Pitchers always seem to carry a special catchet at any level of the game, and as such, they often become fan favorites. Just this week, we were treated to a reminder of what to me was the greatest regular-season game ever pitched (yes, even more than this season’s three perfectos): Pedro Martinez’s 17K, one-hitter vs. the Yankees in Sept. 1999.
I personally tend to follow the pitchers more than the position players on Twitter and I’ve long noted that the pitchers tend to engender stronger feelings in the comments, both good and bad. Consequently, pitchers get more mention and attention when it comes time to discuss who to watch. Here are just a few…
A local product of sorts (GWU), Lehman was on the inaugural watchlist in large part due to him catching the eye of John Sickels prior to the 2010 season. He eventually flamed out as a starter, but found a new life as a reliever, earning a promotion to AA in 2011 and an AFL invite. Though he got hit hard in Arizona, he still rose to AAA in 2012 and posted a respectable 3.32 ERA and 1.362 WHIP in middle relief, despite a career-worst 3.5BB/9IP (1.5 from ’09-’11).
Kimball has long been praised for bringing the heat (up to 98 m.p.h.) despite persistent control problems (5.4BB/9IP). Thankfully, he has the fortune of being in an organization where hard-throwing righties are coveted, which has kept him on the 40-man roster for two seasons despite injuries that limited him to 5⅔ IP in the regular season and 15 in the AFL.
It’s not often that a pitcher is jumped from the GCL to Low-A in the Rizzo era, never mind inserted into the starting rotation for nearly two months. Control is the name of his game (1.88BB/9 in college, 1.99 as a pro), as his heat is “only” in the 88-92 range, though he’s also averaged nearly a K per inning (8.39, 8.78) as well.
Did not make the initial cut due to a subpar 2012, but when folks smarter than I am say he’s worth keeping an eye on, I changed my mind. A 2011 fourth-round pick who was previously drafted in the 30th round of the 2010 draft by the White Sox, Turnbull is all projectability and raw stuff per Sickels.
A seventh-round pick out of Florida State, Benincasa threw just 23⅓ innings for Auburn last summer, but had interesting peripherals, namely a 12.3 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9 and 2.00 GO/AO. Throws 90-94 with slider and a changeup that dives per Sickels.
Rinse, lather, repeat. Self’s profile is similar to Benincasa’s as ninth-rounder from the Univ. of Louisville, though with a cutter instead of a slider and more “normal” ratios (6.8 K/9, 2.2BB, 1.18 GO/AO) but similar velocity (90-95).
Though he did not wow at Auburn, he still got there in his second season in the Nats organization. He led the ’11 DSL team in starts, innings, and strikeouts and posted a 2.38 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP in five GCL games before heading north to New York. Turned 21 in September, so it’s tough to call whether he’ll repeat or be given a shot at full-season ball in 2013.
Signed as an NDFA in July 2011, Davis worked out of the Auburn bullpen and struck out 50 in 42 innings, earning him an honorable mention in the Doubleday season review. Despite his size (5’9″, 170), Davis has been clocked in the mid-90s and was a two-way player (outfield) in college at the Univ. of Tampa.
Heredia has been a regular in the DSL and GCL writeups since the site’s inception, posting a 1.69 ERA as an 18-y.o. in 2010 but faltering in the GCL in ’11. In 2012, the 20-year-old rebounded for to post a 2.61 ERA and a WHIP of 1.032, earning him an honorable mention in the GCL season review.
Williams was the sole high-school pick that signed from the 2011 Washington draft. Despite his raw athletic tools and lineage (he is the grandson of George “Boomer” Scott), Williams flamed out as a position player (.147/.203/.203, 49K in 34G) and is being converted to a pitcher. He turned 20 in November 2012.