The untimely injury of St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright brings up the concept of the sixth starter. Teams stock their Triple-A rotations with a combination of prospects and wily, strike-throwing veterans, knowing that they'll need insurance, as the average team used more than nine different starting pitchers in 2010.
In last week's piece, I identified a trio of prospects who are sixth-starter types now: Yunesky Maya (Washington Nationals), Hector Noesi (New York Yankees) and Vance Worley (Philadelphia Phillies). Here are 10 more who will begin the year in the minors but could get a big league call sooner than expected if the need arrives.
Brandon Beachy, RHP, Atlanta Braves
While Beachy is technically in the competition for Atlanta's fifth starter job, in reality, that is Mike Minor's job to lose. One of the better scouting finds around, Beachy went undrafted out of Indiana Wesleyan, an NAIA school, where he was primarily a third baseman. The Braves remembered his arm strength from some summer league performances, gave him a shot two years ago and, in 2010, he won the minor league ERA title while more than holding his own in a trio of emergency big league starts at the end of the season. With well above-average command and control of a solid-but-unspectacular arsenal, Beachy's ceiling is more of a back-end starter, but his polish could land him in the bullpen while he waits his turn.