Last season, baseball fans were treated to an offensive explosion of rookie players. Guys like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper headlined some of the greatest production from a class of rookies in year’s past.
This year, however, we are seeing more rookie studs on the hill than at the plate.
A handful of rookie pitchers are absolutely dealing on the mound this season, making fantasy owners take notice. While some may be expecting some major regression, I think these young arms are 100 percent the real deal, and are part of a promising future for the game of baseball.
Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals: Towards the end of every single fantasy draft I was a part of, I took a late round flier on Miller, hoping he would earn the fifth and final spot in the rotation. Well, he did earn it, and didn’t look back. After a dominating one-hit, 13-strikeout shutout victory in Friday night, the Cardinals rookie now holds a 5-2 record with 51 strikeout (7th in NL) and an ERA of 1.58. In Yahoo! points leagues, he is the number six pitcher in all of fantasy baseball this season. Every time I watch this kid deal, I automatically disregard anyone else in the NL Rookie of the Year discussion. His fastball can blow by batters at 93-95 mph and a devastating curveball that can freeze them. Miller is inducing his fair share of groundballs, forcing them over 42 percent of the time, including seven during Friday’s phenomenal performance. This 22-year old may only be a rookie, but he is maturing very quickly. Whenever he is behind in the count, he doesn’t let it phase him and continues to throw his breaking stuff and exploding fastball. Miller is the real deal, has all the qualities of becoming a future ace and has been my pick to win the Rookie of the Year award all season long. That’s not going to change anytime soon.
Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins: Playing for the Marlins may not allow him to get a ton of recognition, but Fernandez is looking like a future star in this league. The 20-year old must have something special, considering he jumped from Double-A to the majors for Miami. Through seven starts, Fernandez sports a 2-2 record with 39 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.65. His fastball clocks in around 95 mph, but his strikeout pitch is without a doubt his curveball, one of the nastiest I’ve seen in baseball this season. It’ll appear to be heading right down the strike zone and then will break outside at the very last second, making batters look foolish. Despite only pitching seven games in his major league career, Fernandez looks determined and fearless when on the hill, going right at any batter across from him. Of course, playing for the Giancarlo Stanton-less Marlins will make it a bit more difficult for fantasy owners to get a ton of wins out of Fernandez, but in dynasty leagues, he is an absolute stud.
Tony Cingrani, Cincinnati Reds: With ace Johnny Cueto still on the disabled list (but returning soon), the young Cingrani is trying to continue impressing the Reds in attempts to remain in the rotation. So far, it’ll be difficult for the team to send Cingrani to the bullpen. In five starts, Cingrani has two wins with 37 strikeouts, a 2.89 ERA and a WHIP of 0.96. He has shown signs of brilliance during his debut season, but has also struggled at times, surrendering six home runs (4 in his last 2 outings) and has lasted five innings or less twice. Still, I feel like he has shown more than teammate Mike Leake has and deserves to remain in the rotation. It will allow the 23-year old to progress even more as a pitcher, and with a very strong lineup behind him, Cingrani could put up some terrific numbers if he stays in the rotation.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.