Wilton Lopez once flew under the radar and is now an integral part of the Houston bullpen. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Last time around I looked at a few position players that were under the radar but who I found to be somewhat intriguing. This time around, I decided to see if there were any pitchers who piqued my interest.
I'm not including any of this year's draft picks simply because those pitchers are already under the microscope. With that said, who am I keeping an eye on these days?
All stats are through Monday's games.
LHP Luis Cruz - A ninth round pick by Houston out of Puerto Rico in 2008, the 21-year old Cruz has quietly gone about having a solid year at Lexington with a 7-5 record, a 3.79 ERA and a 1.323 WHIP in 23 appearances (19 starts). His lefty/righty splits are almost indistinguishable. Yes, this is his third season at Lexington, but he's not too old for the league. Lexington Pitching Coach Dave Borkowski attributed his improvement this season to being more aggressive, pitching inside and attacking the zone. In a short stint last season, Cruz reported to Lancaster and did not fare well. This season, however, his groundball rate is much more pronounced and he is allowing substantially fewer home runs so I think he would be a better fit at Lancaster this season should he merit a promotion.
RHP Carlos Quevedo - Quevedo originally started with the Houston organization in 2007 out of Venezuela and was recently promoted to Lancaster as he excelled in a long relief/spot start niche at Lexington for most of the season after having started for most of his career. For the season, he is 6-4 with a 3.25 ERA and a 1.010 WHIP. In six appearances with Lancaster, he is 2-1 with a 0.66 ERA, a 0.659 WHIP and three saves. He has a 9.9 SO/9 and an eye-popping 9.5 SO/BB ratio. He has allowed only eight walks all season to 76 strikeouts. That shows why Borkowski praised Quevedo's control and command as being the best on his staff when he was in Lexington.
LHP Mitch Lambson - I've been interested in Mitch, a 19th round draft pick in 2011, for a while. After four appearances at Greeneville with a 0.00 ERA and a microscopic WHIP, Lambson was quickly promoted to Lexington where he has continued to thrive. Lambson, who recently turned 22, is another pitcher with terrific strikeout to walk rates. He has a 10.7 SO/9 and a 7.20 SO/BB ratio. It is a small sample size, but he had similar rates last season. His changeup sets him apart and his command seals the deal.
RHP Michael Feliz - I know very little about the 18-year old Feliz except that he is listed as 6'4" 210# and he is in his third season with the Houston organization after getting his start with the DSL Astros in 2010. Oh, and he pretty much dominated in seven appearances (three starts) with the GCL Astros before getting promoted to Greeneville a few days ago. With the GCL, he was 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA and a 0.887 WHIP and 8.2 SO/9 and a 3.89 SO/BB ratio. He got roughed up a tad bit in his one and only appearance with Greeneville to date, but I think he'll make adjustments. His age and size alone make him worth keeping an eye on.
Most people see a Jarred Cosart or a Lance McCullers and immediately see a future star. I like to look below the surface and find the occasional hidden gem. So I'll keep watching my under the radar guys to see if one of them will eventually shine.