Danny Duffy - SP, KC
Like so many young pitchers nowadays, Duffy lost more than a year of crucial development time to Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in June of 2012. It was a shame, because the lefty was on his way to establishing himself as an asset in the Royals rotation.
A former third-round draft pick, Duffy put up excellent numbers in the minors and reached the big leagues at age 22. He had a forgettable rookie season, posting a 5.64 ERA in 20 starts, but was showing much improvement over his first six starts in 2012 before tearing his UCL.
The good news is that, although the missed time is unfortunate, Duffy doesn't appear to have been adversely affected by the surgery. He rejoined the Royals in August last year after a rehab stint and pitched very well in five starts, going 2-0 with a 1.85 ERA and zero home runs allowed in 24 innings.
Despite the stellar results, Duffy did suffer from some command problems, which might have been part of the reason he lost out on a rotation spot this spring. Kansas City sent the southpaw to Triple-A after camp, but called him up after just one start to help out their bullpen.
And since joining the club as a reliever, Duffy has pitched well enough to force his way back into the rotation plans.
His control has been better, the strikeouts are still coming at a decent rate, and he continues to do a phenomenal job of limiting homers (two in 31 innings). Duffy's hold on a starting job is somewhat tenuous at this point, but if he keeps pitching well Ned Yost will have to find a way to keep giving him starts. He's a long-term piece for the Royals.
Nick Tepesch - SP, TEX
During a prolonged audition in the Rangers rotation last season, Tepesch was underwhelming. In 19 appearances (17 starts) the 24-year-old righty went 4-6 with a 4.84 ERA, looking great at times but struggling to find consistency.
A rocky spring training this year landed Tepesch in Triple-A at the outset, but it didn't take long for him to find his way back to Arlington. Rangers starters have been dropping like flies here in the early part of the season, and Tepesch made himself an obvious choice as a replacement by blowing away hitters at Round Rock, where he went 6-1 with a 1.58 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 41/9 K/BB over seven starts.
He has carried that momentum with him to the big leagues. In three starts since joining Texas, Tepesch is 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA. In 18 1/3 innings, he has notched 16 strikeouts while allowing only 14 hits and five walks.
He's been fortunate enough to draw some soft match-ups in these first three turns (Houston, Seattle and Minnesota) so Tepesch hasn't really been tested yet, but his high-caliber work throughout the first two months -- along with solid underlying peripherals last year -- offer plenty of hope that he'll hold his own as a quality rotation piece the rest of the way.
Presently owned in only 5 percent of Yahoo! leagues, Tepesch is a great target for deep-league players looking for reliable pitching help.