2010 saw pitchers such as Travis Wood, Jhoulys Chacin, and Daniel Hudson bide their time in the minors before making their names known in the majors part way through the season. Those who kept an eye on the minors last year were able to jump on these pitchers when they arrived and it may have been a deciding factor in more than a couple championship races. 2011 will see its own share of pitching prospects emerge later in the season and there are a few on the cusp that will warrant keeping an eye on.
Julio Teheran - Having recently turned 20 Teheran might seem a bit wet behind the ears to face major league hitters but the kid has stood out against older competition his entire life. Atlanta already has a deep rotation so don't expect to see him there at the start of the season but if Teheran can get off to a solid start in the minors he could force his way onto the team should a spot open up. He's in the top 10 of virtually every prospects list and 2011 could be the year the world gets its first glimpse at a potential superstar ace.
more pitchers to watch after the jump...
Michael Pineda -The Mariners top pitching prospect probably won't need much time in the minors next year and when he gets called up he could provide immediate dividends. He combines an excellent k-rate with above average command and will be pitching in a pitcher friendly park at Safeco. With a solid defense behind him he i also likely to have a wider margin for error than most pitchers entering the league. He's my pick for impact pitcher of the year that's not on the opening day roster.
Mike Montgomery - The towering lefty could see time in Kansas City in 2011 as they try to get their prospects acclimatized to the majors. He has elite skills at preventing hits and home runs and strikes out enough batters to make an impact in fantasy. Montgomery could be this year's Jeremy Hellickson as a pitcher who has nothing left to prove in the minors.
Hector Noesi / Manny Banuelos / Dellin Betances -With a pitching rotation as deep as a conversation with your 14 year old niece the Yankees could be looking inward for rotation help this year. Track the status of the Yankees rotation and if it looks like they're gonna need reinforcements take a peek at these ball chuckers. Noesi is the closest to the majors of the three and on the 40-man roster so he'll likely get first crack but Banuelos and Betances both provide more strikeout upside and potential. Whoever gets the call could be a boost to your fantasy team since pitching for the Yankees means they will rack up wins even if their ERA is in the 4's.
Kyle Gibson - With so many injury risks in their rotation the Twins are going to hope Gibson builds on his sparkling professional debut. He showed no signs of being intimidated by pro hitters and made it all the way to AAA by year end. There's a chance he makes the opening day roster but it's more likely he spends some time back in AAA before his eventual call-up. He won't give you a ton of strikeouts but he'll be pitching for a contender in a great pitcher's park.
Rudy Owens - A former 28th round pick, Owens has become one of the better control pitchers in the minors. In the AA Eastern League he walked only 23 in 150IP while striking out 132. Pitchers with this command who can also strike batters out don't come along very often. The Pirates front office like his stuff and if he shows early on that he's capable of repeating his AA success he may be packing his bags for the Steel City. He's likely to be more valuable in real life than fantasy but he's worth keeping an eye on especially if he shows he can maintain some of those Ks with a leap to the bigs.
Chen Lee - The Taiwanese reliever has posted outstanding K/BB rates of 3.46 and 3.73 in A+ and AA the past 2 seasons. If he continues to display this ability to limit free passes while striking out 10 per 9 he should see some time with Cleveland in 2011. He'll only hold value in deep leagues since he likely won't be closing but he could be a nice source of holds, Ks and WHIP.