A trio of perplexing pitchers leads off today's Ten Pack.
Dylan Axelrod, RHP, White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte)
The fact that Axelrod even reached the big leagues is quite an achievement. A 30th-round pick in 2007 by the Padres, Axelrod lasted a year and a half before landing in Indy ball, but all he did was get better. His primary skill is the ability to throw strikes. He pounds the strike zone with an 88-91 mph fastball, has a decent slider, and a somewhat-less-than-decent curve. He has no changeup, but he hits his spots and keeps hitters off balance; while that's the kind of pitcher who should hit a wall, he just hasn't yet. With 7 2/3 shutout innings on Sunday, he now has a 1.08 ERA in four starts for the Knights to go with 26 strikeouts and just four walks. He's already a great scouting find for the White Sox, and has to upgrade that status by becoming a usable arm as a No. 5 starter or middle reliever, which exceeds any expectation ever put on him.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
The Athletics have recently padded their farm through several trades, but will their prospects pan out?
Prospect #1:RHP A.J. Cole Background with Player: Industry Sources Who: He’s a prototypical starter drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the Washington Nationals. Cole was traded to the Athletics in the Gio Gonzalez deal, and has everything you want in a future major-league starter: size, stuff, and feel for the mound. In his full-season debut in 2011, Cole showed off his combination of polish and power, striking out 108 Sally League hitters while walking only 24.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: As with any young pitcher climbing the ladder, each step will bring new challenges and adjustments. In 2012, Cole will need to continue his sharp command while focusing more attention on the development of his changeup. With good arm action and precocious command, Cole isn’t likely to fall apart by throwing more changeups. But the changeup is a feel pitch, and it takes time to gain command of the nuances of its utility and execution.
The Nationals' catching prospect talks about his development and catching some of the top young pitchers in the organization.
The 2010 season has been a speed bump for Derek Norris. The 21-year-old catcher came into the campaign ranked by Kevin Goldstein as the No. 2 prospect in the Nationals organization, but a pair of injuries have contributed to a subpar offensive showing. Norris is hitting just .233/.409/.372 with five home runs at High-A Potomac, after a .286/.413/.513, 23 home-run showing last summer with Low-A Hagerstown. Despite his struggles, the Goddard, Kansas native still projects as an offensive force behind the dish and a big part of the Nats’ future. Norris talked about his development, and his experiences catching Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, and Jordan Zimmermann when Potomac visited Boston for the Futures at Fenway minor-league doubleheader earlier this month.
Which starting pitchers can bolster your fantasy roster going into the second half of the season?
Added to the list
Bud Norris: Norris will be activated from the disabled list and will make his first start on Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers. It is good timing as teammate Felipe Paulino has been placed on the DL. Essentially, the Astros are swapping high-strikeout, high-walk arms though Norris has slightly better swing-and-miss stuff. Norris, as with so many other pitchers who make the "Value Picks" list, was victimized by an unsustainably high BABIP (.400). That, of course, did not partner well with his poor control thus causing him to strand fewer than 60 percent of runners on base. Norris is virtually unknown as he is still available in over 99 percent of ESPN leagues.