Look, I get it. It is tough not to watch video like this and begin drooling over Danny Salazar's potential.After all, it isn't often you make the best hitter in baseball look this bad three times in a row in a single game.
Last season, in 145 innings of work between Double-A, Triple-A, and the big leagues, he permitted 105 hits, 39 walks, while striking out 194 batters. Apparently, the 26 NFBC mock drafts that have been conducted this offseason contain owners who are convinced this kid is a legitimate stud because he has a current overall ADP of 144 and is ranked 32nd on the starting pitcher ADP list. This is what the list looks like behind him:
My immediate reaction to that?
At a minimum, I would roster Jon Lester and Francisco Liriano before picking Salazar. I could easily expand that list to included Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, Johnny Cueto, and Andrew Cashner. Each of them has what Salazar lacks, major league experience and previous workloads.
Salazar turned 24 this offseason, and is coming off a season where his workload spiked from 88 innings of work to 145. He is also a converted position player, who has already had Tommy John surgery, and has worked more than 100 innings just twice in his six seasons of professional baseball. Many teams are reticent to spike the workloads of pitchers at this age more than 20 innings in a season. If Cleveland follows suit, that would put Salazar at potentially 170-175 innings for 2014. He would have to excel in those innings to justify where he is currently being taken over guys with proven track records of working more innings.
The other issue Salazar lacks is pitchability. To date, he is a guy that works with his fastball to set up his devastating changeup and his breaking ball. If he doesn't get ahead, he simply throws more fastballs. In fact, he has yet to throw anything but a fastball when behind in a count 2-0. He was in that count 86 times in 2013, and threw fastballs each time. He attacks righties with a fastball/breaking ball approach while saving the changeup as his secondary weapon against lefties. Simply put, there is more work to do here.
He is ranked 198th in the latest RotoWire Top 200, which feels much more appropriate than 144th. There is as much upside as there is risk associated with Salazar, and reaching for him feels quite unnecessary with the number of known quantities that are currently being taken after him in mock drafts thus far.