Chris Archer, one of the key components of the trade sending Matt Garza to the Chicago Cubs, is set to make his Major League debut today. Considered one of the better pitching prospects in baseball, does that mean he immediately holds fantasy appeal? Let’s take a look at everything we need to know about him:
- 23-years old
- Right-handed pitcher
- Drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round of 2006
- Traded to Tampa Bay as part of deal that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs prior to the ’11 season
- At Triple-A in 2012 was 4-8 with a 4.81 and 90 K over 76.2 IP
- The numbers are partly due to poor luck (.326 BABIP, 65.2% strand rate), but that is hardly the only issue
- Control has been a major issue this season, with 45 BB (5.28 BB/9); it’s a continuation of what we have seen since his promotion to Double-A in ‘10 (5.36 BB/9 in 134.1 IP at Double-A in ’11, 5.01 BB/9 in 70.0 IP at Double-A in ’10) and really his entire minor league career (5.22 BB/9)
- According to Baseball America, “He struggles at times to repeat his delivery, which leads to control issues. He led the Double-A Southern League with 18 wild pitches and ranked third with 80 walks in 2011.”
- It wasn’t just an early season issue with his control in ’12, as he walked 5 in 6.0 IP on 6/8 and has 8 BB in his last 13.0 IP at Triple-A
- Does a good job of keeping the ball in the ballpark, with just 4 HR allowed this season (13 HR in 204.1 IP at Double-A)
- Baseball America ranked him as the Rays #3 prospect while mlb.com had him at #2 (the difference was that Baseball America included Matt Moore on the list while mlb.com did not)
- Overall mlb.com ranked him at #64, Baseball America at #89
- His repertoire (all quotes are courtesy of mlb.com) includes a fastball that “runs the fastball into the mid-90s with good sink that generates groundouts”, a slider that “is one of the nastier breaking balls in the Minors” and a changeup that “lags behind the other two, and he’ll need to refine it to succeed long term”
We have a pitcher with a good arm, but has only two viable pitches right now and struggles with his control. Does that really sound like something that should interest fantasy owners? He has tremendous upside, but with that make-up his future could easily lie as a relief pitcher and potentially a closer.
That should put him on fantasy radars, but it’s not going to happen in 2012. For now he’s working as a starting pitcher and, with control that leaves a lot to be desired, it’s hard to imagine him thriving in the difficult AL East. At this point, outside of AL-only and the deepest of mixed leagues, he can easily be left on the waiver wire. He has the potential to force his way into the mix, but he’s not even close yet.