SleepersApril 7, 2007

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Sleeper Watch

By Jesse Jacobs

The idea of paying for pitching is fading into the background faster than Mark McGwire after a steroid hearing. Why pay for pitching when one can bank on the emergence of a fantasy star such as Justin Verlander, Francisco Liriano, Felix Hernandez, or any number of young arms who will overshadow those cagey veterans? Plus, the young guns are often taken ten rounds later in fantasy baseball drafts. Mike Pelfrey has an excellent chance to emerge as this year’s rookie star, and best of all, you can get him cheap.

Pelfrey is a perfect example of low risk high reward. Potential is sky high for Baseball America’s 20th ranked prospect. He is currently going undrafted in the majority of standard mixed fantasy leagues. If you are in a keeper league and he is on your waiver wire stop reading right now, take my word for it, and go pick him up! For those of you in standard leagues, this not only makes him available, but it means you don’t have to rush him onto your roster. If a spot on your team opens up or you feel you need some always valuable pitching depth, Pelfrey is probably hanging out in your free agent pool. Now let us look further into the credentials of the former ninth overall pick. After compiling a minor league ERA of 2.43 in just 18 minor league starts, Pelfrey made it to the show. Pelfrey brought with him from the Minor Leagues a dominating 10.21 K/9. Furthermore he maintained a serviceable 1.19 WHIP over his short Minor League career. Pelfrey was formerly considered a flamethrower dating back to his days in Wichita State, but he has since become a more complete pitcher with the development of a slider. He also boasts a two seam fastball, a circle change, and a mid 80s power curveball. This will give him a formidable arsenal to work with to compliment his already mid 90s fastball which has been clocked as high as 98 mph. As is always the case with young starters, look for the Mets to be cautious of his innings pitched. Don’t expect complete game shutouts from this kid just yet. Quality starts, however, should be plentiful.

Now another stat that can assuredly be counted on from a New York pitcher is wins. Wins of course are a stat that are a key necessity of any fantasy team, but are very arbritrary. Wins are a stat that single handedly have propelled Chien Ming Wang to the middle rounds of many drafts. The problem with Wang, as everyone is aware, is that Jose Canseco could probably strikeout more batters over a full season. Now very simply put, Pelfrey will win games for you. One needs to look no further than his first two starts in which he was supported by grand slams by both Carlos Beltran and Jose Valentin. Despite the following two starts by Pelfrey being lackluster he still managed to record two wins in his first four major league starts with just three months of minor league experience under his belt.

Now Pelfrey has securely locked up the fifth spot in the Mets pitiful rotation. Unless Chan Ho Park or Aaron Sele have an improbable resurgence, Pelfrey’s spot is secure for good. Also bearing in mind that his rotation mates in front of him are Oliver Perez and John Maine, it would appear Pelfrey has nowhere to go but up. Unless of course you still subscribe to the theory that Oliver Perez will regain his Cy Young caliber form. If that’s the case you might want to see a psychiatrist. The fact remains that Pelfrey has an opportunity to erupt onto the scene and become one of the most dynamic young arms in the game. So while on the lookout for another rookie standout be sure you don’t sleep on Mike Pelfrey.

Jesse is a Junior at Buffalo State College and majoring in journalism. He loves to talk baseball as well as almost all other sports. You can find him in the Cafe forums under the name of Cobbs87.
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