No one could argue with the Indians‘ decision to trade Chris Archer as part of the deal sending Mark DeRosa to the Indians prior to the 2009 season.  Look at the ERAs he has posted through his first three years:

  • 2006 – 7.71 ERA over 21.0 innings
  • 2007 – 5.88 ERA over 56.2 innings
  • 2008 – 4.29 ERA over 115.1 innings

Since the trade, however, Archer has put things together.  In 2009 he posted a 2.81 ERA in 109.0 innings at Single-A, but that was just a prelude of things to come.  In 2010, splitting time between High Single-A and Double-A, he posted the following line: 15 Wins, 142.1 Innings, 2.34 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 149 Strikeouts (9.4 K/9), 63 Walks (4.1 BB/9), .276 BABIP.

The BABIP is on the lucky side, but it is not so overly lucky that it’s a huge red flag.  However, he was even luckier during his 70.0 innings at Double-A, with a .261 BABIP, then he was during his 72.1 innings at High Single-A.  Against tougher competition, it’s hard to see him continuing the improved mark, meaning a regression is likely coming.

His strikeout rate also took a small step backwards: High Single-A: 8.6 K/9, Double-A: 10.2 K/9

It shouldn’t be a surprise to see his strikeouts regress as he moves up the ranks, so there’s nothing overly concerning here.

The walk rate, however, has always been problematic.  It appeared to be getting better at High Single-A, with a 3.2 BB/9, but rose to 5.0 after being promoted to Double-A.  Over his minor league career he has a walk rate of 5.2, so it’s certainly a worry that isn’t going to go away.

In the Major Leagues, it’s tough to succeed with a walk rate anywhere close to that.  The problem is, against more disciplined hitters, the number has the potential to regress even more.  When you are that bad against lower level batters (his only time above Single-A came in 2010), you just really don’t know what you are going to get.

The last number worth noting are the home runs.  Basically, he doesn’t allow any.  In 2009 he went 109.0 innings without allowing a home run.  In 2010, he allowed just six.

Can that continue?  It’s unlikely, but right now you have to like his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark.

Named the Chicago Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2010, the 22-year-old right-hander has the potential to rise to the Major Leagues in 2011, but there certainly are concerns.  Of course, the biggest one is the control.  If he can’t throw strikes, he’s not going to succeed.  That’s just the bottom line.

We’ll keep a close eye on him throughout 2011, but at this point I would say he’s only worth considering in the deepest of formats.  While he’s succeeded the past two years, I’m just not sure he can translate it to the Major Leagues.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think Archer could be a viable fantasy starting pitcher?  Why or why not?

Make sure to check out our other Prospect Reports as we wrap up 2010 and head towards 2011:


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