Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Top Pitching Prospects For Keeper Leagues

CraveOnline’s Fantasy Team takes a good look at up and comeing pitching prospects for dynasty leagues.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

Take a look at Average Draft Position and relative weights of pitchers this year in standard leagues and you’ll find some usefull information that can be applied to dynasty leagues.

There isn’t a big difference in the guys being drafted to fill the last couple of spots and the guys left in the free agent pools. This means you can bypass drafting your final pitcher spot and instead go after a prospect. Afterwards, you won’t be hurt too much by picking up a free agent.

Yes, that is true most years, but this year is especially true. To help you, we’ve ranked the top pitching prospects to target and grab. Note: The list doesn’t include pitchers that we expect to be starters such as Julian Tehran and Trevor Bauer.   

Ranked by value, not when they will make an impact

Dylan Bundy  – TB
Chance of 2013 impact – 15%
One scout said Bundy’s ceiling is the best pitcher in baseball with a floor of being merely #2. He came up for a cup of coffee to end the season in his first professional year. If the Orioles weren’t doing so good, they may have already put him into the rotation. However, expect great things in 2014 and beyond.

Shelby Miller – STL
Chance of 2013 impact – 80%
I would have jumped him higher but there were concerns last year. During the offseason, he bulked up and fixed his diet. His focus on relying on his leg strength will help him regain his power fastball. He may or may not break camp in the rotation. If he doesn’t, expect him later in the year as an injury replacement.

Zach Wheeler – NYM
Chance of 2013 impact – 50%
If the Mets were better, they would bring up Wheeler up now. Instead, he’ll be brought up slowly. He showed a great control last year with a combined 1.17 WHIP and averaged nearly a strikeout an inning.

Tyler Skaggs – AZ
Chance of 2013 impact – 80%
Trevor Bauer who? The Diamondbacks had no trouble trading possible head case, Bauer, with Skaggs in the wings. If there is a spot, he can start soon.

Danny Hultzen – SEA
Chance of 2013 impact – 60%
Hultzen ran into major control issues last year when he hit AAA. His ERA bloated to 5.92 and his WHIP hit 1.89. He is not a “power” pitcher, so any trouble with control is a scary thing. However, there are many within the organization that says Hultzen was overthinking after initial trouble. I tend to trust the Mariners’ talk of giving a shot to earn the 5th spot this year.

Jamison Taillon – PIT
Chance of 2013impat – 15%
Flip a coin and make your best guess on whether Taillon or Gerrit Cole will be a bigger ace in the majors. At this point, Taillon is ahead of Cole. He reminds me of Randy Johnson. Taillon is known for his blistering fastball that can top 100 mph that comes from his 6’6” frame. Unlike the Big Unit, Taillon has better control. Last year he averaged only 2.7 BB/9.

Gerrit Cole – PIT
Chance of 2013 impact – 5%
In his first professional year, Cole went from A to AAA; an impressive feat, but one that will require follow-up. He is pure, raw talent that can hit 98 on the radar gun. He probably won’t reach until 2015, but many are already singing his praises. I would rank him above Tailon if it wasn’t that long timeline.

Taijuan Walker – SEA
Chance of 2013 impact – 5%
Walker lit up the Southern League with 118 strikeouts in 126 innings. Not bad for his first year. He’ll challenge for a big league rotation spot in 2014. In the meantime, he’ll work on his breaking pitch to compliment the mid-90’s fastball.

Jose Fernandez – MIA
Chance of 2013 impact – 5%
Cuba defector, Fernandez, has already made an impressive impact. Last year, he threw 158 strikeouts in 134 innings between single A and high A ball. Cuban defectors are always risky but he is proving to be the exception. With the Marlins’ farm system depleted, he will be their focus for some time.

Archie Bradley – AZ
Chance of 2013 impact – 5%
The Diamondbacks found a gem in Bradley. He led all minor leaguers last year with a jaw-dropping low .181 batting average against.

Max Fried – SD
Chance of 2013 impact – 1%
Fried was a high schooler at the beginning of 2012, so he is more of a long-term investment. He needs more maturity, more bulk, and more experience before the Padres brings him up. There has been phenom talk, so don’t count anything out quite yet.

The best rule of pitching prospects is never pay for them while stockpiling when you can. They are less reliable than hitting prospects but great ones can be yield great return of draft investments.

Brian Reddoch is a CraveOnline reporter and rabid fan of all teams Seattle. You can follow him on Twitter @ReddReddoch and at www.facebookcom/

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