So far, the Keeps Korner has focused on the prospects expecting to be called up, but this week we’re moving over to young pitchers who are starting to show some form of a breakout. We’ve gone over most of the prospects who have been called up lately like Ronald Acuna, Gleyber Torres, and Miguel Andujar, but also some who are still waiting like Nick Senzel and Willie Calhoun. All of these guys should be owned in any type of keeper league, even if they are just stashes. Its also time to start looking at the pitching prospects even though we haven’t seen much yet from the pitchers. Jack Flaherty and Walker Buehler, two of the top pitching prospects in baseball, had stellar debuts but there are no plans for them to stay up in the big leagues for now, but both could force their respective teams to keep them up if they want help to keep contending…
Besides Flaherty and Buehler, there hasn’t been a lot of top pitching prospects making debuts this season so far. It can be tough to pick and chose which breakout is for real and who will be back on waivers by June. At this point last season Luis Severino was still struggling with his command. He had two double-digit strike out games, but couldn’t keep the ball in the park. Robby Ray looked like he was starting to have some potential but their was no breakout in sight for him in April. Now look at Jameson Taillon this season, who had two incredible starts to begin the season only to get blown up the next two. How do you predict which direction Taillon will go next? Dylan Bundy was also going to be featured here, but after giving up 7 ERs on Thursday, it almost feels wrong. Jakob Junis fits right in with these two guys after a hot start and then getting blown up. He came back with another great start only to give up five home runs to the White Sox. Clearly these are all small sample sizes, but I think at least one of these guys below will be the big breakout once the season ends, especially in keeper leagues. Here are a few pitchers who have impressed me so far in the first month of the season…
- Patrick Corbin – One of the biggest surprises so far this season has been Corbin’s incredible start. Corbin is leading the NL in strikeouts and has yet to have under 8 K’s in a game. Already four wins under his belt, Corbin is cruising with a sub two ERA and 0.66 WHIP, he’s striking guys out and walking nobody, proving that he clearly has changed something to take this big step forward. Corbin is looking like the best pitcher on an great pitching staff in Arizona and somebody that is looking like an early Cy Young contender.
- Blake Snell – Snell had a lot of buzz going into 2018 after a fantastic finish last season. He had a bit of a slow start this year in his first two games, but ever since then, he’s been dominating. Snell has always been a strikeout pitcher with the nasty curve but walks were going to be his biggest issue, the difference now being Snell keeping the walks down, and in doing so showing the end of last season was legit and he can actually carry this through for the rest of the season.
- Gerrit Cole – After being traded to the Houston Astros, Cole clearly has taken a huge step forward in his approach and a breakout is finally happening. Cole was one of those pitchers drafted right around or outside the top-25 who is looking more like a top-5 pitcher. He has gone seven innings every outing and was clearing double-digit strikeouts for his first three outings. He has yet to allow more than two runs in this season so far. Cole could be a great keeper option if he keeps this up since he will probably be a top-10 pitcher going into 2019 if he does.
- Sean Manaea – Even if you take away the no hitter, Manaea still would be on this list, which shows how great of a start he has had so far. I’ve always been very high on Manaea but I might have just been a little early with the view. He also had major problem throwing strikes and especially lasting late into games, and that is exactly what he has changed in the offseason. His past three outings have been absolutely dominate and if he can keep this up, he’s looking to be the A’s ace everyone always had him rumored to become.
- Jose Berrios – Maybe the most highly touted on this list, but also maybe the most doubted? Berrios has had a strange start to his major league career with a bunch of disastrous starts in 2016 and 2017. After an up and down season last year, Berrios finally looks like the prospect we all expected him to be. He still has some hiccups, which you’re going to find everywhere, but he has either shutout a team or been hit pretty hard so far this year. I think Berrios is still so young and learning a lot that he can have a huge season. I think he’s going to take an even bigger step next season making him a prime keeper candidate this year.