With the minor league season over, we here at FakeTeams thought it would prove useful to take a look back at our pre-season predictions to see what went right, what went wrong, and what caught us by surprise. It also serves as a good way to recalibrate our thoughts on some prospects after another season of information. I'm beginning this process by taking a look at my pre-season column on the top 12 pitchers for '12 in regards to prospects.
Matt Moore - SP - Rays - Even for those who expected rookie struggles, it's been a tough season to be a Moore owner. He got off to a rough start, and though he's shown stretches of something just short of brilliance, Moore has been consistently inconsistent, mixing in more than a few clunkers for every few decent starts. He's fulfilled his promise as a high strikeout pitcher, averaging 9 per 9 IP, but countered that with a 97 ERA+ after his most recent debacle in NY. He's been more homer-prone than I anticipated, averaging 1 per 9 innings pitched. Walks were expected to be an issue for the rookie, and that prediction has held true, as he's averaged 4.1 BB/9, and when you average four walks and one homer per game, that's a recipe for a 97 ERA+. I expect Moore to treat 2012 as a learning experience, and potentially take the Clayton Kershaw route to excellence, putting him on the road to be a top 10 starting pitcher in two years, while providing plenty of value along the way.
More after the jump...
Julio Teheran - SP - Braves - Aside from a brief but ugly foray in the majors, Teheran has spent the year toiling and mostly struggling in Triple-A. While it's certainly a step (or three) back for Teheran, it's important to remember that though we've been monitoring him for five years now, Teheran is only 21 years old (younger than 2012 draft pick Kevin Gausman) and has plenty of time to become what we thought he would. That disclaimer out of the way, it's become imperative that Teheran develop a breaking ball that can miss bats because his fastball is flat (hence the home run problems) and a plus fastball/change combination isn't going to be enough for him to be even a mid-rotation starter at the major league level. It's tough to quit on someone as talented and precocious as Teheran, but there is definite cause for concern after he was dramatically worse while repeating Triple-A in 2012.
Trevor Bauer - SP - Diamondbacks - Boy this is a rough list so far. I thought Bauer would end up being the NL ROY, but he couldn't even hold off Joe Saunders/Josh Collmenter for a rotation spot. Bauer showed plenty of promise while piling up strike outs in the minor leagues, but struggled with command, with scouts often complaining that he would prefer to try to outsmart the hitters instead of attacking them with his premium stuff. Bauer's ceiling hasn't moved an inch, but Arizona is going to want to see him pitch in the zone more often going forward. Bauer struck out 157 in 130.1 minor league innings, and continues to show an impressive ability to miss bats. He has an unorthodox philosophy on many pitching related subjects, some of them contributing to his high walk totals. Bauer doesn't believe that walks with first base open will hurt him, so he's more willing to throw borderline pitches in those situations, resulting in more strikeouts but also more walks. I still believe that Bauer is a rotation mainstay by June next year, but Arizona has a cadre of pitching options to choose from (Kennedy, Cahill, Miley, Corbin, Bauer, Skaggs, Hudson, Collmenter, plus prospects like Holmberg/Chafin/Bradley down the road).
Drew Pomeranz - SP - Rockies - The list gets uglier as Pomeranz suffered some injuries, but suffered more from poor performance. He posted a 5 ERA in only 83.2 innings on the season with a serviceable 7.4 K/9 but a weak 1.92 K/BB. Pomeranz has Coors field to blame for some of his woes, as it returned to a run environment we haven't seen since the humidor was introduced, but that can only explain so much. Giving up one and a third home runs per nine will be anyone's undoing, and so it was for Pomeranz. I ranked Pomeranz so highly based on his impressive top two pitches, a perceived solid spot in the rotation and not enough concern about what Coors would do to his curve. I'm not so optimistic on him going forward, even if they do address the Coors issue. He's yet to put together any sort of consistent run while in the majors, and I wouldn't take a chance on him next year even in deep/keeper leagues.
Brad Peacock - SP - Athletics - Oof. I don't even want to talk about this one. Let's just say he wasn't as ready as ANYone thought, posting an ERA of 6 in Triple-A, though he did strike out 9 per 9 IP. Walks were his undoing, going from 2.9 across three levels last year to 4.4 in Triple-A in 2012. Peacock could end up as a post hype sleeper next year, but with the emergence of Dan Straily and Jarrod Parker (more on him later), he's moved to the back of the line in a system rife with pitching options.
Hisashi Iwakuma - SP - Mariners - Finally one I got right! Kinda. I targeted Iwakuma in my 20-team dynasty league, and though I had to drop him before he earned a rotation spot, I'm going to blame Seattle on this one more than myself. Iwakuma is by no means a stud, but he's a viable starting option every home game and any favorable road games. I fully expect him to be a mainstay in the Seattle rotation next year, providing innings and solid peripherals.
Addison Reed - RP - White Sox - Two in a row! We're on a roll over here! Reed took up residence in the closer role in early May, and decided he wasn't much for moving. He's recorded 26 saves on the season despite missing about a month of save opportunities. Reed has proven a bit homer prone, but his home park plays a significant part in that statistic, and has recorded a K/9 of 9 and a K/BB of 3/1. His ERA has been a weakspot, registering at 4.91, but he's piled up more than enough saves and strikeouts to be worth his draft day value.
Joe Wieland - SP - Padres - Wieland appeared at 8 on my list due to a combination of pro readiness and the prospect of pitching half his games in Petco Park. He only lasted five starts before landing on the disabled list for the rest of the season, posting a mediocre 4.55 ERA, but a nice 24/9 K/BB ratio in 27.2 IP. He did give up five home runs in those 27.2 innings, but they were bunched up in only two of his five starts. I continue to believe in his talent, and think he will contribute to both the Padres and fantasy leagues as soon as he's healthy.
Robbie Erlin - SP - Padres - This was a bit of a hedge as both Wieland and Erlin were acquired by San Diego in the Mike Adams deal, and both appeared on the verge of the majors after breakout seasons. It turns out both were on the verge of injury plagued seasons as Erlin missed a bunch of time, and though he returned at the end of the season, he never reached the major leagues. Another bust of a pick, but it just shows how endemic injuries are among pitchers.
Shelby Miller - SP - Cardinals - I've written a ton about Miller this year, but suffice it to say this looked like an ugly inclusion on this list. Miller righted the ship though, and received a September call up. He's looked good in relief stints in the majors, and his future remains as bright as ever. Based on talent he belongs near the top of the list along with Bauer and the rest of them, but it was questionable if he'd see the majors at all. That turned out to be a good call, though he will certainly make next years list, and considerably higher at that.
Wily Peralta - SP - Peralta posted mediocre numbers throughout the season in the minors, but the scouting reports didn't change and he received a late-season call up from the Brewers once fellow impressive rookie Mark Rogers reached his innings limit. Peralta has been great in the pros so far, posting a 2.14 ERA over 21 innings. He's only walked 6 batters in those 21 innings, which is a great sign for Peralta. The downside is that he's not missing enough bats, striking out only 13 batters over that time. The Brewers moved Zack Greinke at the trade deadline and are likely to lose Shaun Marcum to free agency this year, opening up a spot for Peralta in their rotation. I'm still high on his chances of being a deeper league fantasy contributor as soon as next year, and will likely put him on this list again next year.
Jarrod Parker - SP - Athletics - Well at least I hit on one out of 12. So it goes in the prospecting world. Parker got the call in late April and hasn't missed a beat all season, producing an ERA+ of 113 over 161.1 innings. His 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings could use some work, but his 2.05 K/BB is solid if not exciting. Unlike all the people who have struggled above, Parker has done a good job keeping the ball in the park, with a HR/9 of only .5. Part of that is a function of his cavernous home ballpark, but he has a good two-seam fastball that generates ground balls, and it is a skill he can reproduce going forward. Parker won't be a top 30 or probably even 40 pitcher next year due to lack of strikeouts, but he does have that kind of potential.
I also did feature the two Oriole imports one of which underwent Tommy John, and the other of which (Wei Yin Chen) has had a superb year for someone with such low expectations coming into the year. The lesson of course is that as big a name as a prospect may be, every prospect has some development left, and it affects each of them differently. Just because Julio Teheran struggled, doesn't mean he can't realize his ceiling, but this year does mean that we have to adjust his likelihood of reaching that ceiling. It is always dangerous to talking in terms of ceilings and floors, because the probable outcome is almost certainly somewhere in between. When the year began I felt pretty good about the names I selected in terms of a mixture of impact talent that was close and far away from the majors. It turns out I wasn't even close, and Jose Quintana of all people turned out to have one of the better rookie seasons on the year. If that doesn't prove the fruitlessness in predicting seasons, I don't know what will. That said, it's all we can do to gain an edge and learn as much about these guys as possible. I hope this review has been instructive, either in my successes or my failures. On Thursday I'll take a look at surprise rookies like Jose Quintana or possibly review the 12 hitters I predicted success for, and see how I did on that end.