If a month into the season you are struggling for starting pitching and the waiver wire is showing nothing but low end to middling starters it might be worth keeping an eye on the up and coming generation of pitchers. All of the following pitchers can be expected to make a debut in the coming months - and most could be serious impact players. However none are sure things.
Tommy Hanson (SP, Braves): The top pitcher in the Braves organization is likely to join the big team by June at the latest. He’s a true flamethrower and his numbers this year in the minors are just mind boggling. In 26.1 innings he’s posted an ERA of 1.69 and struck out 38 while walking just 9. The caveat here is that his exposure to hitters above the AA level has been limited.
David Huff (SP, Indians): With the Indians once again struggling to make an impression in the AL Central, it’s inevitable that Huff, a 6-2 left hander, will get a chance to show just what he can do at the Major League level. His 2009 numbers (28 innings pitched, 3.21 ERA, 23 Ks and 11 BB) don’t show the same type of potential that his 2008 numbers (also AAA) show (80.2 innings, 6-4, 3.01 ERA, 81 Ks vs. just 15 walks), but the season is still early. He is capable of a K per inning if he’s on his game - and as the weather warms up, odds are that he will too.
Will Inman (SP, Padres): It’s possible that the Padres will baby Inman a bit as the team is in full rebuilding mode, but it’s also possible that he’ll get a shot sometime in the second half of the season, possibly after a month or so at AAA. Right now the 22 year old righty is laboring in the Texas League (AA) and posting excellent numbers (3.75, 22 Ks vs. just 5 BBs in just 24 innings). Those numbers reflect a huge step forward in terms of control for the youngster who was uncharacteristically wild last season.
Chris Tillman (SP, Orioles): While Adam Jones is widely held to be the key player the O’s acquired in the Erik Bedard trade, Tillman might actually be the more valuable of the players in the long run. He’s getting his first taste of AAA this season. So far that taste has shown a player who seems Major League ready. In 19 innings he’s gone 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA and 21 Ks as opposed to 9 walks. That walk rate is a bit concerning, but anyone who has struck out more than a batter per inning at every level of the minors and still posts respectable ERA and WHIP is worth keeping an eye on.
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