StrategyJuly 25, 2011


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Future Rookies: Week 17

By Josh Shepardson

Who doesn’t love an overachiever? Who doesn’t love a great comeback story? Well this week’s Future Rookies both. The Nationals have a soft-tossing southpaw in Syracuse who is knocking on the door of his major league debut thanks to his brilliant pitching. Meanwhile, the Indians are happy to have a former top prospect pitching again after not throwing an inning the past two seasons.

Tom Milone, SP, Washington Nationals, 24 years old

 IPWBBKERAWHIP
2011 AAA114.28101183.300.99

Tom Milone continues to defy logic, performing better each level he moves up in spite of a fastball that sits in the mid-80’s and touches the hihg-80’s on a good day. There are countless stories of pitchers succeeding in the minors in spite of underwhelming stuff only to get exposed at the major league level, Yusmeiro Petit and Jeremy Sowers immediately come to mind. Regardless, Milone’s performance has been jaw dropping at the highest level of minor league baseball. It’s not everyday a pitcher is able to post a 11.8 K/BB rate.

Milone should get an opportunity to take his first crack at getting major league hitters out sometime in August as Jordan Zimmermann is nearing his inning pitched limit. Unavailable in the Yahoo! player database, owners will have to wait for him to clear waivers, or use their priority or FAAB dollars if they want to own his services. A bit of a risky option for those in tights point races in roto leagues, or those looking for pitching help in head-to-head leagues, but one worth taking for those looking to throw up a hailmary down the stretch with nothing to lose.

Adam Miller, RP, Cleveland Indians, 26 years old

 IPWSVBBKERAWHIP
2011 Hi-A11.0015144.911.18
2011 AA22.1119204.031.39

The Indians former four time top prospect according to Baseball America, Adam Miller has undergone an equal number of operations to repair a tendon in his middle finger. So many operations on such a small area is essentially unprecedented for a pitcher, and how he holds up remains to be seen. His results haven’t been eye popping, but they’ve been encouraging, and more than anything he’s stayed healthy. Once a starting pitching prospect, he’s now being developed as a reliever.

His fastball/slider combination used to be enough to cause scouts to salivate on what he could become. The velocity reports have been good, but his slider remains erratic and is a work in progress to regain. Chris Perez has been successful in slamming the door at the end of games for the Indians saving 22 games while blowing just two opportunities. That’s where the positives end for Perez. His walk rate is poor at 4.54 BB/9, his strikeout rate is downright embarrassing at 5.80 K/9 (1.28 K/BB) and for the trifecta of damming stats his groundball rate is at a career worst 30.1 percent. Being that he’s been successful, it’s unlikely Manny Acta (or any major league manager for that matter) cares about predictive statistics and the strong likelihood that Perez is a ticking time bomb, so expect to see him hold the closer role for the remainder of the season. Fortunately fantasy owners don’t have to ignore the signs of potential trouble brewing, and can store this information away for next season.

When rosters expand in September there is a chance the Indians will reward Miller for his hardwork in rehabbing his finger and promote him. If he’s able to remain healthy, a shot at making next season’s opening day roster is reasonable, especially when taking into consideration his advanced age and the possibility he only has so many bullets left in the chamber. Those looking for a feel good story to follow the rest of the year, and also looking to do a bit of covert scouting for next season, should keep an eye on Miller.

 
Josh is a graduate of SUNY Cortland's Sport Management program, and an aspiring fantasy writer. You can catch up with Josh in the Cafe Forums where he posts as B-Chad. You can also follow his work at The Hardball Times and follow him on Twitter (BChad50).
 
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