Fantasy baseball is loaded with several pitchers at the top who will be great fantasy aces in 2011. They'll be going fast and you may have to reach to get one or two. Wouldn't it be easier to draft quality starters at the end of a draft rather than at the beginning? I'm not dismissing the need every fantasy roster has for a legitimate ace, but once you have your top starter or two, who can you draft that will out perform their 2010 and end up being top 50 or top 25 starter material?
Here are 10 young starters who you can't go wrong with using a late round draft choice on:
Daniel Hudson- At 24 years old Hudson has a solid role as a big league starter. Scouts once pegged him at being capable of being a good fifth starter, but now it’s looking like he’ll be a good second or third starter. After a trade that sent him to the desert, Hudson put up some of the best second half splits in the majors. His ERA sat at a sparkling 2.45 with the Diamondbacks and his WHIP was an even 1.00. 84 K’s in 95.1 IP between the White Sox and Diamondbacks is a very pretty sight to see. He has good command of his fastball and improved his changeup so don’t look for a big regression in 2011.
Jhoulys Chacin- Chacin has had limited exposure in the bigs, but when he has pitched he has succeeded. He is a good strikeout pitcher (9.04 K/9 in 2010) who walks a little too many batters for my taste, but if he can keep the base on balls down a little this year, he’ll make many fantasy owners happy. Don’t be too worried about his home in Coors Field, he kept his home ERA under 4.00 last season and at 23-years old you can’t ask for much more.
Jordan Zimmerman- The former second round pick has recovered from Tommy John surgery and we all know what that means. SInce the success rate of the operation is so high, expect Zimmerman to bounce back and be better than he was when he last played a considerable amount of time. He strikes out a lot off batters as evidenced by his 9.07 K/9 in 2009. He’s just 24 and still has plenty of room to grow.
Gio Gonzalez- In 2009, when he got his first lengthy stay in the bigs, his K/9 was a fantastic 9.94, he has electric stuff, but he has confidence issues and was unable to avoid big innings. Well, in 2010, all that changed. He figured out how to avoid jams early and cruise to the end of the game and that led his ERA to drop more than two runs to a very useful 3.23. His 15 wins were a nice surprise because the Oakland offense doesn’t always provide a lot of support, but his home park helped him out a lot. Gio has always been a very good prospect with a high upside and it appears he’s tapping into his potential.
Carlos Carrasco- In a short, seven game stint in the major leagues in 2010, Carrasco showed he has the stuff to be a solid major league starter. This seemed like a surprise, but Carrasco has had the makings of a good pitcher for a while and is among some of the best sleeper candidates this year. In 2009 and 2010 at AAA he kept his ERA below 4.00 and his career K/9 in the minors was an acceptable 8.0. Now that he’s been given a rotation spot Carrasco is ready to run with it and have a breakout year.
Tim Stauffer- He didn’t have overwhelming numbers in the minor leagues, but in his audition in the bigs last year he did quite well. In 82.2 innings pitched between starting and relieving, he held his WHIP to 1.08 and his ERA to just 1.85. His 61 strikeout total in that time wasn’t spectacular, but he’s going to be pitching in Petco Park and have a rotation spot all year long in 2011.
Brett Cecil- He quietly won 15 games while keeping his ERA just above 4.20 in 28 starts in 2010. His ERA could have been better, but a really bad september caused it to spike. What is promising about him is his 3.11 career ERA in the minors and 9.0 K/BB rate. He won’t strikeout a lot of people in the major leagues just yet, but at 24, he could bring his ERA down to below 4.00 and win 12-14 games.
Clayton Richard- One of the big pieces that sent Jake Peavey to Chicago. 14 wins and a 3.75 ERA in 201.2 innings in 2010 were stellar for his first taste at big league starting. Sure he had just 153 strikeouts, but he pitches in a very good pitcher’s park. I don’t expect Cy Young stuff from him this year, but 14 wins and a 3.75 ERA can be duplicated.
Josh Outman- He isn’t starting out in the rotation, but by mid-may he could very well be. Brandon McCarthy isn’t much to write home about. Outman had a 2.99 career ERA in the minors with an 8.7 K/9. In 2009 in his short stint in the Oakland rotation he pitched very well, 4-1 in 67.1 innings and 12 starts with 53 K’s, a 1.16 WHIP and 3.48 ERA. He's fresh off Tommy John surgery and we all know what that means. Oakland is a haven for pitchers and if he gets the chance to start for the A’s expect 12 wins and a 3.50 ERA.
Anibal Sanchez- He made 32 starts last season and was one of the most underrated pitchers. With 13 wins, a 3.55 ERA, and 157 strikeouts, he showed great promise in his age 26 season. He can now take the momentum from 2010 and continue to improve in 2011. Matthew Berry thinks he’ll reach 200 K’s