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Previous entries in this series

Catchers

First Base

Second Base

Third Base

Shortstop

Outfielders

Starting Pitchers for 2017

Not today, TINSTAAPP. Not today.

Top-101 Guys (Or Those Who Just Missed)

Alex Reyes, Cardinals 🙁

The curse of the BP 101. Reyes was no. 6 on our dynasty top 101 before his injury, but we dropped him to 24 after his booboo. The SP1 upside still remains, but while many arms do recover from TJ, it’s not a guarantee. Add in the MLB ETA of mid-2018 and Reyes goes from low to medium-high risk. It’s a bummer for Cardinals fans, Reyes owners and anyone who enjoys watching a lively fastball. Let’s hope he comes back no worse for the wear.

Jason Groome, Red Sox

The best pitcher from the 2016 draft, Groome boasts a disgustingly good curveball, premium velocity, and the fact that he throws with his left arm. He’s not likely to move quickly, but he’s got all the makings of a SP1/2, even if you have to wait until 2020 or 2021 for him to make it to the majors. He’s likely to be young for his levels, so don’t lose patience with him if he struggles here and there.

Anderson Espinoza, Padres

Some rough 2016 stats aside, Espinoza still has among the highest ceilings of any starting pitching prospect in the minors. Any risk comes from his size and distance from the majors; not the fact that he was just pedestrian as an 18-year-old in Low-A. Espinoza doesn’t profile as a fast-moving arm, but he could still reach the majors by the time he’s, oh, 21 or 22, and he profiles as a potential SP1/2 in his prime. If someone else wants to sell him, you should buy.

Michael Kopech, White Sox

Kopech is probably a reliever. I know this, you know this, we all know this. But man, what if he’s not? Most of these guys don’t turn out to be Noah Syndergaard, but every once in a while someone does. Kopech has close to that upside, what with his all-world velocity and a slider that can miss MLB bats right now. Can he develop a third pitch? Can he limit his walks? Can he log 200-plus innings a season. Can I stop with these rhetorical questions? Time will tell.

Yadier Alvarez, Dodgers

Alvarez needs to refine his secondary pitches, improve his command, and pitch deeper into games. So what sets him apart from, like, every other pitcher on earth with those problems? How about a fastball that flirts with triple-digits and a lean, athletic frame? We’ve got a ways to go before Alvarez starts knocking on the door, but he’s got SP1/2 upside when he’s in his prime. He’s gonna be really, really fun to watch, too.

Mitch Keller, Pirates

Sandy Alcantara, Cardinals

Cal Quantrill, Padres

Franklyn Kilome, Phillies

This is a really fun tier of potential SP2/3s who aren’t as far behind the names we’ve already covered as you might think. Keller dominated Low-A last season and has received rave reviews in a ton of reports. He could reach Double-A by year’s end. Alcantara has a better medical history but worse command than Keller, so it’s a pick-em there. Quantrill showed the stuff that had some thinking he could go 1-1 before Tommy John in a limited professional stint last season. Kilome should start the season in High-A and retains high-strikeout upside, though it’d be good to see his command improve. If any of these guys are available in your league, change that quickly, please.

A.J. Puk, Athletics

Grant Holmes, Athletics

These guys have nothing in common other than the organization they play for, but hey, tiering ain’t easy. Puk could move quickly and has SP3 upside, though he needs to improve his command. Still, the potential for 180-plus strikeouts, a good ERA, and a tolerable WHiP are here. Holmes is probably more of the back-end type of fantasy SP I generally warn you about avoiding, but I think he’ll accumulate enough innings and miss just enough bats to be a good, unsexy SP5/6. He could be a placeholder for anyone with his relative lack of upside who you prefer, but he’s my favorite of the bunch.

Matt Manning, Tigers

Triston McKenzie, Indians

Justin Dunn, Mets

Thomas Szapucki, Mets

Walker Buehler, Dodgers

You’ll recognize these names from the tail end of the top 101. Manning, McKenzie, and Szapucki have SP2/3 upside, but they’re slow burn guys you might have to stash in your minors for 3-4 seasons. Dunn lacks that upside but will be ready a hell of a lot sooner. There’s a good chance he’s a reliever, though. That brings us to Buehler, who was probably prospect no. 103 for me but whose slight frame and TJ history made him just miss. If he’s a top-50 guy next year, though, it wouldn’t shock me.

Forrest Whitley, Astros

Alec Hansen, White Sox

Tyler Jay, Twins

Kolby Allard, Braves

James Kaprielian, Yankees

Fernando Romero, Twins

If you like one of these arms over some of the names in the tier above, you won’t get much of an argument from me. Whitley and Hansen could rank next year right where Keller and Quantrill rank now. Their upside is real and special and beautiful. Jay and Allard are two of the minors’ more interesting southpaw prospects, but their ETAs, size (Jay) and injury histories (Allard) conspired to keep them off the list. Kaprielian does nothing insanely well but nothing poorly, and could be a SP5/6 as soon as 2018. If you like him more than I do, I get it. I personally believe Romero will spend more time as a reliever than a starter, but if you don’t, you could make the argument for him on the 101, too.

The Next Glut, Ready Soonish

Luis Castillo, Reds

Stephen Gonsalves, Twins

Sean Reid-Foley, Blue Jays

Erick Fedde, Nationals

Trevor Clifton, Cubs

Justus Sheffield, Yankees

This is a mish-mosh of dudes who lack the ceiling we see in the names above them. Well, that’s true for everyone but Castillo, who could be a legit SP3/4 but who is still probably going to be a reliever. Gonsalves, Reid-Foley, Clifton, and Fedde are more future SP5 guys than anything truly special, but they’re helped by their ETAs. The deeper your league is, the more valuable dudes like this have. I think Sheffield is headed to the bullpen before long, but there are lots of smart people who are more optimistic than I am about his ability to stay in the rotation. If he does, he has SP5 upside, too.

The Next Glut, A Bit Farther Out

Franklin Perez, Astros

Adrian Morejon, Padres

Braxton Garrett, Marlins

Mike Soroka, Braves

Albert Abreu, Yankees

Ian Anderson, Braves

Soroka and Abreu are potential fantasy SP4s who should be ready by late 2018 or early 2019. Perez and Anderson have similar upside but are probably a full year further away. Morejon and Garrett are more about floor than ceiling. That’s always a dangerous game to play with pitching prospects who aren’t super close to the majors, which is why they missed out on the top-101.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Dustin May, Dodgers

Sixto Sanchez, Phillies

Adonis Medina, Phillies

Touki Toussaint, Braves

Riley Pint, Rockies

Kohl Stewart, Twins

Antonio Santillan, Reds

Hunter Harvey, Orioles

Devin Williams, Brewers

Taylor Hearn, Pirates

Dylan Cease, Cubs

Max Fried, Braves

And here are the lottery tickets. Guys like May, Pint and Santillan offer premium velocity but have a long way to go before they’re close to MLB-ready. Both of the Phillies listed here flash big-time stuff, but don’t have great size and aren’t terribly consistent at this point. We’re still not sure if Stewart can miss bats like he should or if Toussaint or Williams can limit walks. Hearn and Cease are probably relievers, but have the swing-and-miss stuff to be big-time fantasy assets if they’re not. The former in particular is one of my favorite sleeper prospects. Harvey is basically just the idea of a pitching prospect at this point, and Fried is only slightly more fully formed than that. There is relatively little that separates these guys from the names that follow in “others;” we’re at the point where I’m cherry-picking.

Others I (arms with some upside): Brady Aiken, CLE; Jose Albertos, CHC; Logan Allen, SD; Beau Burrows, DET; Ryan Castellani, COL; Junior Fernandez, STL; Yeudy Garcia, PIT; Luiz Gohara, ATL; Kevin Gowdy, PHI; Jordan Hicks, STL; Juan Hillman, CLE; Dakota Hudson, STL; Daulton Jefferies, OAK; Felix Jorge, MIN; Tyler Kolek, MIA; Brett Martin, TEX; Keury Mella, CIN; Marcos Molina, NYM; Jacob Nix, SD; Cole Ragans, TEX; Antonio Senzatela, COL; Jordan Sheffield, LAD; Josh Staumont, KC; Mitchell White, LAD

Others II (future mildly interesting back-end starters): Keegin Akin, BAL; Spencer Adams, CHW; Dane Dunning, CHW; Jack Flaherty, STL; Austin Franklin, TB; Conner Greene, TOR; Jon Harris, TOR; Andrew Moore, SEA; Cody Ponce, MIL; A.J. Puckett, KC; Roniel Raudes, BOS; Cody Sedlock, BAL; Andrew Suarez, SF; Brandon Woodruff, MIL