The future comes quickly these days
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s so I'm an old guy, and for me, change is difficult.

Growing up, I saw many exciting new rookie pitchers each spring training. They had spent a number of years in the minors developing his craft and came ready to play and compete with the best of the best.

Soon to be Hall-of-Fame pitcher Greg Maddux spent four years in the minor leagues. Whitey Ford toiled for four seasons. Mariano Rivera honed his skills for five years while Jim Bunning was stuck down on the farm for seven long years and more than 1,000 innings.

But today that's not the case.

The sight of a 20- or 22-year-old on the mound without much minor league experience is a common occurrence.

It's difficult to imagine that they know how to really "pitch." They just throw, but it's working.

Think of how well 20-year-old Miami starter Jose Fernandez threw the ball this season. The Cuban native was selected No. 14 overall in the June 2011 amateur draft and made his debut in April, 2013 after just 27 minor league starts (138 1/3 IP).

All he did was go 12-6 for a team that won just 62 games. He posted a stunning 2.19 ERA with an equally impressive 0.979 WHIP and 187 strikeouts in 172 2/3 IP. Fernandez was selected to the All-Star game and won the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Award.

Fernandez had to be very good to win the rookie award going up against the likes of Shelby Miller, Hyun-jin Ryu and Julio Teheran, not to mention outfielder Yasiel Puig.

Miller is another one of these talented youngsters, but at least he pitched for a while in the Cardinals' farm system. He spent three full seasons jumping from Single-A to Triple A making 78 starts and pitching more than 380 innings. But these days even that's a rarity.

Miller's teammate Michael Wacha (21) made just 17 minor league starts before being called up to the majors. He went 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.098 WHIP, then excelled in the postseason posting another 4-1 record.

Gerrit Cole of Pittsburgh (22) started his MLB career going 4-0 after a June call up and closed the season with another 4-0 month in September. He's a fantasy stud in the making.

But with all this inexperience comes the problem for fantasy owners. With a thin track record, how early should you draft Fernandez and Miller in their second season?

Are they in the tier with Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish?

And what about the next class? Should we be picking them for our preseason roster or gamble and wait until the usual May/June call ups?

These are all good questions and in the coming months, as we approach your draft day and the season opener, we hope to answer them for you.

For now, know that I don't trust anyone who wasn't born before one of my favorite movies - A Few Good Men.

Well, except for Fernandez. And Miller.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.