Learning From Young Cardinals Relievers
Last night, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal combined for three scoreless innings and shut down the Boston Red Sox. An impressive showing, the Cardinals young relievers have become a storyline to monitor throughout the World Series. For fantasy baseball players, it’s bittersweet as owners of both pitchers had hopes for more, much more.
Back in 2011, I drafted Carlos (Matias) Martinez in the second round of a prospect draft after reading he had the potential to become a mini-Pedro Martinez. At the time, he was pitching in the Dominican Summer League and pushing triple digits. A few months later, I dealt the right-hander for Rangers Jurickson Profar. That owner was expecting impact, not holds.
As for Rosenthal, I signed him in every league after listening to a veteran scout of thirty years rave about his upper-90’s fastball. At the time, we were watching Taijuan Walker pitch and the scout was firm in his assessment Rosenthal > Walker. That was enough for me. If you’ve been reading me for awhile, then this story is familiar and you too are the happy owner of the Cardinals current closer.
But did we expect more from Rosenthal too?
Personally, I thought Rosenthal would become a better version of Justin Masterson — logging 200+ innings per year with better peripherals. I won’t complain about his becoming a lights out closer considering their value in 5×5 formats, but it definitely wasn’t the plan.
Both Cardinals relievers are yet another reminder pitching prospects are volatile commodities.
With position prospects, a change of position hurts, but doesn’t decimate a player’s value. One has the ability to invest in Manny Machado as a shortstop, but a move down the defensive spectrum still leaves the owner with an asset at third base.
Once a starting pitching prospect moves to the bullpen, it’s closer or bust. In St. Louis, Martinez OR Rosenthal will be valuable out of the pen in 2014 barring injury or a move back to the rotation. The other might as well be thrown back into the player pool unless you want to handcuff the pair like you would a running back and his backup in fantasy football (Hint, hint Rosenthal owners).
When assessing pitching prospects, it’s important to familiarize yourself with team depth charts and do your best to project a future role. Just understand that even with hours of preparation, you’ll still assess incorrectly because the organization has wants and needs which are not made obvious to prospect writers.
Speaking of Carlos Martinez, Royals Yordano Ventura strikes me as far too similar to ignore. No, the Royals don’t have as much pitching as the Cardinals do, but the general rule is small pitchers with big arms work best out of the pen. Because of circumstance, Ventura made three late season starts and that’s all well and good. However, the Royals do have a number of starting options including; James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino and Wade Davis.
With their bullpen starting to become expensive, might they shop the scrap heap for the next Ervin Santana or Bruce Chen and make Yordano Ventura into the heir apparent at closer? Remember, the Royals held onto Soria too long and never cashed in that chip. Might they learn from mistakes and sell Greg Holland at peak value? Just a thought….
3 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman /
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