As I scrolled through the latest average draft position report on Mock Draft Central, I started to realize how much I love the entire Marlins rotation to provide stellar value this season. I knew I liked them, but as the numbers currently stand, I love them.
Obviously, let's not get nuts and start taking them in the first round or anything, and there are some more valuable than others. The fact is, though, that each of the five possesses very solid value at this point in draft season.
Let's take a look at the value of each, in order of fantasy rank.
Still only 26, he hasn't reached his peak yet -- and last season was a breakout campaign. He went 15-8 with a 3.52 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. He struck out 186 hitters in 212 1/3 innings. Let's go deeper, though. Unlike most young pitchers, who have a tendency to wear down as the season progresses, Nolasco became an absolute monster down the stretch.
In his last 21 starts, he went 10-4 with a 2.83 ERA and a stellar 0.93 WHIP. He struck out 146 hitters in 146 1/3 innings. The most staggering thing he did? He only walked 17 batters in this stretch. That's more than 8 1/2 strikeouts per every free pass. This wasn't a fluke, either. The last time he had a full slate in the minors he went 14-3 with a 2.89 ERA. Now he pitches half his games in the pitcher-friendly confines of Dolphin Stadium.
By the way, the Cubs traded him for Juan Pierre. That almost makes me vomit. Actually, there shouldn't be an "almost" in that sentence. I'll be right back ...
He began to broach his immense potential as a 22-year-old in 2006, when he finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting. The following season, however, he went through surgery on his throwing arm and faced a long road back. When he returned midway through last season, we didn't quite know what to expect. After his finish, though, he clearly still has top-of-the-rotation type stuff.
The 6-foot-7 righty went 7-1 with a 3.61 ERA in his 14 starts to close out the season. During this stretch, you can bet he was still working out the kinks and getting himself back into the groove. For this year, he'll have had a full offseason and spring to work with. I expect the strikeouts to go up and walks to go down (it was 77/27 K/BB in 87 1/3 innings).
Another 6-foot-7 righty, Volstad broke into the league at 21 last July. In 14 starts, he went 6-4 with a sparkling 2.88 ERA. He only allowed three home runs, and he was very consistent. Only twice did he give up four runs and he never allowed more. He worked at least six innings in nine of his 14 starts. He's not a big strikeout guy, but his ability to consistently spin quality starts will give him the chance to pile up wins, while always giving significant help to your ERA.
The control could be a concern, but he's only 22. He'll improve as time passes.
I covered the reasons to like Sanchez in my Bang for Your Buck column. He's since moved up to 89th in starting pitchers' ADP -- thanks to me, of course -- but he's still coming in behind Taylor Buchholz, Clay Buchholz, Brad Penny, Todd Wellemeyer, Ben Sheets, Kyle Lohse, Phil Hughes (seriously?) and Paul Maholm. I'd take Sanchez over any of these guys for varying reasons.
The phenom from North Carolina has yet to hit it big, as most assumed he would while watching him dominate the 2006 College World Series. The Marlins even removed him from the rotation in September. Still, he hasn't even reached his 24th birthday. Is that really the time to give up on someone with such astronomical potential? He was downright dominant in Double-A in 2007, but other than that he's pretty much been taking his lumps in the bigs.
Assuming he's mentally tough enough to learn from his mistakes on the big stage -- if you can call baseball in Miami the "big stage" -- things will start clicking.
o. Control was a big issue last year. He needs to learn the ballpark in which he pitches is very conducive to helping pitchers, and the defense behind him is really solid. This isn't college, so you don't have to miss bats all the time.
o. He's giving up lots of hits, but not an overly large amount of home runs. His absurd .346 allowed BABIP didn't help matters on that front last season. That number should normalize to around .315 or so this season. When that happens, in addition to his increased command, his rate stats will start to come back down.
Miller's easily the least draftable player on here, but he's certainly draftable in deep NL-only leagues due to his vast upside. I'll project 12 wins, 135 strikeouts, a 4.25 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. He's not great yet, but those numbers can be used in really, really deep leagues.