Diamonds In The Rough


(note: bumped from FanPosts)

In the same vein as yesterday's Minor League free agents, these are the John Maine-esque, under the radar steals of typically cheap, young pitchers that for whatever reason become available. Whether it's a post-hype prospect (like Maine), a 4-5 starter that's out of options but won't make the 40-man or just a player that's being overlooked, usually this is someone who has fallen out of favor w/ an organization (a la Heath Bell) and often is available due to a logjam of pitching.

Similar to the Rule 5 Draft, transactions that involve such little input and can potentially derive such a great deal of output are definitely worth exploring and if it doesn't work, who cares? No, they won't make or break the season and you'll rarely uncover a top-of-the-rotation guy, but acquiring even a #5 for cheap has it's value. But be warned, each of these guys has their warts, that's what makes them "in the rough"/available.

More recent examples:

Andy Sonnanstine (TB) - After a losing his rotation spot twice this season, Sonnanstine has been passed on the totem pole by TB prospects Wade Davis and soon Jeremy Hellickson leaving little room in the TB rotation. And while he had a poor 2009, he did post a 3.91 FIP in 32 starts in the majors last season (4.38 ERA) and has been plagued by about a .340 BABIP in '09.

Manny Parra (MIL) - Ranked by BA as the Brewers #2 prospect back in '07, Parra has been somewhat of a disappointment since joining the MIL rotation. In '08 he posted an OK 4.38 ERA (4.18 FIP) but took a step backwards in '09 (6.36 ERA) and command has been an issue since his debut. However, look past the results and you'll find a pitcher w/ top notch stuff who dominated the minors (AND limited walks) and has posted BABIP's of .337 and .365 the last 2 years respectively. However, due to an organizational dearth of pitching the Brewers probably aren't ready to let him go.

Casey Janssen (TOR) - This 4th round draftee out of UCLA seems to have fallen into that long relief/spot start role that often signifies he's on the back burner as a long-term starting option. Yet Janssen possesses 4 major league average pitches and can reach 90-91mph w/ his sinker and posted a 2.88 career minor league ERA. But w/ guys like Romero, Richmond, Cecil, Litsch, Marcum, Rzepczynski & Mcgowan ahead of him in the pecking order, chances are he won't get his "shot" w/ TOR.

David Purcey (TOR) - Like Janssen, Purcey (the 16th overall pick in the '04 draft) is dropping on the organizational totem pole. Purcey never quite mastered the minors and has had trouble in the majors as well mostly due to serious command problems. However, as a lefty who can hit the mid-90's w/ a wipeout slider scouts have always dreamed about his potential and he did post a 2.69 ERA in 19 starts in AAA last year. This would be a nearly complete projection pickup, like Oliver Perez in '06.

Glen Perkins (MIN) - Taken 6 picks after Purcey in the 2004 first round, Perkins had good success in the minors that just hasn't translated to the majors yet due to a lack of stuff. His FB works in the high 80's but like most Twins pitchers he has good control. He posted a 4.66 FIP in 17 starts in '09 and w/ a patient team can definitely settle into the back of a rotation. Unfortunately for him, the Twins have a young group in Slowey, Baker, Blackburn, Duensing, Swarzak & Manship that makes him expendable.

Francisco Liriano (MIN) - We all know about this kid, who once looked destined for stardom. But after the arm surgery he just hasn't been nearly as dominant w/ his fastball declining, his once electric slider becoming very inconsistent and increased problems w/ walks. After this season's 5.80 ERA and his upcoming entrance into arb. years, look for the Twins to bank on Liriano's big name in a trade. Of course for a buy-low candidate the potential is high but it's fading away fast; no thanks.

Sean Marshall (CHI) - This former BA Top 10 Cubs prospect has settled into the swingman role for Lou. But having thoroughly dominated the minors to the tune of a 2.65 career ERA, this 6'7" lefty w/ a good (though not as hard as you'd think) sinker and decent command seems like he could handle starting. The Cubs gave him 43 starts between '06-'07 (w/ OK but not great success) but he only got 9 starts in '09. However, this cash-strapped organization probably doesn't want to lose one of it's cheaper players.

Dana Eveland (OAK) - Another big lefty w/ good stuff who had success in the minors (noticing a trend here?), Eveland finally got his shot last year making 29 starts w/ OAK and posted a 4.09 FIP. However, he lost his rotation spot after a tough start in '09, due in part to a .335 BABIP. He has always had command issues and w/ Oakland's good young crop of pitching (Cahill, Anderson, Mazzaro, Braden, Gonzalez & Simmons) he could be available.

Tim Stauffer (SD) - Often ranking in SD's top 5 prospects, this 4th overall pick in '03 took years to get back to the majors after a solid debut in '05. He's had various arm injuries but still boasts the deep repertoire, low 90's FB and pin-point command that made him a first rounder, though he was most definitely an overdraft at the time. He posted a 4.67 FIP in 14 starts this year. The Padres are relying heavily on youth so he might not be available but after years of waiting they might just be getting tired of his act.

Charlie Haeger (LAD) - Why not bring in the the best knuckleballer since Tim Wakefield? He's always posted decent #'s in the minors (3.87 career minors ERA, 3.22 ERA in 22 starts in AAA this year) and even translated that success to the majors as a starter. He even possesses a mid-80's FB (compared to Wake who averaged 72.4 in '09). His problem is that he can't pitch in relief and that's the role he's been given most often so he's looked bad. But Haeger is the perfect guy for this list, he probably won't work out but costs nothing and judging by Wakefield's success could definitely find a niche and pitch well for a long time.

Joe Martinez (SF) - This West Orange, NJ product (most famous for being hit in the head this spring) posted a 3.51 ERA in the minors including a 2.49 in AA in 2008. He doesn't blow anyone away with his stuff, throwing in the high 80's but works off a decent curve and a plus change and doesn't walk many guys. Problem for him is that there's just no room in the Giants good young rotation with guys like Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner next in line and Martinez ranking as the Giant's 30th best prospect in '09 by BA. It reminds me a lot of the Brian Bannister situation. Fun Fact: He pitched at Seton Hall Prep. w/ Rick Porcello.

Jo-Jo Reyes (ATL) - Here's a longshot. He posted a 7 ERA this season before going down w/ a hamstring and has never really had much, if any, success in the majors. However, as this Fangraphs article points out, Reyes was posting about a 5 FIP in '09 w/ a great deal of bad luck going against him in terms of HR/FB and LOB%. He also saw a HUGE jump in % of swinging strikes in '09 after reportedly relying more heavily on his good slider. Still a definite reach at best.

Ian Kennedy (NYY) - W/ a 1.96 minor league ERA posted mostly at AA or AAA, you've got to put him on this list. He's always posted plenty of K's, usually less hits than ip and limits his BB's. The problem is that in his 60 majors innings, none of this has been true. My take has always been that he has great command of middling stuff and is very smart about pitching which is enough to dominate minor leaguers but it's a different story w/ the best hitters in the world. Maybe I'm right but he's currently pitching well in the AFL and those minor league #'s warrant another look; plus, in his highly publicized '08 failed shot at the rotation he did post a very unlucky .347 BABIP, especially when coupled w/ an incredibly low 11.6% LD rate.

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process.