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The out-of-nowhere rookies of 2016: the pitchers

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Zach Davies
Zach Davies
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week we examined the results for the pre-season Top 175 prospects for 2016 list. The next item on the agenda as 2016 wraps up: looking at rookies who have succeeded this year in the majors but who didn't rank on the list. We will rank them according to their standing in Fangraphs WAR, with a minimum of 1.0.

Zach Davies, RHP, Brewers: 2.8 fWAR: Very successful season, 3.92 ERA with 132/58 K/BB in 158 innings; was rated as a Grade B- prospect pre-season but just missed Top 175; from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:

Most see him as a command-oriented inning-eater who will live on the margins. I agree with that, but even with that profile he can end up having a better career than a bunch of guys who throw much harder but don’t know how to pitch. Grade B-.

That holds up so far.

Chris Devenski, RHP, Astros, 2.7 fWAR: 1.98 ERA in 105 innings for the Astros, starting and relieving, 97/19 K/BB; rated as a Grade C prospect pre-season, book excerpt:

It isn’t a fancy schmancy profile but he has the basics necessary to be a viable long reliever who can start in an emergency. He also has a good makeup reputation which could give him a slight opportunity edge over the dozens of similar pitchers in the minors. Grade C.

I thought he could contribute but not like this.

Seung Hwan Oh, RHP, Cardinals, 2.5 fWAR: 18 saves for the Cardinals with a 1.97 ERA; I didn't rank or grade him because he was 33 years old and was already an established player in Japan.

Junior Guerra, RHP, Brewers, 2.5 fWAR: 2.81 ERA in 20 starts for the Brewers; I didn't rank or grade him pre-season because he was 31 years old.

Tyler Anderson, LHP, Rockies, 2.4 fWAR:
3.58 ERA in 18 starts for the Rockies with a 98/26 K/BB in 108 innings; rated as a Grade C+ pre-season despite missing all of 2015 with injury; book excerpt:

The biggest issue really is health: he has a history of both elbow and shoulder glitches, a big problem considering that he needs innings to iron out the breaking stuff. All that said, Anderson has always pitched well when healthy and that will probably continue if he manages to get on the mound.

He stayed on the mound.

Kyle Barraclough, RHP, Marlins, 1.9 fWAR: 2.84 ERA in 70 relief innings for the Marlins, fanning 107; rated as a Grade C pre-season due to concerns about his command; book excerpt:

can hit 98 MPH, works at 93-95, and has a good slider. His biggest problem is spotty command and he’ll absolutely have to lower his walk rate to maintain the sub-3.00 ERA over a full season in the majors. One notable fact: he’s given up just two homers in his four-year minor league career, which certainly helps the ERA even when his walk rate is too high.

Walk rate is still high but his stuff is so good, it hasn't mattered. Tiny home run rate is still an excellent asset.

Matt Bush, RHP, Rangers, 1.4 fWAR: 2.61 ERA in 59 relief innings with 58/14 K/BB; was not rated or ranked pre-season due to age (30) and having been off the mound for four years.

Hector Neris, RHP, Phillies, 1.2 fWAR: 2.47 ERA in 77 relief innings with 97/26 K/BB; was not rated or ranked pre-season due to age (27), command issues, and erratic track record in prior seasons.

Derek Law, RHP, Giants, 1.2 fWAR:
2.06 ERA in 52 innings with 48/9 K/BB; rated as a Grade C prospect pre-season, book excerpt:

He has good stuff, too, with a nasty sinker that can hit the mid-90s and an even better breaking ball. Scouts have always worried about his delivery. . .Rehab went well and Law looked like his normal self once he retook the mound in late June, though he had a couple of rough outings in August that inflated his ERA. He will be in the relief mix at some point within the next year and could provide quality filler innings. Grade C.

He's stayed healthy and provided those quality filler innings. I think he is capable of taking a larger role going forward.

Ryan Buchter, RHP, Padres, 1.1 fWAR: 2.86 ERA in 63 innings with 78/31 K/BB; was not rated or ranked pre-season due to age (28) and history of command issues.

Mychal Givens, RHP, Orioles, 1.1 fWAR: 3.38 ERA in 69 innings with 89/34 K/BB; rated as a Grade B- prospect pre-season but just missed Top 175 list; book excerpt:

Givens has a nasty power sinker at 92-95 MPH thrown with a low-angle delivery. He’s developed a slider and change-up, both average to plus, and has demonstrated excellent mound presence and unusually good pitching instincts given his lack of experience. Grading relievers is always problematic but I really like what Givens has done and it would not surprise me at all to see him close games eventually. Grade B-.

I think that holds up.

Felipe Rivero, LHP,  Nationals/Pirates, 1.0 fWAR: 3.54 ERA in 74 innings with 88/32 K/BB, traded from Nationals to Pirates in July; was not on pre-season prospect lists for me because I didn't think he counted as a rookie after pitching 48.1 innings in the majors in 2015.

Ryan Dull, RHP, Athletics, 1.0 fWAR:
2.27 ERA in 71 innings with 68/12 K/BB; rated as a Grade C prospect pre-season with middle relief projection, book excerpt:

Although not usually ranked highly on prospect lists (in part due to his status as a short right-hander), his command helps his stuff play up and he’s been effective at every level. He had some gopheritis during his big league trial but in general performed well enough to get more chances. It seems unlikely (though not impossible) that he’ll pick up a bunch of saves, but he should provide solid filler innings. Grade C.

He's provided those filler innings and even picked up three saves.

Joe Biagini, RHP, Blue Jays, 1.0 fWAR: 2.84 ERA in 63 innings with 57/19 K/BB; rated as a Grade C prospect pre-season, book excerpt:

On the surface Biagini has the body and track record to be a workhorse rotation arm. However, I think he fits best in the bullpen unless he develops a better breaking ball. He could be quite good as a middle reliever. Grade C.

That holds up.

Overall, the main misses here were older pitchers who were considered journeymen until taking a step forward this year. The guy I consider the biggest miss is Devenski; I thought he could be useful but he's been way beyond the upper boundary of expectations.