This spring, scouts have noted that the AL West (hey, write about your own division if you want to read about your guys) is boasting 5 of the top pitching prospects in the game. All are former first round draft picks and are still with their original franchises. Ranked in order:
Chase was a #3 overall pick by the Iowa City Independence in season 5 out of high school, and this bonus baby has developed nicely through 3 straight seasons of sub-3 ERA in the minors. Owner carlspenard has babied Chase, with full years in Rookie, LoA, and HiA, and never exceeding 140 IP. The righty is slated for AA this year, but the pitching starved Iowa City fans want to see him in a ML uniform soon.
Strengths: Tremendous stuff, throws hard, excellent control, and if you do hit him, it's a ground ball. Stays in excellent health.
Weaknesses: Low stamina and poor makeup have led some to question if he has the mental toughness for major league ball.
Projection: Best ERA and WHIP in the league, but in the shower by the 7th inning.
Ward was drafted #7 out of college in season 5 by the Las Vegas Dealers, two picks after Spike Chase. The lefty has twice thrown 200+ innings in the minors and won both the AA and AAA Cy Youngs. Ward will pitch in the majors this year, although Dealers owner jceffali is expected to demand a few more starts at AAA.
Strengths: Very durable with outstanding control.
Weaknesses: This soft tosser won't put up high Ks and vulnerable to the long-ball.
Projection: Solid #1 starter who can finish a game.
Santos was the #2 overall pick by the Iowa City Independence in year 6, and even though he had just 1 year in college, carlspenard has pushed him faster than Spike Chase. The right-hander jumps to AAA this year after sporting a 2.36 ERA in HiA last year.
Strengths: Solid stuff and control, keeps the ball down, and very durable.
Weaknesses: Soft tosser whose health habits have been called into question. Santos also lacks the mustache that the other 4 have.
Projection: Great #2 after Chase--a 1-2 punch made for October baseball.
Incaviglia was the 27th pick in season 7 out of high school by the Portland Beavers. The righty won the Rookie League Cy Young last year which earned him a promotion all the way to AA. Some scouts question the wisdom of skipping LoA and HiA at the tender age of 19, however the young Texan is well on his way to meeting projections and may have the makeup to handle it.
Strengths: Nice stuff, throws heat. Durable. Four very good pitches.
Weaknesses: Health a concern and lefties might hit well off him.
Projection: Puts up great numbers in Portland's pitcher's paradise.
White is very similar to Spike Chase, but the stuff isn't quite as good. White was the #9 pick by the Las Vegas Dealers in season 4 out of high school. He pitched at each level, though just 1/2 year at LoA and HiA, with an ERA of about 3.
Strengths: Throws gas, murder on righties, solid control. Stays in great health.
Weaknesses: Durability, and his managers hate when he throws that 5th pitch.
Projection: Should put up strong numbers, but has trouble pitching deep into games.