Make sure you read the title in the voice of Fozzie Bear. I haven’t heard Michael Wacha‘s name pronounced yet, so I settled on the Muppets reference for the title. On to the news…The St. Louis Cardinals have named young propsect Michael Wacha the starting pitcher for Thursday’s tilt with the Royals, and the fantasy baseball world is abuzz over the young callup. Every year we go through these names, including Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs in 2012, and Jose Fernandez/ Tony Cingrani in 2013. Like many propsects, some pan out, some don’t, and it is up to the astute fantasy baseballer to decide whether or not Wacha will have success at the major league level.Wacha is a RHP that will turn 22 on July 1st, 2013 who has experienced a meteoric rise through the minor leagues. 2012 was Michael’s first year of minor league experience, so he started off in rookie ball, throwing just 5 IP, and striking out 7 batters before he was promoted to single A.Wacha’s stint at single A was equally short, as he appeared in just 4 games (8 IP) and striking out 16 batters! On he went to double A, where he had just as much success (8 IP, 17 K). It is worth noting that he only threw 21 innings across all 3 levels in 2012, but he struck out an astonishing 40 batters, putting him squarely on the fantasy radar.For 2013, Wacha opened up in AAA and before his callup had a solid line at 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA and 34 K in 52.2 IP.
Here are a few things to take under consideration when looking at Wacha.- He has appeared in just 20 games professionally, throwing for 73.2 IP over that span. The Cardinals have already said they plan to limit him to 150 IP this season, and with 52 innings in the minors, that will translate to roughly 20 starts in 2013.- To help with the innings limit, the Cards have mentioned they plan to skip his starts on occasion to give the youngster plenty of time to rest.- The Cardinals have a strong history over the last decade of building strong arms from within the organization, whether it was Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn or Shelby Miller. Michael Wacha could easily join that list with a club that knows how to groom young talent.- Jose Fernandez or Michael Wacha is a popular question. Fernandez will likely have more success K wise, but Wacha should have the edge in ERA/WHIP and W pitching for the red hot Cardinals.- Wacha’s K/9 went from a blistering 17.1 in 2012 (Rookie ball to Double A) to just 5.8 in 2013 (Triple A). So either the talent got better (an obvious assumption in the pacific coast league) or Wacha started pitching to contact. For those optimists who see Michael posting a K/9 over 8.0 at the big league level, that could be an option in the future, but is highly unlikely for 2013.Summary – Wacha is an intriguing prospect that should be considered in standard 12 team mixed league formats. As a young starter with an innings limit, you may want to flip him for a guy that can help come fantasy playoff time.
Bold Prediction (2013) - 8-4, 3.45 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 71 K/ 96 IP
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