2012 MLB All Star Futures Game Preview: US Team Pitchers
Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox: Drafted in the first round in 2011 from the University of Connecticut, Barnes is 7-2, 2.44 with a 101/17 K/BB in 81 innings this year split between Low-A and High-A. He's allowed just 61 hits, on the strength of his mid-90s fastball and rapidly improving curveball and changeup. Age 22, he was erratic in college but looks like he's made a lot of progress, although he's gotten roughed up in his last three starts.
Trevor Bauer, RHP, Diamondbacks: Drafted in the first round last year out of UCLA, Bauer dominated the minors this spring (11-1, 2.23 ERA, 116/48 K/BB in 93 innings between Double-A and Triple-A) and was recently promoted to the majors, losing his eligibility for the Futures Game although he was on the original roster. Age 21, he has gotten hit in his first two major league starts, but has always shown the ability to make necessary adjustments.
Dylan Bundy, RHP, Orioles: Selected in the first round last spring from high school in Owasso, Oklahoma, Bundy was impossibly dominant in Low-A early this year (0.00 ERA, 40/2 K/BB in 30 innings, five hits), but has been more human in High-A (3.14 ERA, 30/8 K/BB in 29 innings, 24 hits). Just 19 years old, he has a remarkable combination of superior command and plus/plus stuff, projecting as a definite rotation anchor.
Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pirates: Another first round pick from the 2011 draft, Cole was inconsistent but occasionally brilliant at UCLA. He is 7-2, 2.86 with an 82/22 K/BB in 79 innings between High-A and Double-A this spring, making definite progress enhancing command of his mid-to-upper 90s fastball, slider, and changeup. Like Bundy and Bauer, 21-year-old Cole has all the necessary ingredients to be an ace starter.
Danny Hultzen, LHP, Mariners: Former University of Virginia ace Hultzen hasn't been exactly the pitcher the Mariners anticipated when they picked him in the first round last year. He has a 1.75 ERA split between Double-A and Triple-A, but with a 94/44 K/BB and 52 hits allowed in 87 innings. His control hasn't been as good as expected, but his dominance ratios (K/IP and H/IP) have been outstanding. The 22-year-old is still working out a few kinks with his low-90s fastball, slider, and changeup, but he still rates as the best southpaw prospect in the minors.
Alex Meyer, RHP, Nationals: A huge 6-9, 220 pounder, 22-year-old Meyer was drafted in the first round last year from the University of Kentucky. Considered raw for a college guy, he has a fastball that's hit 100 in the past and works at 93-96, along with a slider and changeup. He has a 3.40 ERA with a 95/32 K/BB in 82 innings in Low-A, allowing 64 hits. The key for him is being consistent with his mechanics.
Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Royals: Drafted in the supplemental first round by the Brewers in 2008 from high school in Highland, Illinois, Odorizzi was traded to the Royals in the Zack Greinke deal and has thrived. He is 9-2, 3.05 this year with a 92/26 K/BB in 86 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, with 79 hits allowed. Very athletic, he throws four pitches for strikes, with his curveball and change helping his low-90s fastball play up. He is 22.
Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Diamondbacks: Skaggs replaced Bauer in the rotation at Triple-A Reno, and he replaces him in the Futures Game as well. Drafted in the supplemental first round by the Angels in '09 and sent to Arizona in the Dan Haren deal, he has a 3.17 ERA with a 74/22 K/BB in 77 innings this year with 75 hits, all but one start in Double-A. He throws strikes with a low-90s fastball, a plus curve, and a solid change. He turns 21 next week.
Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pirates: Taillon was drafted by the Pirates in the first round in 2010, from high school in The Woodlands, Texas. A few rough outings have resulted in a 4.05 ERA in High-A, but scouts still love him due to his mid-to-upper-90s heat, curve, slider, and change. He has a 73/24 K/BB in 87 innings with 75 hits allowed, not bad for a 20-year-old in High-A. His upside is as high as Cole's, but he's still refining his skills.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Mariners: Selected in the supplemental first round in 2010 from high school in Yucaipa, California, Walker is just 19 years old and has had some rough outings lately in Double-A, elevating his ERA to 4.43 along with a 67/30 K/BB in 65 innings with 63 hits allowed. Extremely athletic, he excites scouts with his mid-90s heater and promising curveball and changeup, but he is still refining his command. As with Taillon, his upside is extremely high.
Zack Wheeler, RHP, Mets: Wheeler was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the first round in 2009 from high school in Dallas, Georgia, then was traded to the Mets last summer for Carlos Beltran. He has a 2.74 ERA with an 82/35 K/BB in 85 innings in Double-A, allowing just 60 hits and one homer. Age 22, he dominates with a mid-90s fastball and a plus curve. Command and changeup refinements are in progress, but this is yet another arm with terrific upside gracing the United States roster.