Former top pitching prospects revisited

Upon receiving various e-mail requests regarding my thoughts on some of the more controversial, young, and recent former top prospects that are battling their way up the major league ladder, I have decided to weigh in on a few big name pitchers that have given fantasy owners nothing but little results and headaches thus far. So, I have given myself the task of rethinking the projected statistics for Clay Buchholz, Phil Hughes, Franklin Morales, Homer Bailey, and Mike Pelfrey, five of the biggest head-scratchers to come through the minor league ranks in recent years.

To find out how these projections compare with the game’s current crop of top prospects, check out THT’s Top 100 List.

Clay Buchholz
Since his jaw-dropping no-hitter in September of 2007, major league success has been hard to come by for Buchholz. That could all change if Boston allows consistent starts to come his way, and Tim Wakefield’s recent trip to the disabled list may be just the opportunity he’s been looking for. Still just 24 years old, Buchholz re-enters Boston’s rotation with a refined repertoire, a true pitcher’s mentality, and a giant chip on his shoulder. He has much to prove to jilted Boston fans. His sky-high projections have not changed much in my mind. If I could only have one player from the list to start my rotation with, it would be Buchholz. Hands down.
Average Year Projection:
199 IP / 3.68 ERA / 1.27 WHIP / 14 W / 9 L / 180 SO / 187 H / 66 BB
Prime Year Projection:
211 IP / 3.17 ERA / 1.18 WHIP / 16 W / 8 L / 209 SO / 191 H / 59 BB

Phil Hughes
After a moderately successful debut in 2007, the injury bug struck in 2008, resulting in a mostly lost season for the Yankees’ prized arm. 2009 has been nothing but success for the 23-year-old, but it has come in a much different fashion than fantasy owners expected. Hughes has been an ace out of the bullpen, anchoring down a set-up role for the first-place Yanks. His future is still as a starter, but this type of bullpen success means good things heading forward. One downside to consider when evaluating Hughes is the unfortunate Yankee Stadium home run conditions that right-handers must face. Much like Buchholz, Hughes has needed some time to adjust, but his projections are not far off from where they were when he was tearing through the minor leagues three seasons ago.
Average Year Projection:
195 IP / 3.91 ERA / 1.30 WHIP / 14 W / 9 L / 188 SO / 190 H / 63 BB
Prime Year Projection:
207 IP / 3.40 ERA / 1.21 WHIP / 16 W / 9 L / 214 SO / 195 H / 55 BB

Franklin Morales
Morales has shined coming out of Colorado’s bullpen over the last month. But his future is still in the rotation, and it seems that the Rockies have no intention to make Morales a permanent bullpen figure. His stuff has a reputation for staying strong throughout a 100 pitch outing. Of course, Morales’ ultimate production will be hampered by Coors Field, but he is still on track to become the ace of a pitching staff desperately in need of one.
Average Year Projection:
198 IP / 4.08 ERA / 1.35 WHIP / 14 W / 10 L / 186 SO / 193 H / 74 BB
Prime Year Projection:
213 IP / 3.60 ERA / 1.23 WHIP / 16 W / 10 L / 214 SO / 197 H / 64 BB

Homer Bailey
The Reds, in the midst of a down season, seem to be convinced that Bailey can work through his notorious big league struggles with the aid of a consistent, pressure free rotation spot. Things have not worked out, leading me to think that his career path is closer to that of a Quadruple-A pitcher rather than a major league ace. The true outcome probably lies somewhere in between. He is still just 23-years-old and hasn’t lost a bit from his impressive stuff. Even if he doesn’t settle down and find the strike zone anytime soon, he is smart enough to eventually pick up on a tip or two that will aid him in getting out major league hitters. He should be a major league starter for a number of years. But when scouts talk about a player being more of a thrower than a pitcher, it’s players like Bailey that come to mind. He needs a lot of work and a shot of the confidence that he enjoyed throughout his minor league career. The upside is still there, but I am skeptical.
Average Year Projection:
187 IP / 4.59 ERA / 1.47 WHIP / 10 W / 13 L / 164 SO / 194 H / 80 BB
Prime Year Projection:
200 IP / 3.98 ERA / 1.35 WHIP / 12 W / 11 L / 193 SO / 198 H / 71 BB

Mike Pelfrey
I never was a fan of Pelfrey. He lacked the secondary stuff necessary to live up to his New York hype. He is certainly a quality back of the rotation type for the Mets, but a desperation pick-up for fantasy owners. He is the oldest player on the list and has little projection left.
Average Year Projection:
200 IP / 4.54 ERA / 1.40 WHIP / 10 W / 13 L / 122 SO / 208 H / 71 BB
Prime Year Projection:
212 IP / 3.99 ERA / 1.33 WHIP / 13 W / 12 L / 140 SO / 217 H / 64 BB

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