I don’t know what it is about the Atlanta Braves but it seems that every pitcher the organization gets its hands on becomes at least fantasy relevant, and many are strong keeper options.
Now, not all of the pitchers are fantasy gold from the outset but any of the ones they decide to stick eventually get there. In 2013, Mike Minor was the latest pitcher to make the Braves once again look like geniuses.
Of course, any pitcher can put things together for at least one season so the question becomes, is Minor a keeper?
2013 season: In 205 IP, Minor’s standard stats include a 13-9 record with a 3.21 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 181 Ks. Skill stats include a 8.0 K/9, 3.9 K/BB, 1.0 HR/9 and a 35% GB%.
Pre-2013: A first round draft pick of the Braves (No. 7 overall) in 2009, Minor quickly become one of the many hyped pitching prospects in the Atlanta farm system. After a brief stint in the Sally League after being drafted, Minor pitched well in both Double A and Triple A in 2010 to earn a September call up at season’s end. That performance landed Minor at No. 37 on Baseball America’s Top 100 list prior to the 2011 season, and after 16 solid starts in Triple A, he was called up for good. In 302 2/3 innings pitched spanning 53 starts in three seasons, Minor posted a 19-15 record, a 4.37 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP and 265 Ks. His skills over that period include a 7.9 K/9, 2.73 K/BB, 1.2 HR/9 and a 35% GB%
Type of player: Power pitcher with a fly ball tilt.
Case for Minor: Now that he’s gotten comfortable in the majors, Minor was able to bump up his K/9 levels closer to the numbers he had in the minors. Minor’s BABIP and Strand rate suggest he may have been somewhat lucky in 2013 but FIP and xFIP say his ERA wasn’t that far off. Any regression Minor experiences in 2014 should be minimal (I’ll avoid using the word minor too many times), suggesting he should be a No. 2 or 3 starter for most fantasy squads.
Case against Minor: 2013 was Minor’s best season by a lot and I’m cautious of anyone who drops their ERA by almost a full run from one year to the next. Minor is a FB pitcher and will be prone to some ugly numbers anytime his HR/FB gets out of hand. Add in that his BABIP and Strand rates should normalize and things just won’t look as polished in 2014.
Verdict: I was a Minor believer early in his career and I’m still kicking myself over the fact that I let him get away. He may not be the flashy name other owners covet but he is a great piece for any staff and he should be kept in any league where at least the Top 70 keepers are kept. If you play in a shallow league, take a chance on Minor as he could become a must-keep player for 2015 and beyond.