick us off with some National League starters that would deceive the box-score scout and might be receiving a bit too much hype. As always, this doesn’t disqualify them from prospect status so much as it is a reality check on the type of prospects they truly are. While you might think that starting pitching would provide a deep reservoir of names to pull from on a project like this, it turns out that like the author, it was actually shallow and disappointing. Rather than forcefeed you a fifth name, below are four prospects who we deemed less than the sum of their stats.

Once again, the BP Prospect Team has gone above and beyond in responding to inquiries on players, and the information they provide is invaluable. It allows us to give a lot of depth and history to the players mentioned, and that’s important in an industry that focuses so much on the present.

David Holmberg, Arizona Diamondbacks
If I told you about a pitcher in his age-21 season (July birthday though, so 22 for about half the season) put together 157 innings of a 2.75 ERA at Double-A, you’d probably have your interest piqued. Now, it might not scratch you right where you itch, but it’s pretty good. If I told you he struck out 18 percent of batters and walked just under eight percent, you might stick out your lower lip with a bit of a frown, as if to say “it’s not bad, but I’m not in love. Perhaps dig a little more and discover that as recently as 2012 this player was striking out 28 percent of batters while walking only five percent at High-A, and that given his age relative to his level this past year, it’s not inconceivable that he could return to his previous dominant form once he adapts to the level.

Drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Chicago White Sox, David Holmberg was included as a secondary piece in the trade that sent Edwin Jackson to Chicago, with Daniel Hudson the headliner to Arizona. Holmberg has moved quickly with the Diamondbacks, actually breaking through to the major leagues this season, though it was a rough outing (3 ER in 3 2/3 IP). So while this has all the markings of a successful prospect who is flying under the radar and could prove to be a sneaky grab… therein lies the deception.

Despite firming up his body, Holmberg remains a below average athlete on the mound. He’s praised for his poise and his control, deservedly so, but what doesn’t seem to make the rounds are that it’s great control of below average stuff. His dominant pitch is his change up, and we’ve seen what comes of change up artists who have dominated the minors when they arrive at the major league level (Edwar Cabrera, for one). The change is obviously an important part of any pitchers’ arsenal, and especially southpaws so I don’t mean to cast aspersions on the pitch. However, when it’s surrounded by an upper-80s fastball and no other pitches to miss bats, major leaguers won’t have any trouble teeing off.

Ty Blach, San Francisco Giants
When one comes upon a 2.90 ERA with a 2.66 FIP in the California League, well they probably keep on living their life, but a raised eyebrow might occur. Especially when the owner of those numbers was mentioned in the “On The Rise” section of his team’s top 10 prospect list and received a positive write up in a June Monday Morning Ten Pack. Obviously with a FIP that low, the peripherals are strong, but given the high octane environment of the league they still pop off the page with a strikeout rate of 22 percent compared to a paltry three percent walk rate. The raw numbers are more staggering: 117 strikeouts in 130 innings, against 18 walks. That’s a 14.6-to-1 K:BB ratio. So, given the preseason sentiment that he could explode and then the subsequent explosion in a hitter’s paradise… it might seem odd that he lands on a list about Fool’s Gold. Seems more than anything that he might be the real deal.

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<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Sporer Report: Under t... (09/25)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Fool's Gold: A... (09/18)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Fool's Gold: A... (09/27)
Next Article >>
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (09/25)

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