by Chris Hadorn
on May 16, 2011 @ 12:45:48
Your fantasy baseball rankings look a little stale. KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting series highlights the exploits of minor league baseball players, including top MLB prospects. Find out who'll make an impact, whether it's in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball game next week or in your fantasy baseball keeper league two years from now.
Rookie relievers are a great place to scout talent if one's team is in need of strikeouts. Among pitchers who have thrown 10 innings or more this season, rookie relievers Al Alburquerque (15.92), Kenley Jansen (15.75), and Craig Kimbrel (14.19) lead baseball in strikeouts per nine innings.
There might be another soon-to-be rookie power reliever joining this trio in the majors. Colorado Rockies reliever prospect Rex Brothers is averaging 16.29 strikeouts per nine frames in Triple-A this year. In 19 1/3 innings pitched at Colorado Springs, Brothers has struck out 35 batters, while posting a 2.79 ERA.
The 23-year-old southpaw routinely hits the mid-90s on the radar gun. Because of the movement on his fastball, Brothers induces a healthy percentage of grounders as he has averaged 2.43 ground-outs per every air-out this season.
The left-hander also throws a late-breaking slider that serves as an out pitch. With two above-average offerings, Brothers has the stuff of a big league closer.
The former Lipscomb University star has had some issues with control. He has issued 4.74 walks per nine innings over his minor league career, but he has cut it down to 3.72 free passes this season.
Plus, all of the three rookies mentioned above struggle with walks, so it's not an impediment to success in the big leagues since these fireballers can usually muscle their way through a jam.
The Rockies' bullpen has had its woes recently; they currently rank 13th in the National League in bullpen ERA (3.74). After a dazzling April start, closer Huston Street has cooled of late with an 8.31 ERA in May. Middle relievers Felipe Paulino (6.75 ERA) and Franklin Morales have taken a lot of heat for their struggles.
While there is a cry in Denver for the club to promote Brothers, Rockies manager Jim Tracy has maintained that the organization is taking a patient approach with him, and no promotion is on the horizon.
However, Brothers is a post-collegiate pitcher who was taken with the 34th overall pick in the 2009 draft, a high pedigree for a reliever. Post-collegiate relievers tend to be on the fast track, so there's a strong chance Brothers will arrive in Denver this year.
Brothers or Matt Daley (1.98 ERA at Colorado Springs) would be the Rockies' top two options to consider if a spot opens up in their bullpen.
With Street signed through the 2012 season with a mutual 2013 option, Brothers probably won't factor into the closer role for awhile, but he will be a highly productive setup man that will push Street and is a long-term candidate for saves.
About Chris Hadorn
Chris Hadorn has covered minor league and amateur prospects for more than a decade. He writes for San Diego's North County Times and has been a KFFL fantasy baseball contributor since 2006.
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