Three hidden aces

Like James Shields, these hurlers are ready to sneak up on stardom

Updated: December 14, 2012, 10:35 AM ET
By Dave Cameron | FanGraphs
Jon NieseAP Photo/Alex BrandonHe diesn't fit the profile of an ace, but Niese could put up similar numbers in time.

James Shields is not your typical No. 1 starter. He was a 16th-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Rays back in 2000, then never rated as a top prospect as he climbed through the farm system. His fastball sits in the low-90s and he doesn't throw it that often, instead relying mostly on his cutter, curve and changeup. The changeup is excellent, but the rest of his repertoire is somewhat unexciting. Until he started racking up 200-inning seasons in the big leagues, scouts were never that impressed with what Shields had to offer.

Through years of excellent performances, he has changed a lot of minds and has proved that his package of skills can get big league hitters out on a regular basis. Today we'll look at three pitchers who have similar skills and might be able to follow Shields' lead by developing into an unexpected ace.

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Jonathon Niese, LHP, New York Mets