SleepersApril 21, 2006

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Sleeper Watch

By Arlo Vander

Dewon Brazelton’s stint as a San Diego starter didn’t last very long. After two disastrous outings in which he gave up a whopping 17 earned runs in just 6.1 innings against Colorado and Florida, Brazelton was swiftly demoted to the bullpen. Replacing him in the Padres’ rotation is sophomore Clay Hensley.

Hensley had his work cut out for him in his first start of the season, which came at Coors Field, the league’s most difficult park to pitch in. Yet the 26-year-old came through with a strong performance, allowing just two hits and one run on a Matt Holliday sacrifice fly in four innings of work.

The right-hander’s 2005 numbers were impressive, at both the major and minor league levels. Before being called up to the big show, he recorded a stellar 0.94 WHIP at AAA Portland. In San Diego, he continued to impress, posting a 1.05 WHIP and 1.70 ERA in 47.2 innings pitched. If there was a fly in Hensley’s ointment, it was his K/BB ratio. While he struck out more than three batters for every walk allowed in his minor league career, including a 3.23 mark in 2005, that figure dropped sharply to a mere 1.65 in the majors. This year, Hensley has fanned eight while walking six, a ratio of 1.33. Keep an eye on this stat, which will play a huge role in determining if he can succeed as a starter in San Diego.

Hensley’s next start is scheduled for April 23, when he squares off against Victor Zambrano and the Mets. It might be a bit too early to pick him up in mixed league’s, but this is a pitcher whose progress is worth keeping an eye on. In NL-only formats, he could be worth a flyer right away.

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