A look at how former prospect Esmil Rogers has begun to get his career back on track
When a pitcher throws in the mid-to-upper 90s, teams tend to give that player every chance to succeed. In the case of Esmil Rogers, the Rockies gave him 184 2/3 innings before deciding it was better to accept cash from the Cleveland Indians for the services of the out-of-options flamethrower. The issue for Rogers in Colorado tended to be his inability to find the strike zone on a consistent basis. He had a 20 percent strikeout rate and just an 8 percent walk rate in 2010 but then went 16 and 12 in 2011 and 22 and 14 in 2012 before the Rockies pulled the plug on the live-armed hurler in early June.
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A few young starters have dazzled us early, but some similar starts last season proved to be false ones.
A pitcher's first start of the year often seems like a momentous event. It's not the first time most fans will have seen him in the past month, but it is the first time his performance will count for anything more than tea leaves. For young pitchers, especially, the first start sets the bar for the expectations game fans and media types like to play with young and unproven players.
With the plodding morass of spring training behind us, our interest in Real Baseball reaches rabid heights for the first week or two of the season, before we settle into the jogger's pace that takes us to the All-Star break. However, the increased importance we assign to early-season starts doesn't make them reliable barometers. They're certainly no more worthy of consideration than any other individual start over the course of the season just because they're the only data point available at the end of the first week. So before we write too many more breathless words about Jake Arrieta, Jeff Samardzija, and others, let's revisit the good first impressions some young starters made last season and look at how things ended up for them.
It hasn't taken long for young Cubs to lose their value, but some young Rockies and an Indian are establishing themselves just fine.
We, the fantasy baseball experts at Baseball Prospectus, will be keeping a rolling list with what we consider to be value picks in most leagues throughout the season. This week, we will be starting with a clean slate of starting pitchers.
Back-end rotation heroics for the Cubs and Rockies, plus notes on two developing AL West bullpen quandaries.
MESA—Tuesday's game was one of those unsexy yet critical real-world fights that reflect spring training's high-end purpose. Sure, it exists to get people in shape, and also as a warm-weather money-making venture for the franchises and the attendant tourist industry. Still, at its root, there are actual job fights to be resolved. HoHoKam was exactly that sort of battlefield, as two of the leading contenders for the fifth slot in their respective teams' rotations squared off: Esmil Rogers of the Rockies and Randy Wells of the Cubs.
Admittedly, in each case the competition is a bit theoretical. Wells is being put through his paces, but the inclusion of journeymen Braden Looper and Todd Wellemeyer, or organizational soldiers James Russell and Casey Coleman, in the race to round out the rotation seems a matter of polite formality, not actual menace. Wells and Andrew Cashner and Carlos Silva are the pack, from which just two will emerge, and both Cashner and Wells pitched yesterday in split-squad action, to mixed results.
It's moving day, as beyond three big names reaching the big leagues, a couple of big names make their Double-A debut.
Here Come The Prospects!
Gordon Beckham, 3B, White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte) Wednesday's stats: 3-for-5, 2 2B
Beckham has a quality swan song on Wednesday, possibly finishing his International League career with a .464 batting average (13-for-28) while the White Sox were distributing a press release about his ascension to the big leagues while Wilson Betemit was designated for assignment. But that was really just part of what was a borderline historic day potentially, as three elite-level prospects got the call on the same day, as Nate McClouth's departure meant an opportunity in Pittsburgh for Andrew McCutchen, and the release of Tom Glavine means Tommy Hanson makes his big league debut for the Braves on Saturday. Big day for fantasy players, maybe even bigger for the fans of the respective teams.
New level, same results
Kyle Drabek, RHP, Phillies (Double-A Reading) Wednesday's stats: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K
It was moving day in the minors as well, as the top pitching prospect in the Phillies system needing no time adjusting to Double-A in his first start for the R-Phils, as his fastball sat at 92-94 mph all night and touched 96. If anything, Doug's kid is getting better and better as the season rolls on, and could be ready for a big league job some time next year.