Andrew Heaney – Heaney debuted in the Majors last year for the Marlins, but he struggled in his 29.1 innings, allowing six home runs. So he was traded twice this offseason and ended up an Angel after being dealt to the Dodgers from Miami. Heaney’s 4.71 ERA in Triple-A this year looks bad, but he had some bad luck due to a high BABIP and low left-on-base rate. His FIP was a nice 3.06. He’s pitched well in his two starts for the Angels, going 13 innings with 12 strikeouts and only two unintentional walks.
The rookie pitcher crop hasn’t been as wildly successful or as hype-worthy as the rookie hitter crop. There have been several outstanding performances, whether one game (Heston) or through several starts (McCullers, Syndergaard). The following rookie pitchers are the only ones I feel comfortable – and I’m reaching on some – recommending for rostering in deeper leagues. (Stats through 6/24.)
1. Lance McCullers – McCullers hasn’t let the warming Texas summer temperatures get to him, as the 21-year-old hasn’t seen any drop in his production from his May 18 debut. In seven of his eight starts McCullers has fanned at least a batter an inning, and he’s allowed more than two earned runs only twice. His .265 BABIP and only one home run allowed show that his true ERA level’s possibly closer to his 3.36 xFIP. But the Astros shift as much if not more than anyone so his BABIP should stay lower than what you might expect. He’s got two nuts swing-and-miss pitches, and on his two off-speed pitches he’s allowed one extra-base hit all season.
There have been so many high-profile prospects called up to the Majors recently let’s take stock of where they stand amongst each other.
1. Joc Pederson – You could place the second guy on this list here and I don’t think anyone would quibble with it, but Pederson has outproduced Mystery Man No. 2 throughout the season. Also, over the past 30 days Pederson has hit for more power, walked more and struck out less than the second guy on this list. No. 2 could do better than Pederson the rest of the season, but it’s a toss up for me – and Pederson has shown no signs of slowing down. He’s been the 14th-best hitter by wOBA in the past 30 days in all of baseball, minimum 100 plate appearances.
In today’s MLB it seems like anyone can have a successful stint as a starting pitcher. For example, Chris Heston and his no-hitter. Heston, never a top prospect, started strong this year in his first three starts, but in five of his 12 starts this season he’s allowed at least five earned runs. So while Heston has had a good run this season, he’s overshadowed some top-flight pitching prospects whom we’ve invested a lot of time in studying and salivating over stat lines throughout the years. And when those pitchers succeed it’s even more rewarding, at least to me, because we – or I or the scouts or writers – nailed a top prospect from the get-go. [Read more…]
— STATS (@STATS_MLB) June 3, 2015
With the historical pitching performances – for better and worse – taking place in San Diego earlier in the week, I wanted to take a look at the outings to see what was going on where Ron Burgundy roams. I didn’t even get to Andrew Cashner’s nor Noah Syndergaard’s starts as I first decided to look at Jacob deGrom’s Monday start. Why? Besides his flowing locks, he’s really friggin’ good:
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 2, 2015
Trevor May – May debuted in Minnesota last season starting nine games to the tune of a 7.88 ERA. His FIP and xFIP were in the middle- and high-4s thanks to a ton of home runs and walks, which had been problematic to some degree in the minors. This year he’s already pitched more innings than in ’14, and he’s improved his ERA to 5.07 but more importantly his FIP and xFIP are much better – 3.11 and 3.84, respectively. He’s striking out fewer batters – 7.43 per nine – but he’s also walking fewer batters, down from over 4 per nine last year to 1.63 this year and the homers have been nearly cut in half.
Noah Syndergaard, the Mets’ top prospect, made his MLB debut Tuesday against the Cubs. Syndergaard was in the top 10 of many prospect lists this offseason, and that praise was well-warranted. He averaged almost 98 mph with his fastball against Chicago, and he has a quality changeup with a sharp-biting curveball that got four strikeouts in seven at-bats against the Cubs. Syndergaard only went 5.1 innings Tuesday, allowing three earned runs, four walks and inducing six strikeouts.
Joc Pederson is surely surpassing all expectations even the most homerific Dodgers fans had for him coming into the season. The freshly turned 23-year-old leads all rookies in Wins Above Replacement as of May 8. He also leads in home runs, runs and walk rate. Pederson’s performance to date is mostly unexpected, but it’s not too far off his minor league numbers.
Below I’ve ranked 27 first basemen in five tiers. These are the guys I think will provide the most value going forward. Most of these guys play primarily at first base with the exception of Buster Posey and Stephen Vogt. I didn’t want to list any other catchers because a) most haven’t been good enough, and b) I think it’d be very rare that you’d be playing any of them at first base.