Digging for Diamonds: Starting Pitching Prospects
A couple of weeks ago at Baseball Prospectus, I looked at eight pitchers who have gone up in value in dynasty leagues since the beginning of the season. The pitchers looked at were all pretty well known and are certainly owned in almost all dynasty leagues. I had quite a few guys left over that weren’t profiled, so let’s take a look at a few pitchers that might not be owned in your league that have seen their values rise since the beginning of the season:
Joe Musgrove, RHP, Houston Astros (Current Level: Double-A Corpus Christi, Texas League)
A former supplemental first-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2011, Musgrove has battled injuries since his draft year of all varieties. Finally healthy this season, the 22-year old was assigned to Quad Cities of the Midwest League to begin the 2015 season and was dominant in five games (23 strikeouts, one walk, 0.70 ERA in 25 2/3 IP) before earning a promotion to the Lancaster of the California League. I caught him during his last Low-A start, May 3 at Wisconsin (facing off against Kodi Medeiros) and it was very apparent that the 6-foot-5 Musgrove had his mid-90’s velocity back in full effect as he gave up five hits in five innings with three punchouts. Musgrove moved on to the bandboxes of the Cal League and continued putting up monster numbers, striking out 43 and walking only one over thirty innings, good for a 2.40 ERA (2.11 FIP). He was then promoted to Double-A where he’s made two starts in the Texas League with mixed results. The Astros have understandably been aggressive with a healthy Musgrove this season, as he has to be added to the 40-man roster after the year or be subjected to the Rule V draft, where he would almost certainly be scooped up by a pitching starved organization. The Astros have numerous starters ahead of him on the organizational depth chart, so it’s entirely possible that Musgrove could end up in a relief role, but if he is allowed to continue to develop as a starter, he could be a nice back-end option that could provide solid ratios at the big league level.
Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Minnesota Twins (Current Level: High-A Fort Myers, Florida State League)
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Gonsalves made eight starts (2.50 FIP, 29.3% strikeout rate) in the Midwest League to finish the 2014 season and was reassigned to Cedar Rapids to begin his age-20 season in 2015. Gonsalves struck out 12.6 batters per nine innings over nine starts, posted a 1.15 ERA (2.17 FIP) and earning a move up the ladder to the Florida State League, where he’s made two starts. The former fourth round pick in 2013 has used his plus change to strike out 10.8 hitters per nine as a pro. He’ll need to develop a quality third pitch as he advances through the upper levels of the minors, but at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, he has room to add velocity as he matures (he currently sits 91-93), and if he does mix in the third pitch to go along with it, he could emerge as a quality middle of the rotation option. Gonsalves has entered the discussion as an option towards the back of midseason top-100 lists, a pretty big jump for a prospect that wasn’t owned in many leagues to begin the season.
Wei-Chieh Huang, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Current Level: Low-A Kane County, Midwest League)
Admittedly, there’s a bit of cheating going on here, because I’m not sure Huang was valued at all coming into the year, but he’s a guy that’s stood out to me early in his professional career. Huang was signed last July by the Diamondbacks out of Taiwan and the 21-year old worked in extended spring training until he was assigned to Kane County in late May. He’s made five starts as a professional – with outstanding results. Huang has a sparkling 0.85 ERA (2.10 FIP) in 31 2/3 innings pitched, allowing only 24 hits and striking out 32 batters. He’s showed very good control in the early going, walking only five hitters, good for a 0.92 WHIP. I watched Huang pitch in his second professional start against Peoria (pitching against Jack Flaherty), where he gave up one earned run in seven innings and struck out seven. Huang worked in the low 90’s during my viewing, so this is not a flamethrower that’s going to continue to accumulate monster strikeout totals, but his secondary pitches should give him a chance to strikeout a fair number of hitters at the higher levels. To be clear, I’m not advocating rushing out and picking up Huang just yet, but he deserves to be monitored if you play in a league that rosters 200 or more MiLBers, as he’s an advanced arm that could move quickly, or he could be sold to the Braves for twelve bucks, it’s anybody’s guess what the plan is in Arizona these days.
Across the nation, around the world, everybody had fun tonight, well except for Magneuris Sierra during the at-bat in the video. My apologies for the crappy videography (and joke).
J.J. Jansons is a contributor to The Dynasty Guru. Be one of the first to follow him (literally) on Twitter, where you can request future topics to be covered here at TDG. Follow @jansons_jj