Here are the most up to date prospect rankings for fantasy baseball owners to salivate over. Players are only ranked due to their fantasy potential and their ability to reach that potential. I am not a big fan of player comparisons or estimating when prospects will make their big league debuts,however, I do think it helps paint an elaborate portrait of who the prospect is, what he can become and when we as fantasy owners can expect that to happen.
*Updated Top 25 Fantasy Prospects (Pitchers)
1) Dylan Bundy – Armed with a 99mph fastball and a devastating cutter Dylan Bundy cruised through the minor leagues in 2012, topping it off by getting a call up at the end of the season to make his big league debut at the young age of 19. He also add brings a plus curve ball and a plus change up to the mix. Combine that with an insane work ethic and a bulldog type mentality when he is on the mound and you get baseballs best pitching prospect. Sure he missed all of last year recovering from Tommy John surgery but the success rate for TJ recovery is almost 100%. In fact, some pitchers get better after TJ surgery. That’s a scary thought for the rest of MLB as Dylan Bundy fights his way back to being the best pitching prospect in baseball.
ETA- Summer 2014. MLB Comparison- Roy Halladay
2) Lucas Giolito – Another pitcher who can stake his claim to TJ surgery, Giolito is one of the few minor league pitchers who can rival Dylan Bundys "stuff". Like Bundy, Giolito can also touch 99 mph on occasion and compliments that with a great curveball that even Clayton Kershaw might be envious of. He also throws a change up that while average at best right now flashes plus potential and should get better as he learns how and when to use it. Giolito is a little further away from the big leagues than most on this list but he has legit ace potential when he arrives.
ETA- Opening day 2016. MLB Comparison- Adam Wainwright
3) Archie Bradley – This guy could already be the ace of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitching staff but they are trying to save money by keeping him in the minor leagues until the summer. Bradley has two 70 grade (elite) pitches in a fastball that hovers around 94/95mph touching as high as 98 mph and a power curve ball that sits in the low 80s. He has struggled with his command at times in the minors but that is only natural for a person with his talents and raw strengths. He will be up in the big leagues by the end of the year making Arizona fans question why the front office ever waited so long for his call up.
ETA- Summer 2014. MLB Comparison- Justin Verlander
4) Kyle Zimmer – Kyle Zimmer brings two 70 grade (elite) pitches to the mound with him to counter his plus 94-96mph fastball in a hammer curve ball and a change up that sits in the mid 80s and is almost impossible for hitters to pick up. He also shows a slider on occasion which could also eventually be a plus pitch. Quite frankly Zimmer can cause nightmares for opposing hitters even at the MLB level with this kind of arsenal. For now, however, the Kansas City Royals are being extremely patient with their young flamethrower as he battles some slight tendinitis in his shoulder in hopes that he will be fresh and ready to help the Royals make a major playoff run in the second half of this season.
ETA- Summer 2014. MLB Comparison- Jose Fernandez
5) Jonathan Gray – Chalk up another pitcher who can hit 100mph on the radar gun, throw in a wicked slider that sits in the mid 80s and you have Jonathan Gray of the Colorado Rockies. Grays impeccable control is his calling card and at worst the Rockies are looking at a very good #3 starter here with #2 upside. He is also has an emerging change up that should play up at the MLB level and what makes Gray even more special is the natural sinking action his fastball gets when he throws it. This action should help him succeed pitching half of his games in Coors Field and is so heavy it should break a lot of bats in the process.
ETA- Summer 2014. MLB Comparison- Matt Harvey
6) Taijuan Walker – Walker has battled some mechanical problems over his minor league career leading to some inconsistencies with his delivery but when he is on his fastball/cutter combination is enough to get big league hitters out right now. His success will ultimately depend on him fixing his mechanical issues and developing his other secondary offerings to at least be able to throw them consistently in or near the strike zone. He has just as much potential as any other player on this list but not as good a chance of reaching that potential as the players ranked ahead of him.
ETA- Summer 2014. MLB Comparison- James Shields
7) Kevin Gausman – Another big strong righty who can pitch in the upper 90s for the Baltimore Orioles. His slider can be a plus pitch at times but right now he shows too many inconsistencies with it, Gausman’s best secondary offering is far and away his change up which dives out of the zone at the last split second and is a nightmare for hitters to try and pick up when it is combined with such high velocity on his fastball. Gausman got the call up to the big leagues last year but showed too many inconsistencies with his secondary offerings and needs more time in the minors to figure things out but it shouldn’t take long before he is back up and soon the Baltimore Orioles could have two aces on their hands with Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.
ETA- Summer 2014. MLB Comparion- Felix Hernandez
8) Mark Appel – The number 1 overall pick from last years draft, Mark Appel sits around 95mph with his fastball and can touch higher when he needs to. He brings three potentially elite pitches to the mound with his fastball, slider and a change up combination that all play up due to his deliveries natural deception. What is even more special about Appel is his natural feel for pitching and the know-how to get hitters out. He is very mature for his age and this should only help him in his rise to the front of the Houston Astros MLB rotation.
ETA- Summer 2014. MLB Comparision- Max Sherzezer
9) Robert Stephenson – Robert Stephensons fastball can touch triple digits but routinely settles in the 94-96mph range, it projects to be a truly special pitch that few players in the minor leagues or big leagues combined can rival. Stephenson also has a nasty curve ball that can be near unhittable at times. These two pitches are his bread and butter and they will allow him to be a very successful pitcher in the big leagues in due time. But he does need to develop a third pitch in order to reach his full potential. Robert Stephenson has ace potential if his change up develops over the next couple of seasons but if not he should still be more than valuable as a very good #3 type of starter.
ETA- Summer 2015. MLB Comparison- Clay Buchholz
10) Noah Syndergaard – Syndergaard combines elite command with a mid to high 90s fastball, an average curve ball that continues to get better and a plus change up. His ability to keep pitches down in the zone is his calling card and he will be a defenses best friend combining a ton of ground balls with a lot of strike outs. It won’t be long before he is joining Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler in New York to form one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.
ETA- Summer 2014. MLB Comparison- Trevor Rosenthal
11) Jameson Taillon – Another pitcher in the long list of TJ surgeries, Taillon will miss the entire 2014 season after recently undergoing surgery. He should be 100% heading into 2015 but expect Pittsburgh to monitor him closely and start him off slow in the minor leagues. When he is healthy Taillon brings a plus fastball that sits in the mid 90s and touches higher and a combines that with a devastating curve ball while also adding a change up that is a work in progress. He can be a bit erratic at times with his command and can get frustrated with himself but in time he should help form a pretty dominant duo at the top of the Pittsburgh Pirates rotation along with Gerrit Cole for years to come.
ETA- Summer 2015. MLB Comparison- AJ Burnett
12) Alex Meyer – Standing almost 6’9 on the mound Alex Meyer can be quite the intimidating presence. It also doesn’t help that he throws 94-97mph with a plus-plus slider that can absolutely wipe out opposing hitters. Command and harnessing the change up will always be issues that Meyer struggles with but even if he doesn’t get any better he will make a very good #3 starting pitcher and if that doesn’t work out he could potentially be one of the best closers in the game with his elite two pitch mix and dominating mound presence.
ETA- Summer 2015. MLB Comparison- Randy Johnson
13) Lucas Sims – A breakout prospect in 2013 Sims made opposing hitters look silly finishing the year with 46 strikeouts in his final 34 innings with a ridiculous 1.30 ERA. For a 19 year old Sims is incredibly talented, he brings a 94 mph fast to the mound with a knockout 74 mph curve ball that is next to impossible to pick up. He can also throw a change up to lefties and it keeps getting better and better, but with this fastball/curveball combination all he needs to do is just be able to throw the change up for strikes to keep hitters honest and your looking at another ace for the pitching rich Atlanta Braves.
ETA- Opening day 2016. MLB Comparison- Adam Wainwright
14) Eddie Butler – Another promising starter for the ever pitching needy Colorado Rockies. Eddie Butler like Jonathon Gray brings a nasty fastball with incredible sink and a tough slider. His sinking fastball can touch as high as 98mph and his slider can touch as high 90mph, these two lethal pitches will have Butler up in the big leagues in no time and Colorado faithful are eager to see if he and Gray can conquer the beast known as Coors Field.
ETA- Summer 2014. MLB Comparison- Chris Sale
15) Hunter Harvey – A virtual unknown heading into the draft last year Hunter Harvey has certainly staked his claim to being one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball. He may be a couple of years away but his plus-plus fastball that’s touches the upper 90s combined with his plus change up should give him a very effective two pitch mix even if his other pitches never develop. But he is only 19 so there is plenty of reason to be optimistic for progression. A 2016 rotation anchored by Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Hunter Harvey should be more than enough to keep Oriole fans excited about their future.
ETA- Opening day 2016. MLB Comparison- Julio Teheran
16) Kohl Stewart – Kohl Stewart was a very projectable arm coming out of high school. His athleticism and great arm strength are what scouts dream of. But his other skills such as mechanics and delivery questions left a lot to be desired. When right Stewart sits in the mid 90s touching even higher velocities when he needs to and throws an already plus-plus slider that might get even better as he learns how to clean up his mechanics. He can spot his curve ball on the dime and also has an ever improving change up to add to the mix. Add it all up and you have the making for an elite pitching prospect that just needs coaching and seasoning in the minors. He might be a few years away but he could be worth the wait.
ETA- Opening day 2017. MLB Comparison- Yu Darvish
17) Tyler Glasnow - The one thing in common with most of the top pitchers in baseball is that they all throw really hard and Tyler Glasnow is no exception. He will routinely hit the upper 90s on the radar gun and combines it with two other potential plus pitches in a curve ball and slider. The command is not there right now but it could be in time and if his secondary pitches develop like they should he could be a guy who shoots up prospect rankings list by the end of the year.
ETA- Summer 2015. MLB Comparison- Stephen Strasburg
18) Henry Owens – Owens brings a deceptive delivery to the mound which helps all of his pitches play up. He already has a plus fastball that sits in the mid to low 90s and a plus-plus change up that can devastate hitters. He will also throw a curve ball so the three pitch mix is there to be an effective MLB starter. His deception and natural feel/control for the baseball will always make his pitches seem a little better than they really are and confuse hitters at every level.
ETA- Summer 2015. MLB Comparison- Alex Wood
19) Aaron Sanchez – The ball explodes out of Sanchez’s hand and he easily gets his fast velocity into the mid 90s almost effortlessly. It’s a plus-plus offering to go with his elite curve ball that Sanchez just needs to learn how to command a bit more consistently. Sanchez also throws a change up and is working on a sinker to go with the above mentioned pitches, but he will always be known for his fastball/curveball combination which could be enough to get him to the big leagues very soon.
ETA- Summer 2015. MLB Comparison- Danny Salazar
20) Marcus Stroman – The shortest player on the list by far Marcus Stroman checks in at 5’9 and scouts will always bring up his height and yes it can be a concern for any pitchers durability and their home run tendencies. But until Stroman shows otherwise he is a starter to me and a very good one at that. Stroman has three above average pitches in a cutter, slurve and changeup to go with his also above average 95mph fastball. He has a deceptive delivery and hardly walks any batters because he pounds the strike zone with ease. He should succeed regardless of his short stature; the only question being is he an all-star starting pitcher or a top five MLB closer? Time will tell.
ETA- Opening day 2015. MLB Comparison- Tim Lincecum
21) Andrew Heaney – Heaney has a unique knack for pitching, he is very smart and knows how to attack hitters and put the ball where he wants it. He has a very deceptive delivery for a lefty and combines it with potentially three plus pitches in a fastball, slider and curve ball. He doesn’t throw the hardest but his pitch-ability and delivery deception will play a big role in his success as he makes his way to the big leagues.
ETA- Summer 2014. MLB Comparison- Tony Cingrani
22) Matt Wisler – Wisler brings a nasty fastball/slider combination, both of which are already plus pitches. However, like a lot of young pitchers he battles inconsistency issues with his delivery. Wisler is working on a change up and in time it should be an effective pitch, but his calling card will always be his fastball and slider which dominate hitters every time he takes the mound. He will have the advantage of pitching in Petco Park when he gets the call to the show and should be a very good big league pitcher as soon as 2015.
ETA- Summer 2014. MLB Comparison- Francisco Liriano
23) Michael Foltynewicz – Armed with one of the best fastballs in the minor leagues Michael Foltynewicz regular touches triple digits on the radar guns. His secondary pitches leave quite a bit to offer though, however, and the development of his curve ball and change upn will determine how high he climbs in the rankings this year. But the fastball is as good as it gets.
ETA- Summer 2015. MLB Comparison- Jeff Samardzija
24) Max Fried – Fried features a fastball that hovers in the low to mid 90s, a plus curveball which can be plus-plus at times and a changeup that should at least be an average offering in time and has been throw as a plus pitch at times. Fried is known as a plate nibbler and can get walk happy at times but has the competitive and nasty streak you look for in a pitcher which should only help him as he tries to correct his flaws. If not he will settle in as a reliable #3 start with #2 potential.
ETA- Summer 2015. MLB Comparison- Drew Smyly
25) Julio Urias – Far and away the youngest player on this list, Julio Urias checks in at just 17 yrs old. But don’t let that fool you as his pitching arsenal and feel for pitching is that of an MLB veteran. He can get his fastball up into the mid 90s touching 97mph at times and also has a plus curve ball that could get big league hitters out right now, and once again he won’t be 18 years old until August 12th, 2014. His ceiling is just as high as anyone elses on the list but his age has to cause some slight caution as there is still a lot of projection involved for his body size and pitching skills. But if everything goes right he could join Clayton Kershaw as another ace for the Los Angeles Dodgers and he may just do so sooner than you think.
ETA- Summer 2015. MLB Comparison- Clayton Kershaw
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