Monday, February 9, 2009
Likely overlooked because of the Royal(s) blue uniform he dons, as well as his general underachievement leading into the 2008 season, 25 year old RHP Zack Greinke is about as good a bet as any to be a 2009 fantasy breakout pitcher.
The Royals' 2002 first-round pick, Greinke was The Sporting News' 2003 minor league player of the year after winning 15 games and posting a 1.94 ERA.
In 2006, he was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list, which gave him the opportunity to get away from baseball entirely, and presumably helped him manage his condition.
In 2007, he returned to Kansas City, but because of his erratic performances, he alternated between the bullpen and the rotation.
The Royals gave him another opportunity to start last year, and he finally did something with it. In April, he was 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA and 1 CG in 5 starts.
He returned to his bad habits the next three months, posting a 5-7 record with a 4.93 ERA. He bottomed out in July when batters hit .301 against him.
But perhaps this bad stretch was simply the final hurdle for a pitcher with the weapons to be an ace.
He went 5-3 the rest of the way, 4-1 in September, with a 2.32 ERA and 58K's to 14 walks.
Overall, he was 13-10 with a 3.47 ERA, 183 strikeouts to only 56 base on balls, and a 1.28 WHIP. He also was one of the league leaders in QS (23).
Greinke is one of the rare pitchers who has the command to locate his pitches, and the heat -- a mid-nineties fastball -- to blow hitters away, evident by his 8.14 k/9, and 3.27 k/bb ratios, respectively.
At only 25, Greinke is only going to get better. Pitching in the AL, he may still take his occasional lumps, but the guess here is he'll have many more April's than he will July's.
If you can nab him anywhere after the ninth round, you may have found a gem fit for a king. (Sorry, I felt obliged.)