February 26, 2014
Get to Know
Starting Pitcher Prospects
If you would like to read the previous articles in this series, click below:
The reality of the situation is, you’ve heard about most of these top names ad nauseum, so we’re going to try to not rehash everything. If that results in brevity, we’re all better off for it, right duder? Unless stated otherwise assume the players below have the ability to strike out enough batters to be worth owning.
NAMES FOR 2014—Craig Goldstein
Taijuan Walker - Seattle Mariners
He should miss bats immediately, but probably not at an elite level. His best pitchers are his fastball and cutter, and while they’re good enough to strike batters out, he hasn’t shown the consistency with his offspeed stuff that will routinely rack up whiffs. On the plus side though, Tai Walker is close to Skywalker and that’s always good for a headline.
Archie Bradley - Arizona Diamondbacks
There’s a chance that Bradley sees major league time in 2014 thanks to his dynamic repertoire and Arizona’s general lack of impact pitching. At the same time, we might want to slow down a bit. Bradley has only notched 123 1/3 innings at Double-A, and struggled with walks at the level (11.7 percent). This isn’t to knock him as a prospect—but it could affect his arrival. If he starts controlling the strike zone a bit more, he could arrive in a hurry. Oh, and he’s got the swing-and-miss breaking ball that can sometimes elude Walker.
Kevin Gausman - Baltimore Orioles
We live in a complicated world. That’s why it’s both fair and unfair that Gausman is getting dinged for his subpar major-league performance last year. Ideally, he wouldn’t have been called up, but again, complicated world. We learned a bit about Gausman in that time though. Things like: His slider needs work, he loves donuts, and ohmanthatchange. In reality though, those things weren’t that new to most of us, we were just seeing them for the first time, since we can’t all go to minor-league games. He missed bats at a solid level (20 in 24 2/3 IP as a starter) but is going to need that breaking ball to solidify to sustain himself in the majors, similar to how Julio Teheran took off once the slider started coming around.
Noah Syndergaard - New York Mets
The 145 IP limit really harshes our mellow, but that doesn’t mean Syndergaard won’t be useful. It might mean a bunch of five-inning starts in the minors (works out to 29 over a full season), which means he could still provide meaningful innings in the majors. It does mean wins will be hard to come by if he’s getting pulled early in games once he’s called up. It also will affect his minor-league stats, potentially overstating how prepared he is for the majors because he won’t be turning a lineup over for a third time very often. It might not be in 2014, but Syndergaard should be an elite fantasy starting pitcher in time, with the ability to log plenty of innings and accumulate strikeouts.
Yordano Ventura - Kansas City Royals
Ventura saw his chances of breaking camp with the Royals greatly diminish with the re-signing of Bruce Chen, and the addition of Jason Vargas. Working in his favor is that the nominal fifth start (Danny Duffy) threw limited innings last year and might not hold up for the entire season, and the fourth starter is Bruce Chen. Ventura brings a fastball worthy of an Al Pacino/Robert DeNiro flick, and works in an above average breaking ball. His changeup is coming along but its best asset might be its separation from his fastball in terms of velocity, more than any depth, tail or fade. His frame is small but his swag is large and if it all works he’s a no. 2 starter. The fallback option is even more velocity out of the bullpen.
Jameson Taillon - Pittsburgh Pirates
Huge tools with good-but-not-quite-as-good-as-we-want results make Taillon something of a divisive prospect. He didn’t miss bats early in his career because he was told to focus on fastball command while shelving his dominant curveball. If the fastball and curve are working, he’s out there with two plus-plus pitches, but his heater can often be too hittable thanks to inconsistent command within the zone. There’s no reason these flaws can’t be corrected though, and if it works he’s a top-of-the-rotation starter. Even if he ends up being a guy who flashes instead of settles in at the top, his curve should ensure plenty of strikeouts.
Kyle Zimmer - Kansas City Royals
The Royals are on the record as saying they’d like to see Zimmer contribute to the major league team in the latter half of 2014, hopefully to a playoff run. He’ll show a four pitch mix that features a fastball and curveball that could both be plus-plus. The problem is the fastball plays down thanks to a lack of deception in his delivery, making it a bit hittable. There is some movement to offset this issue, but it could result in a WHIP a bit higher than you’d expect from the stuff he shows. The hammer is a swing and miss offering that Zimmer can manipulate well, with the slider showing promise as a bat-misser as well. He might end up as more of a mid-rotation type but there’s little doubt he’ll function as a starter and eat plenty of innings.
Carlos Martinez - St. Louis Cardinals
Another big talent, small package type deal. Martinez has to overcome the absurd depth of the Cardinals rotation/system to fulfill his potential as a starter, but there’s no doubt he has the stuff to do it. Jaime Garcia’s shoulder injury helps his stock a bit, but Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn appear to be first in line for the back end of the Cardinals rotation. There’s a chance that Martinez starts the season in the bullpen—a dangerous proposition for fantasy owners as the Cards already turned one potential starter into a lights-out reliever, and there’s only one closer position to go around.
Marcus Stroman - Toronto Blue Jays
There’s an outside, outside chance that the Jays break camp with Stroman in tow. He deserves to be in their starting five based on talent, but his suspension last year limited his reps, and he might not be where they want him to be developmentally. Either way, he’s going to reach the majors in short order and will be an impact option, be it as a starter or closer.
Alex Meyer - Minnesota Twins
Meyer has the potential for three better-than-average pitches, including a fastball that could sit at the top of the scale. He not only brings premium velocity to the table but with his long levers, it gets on hitters even faster than you might expect. He pairs it with a slider that looks like a fastball, until it isn’t, generating plenty of whiffs. The changeup will be crucial to his long-term role, as the fastball/slider combo could make him a lethal option out of the bullpen. The Twins will give him every chance to start, as even with a remade rotation, Meyer will represent a major upgrade when he’s ready.
Mark Appel - Houston Astros
Appel has a mature arsenal full of impact pitches, but there are questions as to whether he has the aggressive demeanor to make full use of them. While those questions explain how some can see Appel as a high-no. 2 starter, while others see more of a good no. 3, in fantasy his stock is a bit more stable. The elite quality of his pitches and command make him a relatively safe prospect to invest in, even if they might ultimately play a bit below their ceiling. He’ll come up lacking in wins, but should generate strikeouts and eat innings while giving you good ratios.
Jonathan Gray - Colorado Rockies
Yes, yes, he’s a pitcher in Coors, but have you seen his slider? If not, rectify the situation immediately. He might have been better served throwing it less often in order to focus on his fastball command while in college, because the fastball is legit in its own right, but that’s the college game. Gray could be on the same fast track that Appel is, and lord knows the Rockies need the help.
Eddie Butler - Colorado Rockies
Butler doesn’t have quite the upside that Gray does, but he’ll slot in nicely behind him, and—like Gray—shouldn’t see Coors Field affect him as much, as he doesn’t rely on a big breaking curve, but rather a hard slider and a vicious changeup. He features a cross-fire delivery that has some questioning whether he’ll last as a full time starter, but if he does he’s going to strikeout a massive number of batters while generating plenty of ground balls.
Andrew Heaney - Miami Marlins
He’s logged fewer than 35 innings at Double-A, but we all know how quickly the Marlins can promote a prospect. A southpaw, Heaney can touch the mid-90s with good deception and gets strikeouts with a plus slider. Calling Miami home will help him out in terms of limiting home runs, though he might not get the run support, ergo wins, as he deserves.
Matt Wisler - San Diego Padres
Wisler quickly grew into the role of a potential no. 2 starter, featuring a fastball that touches the upper 90s and plenty of movement on everything he throws. While his across the body delivery helps with the movement aspect, it can detract from his ability to locate. If he can stay healthy (a rarity for a Padres pitching prospect), Wisler could see action in the latter half of 2014 and has the stuff the pitch in the middle of a rotation in short order.
Rafael Montero - New York Mets
While these blurbs are in no particular order, Montero represents the end of a particular mold. No longer will we be discussing the frontline arms, but instead those who slot into the middle or back of a rotation while still helping your fantasy team. Montero is all of that and no more. There’s a chance he’s a reliever when it’s all said and done, though that’s becoming less and less likely. He’s not an elite bat-misser, but would do well toward the back of a fantasy rotation as someone who can generate 150-plus strikeouts to go with a slightly above-average WHIP and average ERA.
Jimmy Nelson - Milwaukee Brewers
There’s not a lot to be excited about here. Nelson is a fine prospect in his own right, but he doesn’t have the tools to be truly interesting in a fantasy sense. He’s an option for leagues where most every pitcher is owned, as he should earn innings on the big stage this year, but the strikeouts and ratios are likely to leave you wanting more.
James Paxton - Seattle Mariners
Another potential long-term reliever, Paxton was aces in his major-league debut late last season. The flux in the Mariners rotation means he has a shot to break camp with the team, and if he does you can expect healthy strikeout totals, though perhaps not on the scale of last year. He doesn’t always command the ball so well, so a few blowups and a questionable WHIP can be expected too.
Allen Webster - Boston Red Sox
Webster is another maybe-reliever who has impact stuff but can’t seem to hold it deep into his outings. If he does start, he’s got the team to provide him with wins, but is unlikely to go deep enough into games to earn them with any consistency. He should get plenty of strikeouts, but again, seems more likely to function as a reliever (perhaps multi-inning) than a starter in the long term.
Erik Johnson - Chicago White Sox
Johnson lacks many superlatives, but he does have a rotation spot from the get-go and has the White Sox pitching magic going for him. There’s nothing special here, but he can chew innings and provide solid depth for those in 16-20-team leagues.
Zach Lee - Los Angeles Dodgers
Lee suffers from a few things. He’s not as good as his signing bonus made him out to be – he’s more of a back of the rotation number four type than anything else—and he’s not the polished kid that will move very quickly either. He’s got a host of arms in front of him for a rotation spot and he’s yet to reach Triple-A. He can attack hitters with a four-pitch repertoire, though he lacks a pure plus pitch that would allow him to miss bats. His slider might be the closest thing, and its refinement allowed him to bump back up to the 8.0 K/9 range this past season.
Jake Odorizzi - Tampa Bay Rays
Odorizzi is something of a more actualized Zach Lee, though he’s got the same type of crowded rotation to deal with. He’d be the most immediate beneficiary of a David Price trade, though he does have Enny Romero breathing down his back as well. Odorizzi has four pitchers with none of them elite. He manages to miss bats thanks to sequencing and a solid slider. He’s another guy that holds value in deeper leagues thanks to his steadiness, but loses value in shallower leagues due to lack of impact. The true risk here is Chris Berman making an “Odorizzi/over-easy” joke.
Casey Kelly - San Diego Padres
One day a Padres pitching prospect will make it through a season healthy. Kelly hasn’t pitched in a decade but when he last did, we finally saw him taking advantage of his athleticism, adding velocity, and throwing quality strikes. Prior to that he was a player who always hadn’t lived up to his multi-sport athleticism and threw a ton of strikes—perhaps too many, enabling hitters to know a pitch in the zone was coming and punish it. Which Kelly returns to the mound this year is questionable, but with PETCO park at his back, it all bodes well for fantasy owners.
Trevor Bauer - Cleveland Indians
I mean, who even knows at this point.
Adalberto Mejia - San Francisco Giants
Mejia jumped from High-A to Triple-A towards the end of the season, tossing five innings there. There’s a good chance he returns to Double-A, though it’s clear the Giants aren’t scared of testing him. And while it’s tempting to think there are a bunch of arms in his way, since this is, y’know, the Giants… there’s really not. They re-signed Ryan Vogelsong who was worse than Miley Cyrus at an awards show and are relying on Tim Hudson, who is basically the team’s dad (exaggerating but still). If the need arises, the Giants could turn to Mejia and his three-pitch repertoire. He’s a good fit for AT&T Park, as he’s got some fly-ball tendencies, and while immediate success shouldn’t be anticipated, he’s got the potential to be a mid-rotation fantasy starter, contributing to most every category a starter can.
Jesse Biddle - Philadelphia Phillies
Biddle misses bats well enough but he also misses the zone plenty. There’s not an elite ceiling here, but he could operate as a no. 3-4 type with plenty of strikeouts. He’ll do damage to your ratios if he can’t cut down on the walks, as free passes will lead to big innings and short outings.
Enny Romero - Tampa Bay Rays
There’s more impact here than with Odorizzi, though more risk as well, as he has better pitches, but half the amount. Romero could end up with two plus-plus pitches, but given that there are only two, he might be throwing them in the bullpen. In the rotation he could net you plenty of whiffs but will walk too many, depressing his value thanks to a weak WHIP and a likely inflated ERA.
Mike Foltynewicz – Houston Astros
Foltyniewicz pits me against myself. It’s almost always preferable to see someone who could start stay a starter, and yet… Folty might be the rare bird that’s far more valuable (in fantasy) in the bullpen. He’s got one pitch that can knock you down and then stand over you and flex a la Ali v. Liston, but beyond that… it gets fuzzy. Thing is… he might not need much more than that pitch to last as a mid-rotation workhorse that can chew innings but would lack the secondaries required to notch noteworthy strikeouts. Out of the bullpen though? He’s a fire-breathing dragon and a potential frontline closer.
Eduardo Rodriguez – Baltimore Orioles
A lefty who can sit in the low to mid 90s, tilt a slider, and has a changeup that moves shouldn’t be as underrated as Rodriguez is. He threw nearly 60 innings at Double-A in his age-20 season, so we shouldn’t hold the mediocre results there against him. Anticipating impact out of him this season is probably foolhardy, but he could be a valuable fourth starter in fantasy down the line.
Other: Justin Nicolino (Marlins), Mike Wright (Orioles), J.R. Graham (Braves), Nate Karns (Rays), Sean Nolin (Blue Jays), Anthony Ranaudo (Red Sox), David Holmberg (Reds), Joe Wieland (Padres), Trevor May (Twins), Asher Wojciechowski (Astros), Stolmy Pimentel (Pirates), Chris Beck (White Sox), Luke Jackson (Rangers), Burch Smith (Padres), Ross Strippling (Dodgers), Neil Ramirez (Cubs), Brian Flynn (Marlins), Jake deGrom (Mets)
NAMES FOR 2015 AND BEYOND—Ben Carsley
Robert Stephenson - Cincinnati Reds
There’s a legit argument to be made that Stephenson should profile as a 2014 arm, but a) he needs a bit more refinement, b) the Reds rotation is stacked for 2014, and c) I wanted some good players to write about, too. Stephenson was electric in 2013, striking out more than a batter per inning and dominating hitters across Low-A, High-A and even Double-A ball. His plus-plus fastball/curveball combo should allow him to rack up strikeouts, and he’ll be even scarier if his changeup develops the way some think it could. Playing at GABP will hurt his fantasy value some and he might not be the WHIP-friendliest option out there, but this is a fantasy stud in the making.
Dylan Bundy - Baltimore Orioles
Ironically billed as the “safest” starting pitching prospect we’d seen in a while thanks to clean mechanics and an intense work ethic, Bundy had to undergo Tommy John surgery last year, ruining what was a remarkably rapid ascent to the majors. While TJ recovery isn’t a sure thing it’s successful often enough that we shouldn’t forget about Bundy’s crazy upside, which we caught a glimpse of at the end of the 2012 season. His injury may have delayed his MLB dominance by two years, but it shouldn’t change his ultimate projection as a potential top-10 fantasy starter.
Lucas Giolito - Washington Nationals
It sort of feels like the fantasy community as a whole came into this offseason with the mission of blowing up Giolito’s prospect status. That mission has been a success, as every dynasty leaguer with a clue is aware that Giolito possesses the highest upside of any arm in the minors. He’s not going to appear in the majors before late 2016 and he does have the Tommy John red flag, but no one doubts the upside. Beware of overpaying for him based on name value, but don’t let him go if he’s already on your roster.
Kyle Crick - San Francisco Giants
There’s a lot of uncertainty as to whether Crick will spend his MLB career as a starter or reliever, but it’s really pretty simple: it comes down to control. Crick’s phenomenal fastball and well-rounded arsenal of secondary pitches give him the repertoire to churn through lineups multiple times, but his command and delivery both need significant refinement. Crick’s fallback option as a top-five fantasy closer is pretty cute, but dynasty leaguers should still be rooting for Crick to profile as a starter.
Aaron Sanchez - Toronto Blue Jays
If you’re an upside whore Sanchez is probably one of your favorite arms in the mid-minors, and for good reason. He’s got one plus-plus and two plus pitches, an ideal starter’s frame and arm action like you read about - literally, in this case. Unfortunately, he struggles with command and control and is unlikely to be a solid contributor in WHIP, at least early in his career. Still only 21, Sanchez has the ability to put himself on the cusp of MLB relevance this season, but could just as easily do some damage to his prospect stock.
Max Fried - San Diego Padres
With apologies to the man who directly follows him, Fried may have the highest upside of any left-handed pitching prospect in the minors. Reports of elbow soreness give every dynasty league owner the right to freak out right now, though, as the Padres have quite a poor record when it comes to pitcher injuries as of late. If he does need Tommy John surgery—and that’s pure speculation—it would be a bummer, but could make him a buy-low guy in 2015.
Julio Urias - Los Angeles Dodgers
It’s crazy that Urias is doing what he’s doing at his age, but truth be told he doesn’t have an absurd amount of projection left. That being said Urias doesn’t need a lot of growth to be successful, as his plus-plus fastball, plus secondary pitches and crazy feel for pitching all lend themselves to considerable success. There’s some danger of Urias putting himself on the Martin Perez prospect rollercoaster should he run into any bumps in the developmental road, but this is a potential no. 2 fantasy starter who not only could, but should, see the majors before his 20th birthday.
Tyler Glasnow - Pittsburgh Pirates
The Tyler Glasnow hype train is running at full speed after a 2013 season in which he struck out 164 batters in 111 1/3 IP in Low-A. It’s difficult not to get excited by Glasnow’s massive frame and solid three-pitch mix, but he still profiles as more of a no. 2-3 starter than as an ace, and he’s getting to the point where his name recognition is exceeding his value. Glasnow is a top-60 or top-50 fantasy arm and should be treated with respect, but if someone wants to overpay for his Low-A performance in your league, that’s okay, too.
Sean Manaea - Kansas City Royals
Don’t sleep on Manaea, who fell in the 2013 draft due to injury concerns but had enough natural talent to be worthy of discussion for the no. 1 overall pick. Lefties with plus-plus fastballs and promising secondary offerings don’t come around very often, but when they do they tend to pitch near the tops of rotations. He’ll likely go well after some better known, lower upside arms in dynasty drafts this year, so you should be able to buy in on the ground floor.
Henry Owens - Boston Red Sox
My colleague and Internet father Bret Sayre compared Owens to C.J. Wilson in the Sox Top 10 list this offseason, and I think the comparison is apt. Wilson is going to miss a lot of bats with his deep arsenal and deceptive delivery, but he’s going to give up some free passes as well. Overall I think his floor is pretty high as a no. 4 fantasy starter, but he has the potential to pitch closer to (but not at) the top of a rotation in his prime years.
Nick Kingham - Pittsburgh Pirates
There’s a subset of the prospect-loving population that actually prefers Kingham to Glasnow, and they’re not crazy for doing so. While Glasnow’s upside might be a touch higher, Kingham profiles as a potential mid-rotation arm for 2015 and might even see MLB time this season. Add in a favorable home ballpark, decent supporting cast and what should be a low WHIP, and Kingham is a player who’s flying under the radar a bit.
Braden Shipley - Arizona Diamondbacks
Similarly to how Michael Wacha saw an immediate jump in prospect status after being drafted, Shipley opened some eyes in his professional debut last season, moving from a potential no. 3-4 to a potential no. 2 starter, according to some evaluators. Shipley has yet to pitch even in the mid-minors but could move quickly and set himself up to be traded away from Arizona for some manifestation of grit, zeal, and power by mid-2015.
Miguel Almonte - Kansas City Royals
Almonte’s changeup is NSFW and his fastball is plus, giving him an exciting toolkit to work with as a starter. When you factor in his low walk rates and history of missing bats in the minors, it’s reasonable to get excited about his future as a mid-rotation starter in most formats. He’s still a ways away, but Almonte could climb the ladder quickly if one of his breaking pitches rounds into form.
Lucas Sims - Atlanta Braves
Some felt as though the Braves reached for Sims in the 2012 draft. It would appear as though they were wrong, as the 19-year-old put up insane stats and showed three plus-pitches in his first full professional season last year. He’s at least another two seasons away, but he has no. 2 fantasy starter upside and could be a strikeout machine in the NL.
Kohl Stewart - Minnesota Twins
The consensus best prep arm in the 2013 draft, Stewart has enormous potential and a very favorable home ballpark if he remains in the Twins organization. He’s unlikely to be a particularly fast mover and he’ll need to work on repeating his delivery, but Stewart has the athleticism, repertoire and competitive streak to become a top-15 fantasy starter some day. He’s a long-term project, but one with massive upside.
Hunter Harvey - Baltimore Orioles
Few fantasy prospects from the 2013 draft did as much to improve their stock last season as Harvey, who lit up professional ball with a plus fastball, plus-plus curve and well over a strikeout per inning in a limited sample. It’s important to note that, like Stewart, he’s still many seasons away, but the high-strikeout, no. 2 starter upside he shows makes him worthy of some dynasty consideration now.
Alex Reyes - St. Louis Cardinals
It’s totally fair that an organization with Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, and Michael Wacha would also manage to land Alex Reyes. Totally fair and awesome. He’s explosive, he’s unrefined, and he’s several years away, but upside like this in an organization revered for developing pitching is irresistible. If you’re looking for a prospect outside the top-100 who could make a huge jump in 2014, this is it.
Matt Barnes - Boston Red Sox
Barnes’ fantasy future lies largely in the development of his curveball and improvement in his command. If he’s more consistent with his plus-breaking pitch and his delivery, he’s a high-strikeout no. 3 starter who should collect wins on a good team. If not, he’s likely an eighth-inning guy on the power of his fastball alone. He’s a decent buy-low candidate for a prospect, has some have soured on him after an average 2013 campaign.
C.J. Edwards - Chicago Cubs
It’s tough not to get excited about Edwards’ plus-plus fastball and incredible 2013 numbers, but he’s still more likely to find his MLB niche as a reliever than he is as a starter thanks to his rail-thin frame. There’s huge strikeout potential here and Edwards is certainly a top-100 fantasy name, but he’s not a top-50 fantasy minor-leaguer and if you want to sell high on him right now it’s an easy decision to justify.
Mauricio Cabrera - Atlanta Braves
True 80-grade fastballs don’t come around too often, and the prospects who possess them have a wider margin for error than those who rely simply on command and control. Cabrera is quite raw and there’s a chance he’s a reliever in the long run, but the Braves will give him several more seasons to try and harness his stuff and his delivery. His fantasy floor is high as a reliever who could be worth owning for strikeouts even if he doesn’t close.
Lance McCullers - Houston Astros
Another pitcher who’s perhaps more likely to find his future in the bullpen than in the rotation, McCullers has a wipeout fastball-curveball combo but struggles to repeat his delivery and lacks a third pitch right now. Those are common symptoms for a young starter, but it’s a bit disconcerting that so many scouts appear to think McCullers is headed to the ‘pen in the long run. He’d have nice fantasy upside as a closer, but it would still be a bit disappointing to see him limited to 60-80 innings a year.
Pierce Johnson - Chicago Cubs
A prototypical fast-moving, mid-rotation college arm, Johnson should see time at Double-A in 2014 with an eye on making his MLB debut in 2015. His ceiling is as a no. 3 big-league starter and no. 4 fantasy starter, though reaching his upside will require further refinement of his changeup and an improvement in command.
Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez - Texas Rangers
I want to rank him higher because his nickname is Chi Chi, but Gonzalez is a more valuable MLB prospect than he is a fantasy one. He should move fast and he has the ability to post attractive WHIP rates thanks to his command, but no. 3-4 in Texas’ ballpark do not fantasy aces make. I’m sorry, Chi Chi.
Vincent Velasquez - Houston Astros
Velasquez doesn’t have huge name recognition yet thanks to belonging to an incredibly deep system, but he has the same no. 3 starter upside as many of the higher profile names around him here. With one Tommy John surgery already on his resume there’s some risk here, but Velasquez fits well into the Astros plan to return to relevancy around 2016 and could see some MLB time next season.
Victor Sanchez - Seattle Mariners
Sanchez has a similar ceiling to many of the names around him, but as a bad-bodied player still two-plus years away from the majors he’s listed behind them here. His low walk rates are intriguing, though, and if Sanchez pitches half of his games at Safeco he could be a huge help in the ERA and WHIP categories.
A.J. Cole - Washington Nationals
I’ve been high on Cole for a while and considered him a personal sleeper, so it’s been a bit disappointing to hear negative reviews of his secondary stuff as of late. Cole just turned 22 so he has time to try and regain his offspeed pitches, but he’s not the slam-dunk top-100 fantasy name I thought he was.
Edwin Escobar - San Francisco Giants
Hey look, another mid-rotation starter who could play up for fantasy purposes because of his home ballpark! How unique! A 2015 ETA is a bit conservative for Escobar—he could see MLB time this year.
Marco Gonzales - St. Louis Cardinals
If you enjoy a good changeup, Gonzalez is your guy, and he’s in the perfect organization to help him utilize his natural talents. Sorry to sound like a record that has been broken, but this is another mid-rotation college arm who we likely won’t see until 2015, but who could quietly slot into the no. 4/5 starter spot on a fantasy contender in his prime.
Chris Anderson - Los Angeles Dodgers
See directly above this, basically, but without the changeup and with a more well-rounded arsenal. He’ll get lost amid all the stars in LA, but he can be a quiet contributor.
Clayton Blackburn - San Francisco Giants
He’ll be good for ERA and WHIP, meh for Ws and Ks. Blackburn should have limited value in shallow leagues but is a nice name for deeper formats.
Alberto Tirado - Toronto Blue Jays
Holy upside, Batman. Blocking minor-league roster spots with super-young pitchers is rarely a good idea, but you can make an exception for Tirado, who won’t turn 20 until December.
Joe Ross - San Diego Padres
Ross has no shortage of fans in the prospect community, but it would be nice if he could, you know, actually produce inspiring results this year.
Jose Martinez - Arizona Diamondbacks
The rare “throws hard but can’t always throw strikes” profile. Four-plus years away.
Taylor Guerrieri - Tampa Bay Rays
Unless you play in a fantasy makeup league, track Guerrieri’s recovery form Tommy John and keep him in mind for dynasty league drafts in 2015.
Daniel Norris - Toronto Blue Jays
He’s fallen down many lists after struggling early in his career, but Norris is rounding into form as a mid-rotation starter.
Zach Eflin - San Diego Padres
If you’re in the same league as me, don’t draft Eflin because I love him and I saw him first, and he’s about to make a jump up these lists.
Danny Hultzen - Seattle Mariners
Your guess is as good as mine. He has no. 3 starter upside and would have a favorable home park, but shoulder injuries are terrifying.
Trey Ball - Boston Red Sox
All of the athleticism, but somewhat raw for a prep arm and four-plus years away.
Lewis Thorpe - Minnesota Twins
All of the upside with exciting “down under” joke potential, but four-plus years away.
Luiz Gohara - Seattle Mariners
If you couldn’t tell, I’m a sucker for projectable lefties. Four years, etc.
Michael Fulmer - New York Mets
Fulmer’s name would’ve appeared much higher on this list if not for the knee injury that limited his 2013 campaign, and he’s a good bet to jump up rankings this year if healthy.
Jose Berrios - Minnesota Twins
People tend to freak out when they see young starters excelling and project great things to come, but the truth is Berrios’ ceiling can indeed hold him.
Edwin Diaz - Seattle Mariners
Jason Parks says he could be the top prospect in the system a year from now. Works for me!
Rob Kaminsky - St. Louis Cardinals
Decent lefty who will become the next Sandy Koufax by 2016 because Cardinals.
Jonathon Crawford - Detroit Tigers
Crawford throws really fast and throws a nice slider, but this concludes our portion of “Things Crawford does well on the mound right now.”
Devin Williams - Milwaukee Brewers
Abnormal for a Brewers prospect in that he has upside and talent. Four-plus years away.
Others: Jason Adam (Royals), Cody Anderson (Indians), Christian Binford (Royals), Paul Blackburn (Cubs), Akeem Bostick (Rangers), Ian Clarkin (Yankees), Tyler Danish (White Sox), Chase DeJong (Blue Jays), Michael Feliz (Astros), Kendry Flores (Giants), Josh Hader (Astros), Jesse Hahn (Padres), Luis Heredia (Pirates), Tyrell Jenkins (Cardinals), Felix Jorge (Twins), Taylor Jungmann (Brewers), Michael Lorenzen (Reds), Blake Snell (Rays), Chris Stratton (Giants), Jake Thompson (Tigers), Jose Urena (Marlins), Bobby Wahl (Athletics), Walker Weickel (Padres), Trevor Williams (Marlins), your favorite team’s next-best pitching prospect.
Ben Carsley is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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You can contact Ben by clicking here
Craig Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
Click here to see Craig's other articles.
You can contact Craig by clicking here