- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 27, 2003

If you own one of the National League's Big Three pitchers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling from the Arizona Diamondbacks and Greg Maddux from the Atlanta Braves you're probably not too happy right now.
Everything you read preparing for your draft including this column said to select those pitchers high; in fact, Johnson and Schilling should have gone in most first rounds.
Now, after ruining your early-season pitching stats, two of those perennial studs sit on the disabled list, while the other has slightly righted his ship; Maddux, the one still pitching, has halved his ERA and won twice since back-to-back debacles in early April.
What to do?
Don't panic. Even the brightest stars struggle, especially early in the season. Remember, these are three stellar, proud hurlers on two of the best teams in the National League.
Maddux has allowed just four earned runs in his last three starts, winning twice. Whatever his problems were, he's fixed them. He always does.
Schilling had an emergency appendectomy but was scheduled to meet with doctors over the weekend and could make his next scheduled start, tomorrow in New York against the Mets.
Johnson, who had one of the worst outings of his career before going on the DL with a sprained right knee, also could return to the rotation soon. The Diamondbacks put him on the DL retroactive to Apri112, and they need their aces back; Arizona got off to an 8-15, last-place start.
Keep in mind that Johnson and Schilling could show some rust in their first outings, so don't rush them back to your rotation. Let the D-Backs do that and see how they do.
Prospects with promise
Two of the top prospects in baseball should be available in your league, and could make an impact soon in the majors.
San Francisco rookie Jesse Foppert, the top-rated pitching prospect by Baseball America, made his first major league start last week and makes start No.2 today in Philadelphia. His debut didn't go as well as expected he gave up five early runs in a loss to Pittsburgh. But the Giants will keep this future star in the rotation, and a closer look at the box score shows why you should keep an eye on him. Foppert gave up only five hits and struck out three in four innings. He'll always strike people out, and the control will come as he settles down.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is expected to call up its top pitching prospect, Dewon Brazelton, this week. Brazelton was the second pitcher selected in the 2001 draft, behind Cubs star Mark Prior. He's not nearly as advanced as Prior; Brazelton is in his first season at Class AAA and has a winning record, but he is still walking too many batters. Brazelton is already a better option than most pitchers on the Devil Rays' major league staff, however, so the right-hander is worth keeping an eye on.
One more name to remember: Rich Harden, an Oakland A's pitching prospect (and their top one overall), who started the season with 14 perfect innings before getting promoted to Class AAA. It won't take long before he joins the bottom end of one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.
Draft dazzlers
Looking ahead to the NFL season, a couple of teams made draft picks yesterday that wield serious fantasy implications.
Jacksonville Jaguars If you end up with Mark Brunell as your quarterback this fall, you better select Byron Leftwich with a later pick just to be safe.
Buffalo Bills You think the Willis McGahee selection in the first round got Travis Henry's attention? Looks like Henry's a viable fantasy option in Buffalo for one more season while McGahee heals.
cBaltimore Ravens Their second first-round pick, Kyle Boller, could easily supplant vanilla Chris Redman as the starting quarterback.
cKansas City Chiefs The first-round selection of Penn State star Larry Johnson might say a lot about the health of Priest Holmes only fantasy football's best player last season.

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