Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
There are few things more tantalizing in fantasy baseball than when a pitching prospect gets a call up, especially if you have the No. 1 waiver priority.
Of course, when these pitchers get the call, it's hardly the first time we have heard of them. We have been following their dazzling minor league stats and poring over scouting reports that detail their high-90s heat and dizzying off- speed stuff for months, and have talked ourselves into these guys being the aces that put our pitching staffs over the top.
Unfortunately, these call-ups have yielded mixed results over the past five seasons.
For every Stephen Strasburg, who went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings after being called up in June 2010, there are five Trevor Bauers.
Bauer was ranked ninth on Baseball America's preseason top-100 prospects in 2012 and breezed through the minor leagues only to put up a 6.06 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP in four starts following a late June call up. He was demoted in July and didn't return to the big leagues the rest of the season.
Below, I've listed the statistics of 23 prospects who ranked in the top 100 on Baseball American's preseason list and were called up during the season over the last five years (Baseball America ranking in parentheses):
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers (7) - 107 2/3 IP, 5-5, 4.26 ERA, 1.50 WHIP 100 K
Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds (9) - 36 1/3 IP, 0-6, 7.93 ERA, 2.09 WHIP, 18 K
Chris Volstad, Florida Marlins (58) - 84 1/3 IP, 6-4, 2.88 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 52 K
Luke Hochevar, Kansas City Royals (63) - 129 1/3 IP, 6-12, 5.51 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 72 K
Max Scherzer, Arizona Diamondbacks (66) - 56 IP, 0-4, 3.05 ERA, 1.23 WHIP 66 K
Tommy Hanson, Atlanta Braves (4) - 127 2/3 IP, 11-4, 2.89 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 116 K
Chris Tillman, Baltimore Orioles (22) - 65 IP, 2-5, 5.40 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 39 K
Brian Matusz, Baltimore Orioles (25) - 44 2/3 IP, 5-2, 4.63 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 38 K
Wade Davis, Tampa Bay Rays (32) - 36 1/3 IP, 2-2, 3.72 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 36 K
Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals (41) - 91 1/3 IP, 3-5, 4.63 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 92 K
Brett Cecil, Toronto Blue Jays (72) - 93 1/3 IP, 7-4, 5.30 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 69 K
As you can see, most of them were either mediocre, awful or didn't throw more than 30-40 innings. The exceptions were Strasburg, Hanson, Parker, Harvey, Volstad and Scherzer.
This season, we have seen Cincinnati Reds left-hander Tony Cingrani (Baseball America rank: 82) and Miami Marlins righty Jose Fernandez (5) get the call and succeed, but Kevin Gausman (26) of the Baltimore Orioles and Jake Odorizzi (92) of the Tampa Bay Rays have been bombed.
St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha (76) will make his major league debut Thursday, and eventually we will see New York Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler (11), Seattle Mariners left-hander Danny Hultzen (29) and Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Chris Archer (36) get their opportunity this year.
While all of them should be grabbed in fantasy leagues when they are summoned to the majors on the chance that they will be another Strasburg or Hanson, the past shows us that due to the steep learning curve or restrictions placed on these hurlers by their own teams, it is rare a pitching prospect makes a major fantasy impact after a midseason call-up.
If you can deal them for a proven commodity based on potential or early returns, it would be wise to do so. Their value will likely depreciate as soon as they step foot on a major league mound.