Throughout the minor league season, I will be writing about a prospect (normally) every Monday who has reached the AA level or higher that could be on your fantasy roster by season's end, and what you should know about them. Today's prospect skyrocketed was traded last season as a part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal with the Dodgers, and will make the start on Sunday for the Red Sox. That prospect is right handed pitcher Allen Webster.
Weight: 190 lbs.
On 40 man Roster: Yes (1 option used)
Age as of 4/15/13: 23
Webster is that developmental success story that you hope to hear. Taken in the 2008 draft in the 18th round by the Dodgers, Webster signed for a mere pittance of a bonus to the tune of $20,000. The Dodgers sent him to their rookie affiliate for that season, where he posted a 13:17 strikeout-to-walk rate and a 1.86 GO/AO rate in 18 innings pitched. The team kept him back in their rookie league affiliates for the 2009 season, throwing a combined 68 innings, striking out 77 and walking 17 batters while allowing just 58 hits and posting another excellent 1.83 GO/AO rate.
Los Angeles sent him to the Midwest League for his first full season assignment for 2010, where his walk rate spiked a bit up to 3.6 per 9 and his strikeout rate dropped to 7.6. However, the groundball rate was still excellent, and Baseball America ranked him as the Dodgers' fifth best prospect. They sent him to High-A to start 2011, promoting him after just 9 starts there to AA Chattanooga. His numbers weren't great there, as the peripherals were similar to his time in Low-A, but with a drop in his strand rate and an increased BABIP, leading in part to a 5.04 ERA. Despite that, the groundball rate at AA was better than ever, over 2.00 for the second time in his career.
Baseball America ranked him as the #2 prospect in the Dodgers' system coming into the 2012 system, and the Dodgers sent him to AA for a second run through. He made 22 starts with Chattanooga before being traded to the Red Sox, where he made 2 starts to finish up the season. The groundball rate was over 2.00 again between both stops, but the walk rate rose over 4 per 9 with an improved strikeout rate approaching 9 per 9 innings. The Red Sox added him to the 40-man roster during the offseason, and so far he has made two starts at AAA Pawtucket with 12 strikeouts, 3 walks, 7 hits allowed, and a 1.43 GO/AO rate in 10 innings. (One start was suspended due to weather, so the numbers will be available later in the season.)
The Scouting Report - Scouting reports are gathered from other internet sources and written reports, unless otherwise noted.
Webster features a mid 90s fastball that is rated as plus pretty consistently, and has a ton of movement at times. He also throws a changeup which is also considered above-average, along with a breaking ball that showed a ton of downward break. He tends to induce a lot of weak contact, which leads to the high number of ground balls he induces. He has issues with his control at times, but it seems (after watching his start on the 15th) that it stems in part from the massive amounts of movement and sink he gets on his pitches.
What's Keeping Him From Contributing Now?
The Red Sox have decided to bring up Webster to make a spot start on Sunday as a part of the doubleheader, but realistically, he should probably get some more innings at AAA. With there not really being a clear opening in the rotation in the Majors, it's not likely he will be up to stay, barring an injury. He could use a bit more time it appears to work on his command, but I'm not sure if it gets substantially better if he spends the full season in the minors.
What Could He Do For Fantasy Owners Once He Gets There?
For me, it seems like Webster could be a streaming type at his initial call up. You would ideally hope to see the pitcher that strikes out a batter per inning while still limiting the walks and getting a ton of grounders. That said, a more realistic line is probably an ERA around 4.00, a WHIP around 1.25-1.30 (depending on BABIP really), and about 7 strikeouts per 9 innings. Still a good starting pitcher, but with the potential for a brutal start higher than your average starting pitcher.
When Could He Arrive?
He will likely see some time in Boston this year,He is being called up to make a spot start tomorrow, but his opportunity to cement himself looks brighter for 2014, as John Lackey is on a club option which seems very likely to be declined. By then, he could be competing with the Red Sox' other top pitching prospect, Matt Barnes, for a spot.
For more on Webster and the Red Sox, check out SBNation's Over the Monster.
You can follow me on Twitter @jasonsbaseball.