During the 2013 season, fantasy baseball owners have been treated to the debuts of highly touted rookie pitchers such as Zach Wheeler, Shelby Miller, Jose Fernandez and Gerrit Cole, to name a few.
On Thursday very few were tuned into the debut of Cleveland Indians SP Danny Salazar, but fantasy owners should clearly be intrigued after his impressive debut. Salazar displayed great control of his fastball that was consistently in the mid-to-high 90’s along with a changeup and breaking ball to keep hitters off balance. The Toronto Blue Jays lineup clearly wasn’t ready for him as he allowed just two hits, one walk and one earned run while striking out seven in six innings pitched.
Thursday wasn’t the first time Salazar has flown under the radar; he’s done so for his entire career. The Indians signed him as a 16-year-old undrafted free agent back in 2006; the same year they drafted now-former prospects David Huff and Josh Tomlin, so he never received much hype. He made his rookie-league debut in 2008 and was solid, but then struggled in Single-A in 2009 and 2010 before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
After missing most of 2011, Salazar has done very well. He struck out 8.89 per nine innings with a 2.68 ERA in 53.2 innings in High-A in 2012 and was just as good after being promoted to Double-A. He struck out a ridiculous 13.63 per nine at Double-A to start this season and continued fooling hitters in Triple-A.
He totaled exactly 100 strikeouts in 76 innings combined in the minors this year before getting the call Thursday, and he was able to bring his strikeout potential with him. He has shown good control throughout his minor league career and that was the case in his first start Thursday as well, which isn’t the case with most young starters.
His next start won’t be for a while with the All Star break coming up, but those looking for pitching help and strikeouts should give Salazar a look with a soft schedule for the Indians upcoming right after the break.