Here is the last of my series of Top Fantasy Prospects for 2011, and I end it with the Top Pitching Prospects. I decided not to rank them since this list includes both starters and relievers who should benefit fantasy teams in 2011.
Jeremy Hellickson, TB-Hellickson is the best pitching prospect in MLB and after the Rays traded starter Matt Garza to the Cubs a few weeks ago, they are telling fantasy owners to go out and draft Hellickson in 2011 drafts. Hellickson was 12-3 in 21 AAA starts and 4-0 in his 4 major league starts in 2010. He will be a high K, low BB rate starter for years to come. Hellickson should be drafted in all formats, but you already knew that.
Aroldis Chapman, CIN-Chapman is considered the best pitching prospect in baseball behind Hellickson, but the Reds are taking it slow with him. He was called up to pitch in the bullpen after moving from starting to relieving in the minors last year. Chapman will be the Reds lefty specialist out of the bullpen in 2011, and could get a chance to close, but only if Francisco Cordero falters, which he is prone to do. Cordero's K rate has fallen the last few years making him more hittable. With all the pitchers in the Reds rotation and in the minors, Chapman may be the Reds closer come 2012, if not sooner. Even as a middle reliever, Chapman could strike out over 100 batters this year, which is valuable in 5 x 5 leagues. He should be drafted in all leagues in 2011.
More after the jump:
Kyle Drabek, TOR-Drabek will get his shot in the Toronto rotation after GM Alex Anthopolous sent starter Shaun Marcum packing to Milwaukee before the holidays. I wrote about Drabek here. He should be drafted in AL-only and keeper leagues in 2011.
Mike Minor, ATL-Minor got his cup of coffee in Atlanta last year and it is assumed he will be the Braves 5th starter in 2011. I wrote up Minor here. He should be drafted in NL-only and keeper leagues in 2011.
Jordan Lyles, HOU-Lyles made it all the way to AAA as a 19 year old last year and appears to be on the fast track to Houston, but I think they will put the brakes on him in 2011 at least for the first few months, but there is talk that he could challenge for the 5th spot in the rotation in spring training. Of concern to me is the drop in K rate from 10.39 in A ball in 2009 to 8.15 in AA and just 6.25 in AAA last year.
Tanner Scheppers, TEX-here is another pitcher who's best role may be as a reliever in the big leagues. Scheppers struggled as a starter in the minors last year, so the Rangers may let him be their setup man behind closer Neftali Feliz, and should they decide to move Feliz to the rotation, Scheppers could step into the closer role as soon as 2011. GM Jon Daniels is not afraid to give the closer job to a young pitcher, which we all saw last year. He should be drafted in AL-only and keeper leagues in 2011.
Craig Kimbrel, ATL-Kimbrel appears to be the heir apparent to Billy Wagner as the Braves closer, after he was used in high leveraged situations in late September and in the playoffs last year. Kimbrel has been called the right-handed Billy Wagner, and if you have seen him pitch, you would agree. Like Chapman, he will rack up the Ks for those in 5 x 5 leagues, and should be drafted in all leagues in 2011.
Michael Pineda, SEA-Lookout Landing's Jeff Sullivan wrote a nice piece on Pineda here where he projects Pineda to pitch 100-120 innings in Seattle in 2011. That inning projection is 20+ starts, so I am thinking he will be called up in early June. He should be drafted in all leagues in 2011.
Simon Castro, SD-Castro is the pitching prospect that doesn't get as much press as some of the other pitchers on this list, but could put up some very nice stats pitching in the canyon-esque Petco Park. He will probably start the season in AAA but I could see him getting a call-up should Aaron Harang or Dustin Moseley not pitch well. Or, how about Castro getting called up when closer Heath Bell finally gets traded? Not to go on a tangent, but does the Chad Qualls signing signal an early season Bell trade?
Jake McGee, TB-McGee is in the running to become the closer in Tampa, and I could see the Rays handing the job to him and seeing what he can do with it. One of the guys at DRaysBay wrote this piece on McGee calling for him to close. This bares watching to see how Maddon uses him toward the end of spring training.
Chris Sale, CHW-there has been much debate about where Sale will pitch in 2011. No, not whether he will pitch in the big leagues or the minors, but in the rotation or the bullpen. The guys at SouthSideSox interviewed Sale recently here where he says he is training this offseason to start, but also says he loved closing last year. Fantasy owners should watch how the White Sox use him in spring training to guage their plans for him.
Zach Britton, BAL-its just a matter of time before Britton gets the call to pitch in Camden Yards, and I can see it being sometime in June. He's a groundball pitcher which should help him pitching in that hitters park.
1. Jeremy Hellickson, TB
2. Aroldis Chapman, CIN
3. Julio Teheran, ATL
4. Shelby Miller, STL
5. Jarrod Parker, ARI
6. Jameson Taillon, PIT
7. Kyle Drabek, TOR
8. Manny Banuelos, NYY
9. Mike Montgomery, KC
10. Matt Moore, TB
11. Martin Perez, TEX
12. Arodys Vizcaino, ATL
13. John Lamb, KC
14. Tyler Matzek, COL
15. Zach Britton, BAL
16. Jacob Turner, DET
17. Casey Kelly, SD
18. Zach Lee, LAD
19. Dellin Betances, NYY
20. Jenrry Mejia, NYM