Jair Jurrjens, SP, Atlanta Braves
Jurrjens, the first pitcher to make the big leagues from Curacao, was a highly regarded prospect in the Tigers organization last season.
After going 3-1 in seven starts for the Tigers, Jurrjens was traded to Atlanta with another prospect for Edgar Renteria during the offseason. He had two short, bad outings late last that led to a season ending ERA around 4.70, but Jurrjens has a low WHIP and a solid strikeout total based on his innings pitched.
Keep an eye on Jurrjens after draft day. He will likely make the Braves’ rotation and could warrant a spot as the season goes on. For NL-only leagues, he probably will be available in the late rounds. Jurrjens has a current average auction value of $1.00.
Homer Bailey, SP, Cincinnati Reds
Homer Bailey is the highest regarded pitching prospect in the National League. He’s a must draft in the mid rounds of keeper leagues and should be a mid-to-late round selection in NL-only leagues. He’ll still be a steal in auction leagues at $3.00, and should probably be a late round draft pick in mixed leagues.
Bailey broke in the big leagues last June and went 4-2 in nine starts last season. His ERA was extremely high (5.76) and he didn’t strike out many batters (28), but those numbers likely suffered from his “on the job” training (Bailey is only 21). Those numbers should both improve with a full season of work.
Andrew Miller, SP, Florida Marlins
Another highly regarded pitching prospect of the Detroit Tigers, Miller was sent to the Marlins in the offseason in the trade that brought Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit.
Miller is a 23 year old lefty who pitched well in June and July after he was first called up. Three bad outings in August cost him a spot in the rotation and yielded him a very high ERA, and he finished the season at AAA. Miller struck out 56 batters and walked 39 in only 64 innings. The ERA and strikeout numbers should improve simply based on his move to the National League.
Andrew Miller shouldn’t warrant a draft pick in most mixed leagues, but look for him late in keeper leagues and NL-only drafts. There’s no reason to expect Miller’s auction value to be much higher than $1.00… unless your auction league is an NL East-only player universe.
Shawn Hill, SP, Washington Nationals
The Nationals saw enough of Hill during 16 starts last season that he is projected to be their Opening Day starter in 2008. He had a losing record last season, but recorded a low ERA (3.42) and struck out 65 batters in 97 innings.
Keep your expectations on draft day reserved for Hill. A sore elbow might keep him out on Opening Day, although he expects to be ready. Because he pitches for the Nationals, wins will probably not be coming in bunches, but he is slated to be the ace of their staff and has good numbers in the other statistics.
Hill is a late round sleeper in mixed leagues, a mid round selection in NL-only leagues, and can be had for the bargain price of $1.00 in most auctions.
Manny Parra, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Manny Parra is the longest term prospect on this list, and he might not make the Brew Crew to start the season. His workload in 2007 was limited by a shoulder injury, but he recorded 26 strikeouts in only 26 innings of work.
Keep Parra on your watch list in all leagues in 2008, and he should be able to be drafted late in keeper leagues and deep NL-only leagues. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to take Parra off the auction block for more than $1.00, but his auction value might be higher if you play in a league with one of Parra’s family members.