Prospect rankings remain a snapshot of a moment in time, as more information is gathered constantly and new reports can change any number of perceptions on a player's future value. With the end of the minor league season, now's a good time to take a look back at our preseason prospect rankings, and see how some of these perceptions might have changed.
Pitching prospects are always a bit of a crapshoot, in that you simply don't know which ones are going to get injured in a year. We saw our top prospect choice (Bundy) not pitch in a single game due to Tommy John surgery, but also four of the next five prospects on our list came up and pitched extremely well. As a result, there's likely going to be a lot of change at the top of the list this offseason. However, with three of the top four picks in the draft this year being pitchers, as well as the emergence of players like Robert Stephenson, Noah Syndergaard, and Julio Urias, we may not see as much of a drop off as you would normally expect.
Note: These are not new rankings. These rankings were originally released in January 2013. I will be looking at the second half of this list (prospects 26-50) on Wednesday.
Consensus Top 25 Pitching Prospects
|#||Player||Org||Highest Level Reached|
Noah Syndergaard - I wrote back in January that the goal for Syndergaard this year was to show a more consistent approach and consistent performance, and Syndergaard went out and gave the Blue Jays another reason to regret the R.A. Dickey trade. Between High-A and AA, Syndergaard threw 117 innings, striking out 133 with just 28 walks and a 1.11 GO/AO ratio. He is likely a top 10 pitching prospect going into 2014, and could see time in the Majors before the end of the 2014 season.
Lucas Giolito - The concerns about Giolito coming into the year were how well he would recover from Tommy John surgery, and whether he could return to the same level as he was viewed prior to the draft. He pitched between two rookie levels, notching 39 strikeouts in 36.2 IP with an excellent 2.20 GO/AO ratio. It sounds like Giolito is about where you would expect him to be in his path to return from the surgery, and could really move up these rankings with a solid 2014 season.
Archie Bradley - It's usually hard to say that a pitching prospect who was already viewed as a top 25 prospect has raised his stock, but Bradley's dominant performance at AA this year leads me to wonder if he could make the opening day roster for the Diamondbacks in 2014. He still has things to work on, as his walk total remains a bit high as he continues to work on improving on his control, but it's going to be hard to argue with putting Bradley at the top of this offseason's pitching prospect list.
Injured Pitchers - We have learned at this point that pitchers are going to get hurt, and that there are consistently a good number of pitchers that go down to Tommy John surgery as well. We saw our top prospect Dylan Bundy, as well as Casey Kelly and Taylor Guerrieri miss significant time this year related to injuries. While all of their ceilings appear to be similar, including this injury history will likely drop each of them a little in this year's rankings.
Trevor Bauer - At this point, I'm at a complete loss for what Bauer is, and what he can be. Traded in the offseason despite being drafted just a little over a year ago, Bauer struggled in the few opportunities he was given in Cleveland this year, and really didn't pitch well at AAA either. There seem to be legitimate concerns about whether he can make adjustments at the highest level, and I have no real belief that he will start the 2014 season in the starting rotation for Cleveland.
Danny Hultzen - It was expected that Hultzen would make his debut by around midseason for the Mariners, but it turned into a lost season instead as he worked through injuries and threw just 35 innings overall. He'll return to the Arizona Fall League this year in the hopes of getting some more work in, and seems less like a lock for the Mariners' rotation in 2014 than we had originally anticipated.