Rookies. Everyone loves them. The talent, the unknown, the allure of striking it rich with the next big thing is compelling (ever heard the saying 'the grass is greener on the other side'?). We all know this to be true. Last week in a column titled Rookie Pitchers: Stop the Roller Coaster, I touched on a few of those rookie arms that folks are, or have been, gaga over this season. In this piece I'll give a breakdown of more than a dozen rookie arms and discuss how things have gone for them up until this point of the 2013 baseball season. Tony Cingrani was great with his 11.18 punchouts per nine innings, and his ratios would play in any league (3.27 ERA, 1.03 WHIP). Alas, he was demoted when Johnny Cueto was healthy enough to go. Why? Cingrani was getting pounded deep (seven homers in six starts), and he was starting to labor with high pitch counts. As I've said all along, Cingrani relies too much on one pitch. At this point of his development he'd be better served as a dominating setup man. For those that derided the Reds for going with Mike Leake over Cingrani, it doesn't look like they made the wrong choice (Leake has allowed on earned run over his last four starts). Jose Fernandez is just 3-3, but he has a 3.34 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 60 Ks in 59.1 innings. He's been fantastic. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Kevin Gausman was called up from the minors amidst tons o' hoopla. He went out and was passable in his first outing allowing four runs before he was bombed in his second outing (seven runs in four innings). Those that were out of their minds to add him when it was announced he would be called up were thinking about dumping him --- after two starts. His third start was much better: 6 IP, 1 ER, 0 BBs. If you add one of these rookies do yourself a favor. Wait more than nine innings before you make up your mind. If you're going to change your mind that frequently, hop from this shinny toy to that one, you'll never reap the rewards of patience and letting something breath a bit. Justin Grimm has won his last three decisions to improve to 5-3 for the Rangers. Still, he's got a 1.44 WHIP as he's allowed 62 hits in 52.2 innings. He's not dominating by any means, his 3.93 ERA is league average, but his 7.51 K/9 mark is above the league average. Mike Kickham was called up to start for Ryan Vogelsong. He made one start, got seven outs, allowed four runs and was sent back to the minors. Don't be the guy that adds a rookie just because he is called up. AS I SAY ALL THE TIME – make sure the rookie has a spot in the big leagues. It doesn't matter how talented he is if there is no spot for him. Tyler Lyons has a 2.66 ERA and 0.89 WHIP over three starts. His 23 starts at Triple-A have seen him post 4.34 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Good luck with him keeping up his current pace. Brandon Maurer has had a spot in the Mariners rotation all year making 10 starts. He's 0-4 in his last five outings, has allowed 12 earned runs in his last two outings, and now sports a 6.93 ERA and 1.68 WHIP making him one of the worst starters in baseball. Shelby Miller is the best rookie pitcher in baseball thus far, and he's been a dominating ace. Miller is 6-3, had a 1.82 ERA and 0.98 WHIP to go along with 72 punchouts in 69.1 innings. It's impossible to think he can keep this pace up over 30 starts this season, but he's going to be a year long star in mixed leagues. Jake Odorizzi was called up by the Rays. He made two starts and allowed nine runs over nine innings. He was sent back the minors. Chris Archer was called up. He made one starts and allowed five runs. He's still with the club but for how long if David Price is back in two weeks? Wily Peralta has a power arm, but the results just haven't been there. His 1.6 K/BB ratio is awful, and his 5.65 K/9 mark is sickly. Toss in a 5.94 ERA and 1.68 WHIP and he's only still starting for the Brewers cause they don't have better options. Tyler Skaggs is one of the more polished young arms in the game. He's likely to get an extended look in the D'backs rotation with the shoulder injury to Brandon McCarthy. Skaggs whiffed nine while tossing six shutout innings in his first start. Dan Straily has a strong 8.20 K/9 rate and 1.13 WHIP, but his record (3-2) and ERA (4.60) have limited his value. Does he stay in the rotation when Brett Anderson is ready? Julio Teheran was impressive in May with a 2.60 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Still, he struck out only 24 in 34.2 innings to go along with a 2-2 record. I see more struggles ahead. Michael Wacha allowed one run in his first big league start for the Cardinals. The crowd went wild. A true talent, it should be noted that Wacha only posted a 5.81 K/9 mark in nine starts in the minor this season, that he has less than 85 innings of professional work on his arm, and that he has only about 100 innings left this season before he's shut down by the Cardinals. Zack Wheeler is thought of as the Mets' #2 arm for the next decade behind Matt Harvey. It sounds like we might see Wheeler in the bigs in about 10 days or so. He's struck out more than a batter per inning in the minors which is great, but he also has a 3.86 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and has walked 3.70 batters per nine innings in 11 starts at Triple-A. Could dominate or could let the lack of control overwhelm him like it has thus far with Trevor Bauer. A BACKSTOP RETURNS For those of you that want to talk hitters, how about we take a look at Salvador Perez who is set to return from missing some time due to personal matters. Salvador Perez will finally come back off the bereavement list. Guess the Royals were finally able to get in touch with him (apparently he went home for the death of his grandmother, and then he was having issues trying to bring his mother back to the States with him. During the process, he was out of touch for a few days as the team tried unsuccessfully to reach him). Perez hit .331 in 39 games a rookie. He batted .301 last year in 76 games. He's hit .311 in 41 games this season. He's a solid hitter. Alas, he never walks – he has a total of 22 free passes in 588 career at-bats, and as a result despite a .311 career batting average his OBP is barely league average at .336. That's barely league average. Perez has also failed to deliver power this season with only one home run. That total has many disappointed after he hit 11 last year in 289 at-bats. Now who could have seen the lack of power coming? Well... I did of course in his Player Profile.   Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday at 5 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.  



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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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