On Wednesday night, we got our first look at Jose Berrios in a big league uniform, and on Friday, two more top pitching prospects will get their first starts in the majors. For the A's, Sean Manaea will be taking the hill against the Astros, while Michael Fulmer will lead the Tigers against the Twins.
Manaea came to Oakland's organization via the Ben Zobrist trade, and was at the time, Kansas City's 3rd best prospect.
"[Billy] Beane expressed satisfaction -- and surprise -- that the Royals were willing to part with him. But his inclusion in the deal helps explains the A's willingness to send a reported $2 million to the Royals to help cover much of Zobrist's remaining salary for this season.
'Manaea is considered the guy with the most upside, and probably the type of player we didn't think we coudl get in this type of deal,' Beane said, referencing the fact that Zobrist will be a free agent after this season..
In 115 innings at the minor league level in 2015, Manaea struck out 138 batters (K/9 of 10.80), and posted an ERA of 2.74, along with an FIP of 2.70; and in 2016 he's been similarly excellent. In three games started, he's held opponents to a .232 batting average, struck out 21 in 18 innings (K/9 of 10.50), and has a 1.50 ERA, and a 2.80 FIP.
If all goes well for Manaea in his debut, and presumably the next couple of starts, he should be around "for the long haul", rather than a quick audition.
As for the Tigers and their pitching prospect, Fulmer, his immediate future is less clear, although if he pitches well, they certainly won't send him back down considering the lack of value coming from their starters. Collectively, they've posted an fWAR of 1.0 (20th in MLB), and other than Jordan Zimmermann, not one of their starters has an ERA below 4.64.
Fulmer posted excellent strikeout (K/9 of 11.74) and walk (BB/9 of 2.93) rates in his 15.1 innings at AAA this season. His HR/9 appears to be abnormally high (1.76) however all three HRs that Fulmer allowed came in his most recent outing, rather than one or two in each start.
The number of elite young players across MLB is staggering, and Friday could see the introduction of two new members.