After blowing a big series lead against Boston in the 2007 ALCS, nothing seems to have gone right for Cleveland. Kenny Lofton retired, Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore have been wrecked by injuries, and the team has seen a high turnover rate among its more talented guys—having traded Cliff Lee, Jake Westbrook, CC Sabathia, Victor Martinez, Casey Blake, Jhonny Peralta, and Franklin Gutierrez— over the past couple of years. With almost all of its upper echelon talent gone and a minor league system that scouts haven't exactly raved about, save for guys like Carlos Santana, the Indians don't have a lot to work with at this stage of the season for fantasy baseball preparation.
Everyone knows about bonafide guys like Shin-Shoo Choo and Fausto Carmona. Just as many have heard of up-and-comers Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana. However, one of the lesser known but most intriguing guys to be had from the Indians is starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco.
Carrasco, 24 this month, was a much-talked about pitching prospect for the Phillies before he was traded as part of the Cliff Lee trade that originally brought the ace to Philadelphia. Carrasco finally reached the majors last year, and as a back-end of the rotation starter for the Indians, the youngster had a good deal of success. In 44 innings, the righty earned 2 wins, a 3.83 ERA, and an impressive 38-14 K-BB ratio, good for a solid 2.71 K/BB. His great control is shown by his career 3.36 BB/9, a ratio which Carrasco has managed to maintain at every level of his minor league career.
Most importantly, some of the savvier GM's of the league like top prospects who immensely struggle in the minor leagues for several months or even a full season. Players who come back from these struggles show that not only is their talent for real, but they have the essential mental make up to go with it which allows the player to overcome adversity and make adjustments to his game. In 2009, while with the Phillies' AAA affiliate, Carrasco posted a 5.18 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and 7 hit batters. His walk numbers didn't show it because he was generating swings and misses (hence: 8.79 K/9), but he was struggling with his control. After the trade to the Cleveland organization, he bounced back to a 3.19 ERA, 5.14 K/BB, and 0.9 WHIP. How's that for an adjustment?
The Indians may not have a bright couple of years ahead of them as they continue their rebuilding phase, but undoubtedly a good portion of any future success they will have rests on the shoulders of Carrasco. Given the regulars behind Fausto Carmona in Cleveland's rotation, Carrasco should easily retain his job as a starting pitcher, which makes him a huge sleeper candidate for AL-only leagues. His ADP is currently sitting at 260, so unless your league is seriously huge, you won't even need to draft Carrasco to get a crack at him. Don't be afraid to let him go in the draft; he is owned in just 0.5% of ESPN leagues and his position shows he is virtually undrafted in all leagues. Keep an eye on him if you leave him out on waivers, because if he gets off to a good start he may not be out there for long.
2011 projected stats: 10-10, 4.47 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 112 K