Fake Teams Consensus Prospect Rankings: Top 25 Starting Pitchers

Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

The prospect staff at Fake Teams release their top 25 fantasy starting pitching prospects for 2013.

With each week being dedicated to our consensus rankings at a particular position, the prospect staff at Fake Teams will also be providing position-specific coverage during these weeks. This will include a pair of prospect profiles, as well as a comparison post between two similar prospects at the position. And of course, we will be releasing our top 20 prospects at the position. This differs slightly from what we did last year, as these rankings are for the long term, rather than providing a separate list for the upcoming season only.

Bret Sayre, Craig Goldstein, and I have discussed the ranking of each player on these lists, and have come to a determination on each them of where they belong on the list. There are a number of groupings where, if you believe a prospect should move up or down a slot, we would probably not disagree. Prospect rankings remain a picture of what we see based on the information available at that moment in time, and are likely to change as the offseason progresses. Also note that these rankings are for fantasy purposes, so while we take a players' role into account, we only account for their defense in terms really of their ability to stay at the position long term.

Prospects 26-50 will be released on Thursday. With that, our top 25 starting pitching prospects:

1. Dylan Bundy (BAL) (MLKT, Profile from July)

The sky really is the limit for Bundy, as he projects to be a true ace, even reaching the Majors in a relief role in 2012. He'll likely be back at AA for at least a part of the 2013 season, but could be in the Orioles' rotation to stay by year's end. His upside could be a top 10 pitcher for fantasy within his first couple seasons.

Estimated ETA: Late 2013

2. Zack Wheeler (NYM) (MLKT)

Acquired from the Giants in the Carlos Beltran trade, Wheeler emerged as a top five pitching prospect this year, and will return to AAA to start the 2013 season. I'll have an in-depth review of Wheeler on Wednesday.

Estimated ETA: Late 2013

3. Shelby Miller (STL) (MLKT, Profile from August)

It really was a tale of two seasons for Miller last year, as he struggled in the first half and righted himself for the rest of the year. He'll come into the season with a shot at winning a spot in the starting rotation, but will more likely see time at AAA and be called upon when the Cardinals have a need.

Estimated ETA: 2013

4. Gerrit Cole (PIT) (MLKT)

Cole reached AAA at the end of last year, and I would have to believe that the Pirates will let him spend a substantial portion of the 2013 season there. Another potential ace in the making, Cole should be anchoring the Pirates' rotation by the start of the 2014 season.

Estimated ETA: Late 2013

5. Taijuan Walker (SEA) (MLKT, Profile from May)

Walker came into the 2012 season considered one of the top pitching prospects after a very successful stint at Low-A. While the raw performance (118 strikeouts, 50 walks in 126 innings pitched) weren't overwhelming, it's important to remember that the Mariners moved him up two levels in 2012 to AA, where he pitched as a 19 year old. He seems likely to return there to start the 2013 season, but could still end up debuting before the end of this season.

Estimated ETA: 2014

6. Jose Fernandez (MIA) (MLKT, Profile from July)

Fernandez was probably the largest riser on this list from a year ago, as he was dominant across two single-A levels last year. He has shown at times the potential to be an ace starting pitcher, and could very well start the season at AA as a 20 year old. Given the Marlins' history with pitching prospects, he could move quickly and possibly even debut by the end of the season.

Estimated ETA: 2014

7. Jameson Taillon (PIT) (MLKT, Profile from July)

The reins finally came off of Taillon this year, and he reached AA late in the year after a very successful stint at High-A. Look for Taillon to join Cole in Pittsburgh by the end of the 2014 season, and give them a pair of aces at the top of their rotation.

Estimated ETA: Late 2014

8. Trevor Bauer (CLE) (MLKT, Profile from April)

It was a small surprise that Bauer was traded this offseason, but it sounds like Arizona had soured on his throwing regimen and training program to some extent. Look for him to make the Indians' rotation out of spring training, and still has #2 starter upside despite the trade.

Estimated ETA: 2013

9. Tyler Skaggs (ARI) (MLKT, Profile from August)

It is unclear whether the Diamondbacks will make room for Skaggs in their Opening Day rotation or not, but he is probably ready for the assignment. If he is sent back to AAA, look for him to be the first call should they need a starting pitcher.

Estimated ETA: 2013

10. Archie Bradley (ARI) (MLKT, Profile from April)

Bradley had a bit of an up-and-down season at Low-A, but his profile has not really changed in the past year. He still has true #1 starter potential, but is still at least a few seasons from being there. Craig will have an in-depth profile of Bradley on Wednesday.

Estimated ETA: 2015

11. Casey Kelly (SD) (MLKT, Profile from August)

Kelly won't come into the season with a lock on a Spring Training job, but it appears extremely likely that he will be up for a substantial portion of the season. Kelly is likely a #2 starter at his ceiling, providing excellent rates and strikeout totals regardless of how his home park will play.

Estimated ETA: 2013

12. Carlos Martinez (STL) (MLKT)

Martinez reached AA last year, but the biggest question still remains: Can he be a starting pitcher long term, or will he end up in the bullpen? His upside is immense if he can stay in the rotation, but 2013 should give us a better idea of what the Cardinals think about this. Craig will have a profile of Martinez later today.

Estimated ETA: 2014

13. Danny Hultzen (SEA) (MLKT, Profile from July)

Hultzen came a bit off of the rails at the end of the season as he struggled with his control in his time at AAA Tacoma. He'll look to return to form this year, and could be ready for the Mariners by midseason. He doesn't necessarily have the same ceiling as the prospects ahead of him, but his floor should make him at least a valuable fantasy contributor once he arrives, with some upside for more at times.

Estimated ETA: 2013

14. Matt Barnes (BOS) (MLKT, Profile from May)

Barnes was dominant in his first stop of the season (Low-A), striking out 42 and walking 4 in his brief 26 innings there. He kept up the performance in High-A, striking out 91 and walking 25 in 93 innings there. He has the ceiling of a top 40 fantasy starter, and that potential could reach the Majors as soon as the end of this year.

Estimated ETA: Late 2013

15. Aaron Sanchez (TOR) (MLKT, Profile from May)

Sanchez was the one of the top three pitching prospects that the Blue Jays kept from their staff in Lansing, and may well be the best of the three. Another good season in 2013 could lead him into our top 10 at this time next year, as he has the potential to be an elite fantasy starting pitcher. He will likely start 2013 in High-A, and could debut by the end of the 2015 season.

Estimated ETA: Late 2015

16. Max Fried (SD) (MLKT)

Fried is the first pitcher from this year's draft on our rankings, and with very good reason. He has the potential to be a #2 starter for the Padres, and potentially even more given some reports. With a number of skills that will translate very well to fantasy, Fried could vault toward the top of these rankings by this time next year.. He'll likely start the season in Low-A, but could be in line for a full season assignment at that level rather than a short season one.

Estimated ETA: 2016

17. Kyle Zimmer (KC) (MLKT)

The ranking of Zimmer here is a bit speculative, as he had elbow surgery (but not that surgery) in late August. He is expected to be ready to go for the start of the season, and if he is fine could move quickly through the system. He is considered to have the upside of a #2 starter, and provide Kansas City with another high ceiling starting pitcher soon.

Estimated ETA: Late 2014

18. Kevin Gausman (BAL) (MLKT)

The #4 overall pick from this year's draft reached High-A in his brief time as a pro this year, and the key to his development will be whether he can improve his curveball enough to make it a third weapon for him. The fact that he already has a plus fastball and changeup could still lead him to be a valuable starting pitcher, but a good curveball could vault him into the upper levels.

Estimated ETA: 2014

19. Taylor Guerrieri (TAM) (MLKT, Profile from August)

Guerrieri was sent to the NY-Penn League for the 2012 season, and pitched extremely well there (45 K, 5 BB, 35 H in 52 IP). The concerns about his makeup appear to have been overblown, and Guerrieri could turn into a steal for the Rays. They will likely send him to their Low-A affiliate in Bowling Green to start 2013, but could earn a promotion if he can repeat that performance in 2013.

Estimated ETA: 2016

20. Chris Archer (TAM) (MLKT)

Archer could be in line for a shot at the starting rotation in Spring Training for the Rays, but more likely will end up in AAA to start the season. If he can keep his control in check, he has the upside of a #2/#3 starting pitcher. That has been a big if to this point, and if he can't he could end up in the back end of the bullpen.

Estimated ETA: 2013

21. Trevor Rosenthal (STL) (MLKT)

The biggest point of contention amongst our rankers, Rosenthal has the potential to be either a top tier starting pitcher or a top-flight bullpen arm. We may not know which is more likely this year, as the Cardinals may not need him in their rotation this year.

Estimated ETA: 2013

22. Lucas Giolito (WAS) (MLKT)

The ceiling on Giolito is immense, but remember that he is not likely to pitch at all this season. He still has #1 upside once he is healthy, but it is important to note that it is not a guarantee that he will do that once he returns from his Tommy John surgery.

Estimated ETA: 2017

23. Julio Teheran (ATL) (MLKT)

The concerns about Teheran have become more amplified as the 2012 season progressed, as he struggled a lot in his second tour in AAA Gwinnett. I don't know if I think that his ceiling has changed, but the likelihood of him reaching it may not be as high as it was a year ago. He'll likely compete for a spot in the Braves' starting rotation this spring.

Estimated ETA: 2013

24. Noah Syndergaard (NYM) (MLKT)

Syndergaard was the surprise prospect included in the R.A. Dickey trade, and is an extremely projectable right handed starting pitcher with a ton of upside. He has shown an excellent ability to get groundballs (2.16 GO/AO), as well as an excellent strikeout rate (29%). He still has some work to do, as he needs to show more consistency with his offerings and performance. He'll likely go to High-A for the Mets to start the 2013 season.

Estimated ETA: 2015

25. Alex Meyer (MIN) (MLKT, Profile from August)

Traded by the Nationals for Denard Span, Meyer is considered extremely projectable (6'9"), and had solid performances at both Low and High-A in 2012. The biggest key for Meyer in 2013 will be how well he can keep his walk total under control, and could move quickly if he can.

Estimated ETA: 2014

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