Mailbag: Pitching Prospects to Watch?

Today we take a break from the “2010 Sleepers, Comebacks and Busts” series to look at some players that may not make any roster on draft day, but could come into consideration at some point in 2010. 
 
Every year pitchers come out of nowhere and surprise fantasy owners.  Sometimes these pitchers are Major League veterans that have a breakout year and sometimes they are the young guns that come up from the minors and get off to a hot start. 
 
Daniel M. follows up once again with some pitching prospects to keep in mind as the 2010 season progresses.
 

Daniel Hudson – White Sox
Jay Jackson – Cubs
Aaron Crow – Royals
Danny Cortes - Mariners
Trevor Reckling – Angels

 
I’ll start by saying that it is generally hard to expect much from a rookie pitcher.  Just look at names like Derek Holland, Chris Tillman, even the likes of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes.  However, even rookies that struggle overall can have value in spurts like Brett Anderson and Wade Davis last year just to name a couple. 
 
Daniel Hudson – In two Major League starts last season Hudson struck out eight in 11 innings, but also walked nine.  Over his brief minor league career, he had posted very good K/BB rates, which should translate nicely to the Major League level in the long run. 
 
Right now Hudson is in a spring battle for a spot in the White Sox bullpen, which would get him to the big leagues faster, but ultimately make a transition back to the rotation more difficult.  The chances of Hudson eventually becoming a part of the 2010 rotation are very good considering Freddy Garcia, who hasn’t been healthy in three years, is slated as the fifth starter.  
 
I like Hudson’s chances of making a solid fantasy impact in 2010, but I’d certainly be more willing to start him in favorable matchups only. 
 
Jay Jackson – The Cubs starting rotation gets a little thin toward the back end with options like Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Samardzija and (gulp) Carlos Silva.  On top of that they have a Ted Lilly, who is coming off of surgery to clean up parts of his rotator cuff and labrum.  They also have questions about whether Randy Wells can fight off a significant regression because of a low strikeout rate.  All of this means that there is sure to be an opportunity for some young arms to step up to the big league rotation. 
 
From a pure stuff standpoint, Jackson has impressed with a low-90′s fastball slider/curve and changeup.  His walk rates have increased as he has moved up the minor league ladder, which is something he’ll have to improve on to start the 2010 season.  Being a college pitcher sometimes can mean a quick assent to the big leagues and the Cubs look like they may need the help this season, but Jackson will have to out-pitch other prospects like Andrew Cashner and Chris Carpenter to get his shot.
 
Aaron Crow – Crow has yet to pitch an inning of minor league ball, but he could move through the system quickly given his age (23) and college background.  He’ll likely start at double-A, but if he impresses there is a chance the Royals give him a look as he’s already signed to a big league deal. 
 
Crow struck out 12 and walked only two in 15.1 Arizona Fall League innings last year and showed his plus fastball that sits at 93-95 mph and plus slider.  Both pitches sink and generate a good amount of ground balls.  The big question is whether his changeup will make for a good enough third pitch. 
 
When Crow gets the call to the big leagues, he’ll be the type of pitcher that can make an immediate impact for fantasy teams.
 
Danny Cortes – Cortes has some very good stuff that includes a mid-90′s fastball and big curve, but his control issues make him completely untouchable from a fantasy perspective.  He has also had multiple issues off the field that have brought his makeup into question.  The potential is there, but a lot has to change before we see him impact a Major League rotation. 
 
Trevor Reckling – Reckling features a low 90′s fastball that has good sinking action along with a plus curve and change.  While none of his pitches are overpowering, his mix-and-match approach keeps hitters off balance and induces plenty of ground balls.  He doesn’t have the ceiling of an ace, but becoming a strong third starter is not out of the question.  If the Angels are in a bind this season they may turn to Reckling, who appears to be the closest to being big league ready out of their prospects.
 
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