The “year of the prospects” continues as three more top prospects will make their debuts this week. All three of these prospects should be owned in all dynasty leagues, but their fantasy outlooks might not be as good as it seems.
Each of these pitchers is in a very different situation when it comes to talent, opportunity and ballpark.
Luis Severino – Yankees
One of the Yankees’ top prospects will be making his big league debut Wednesday against the Red Sox.
Severino is taking the spot of injured starter Michael Pineda, who could be sidelined for about a month with a forearm strain. Pineda’s injury will give Severino an extended chance to prove his worth in the rotation. Severino also has high upside in the long-term.
Severino’s best pitch is his fastball that can reach the upper 90s but more consistently is in the mid 90s.
Severino has reached every minor league stop ahead of schedule and will now make his big league debut at the age of 21.
Severino has put up great numbers this season, and was worth a promotion even without the Pineda injury. Through eight AA and 11 AAA starts this season he had a 2.45 ERA, 0.997 WHIP, 8.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. The only number that took a hit for Severino since his promotion to AAA was his strikeout rate. He went from striking out 11.4 batters per nine in AA to 7.3 in AAA. However, he saw his ERA and WHIP take a nice drop (ERA dropped 1.4 and WHIP dropped by .18).
His numbers this season have been in line with what he has been doing throughout his minor league career. Through his four seasons in the minors he has a 2.30 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 9.1 K/9 and a 2.3 BB/9.
Yankee Stadium usually isn’t a pitcher friendly park with the short porch in right field, but Severino has kept his opponents in the yard over his minor league career. He has only allowed eight homers over his 320 and two-thirds innings in the minors, coming out to a miniscule .2 HR/9.
Severino, the youngest of the three pitchers making their debut this week, does not have the size that many people would want from a top of the line starter, but he still has the potential to be a big impact pitcher for real and fantasy baseball.
Jon Gray – Rockies
Colorado’s top pitching prospect will be making his debut Tuesday against the Mariners.
Gray was one of the top pitchers from the 2013 draft and he has been able to get his fastball up to 100 mph in the past but more consistently around 95.
He got off to a fast start in the minors in his rookie season with a 12.3 K/9 and only walking 1.9 batters per nine innings.
He was promoted to AA last season, but he didn’t see the same results. The high strikeout rate dropped, although it was expected to because it was at an unsustainable level, he also saw his ERA take a noticeable jump. His ERA trended even more in the wrong direction when he was promoted to AAA at the start of this season, rising to 4.33 and his WHIP to 1.49.
The bright side of his worrisome numbers this season is that they are coming in one of the best parks for hitters in all of the minor leagues in Albuquerque.
There is, however, also a downside. Things don’t get any better upon his promotion to the big leagues as he will now face better hitters in one of the best parks for hitters in all of baseball.
He is allowing .7 homers per nine innings and I don’t expect that to drop in Coors Field.
I have never been a big fan of Gray because of the place he will play his home games.
Its not to say that I won’t invest in him at all, but pitching in Coors is a knock against him.
There are a decent amount of Rockies that pitch well in games away from Coors. However when half of their starts come in a park where, on occasion, people will question starting some of the top pitchers in the game, the player is hard to invest in.
His spot in the rotation isn’t necessarily secure, although the Rockies may keep him up for the remainder of the season just to see what he can do. When it comes to pure stuff he might have the best on the list.
Top prospects tend to have good debuts because there is not a lot of information out on them, however I would be surprised if Gray could manage a good start against the power hitting Mariners in Coors.
Henry Owens – Red Sox
I have talked about my worries with Owens in the past, and not much has changed. Owens will debut Tuesday against the Yankees; unfortunately they didn’t bump him back a day to face off against fellow rookie Luis Severino on Wednesday.
Owens has been touted as a top prospect the past three seasons and jumping to as high as number 19 by MLB.com.
One of the good sings is his ERA continues to drop, but he can’t walk four plus batters per game in the majors and expect to continue his success. His 1.84 K/BB rate in the minors this season is not something that makes me want to invest in him. The sabermetric crowd will find a lot of problems with his numbers if he continues to pitch like that in the majors.
He may have a chance to get a rotation spot and stick, but that might be more because of a terrible Red Sox rotation than what Owens will do this season.
I’m not going to beat a dead horse when it comes to Owens, but I would keep expectations in check upon his promotion.
The biggest factor in his success will come down to if he can find his control that he had in past seasons.
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