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Pacific Coast League Pitchers To Watch 2011

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Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Getty Images

The Pacific Coast League is not a friendly place for pitchers but if there are hurlers who are up to the task it's this lot. Take a look at some of the most exciting young pitchers in the PCL.

Simon Castro - Castro is close to being ready. He will spend time in Tuscon to start the year but could get the call-up once a spot in the Padres rotation opens up. Wade Leblanc may get the nod if Castro isn't quite ready.

Casey Kelly - The top prospect coming to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, Kelly could be pitching in spacious Petco before the year is done. Kelly is still young and struggled in AA last year so he could need more time in the minors but the Padres are going to want to show fans something special from the Gonzalez trade sooner than later.

more pitchers after the jump...

Tanner Scheppers - It was widely believed Scheppers' future was in the bullpen, possibly as the Rangers closer but Nolan Ryan and co. would like to keep him as a starter if possible. He has the secondary pitches to get the job done but injury concerns may send him to a relief role.

Jarrod Parker - The Diamondbacks top prospect finds himself on the verge of the majors despite pitching only 215 innings in the minors and missing 2010 to Tommy John Surgery. Keep an eye on Parker in the PCL as he will see time in the majors this year if he can prove recovered from TJS.

Michael Montgomery - The towering lefty doesn't have elite strikeout ability and he doesn't avoid the walk like his names was Cliff Lee. Instead he is able to induce weak contact and keeps his hit totals low. When an opponent does get a hit it usually stays in the yard. Montgomery will be worth watching because if he can show he is able to keep the hit totals low in the high minors he could be a star one day.

Danny Duffy - Duffy isn't as talked about as much as John Lamb or Michael Montgomery but he could end up better than both. He has similar walk rates and a better strikeout punch.

Jordan Lyles - Lyles only turns 21 until October making his meteoric rise through the minors pretty incredible. The Astros are in no hurry to rush him but he should be given a look in September if not earlier. He may struggle at AAA which could keep him down another year but he should have a place in the Astros rotation in the near future.

Elih Villanueva - Drafted in the 27th round, Villanueva has never been a top prospect and could surprise some with an impressive career. A masterful showing at AA last year where a 0.96 WHIP and 2.26 ERA allowed him to go 14-4. He brings his pin-point command to the PCL where he will look to have him name in the mix should a spot in the Marlins rotation open up. He lacks the strikeout pop to be a fantasy star but has been a low WHIP monster through the minors and that skill could translate in the majors.