A trio of pitchers are highlighted in this week’s Future Rookies: Chris Archer of the Rays, Zack Wheeler of the Mets and Dylan Bundy of the Orioles.
Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays, 23 years old
Archer already got a taste of the majors earlier this year, and fared quite well. His stuff is electric, but his history of control problems made his productive debut a bit of a surprise. The depth of the Rays rotation allowed the club to demote him to the minors after two emergency starts in June. Since returning to the minors, his control has been much improved. He has walked just 10 batters in 31.1 innings (2.87 BB/9) and has 28 strikeouts in that same time frame (8.04 K/9). Archer has a power arsenal, including a mid-90s fastball and a devastating slider. His change-up lags well behind his top two pitches, and Archer used it just six percent of the time in his first stint in the majors according to Brooks Baseball. The Rays don’t have any openings in the rotation, and Jeff Niemann is nearing a return to the bigs, but the playoff-contending Rays could use Archer in a bullpen capacity in September when rosters expand.
Zack Wheeler, SP, New York Mets, 22 years old
After 19 starts for the Double-A Binghamton, the Mets decided it was time to promote Wheeler to Triple-A Buffalo. He has made two starts, and his ability to miss bats has followed him up the ladder. His seven walks suggest he has had some control problems, but he has been tough to hit, allowing just five hits in the two starts combined. According to Minor League Central, Wheeler has a solid 46.3 percent groundball rate this year. Wheeler is considered a top-20 prospect by the major prospect outlets, so his results are supported by an impressive arsenal and lofty future projection.
Dylan Bundy, SP, Baltimore Orioles, 19 years old
Bundy was way too good for Low-A, and he allowed zero earned runs (just two earned runs) while pitching at that level. He has proven human in High-A, but a damn good one, dominating opposing hitters. He has a better than 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in High-A and is striking out over a batter-per-inning. He topped Baseball America’s midseason top-50, and is considered a top-five prospect at other major prospect outlets as well. According to the Orioles official website, Bundy will be promoted to Double-A before his next start. The Orioles official website, in the same article, mentions that the club intends on limiting Bundy’s innings total to roughly 120, leaving him about 36 innings before he hits his cap. The Orioles are still in the playoff hunt, and there has been speculation throughout the year that if the club was still in the hunt, and Bundy was still dominating, that a September call-up could be in the offing. Expecting anything beyond David Price’s debut would be setting oneself up for disappointment. The fact that Bundy will be pitching in Double-A this year bodes well for his ETA of reaching, and ultimately sticking in, the majors.
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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