For previous editions, follow the links below:
- Get to Know: Catcher Prospects
- Get to Know: First Base Prospects
- Get to Know: Second Base Prospects
- Get to Know: Third Base Prospects
- Get to Know: Shortstop Prospects
- Get to Know: Outfield Prospects for 2015
- Get to Know: Outfield Prospects for 2016 and Beyond
- Get to Know: Starting Pitching Prospects for 2015
Yesterday, we complained that there were too many starting pitching prospects. That remains true today, especially once you delve into the lower levels, where everyone with a live arm is at least somewhat interesting. That’s good for your fantasy leagues, but bad for your favorite fantasy writers.
As was the case in our first SP installment, the cutoff point here was fairly arbitrary, but we stopped giving players full write-ups once their ceilings maxed out at no. 4/5 starter status. That being said, ask us about anyone we missed in the comments and we’ll be happy to answer. Or at least will answer. Probably.
This time, Ben took prospects in the NL while Craig took the Junior Circuit, because what is life without variety?
Lucas Giolito, Nationals
There’s no pitcher in the minors with more upside than Giolito. It’s not the first time or the last time you’ll see that phrase linked to the 20-year-old, but his potential dual 80-grade fastball and curveball make it bear repeating. It’s easy to lose sight of just how big Giolito is, and while his massive size helps him generate velocity and downward plane and allows him to project as a 200-plus-inning workhorse, it also sometimes limits his command. However, if he does sharpen his placement as he moves up the ladder, he’s got the potential to be the best fantasy pitcher in the game in his prime. Giolito’s got a way to go, seeing as he’s yet to hit High-A, but he’s not the type of pitcher who’s not likely to be stymied by much until he reaches the upper minors.
Julio Urias, Dodgers
Urias may lack Giolito’s upside, but you could argue he has a higher floor and he’s hardly a low-ceiling arm in his own right. An impressive arsenal of 60-grade pitches, advanced feel for pitching, and ability to throw left-handed give Urias a sexy toolkit (costume idea!) to work with, and while you don’t get points for being young in fantasy, it’s a good sign that he’s this far along at age 18. If Urias remains a Dodger, he’d also pitch in front of what’s likely to be a good team in a very strong home ballpark, and those contextual factors serve to make him an easy top-20 fantasy prospect in my book.
Tyler Glasnow, Pirates
Glasnow’s gaudy 2014 performance has seen his fantasy status skyrocket over the past 12 months, and there’s good reason why. He’s ready to take on the upper minors, he throws hard, he shows two potential plus secondary offerings and the Pirates have had success developing pitching as of late. Still, some sources are billing Glasnow as a future ace, and that’s an unlikely scenario, at least from a fantasy POV. Glasnow is a top-30 fantasy prospect and a nice commodity to own, but now could be a good time to sell high on him if someone thinks he’s top-15 material.
Braden Shipley, Diamondbacks
Shipley is basically who Casey Kelly and Kyle Zimmer were supposed to be: athletic pitching newbies who use their size, balance, and fresh arms to add refinement and succeed on the mound. Shipley’s command worsened as he moved up the ladder in 2014, and after pushing him aggressively last year the D’backs may be best served to let Shipley show he can master Double-A hitters. He’s got the stuff to do so, and he could make a fantasy impact by the middle of 2016. He’s shown a ton of growth since being drafted.
Kohl Stewart, Twins
A lot has been made of Stewart’s tepid strikeout numbers in Low-A, but don’t let that fool you. The Twins forced Stewart to limit the use of his dynamic slider, as relying on a pitch that Low-A hitters can’t hit wouldn’t benefit him developmentally. He had a shoulder issue crop up toward the end of the season, but it shouldn’t be a long-term issue.
Hunter Harvey, Orioles
Much of Harvey’s value is going to depend on how he comes back from being shut down with elbow soreness. By all accounts it was precautionary, but it almost always is at some point. Early health won’t be the only thing to watch, as the development of his changeup is going to be important for his case to take the ball every fifth day. The Orioles aren’t going to push him to the pen with haste, but with two 70-grade pitches, it’s easy for many to see him embodying the role his father had as a dynamic reliever.
Jeff Hoffman, Blue Jays
At one point Hoffman looked to be a possible top-five selection in the draft. He slid to ninth overall after he tore his UCL requiring Tommy John surgery. Assuming he returns to full health, the Blue Jays will receive a guy with two potential plus-plus pitches and a third one that could grade out above average. He has an ideal pitcher’s frame and attacks hitters from a three quarters arm slot. It’s easy velo, and makes for a dynamic package when he’s on, but thanks to going under the knife, it’ll be at least 2016 before he’s running through the 6 with his woes.
Tyler Kolek, Marlins
Throws faster than most humans throw. Is big. Like, really big. Lacks strong secondary pitches. Will take a long time to reach the majors. Upside, though.
Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez, Rangers
The overall perception of Gonzalez is still tied to his draft position when in reality his stuff was either underrated or has ticked up. He’s not going to be an ace, in real life or fantasy, but he should be a tick better than the mid-rotation starter people assumed was his ceiling. He might not play to that level in fantasy since he does well to generate weak contact and strikeouts likely won’t be a focus.
Jake Thompson, Rangers
Of the last 10 articles that Jake Thompson has been referenced in, I (Craig) have written four of them. If you drop out the 101, the 101 sliced and diced, and team top 10s, that gets me to four out of the last six. Basically, if you came to hear something new about Thompson, you ain’t been listening. He’s reached Double-A by the age of 20, has a slider that’ll make White Castle jealous, and can touch the mid 90s from the right side. Invest now or forever hold your peace.
Steven Matz, Mets
If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late to buy low on Matz. The southpaw stayed healthy for a second straight season in 2014 and tore through High- and Double-A, laying waste to hitters with a nice three-pitch arsenal while showcasing impressive command. Matz would be a potential 2015 factor in most orgs, but with Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero ahead of him, he’s a better bet to embark on his career as a no. 3/4 fantasy starter in 2016. I guess you could say it’s likely we’ll have to wait to meet the Matz.
Sean Manaea, Royals
Deception is a major part of Manaea’s success but he’s no one-trick pony. The stuff is legit and improved command led to improved production down the stretch last season. There’s a wide range of possible outcomes here, but if it clicks, he’s a high-end SP3.
Jose Berrios, Twins
It would only be right for Berrios to use Skee-Lo as his warmup music, because if he were a little bit taller he’d get a lot more attention. He’s got the stuff of a no. 2 starter, but at six feet tall, some question whether he has the frame to support a full season workload, and shoulder tightness in August did nothing to assuage those fears.
Joe Ross, Nationals
Once upon a time, I disparaged Joe’s elder brother Tyson by referring to him as “poop” in a BP chat. Tyson then put up a 2.81 ERA with a great strikeout rate in 2014, rending my collective Ross opinions moot (though I maintain that Ross from Friends is the worst). Joe is a potential mid-rotation starter with some development left, but like his brother, he’s athletic, looks to also have favorable contextual factors once he reaches the majors, and could be fantasy-relevant by 2016. It’s not a unique profile, but it’s an enticing one.
Miguel Almonte, Royals
Almonte’s anticipated step forward failed to materialize last year, but he didn’t lose any of the things that made him noteworthy in the first place. He still has a change that makes my wallet jealous and will show some ability to spin a breaker while holding his fastball deep into games.
Alex Reyes, Cardinals
Remember how people viewed Glasnow before last season? That’s how you should view Reyes now, as the right-hander has one of the highest upsides of any fantasy SP prospect. At this point, I’d generally caution you against all the things wrong with Reyes (conditioning, command, secondary pitch refinement), but he’s a Cardinal, so this is definitely going to end in a successful career. Or he’ll be traded for a utility infielder. One or the other.
Reynaldo Lopez, Nationals
The earliest dirigibles were inflated with less helium than Lopez was in 2014, as the right-hander rose from largely unknown quantity to consensus top-100 prospect. He lacks ideal height, but the last few years have proven to fantasy owners that size ain’t everything when we’re talking about starters, and Lopez has two potential above-average pitches in his fastball and curveball and a solid potential offering in his changeup, too. Don’t get too carried away, as Lopez has yet to even hit the mid-minors, but this is a nice arm to gamble on late in dynasty drafts.
Lucas Sims, Braves
Despite his first-round pedigree, Sims doesn’t have crazy-high upside as fantasy starters go. He’s got more to offer than what he showed in the first half of 2015, though, and if he succeeds in Double-A in 2015 he’ll put himself in a strong position to factor in heavily to the Braves’ plans in 2016. Don’t let the bump in the developmental road fool you: Sims is still a top-100 fantasy prospect, and if you can get him on the cheap, you should do so.
Touki Toussaint, Diamondbacks
A potential 70-grade fastball, 70-grade curveball, and a definite 80-grade name give Toussaint all he needs to excite fantasy owners. He’s a prep arm, meaning he’s part of an illustrious group that’s killed plenty of fantasy dreams, but if you’re gonna draft young pitching, you may as well reach for upside. He doesn’t profile as a particularly fast mover, but that could change whenever it all finally clicks.
Grant Holmes, Dodgers
Plenty of owners will gamble on the upsides of Kolek and Toussaint first, but there’s a solid argument to be made that Holmes should be the first prep arm from the 2014 draft to set your sights on in dynasty formats. He’s got advanced feel for a high school arm, is built to eat innings and looks just enough like a muppet to lull hitters into a false sense of security.
Vincent Velasquez, Astros
Fastball-changeup pitchers can tear up the lower minors, and while a 3.74 ERA might not engender a lot of love, Velasquez was pitching in Lancaster and did strike out 31 percent of the batters he faced. He has a few big hurdles in front of him—namely Double-A batters and staying healthy. Developing a curveball and putting in a full season will both go a long ways toward his ability to stay on the mound. A career in relief is a realistic option here.
Marcos Molina, Mets
An aggressive, athletic pitcher who made a statement in 76 1/3 innings in Low-A last year, Molina gets lost in a deep system but is an exciting arm in his own right. We’re going to have to wait a while, but Molina has the ingredients to pitch in the middle of a fantasy rotation, especially if he’s playing in Citi Field once he reaches the majors. He’s the best Molina pitching prospect since Nestor.
Kyle Freeland, Rockies
Oh, a left-handed Rockies pitching prospect with an injury history; what could possibly go wrong? Freeland’s a fine MLB prospect, but Coors Field puts a huge damper on his fantasy profile, and the Rockies stink at everything, which is an overarching category that includes developing pitching. Let’s hope he’s traded.
Rob Kaminsky, Cardinals
A lefty with three potential plus pitches and a competitive streak on the mound, Kaminsky took a solid step in his professional development in 2014, conquering Class-A hitters as a 19-year-old. He’ll face more advanced competition in 2015, and while his size will always lead to questions about his ultimate role, he’s got the stuff to succeed. “More like Ka-MIN-sky. Cause he’s short.” —Craig
Erick Fedde, Nationals
Fedde’s a potential no. 3 fantasy starter who’s recovering from Tommy John surgery, which doesn’t make him very rare as far a pitching prospects go. If he recovers without any issues he could move through the minors quickly, but we’re still talking about a 2018 ETA. If the post-surgery stuff doesn’t thrill as it did before, it would hardly be the first time a Fedde from Washington failed to make good on his promise. Yes, I know that’s not how it’s pronounced.
Max Fried, Braves
Brimming with upside and left-handed, but recovering from Tommy John surgery. The good news is the first two attributes will buy him plenty of time. Will be responsible for many Land of the Fried, Home of the Braves jokes in his career.
Jack Flaherty, Cardinals
With a name like Jack Flaherty and an arsenal that will require him to get by on smarts as much as power, this guy was born to be a Cardinal. There’s a lot of projection left here, but the ultimate payoff could be a mid-rotation starter. The previous sentence can be said of pretty much everyone toward the bottom half of this list #scouting.
Kyle Crick, Giants
If it throws hard like a reliever, walks a ton of batters like a reliever, and lacks command of its secondary arsenal like a reliever, it’s probably a reliever. The Giants have had success with arms like this before, but if you’re a betting man or woman, put money on Crick’s future coming out of the bullpen, where he could close.
Lance McCullers, Jr., Astros
This is potentially the last time McCullers appears on a prospect list as a starter. He started 18 of 25 games this past season, and struggled with the high-octane environs of the California league. His fastball registers in the mid 90s and he has a plus curve at present with room to grow. He telegraphs the changeup and it’s not a functional pitch against better hitters. If you’re into speculating on relievers, McCullers is for you.
Luis Ortiz, Rangers
The 30th-overall pick in the draft could look like a steal come this time next year. He can touch the mid 90s with relative ease, and fell due to forearm tightness in the spring. He’s more polished than your typical prep product, and could move quickly.
Spencer Adams, White Sox
Standing 6-foot-4, 170 pounds, Adams has an ideal pitcher’s frame. A rumored first-round pick, he fell to 44th overall, and should look like a steal in due time. He works with a four-pitch mix headlined by a plus fastball that can touch 97. His secondaries both flash above average at times. He won’t fly through the system, but he’s advanced for a high schooler, and you should be able to trade him for more than whatever draft pick you select him at come mid-season.
Zach Eflin, Phillies
Eflin’s long been one of my favorite sleeper prospects, but he lacks big upside and the move from Petco to Citizens Bank Park is brutal for his future fantasy value. He’s still a nice depth pick in deeper dynasty formats, but the Phillies won’t let us have nice things.
Michael Feliz, Astros
If you enjoyed the Velasquez writeup, you’re going to love Feliz. He’s another righty with a big fastball, strong changeup and a good chance of ending up in the bullpen.
Sean Newcomb, Angels
Briefly the Angels' top prospect (a dubious honor, to be sure) before the acquisition of Andrew Heaney, Newcomb is basically a big fastball at present. Still, he has the making of three above-average secondaries, and the heat is easier than Sunday morning.
Brent Honeywell, Rays
Honeywell presents a good opportunity to invest now and reap significant rewards later. He’s got more swagger than me standing in front of the fridge in the middle of the night, and sports the ever-rare screwball as his best pitch. He can hit the mid 90s from the right side, and will mix in a change and a curve as well. Some are already saying he should have gone in the first round, so if his second-round draft status depresses his value, don’t be afraid to pounce, much as I would in front of the fridge.
Tyler Beede, Giants
Once viewed as a potential 1-1 pick in the 2014 draft, Beede’s inconsistent final season at Vanderbilt dropped him to late in the first round. That could be a blessing in disguise, as there are few organizations better suited to fostering Beede’s development than the Giants. His mid-rotation upside remains, even if he’s not a super-great (industry term) bet to hit it.
Others: Taylor Guerrieri, TB; Tyler Danish, CHW; Keury Mella, SF; Francellis Montas, CHW; Lewis Thorpe, MIN; Michael Fulmer, NYM; Roberto Osuna, TOR; Yohander Mendez, TEX; Michael Kopech, BOS; Sean Reid-Foley, TOR; Blake Snell, TB; Ian Clarkin, NYY; Devin Williams, MIL; Tim Berry, BAL; Trey Ball, BOS; Chris Anderson, LAD; Justus Sheffield, CLE; Foster Griffin, KC; Edwin Diaz, SEA; Alberto Tirado, TB; Luiz Gohara, SEA; Danny Hultzen, SEA; Tyrell Jenkins, ATL; Trevor Williams, MIA; Tom Windle, PHI; Carson Sands, CHC; Nick Travieso, CIN; Yoan Lopez, ARI
Thank you for reading
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