For three years now we’ve been waiting for Mike Minor to live up to some of his immense potential. Minor made his pro debut in single-A back in 2009 after being selected seventh overall and went on to pitch 14 innings, striking out 17 batters while allowing just one earned run and nary a walk. That earned him a promotion to double-A to start 2010 followed by a short stint in Triple-A before the Braves came knocking.
After just 24 starts and 129.1 innings in the minors, Minor (I promise, that redundancy was inevitable) had finally made it to The Show. And he wasn’t half bad. His 5.98 ERA was pretty hideous, but 9.52 K/9 and 2.43 BB/9 are great rates — both are better that what Clayton Kershaw put up last season — so no one really cared about the ERA. His 3.77 FIP was much more telling of the promise that resided within Minor’s left arm, and fantasy managers couldn’t wait for March drafts to roll around the next year for a chance to own the next big thing (slight hyperbole).
Then Brandon Beachy beat Minor out in spring training, forcing everyone’s favorite southpaw pitching prospect to triple-A for half the season (where Minor continued to impress), and a mid-season call-up left fantasy owners wanting once again. Minor’s strikeout and walk rates weren’t as good, but his velocity was up and his FIP was 3.39. Next year’s the year!
Eh, sort of. Minor’s strikeout rate fell again, and though his 4.12 ERA was a career best (barely), his FIP rose a whole run to 4.38. His velocity dropped to 2010 levels, and he got fewer opponents to offer at pitches outside the strike zone than in either of his first two seasons. In a word, Minor stagnated. Still, that .226 OBA was pretty darn good (even if it was fueled by a .252 BABIP), and I’m still optimistic that this 25-year-old can have a nice impact in fantasy leagues in the near future.
At a Glance
Strengths: K/9, BB
Neutral: W, L, ERA, WHIP, QS, IP
Best-case scenario: Jeff Samardzija (CHC)
Likely scenario: Matt Garza (CHC), Derek Holland (TEX), Phil Hughes (NYY)
Worst-case scenario: James McDonald (PIT)
Mike Minor 2013 Fantasy Projection
In all honesty, I didn’t like listing Minor’s weaknesses as “none” because that insinuates that he isn’t a flawed player. To the contrary, he’s a very flawed player, but those flaws are more intangible things like “trust” and “reliability,” and we’ve already factored those into our projections by taking our best guess at what his innings total will be.
But if you could guarantee me that Minor would start 30 games and approach 200 innings for the Braves, I’d love to be on board. His WHIP will probably go up even if he does improve as a pitcher just because he doesn’t have much room for improvement with his walk rate and I seriously doubt he’ll repeat a .226 OBA, but that doesn’t mean he can’t win 13-16 games, strike out 180+ batters and finish with an ERA around 3.40. All of those marks are in play, and a fast start out of the gate will have fantasy owners on board once again. But if Minor doesn’t start to live up to expectations this year, I’m out.
Fine. Until next year.