Kyle Gibson, SP - MIN
Since the Twins are the team I cover most closely (you can check out my writing on the club at TwinsDaily.com, if you're so inclined) I figured it would be appropriate in the year's first edition of Deep Pickups to share my biggest breakout candidate in the Minnesota rotation.
Gibson has been on the prospect map since the Twins selected him in the first round back in 2009 out of the University of Missouri. His path to the majors was briefly derailed by Tommy John surgery, but last year at age 26 he put in his first full season in the majors, making 31 starts.
His overall results weren't great, as exemplified by a 4.47 ERA that was well below average, but Gibson's season was a strange Jekyll-and-Hyde act. He had 12 starts in which he completed seven innings or more while allowing three runs or fewer, and five starts in which he was shelled and failed complete even four innings. His ERA in wins and no decisions was 1.71; in losses, 11.04. Yikes.
Clearly the right-hander is searching for more consistency, and that often develops with more big-league experience. A 6'6" sinkerballer, he possesses elite ground ball capabilities (his GB rate last year ranked seventh in the majors), so by adding a few more strikeouts to the mix he could become a real fantasy asset.
He was flashing increased velocity and getting plenty of swings and misses during spring training, so Gibson appears poised to take that step at age 27.
Wade Miley, SP - BOS
There are plenty of question marks present in Boston's reworked rotation as we head into 2015, and Miley is certainly among them. The 28-year-old was acquired from the Diamondbacks in December, and he lines up as the No. 4 starter for the Red Sox.
He's also owned in less than 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so is he worth taking a gamble on?
The history of National League pitchers moving over to the Junior Circuit hasn't always been pretty, but Miley is in his physical prime and coming off a season in which his strikeout rate blew away his previous career high.
With his fastball clocking in at 91.2 MPH on average, his best mark, the lefty pushed his swinging strike percentage up to nearly 17 percent, far above his norm. He legitimately appeared to turn a corner in terms of pure stuff, and that bodes well heading into his first year with the Sox.
Granted, Miley's strikeout increase also came with a decline in control; he posted a career-high walk rate (3.4) and also a subpar 4.34 ERA, though his Fielding Independent numbers suggest he pitched better than that.
Fenway can be a tough environment for pitchers but lefties tend to do well there and the AL East isn't the offensive juggernaut it once was. Miley looks like the kind of pitcher that can succeed in Boston, and the Red Sox appear to agree -- they locked him up with a three-year contract in early February.