Previous entries in this series
Because there are so, so, so many danged pitching prospects, we’re running this list in two installments; guys for 2017 today and names for 2018 and beyond tomorrow. If you don’t see a mid-minors SP who you know is a good prospect here, odds are we didn’t forget him; you’ll just need to wait a day.
There’s a whole lot of talent on this list, though a lot of potential for WHIP damage, too. Without further ado …
Lucas Giolito, White Sox
Giolito lost his spot as the top dynasty league arm for all of a few months. We had him ranked behind Alex Reyes before the Cardinal’s injury and TJ surgery, but now the title of best fantasy pitching prospect belongs to Giolito once again. Giolito’s command and velocity (relative to his past performance) left something to be desired in 2017, but make no mistake about it; his upside is still as an SP1 who strikes out 220-plus batters a year. You might not love the WHIP at first, but give him a year or two.
Tyler Glasnow, Pirates
Speaking of WHIP problems … Glasnow’s strikeout potential isn’t far behind Giolito’s. The dude can miss bats. But his command troubles are even more exacerbated, and he’s likely to be a guy who tantalizes, teases and torments owners on a start-to-start basis. The reward outweighs the risk, but get ready for a few sleepless nights. He’s gonna be tough to peg because his performance will be more a result of what he does or doesn’t have one day than his competition.
Robert Gsellman, Mets
BP is definitely the high publication on Gsellman, and it’s taken me a while to come around on the argument that he’s a near-elite MiLB arm. But if you saw Gsellman’s sinker and how he took to the Warthen Slider last season, it’s hard not to be optimistic. He gets dinged a little in dynasty value because he’s still basically a pop-up prospect and I want to see him do it again before I go crazy. But there’s real SP3 upside here, and he could log 200 innings this season. Pitching prospects, man.
Francis Martes, Astros
I wrestled with listing Martes in the Names for 2018 and Beyond portion of this list that will appear tomorrow, but he dominated in Double-A last season and the Astros are short on impact starters. If Martes has a good six-to-eight weeks in Triple-A it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him make an impact in Houston, and he has the stuff to dominate MLB hitters right away. On the flip side, Martes’ frame and rawness as a starter could also hold him back for a season or two, but all the ingredients are here for a high-strikeout, low-ERA SP2/3. He’s one of my favorite starting prospects in the minors and I don’t think he’s headed to the bullpen.
Josh Hader, Brewers
DEVO thinks I’m talking about WHIP too much, but Hader is another guy who could really hurt you in that category. But dear god is he gonna strike people out. They don’t have similar repertoires but he could end up something like Francisco Liriano, dominant some seasons/months and utterly unusable during others. Or maybe he’s Matt Moore. Or maybe he’s Jonathan Sanchez. Lots of variables are in play, but no matter what role Hader occupies, he’ll be generating Ks.
Brent Honeywell, Rays
Is Honeywell’s AFL velo uptick real? If so, he’s an underrated fantasy asset right now. If not, he still profiles as a SP5 who should be an average all-around contributor. His relatively high ceiling, high floor, MLB ETA (probably June?) and favorable contextual factors make him a very well-rounded prospect. I consider him one of the safer names on this list, which means he’ll probably blow out his arm, like, tomorrow.
Reynaldo Lopez, White Sox
Is Lopez a starter or a reliever? The development of a third offering will go a long way toward answering that question, but the White Sox certainly have every reason to give him a long leash in the rotation. If he sticks there, Lopez can strike out 180-plus batters a season while accumulating Ws and posting solid ERA and WHIP totals. That’d make him a nice SP4/5 in most leagues, and if he does get bumped to the pen he could certainly be future closer.
Amir Garrett, Reds
And so begins a mini run on lefties. Garrett oozes athleticism and should have no problem logging 200 innings most seasons. His fastball and slider are ready to miss MLB bats right now. His changeup? Not so much, and when you combine that with a whippy delivery, you get lots of whispers of a potential future in the bullpen. But Garrett is a starter for now, and I think he’ll ultimately prevail as one long-term, too. The upside isn’t crazy, but if he’s your SP5 in his prime you’re in good shape.
Sean Newcomb, Braves
Josh Hader, but with a little less strikeout potential and a better delivery. That’s pretty much where we’re at with Newcomb, whose fantasy stock took a hit after he walked nearly 14 percent of batters faced in Double-A. Personally, I think Newcomb will be a reliever within two seasons, but if he does stick in the rotation, he’ll be yet another high-WHIP, high-strikeout dude. He has the frame to log innings, so the upside remains.
Yohander Mendez, Rangers
Finally, a dude who’s more about ERA and WHIP than he is about pure Ks. Mendez doesn’t project as a strikeout-per-inning guy, but he should be stingy with walks, pitch fairly deep into games and still post a K/9 of about 8. That should make him an SP5, though it’s a bit of a tough break that he’ll be pitching half his games in Texas.
Jose De Leon, Rays
Another fairly safe starter, De Leon should miss a few more bats than your average no. 3/4 starter. That means he should be a fantasy SP4/5 who derives value from logging innings and striking out, oh, let’s say 20-25 percent of the batters he faces. He might get knocked around a bit, but he went from LA to another pitcher’s park, so that should help to mitigate some of the damage.
Jeff Hoffman, Rockies
I get the tendency to write off all Rockies starters — historically, that’s a good tactic — but as Jon Gray showed us last year, truly talented arms can still find a way to thrive. Hoffman is a cut below Gray in my book, but he still has a power arm and profiles as a dude who won’t have trouble logging innings. You’ll want to avoid him against good offenses at home, sure, but if you use him judiciously he could produce SP5/6 value for you.
Robert Stephenson, Reds
Probably a reliever, but the Reds should give him a full season in the rotation to see what he can do. He’ll hurt your WHIP but produce plenty of Ks. Could be a closer if he does end up in relief. Sort of like Carson Fulmer.
Carson Fulmer, White Sox
Probably a reliever, but the White Sox should give him a full season in the rotation to see what he can do. He’ll hurt your WHIP but produce plenty of Ks. Could be a closer if he does end up in relief. Sort of like Robert Stephenson.
David Paulino, Astros
Paulino controls his body better than many big boys, but there are still some delivery/consistency issues here that are likely to plague Paulino through at least the early portion of his career. If he puts it together he could be an SP3/4 who strikes out a batter per inning, and his HR-limiting tendencies should come in handy in Houston. He does carry substantial risk (TJ on resume, aforementioned delivery) though, which is why he just missed our dynasty top-101 despite his upside and proximity. He would’ve been among the next five names.
Luis Ortiz, Brewers
Another dude who missed the dynasty 101 by justthismuch, Ortiz has strikeout stuff and the frame to, err, eat innings. I wish he wasn’t going to pitch in Miller Park and I wish I was more confident in the WHIP (that really has been the theme of the night, huh), but he should make the majors this year and he should strike out close to a batter per inning pretty much immediately. I wouldn’t bank on a ton of wins, though, because Ortiz is going to have trouble going deep into games.
Kyle Zimmer, Royals (¯_(ãƒ„)_/¯)
If healthy, Zimmer could still be a mid-rotation fantasy asset. He probably won’t be healthy, though.
Mildly Interesting Back-End Starters
- Jharel Cotton, Athletics
- Ariel Jurado, Rangers
- Tyler Beede, Giants
- Anthony Banda, Diamondbacks
- Kyle Freeland, Rockies
- Jacob Faria, Rays
- Luke Weaver, Cardinals
- Steven Brault, Pirates
None of these pitchers is likely to make or break your fantasy team, but they’re slightly more interesting than your run-of-the-mill back-end guys. Cotton could be in the rotation all season long, and Jurado may not be far behind him. The former has good contextual factors in his corner, while the latter has a little more talent. Freeland can miss bats and might be a decent spot starting option outside of Coors. Banda, Beed, and Faria could be solid accumulators. Weaver and Brault saw MLB time last season and can be streamed, though neither will provide much in the way of Ks.
Others (Uninteresting Back-End Starters): Chance Adams, NYY; Tyler Alexander, DET; Ty Blach, SF; Chih-Wei Hu, TB; Brian Johnson, BOS; Adalberto Mejia, MIN; Adam Plutko, CLE; Max Povse, SEA: Nate Smith, LAA; Austin Voth, WAS
We Hardly Knew Ye (Fantasy Value)