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Top 75 MLB Rookie Pitchers for 2019

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Who can help you this year?

USA TODAY Sports/Pete Rogers Illustrations

The first article I wrote was my Top 50 rookies to help you win your redraft league:

Since then there have been some injuries, player acquisitions, and well, just old fashioned news. As a result, this new list is not consistent with the order of the pitchers in the first article. This is the latest and greatest!

First thing you will notice is that, considering only 2019, relief pitchers have much more value. In a dynasty league, I would almost always completely punt relief pitchers in the first year due to their longevity and lack of stability. For example, I just partook in a startup dynasty draft. I saw current closers (or potential closers) like Pedro Strop and Cody Allen selected in the same rounds I was taking high end prospects such as A.J. Puk, Jarred Kelenic and Jesus Sanchez. I’ll work the wire for saves or struggle for one year rather than passing on the upside of a Top 50 prospect or even a young talent like Tyler O’Neill.

Before I get too much off topic, you’ll note that there are about 15-20 pitching prospects that are relevant or bordering on relevancy in most leagues. The rest of the list is for deeper formats. However, given that certain rotations are hurting and some teams have no surefire closer, there is a lot of opportunity for some relative unknowns to emerge.

There are a few situations where I can envision a rookie becoming a closer:

  1. Red Sox
  2. Mariners
  3. Rays
  4. Giants
  5. Marlins
  6. Angels
  7. Cubs
  8. Diamondbacks

I would admit that all of these are against the odds, however, you will see that a rookie (or rookies) may have the opportunity to step up in these situations as a result of injuries or trades. I would also say, with the exception of the Diamondbacks, Angels, and Cubs, the rest of the teams have rookies that could earn saves simply as a result of outperforming the incumbents.

As for the rotation spots, I’d like to focus first on the Braves. Currently, Mike Foltynewicz, Mike Soroka, and Kevin Gausman are battling injuries with unknown severity. Teheran and Newcomb have shown performance issues or, at least, inconsistency. I see a path to starts for Gohara and Toussaint. The pitcher I like the most for upside is Kyle Wright—he is my sleeper pick to take off in 2019. It is crowded but I would not rule out starts from Bryse Wilson or even Allard. Well maybe not Allard, because you still have Max Fried, who no longer qualifies as a prospect, but who can’t be ignored in real life.

The next rotation I would like to focus on is the Padres. Currently, they have Joey Lucchesi and, I would like to hope, Matt Strahm in the rotation. The rest of them, well, they can keep the seat warm for the freight train of top prospects about to burst through. Logan Allen and Cal Quantrill should both get a chance to start this year—if they don’t, it will be an upset.

The third rotation I want to draw your attention to is currently full. Yusei Kikuchi is the new ace and is followed by Marco Gonzalez, Mike Leake, Wade LeBlanc and King Felix. Three of these pitchers clearly have a lower upside than Justin Dunn, Justus Sheffield, and Erik Swanson. Service time will play a part, but it will be a question of how long you can keep talent off the field?

Next, you have a rotation that is loaded at the top with Verlander and Cole. They also have Wade Miley who pitched well in 16 games last year, but had an ERA over 5.00 in both of the previous years. They also have McHugh and Peacock, who have experience in the pen and as starters. Three other young pitchers may have more talent—Framber Valdez, J.B. Bukauskas, and Cionel Perez. All three of the youngsters could swing from the pen to the rotation and I expect the Astros to let true performance win the battle. Lastly, you have Forrest Whitley. He surely does not have the permission of the Astros to pitch a full season’s worth of innings, but he will most definitely become a fixture in the rotation at some point this year. Regardless of role, I believe all the pitchers mentioned here will have a MLB impact this season.

As for the Pirates, Twins, and White Sox, there is a spot at the end of the rotation for Keller (or possibly others), Lewis Thorpe, and Dylan Cease. I believe it should be a matter of time and service time manipulation here. Conversely, there is no open spot for Triston McKenzie in the Indians rotation so he will likely need a trade or injury to see starts.

Speaking of injuries, the Angels and Cardinals have two of the most injury-plagued rotations, so I can see a number of the names on the list get a shot at starting throughout the year.

As an aside, Corbin Burnes would make the top 10 on this list if he had maintained rookie status.

Without further delay, here are the Top 75 pitchers to help you in 2019:

Top 75 rookie pitchers

Rank Player Team Opening Day Age Highest Level 2019 Impact
Rank Player Team Opening Day Age Highest Level 2019 Impact
1 Alex Reyes STL 24 MLB High impact SP with innings cap or dominant RP
2 Forrest Whitley HOU 21 Double-A High impact SP with innings cap of approx 120 IP
3 Jesus Luzardo OAK 21 Triple-A High impact SP contributing late April with about a 150 IP cap
4 Brent Honeywell TBR 23 Triple-A High impact SP with about 130 IP cap in MLB
5 Yusei Kichuchi SEA 27 N/A Mid-impact SP that will likely hover around 160 IP
6 A.J. Puk OAK 23 Double-A High impact SP with about 100 IP cap on back end in MLB
7 Michael Soroka ATL 21 MLB High impact SP with injury concerns and competition
8 Josh James HOU 25 MLB High impact SP or long reliever - innings not a concern
9 Kyle Wright ATL 22 MLB High impact SP if given opportunity in a crowded yet injured rotation
10 Colin Poche TBR 25 Triple-A High leverage RP with elite K%
11 Logan Allen SDP 21 Triple-A Mid-impact SP with an uncertain promotion date - innings not a concern
12 Dylan Cease CHW 23 Double-A High impact SP with a call up after mid-season - innings not a concern
13 Touki Toussaint ATL 22 MLB High impact SP or long reliever
14 Chris Paddack SDP 23 Double-A High impact SP with innings limit of approx 100 IP in MLB and uncertain promotion date
15 Luiz Gohara ATL 22 MLB High variance play at SP with much competition - at least a RP immediately
16 Ray Black SFG 28 MLB High leverage RP with elite K% and a chance at saves if SFG make some trades
17 Ty Buttrey LAA 25 MLB Handcuff to Cody Allen
18 Taylor Widener ARI 24 Triple-A Med-high impact rotation option as early as the first half with no innings cap
19 Sandy Alcantara MIA 23 MLB SP useful in deeper leagues
20 David Paulino TOR 25 MLB Potential rotation option with minimal inning concerns
21 Sean Reid-Foley TOR 23 MLB Potential rotation option or high-leverage bullpen arm
22 Jon Duplantier ARI 24 Double-A Potential high impact SP with an uncertain promotion date and 100 IP limit
23 Mitch Keller PIT 22 Triple-A Med-High impact SP likely in the second half
24 Cal Quantil SDP 24 Triple-A Mid-impact SP with an uncertain promotion date - innings not a concern
25 Justin Dunn SEA 23 Double-A Potential spot starter or rotation option by mid-season
26 Jose De Leon TBR 26 MLB High variance/high upside SP or RP (or opener)
27 Kevin Ginkel ARI 24 Triple-A High leverage RP that has the potential to see saves if D-backs make trades
28 Framber Valdez HOU 25 MLB SP if a rotation spot opens or long RP
29 Enyel De Los Santos PHI 23 MLB Rotation fill-in or middle reliever that will be called on as soon as needed
30 Dennis Santana LAD 22 MLB Rotation fill-in or middle reliever that will be called on as soon as needed
31 Lewis Thorpe MIN 23 Triple-A Under the radar mid-high impact SP
32 Nick Neidert MIA 22 Double-A Medium impact SP for deeper leagues with no innings concern
33 Darwinzon Hernandez BOS 22 Double-A SP in the minors and could see some starts but could be a sneaky saves option
34 Triston McKenzie CLE 21 Double-A High impact rotation option in the event of a trade or injury
35 Bryse Wilson ATL 21 MLB Potential med-high impact SP or RP depending on injury to rotation options
36 Justus Sheffield SEA 23 MLB Potential spot starter or rotation option by mid-season but also could be a RP
37 Dillon Tate BAL 24 Double-A Opportunity in the starting rotation or save chances could emerge
38 Griffin Canning LAA 22 Triple-A Mid-impact SP waiting for a spot in an injury prone rotation - 100 IP max
39 J.B. Bukauskas HOU 22 Double-A Potential spot starter or RP depending on unknown needs
40 Cionel Perez HOU 22 MLB Likely mid-high leverage RP
41 Genesis Cabrera STL 22 Triple-A Likely high leverage RP or spot starter
42 Jonathan Loaisiga NYY 24 MLB Long reliever or fill-in SP for injury
43 Michael King NYY 23 Triple-A Long reliever or fill-in SP for injury
44 Dakaota Mekkes CHC 24 Triple-A Could be a sneaky high leverage RP and a non-zero chance at saves
45 Daniel Ponce De Leon STL 27 MLB Mid-high leverage RP with the chance to crack the rotation at some point
46 Jose Castillo SDP 23 MLB High leverage RP but currently injured (top 20 if not injured)
47 Ryan Helsley STL 24 Triple-A Likely mid-high leverage RP but chance to also be a mid-impact SP if rotation vacancy
48 Ian Hamilton CHW 23 Triple-A RP with upside to be used in high leverage situations but save opps unlikely
49 Gerson Bautista SEA 23 MLB Potentially high leverage RP without an outside chance at saves
50 Erik Swanson SEA 25 Triple-A Potential spot starter or rotation option by mid-season
51 Joe Palumbo TEX 24 Double-A High upside long shot to get starts in 2019, but the rotation is far from stellar
52 Taylor Hearn PIT 24 Double-A High upside long shot to start but could fill in at the back end of bullpen if recalled
53 Stephan Gonsalves MIN 24 MLB Deep league SP but needs to improve to stay relevant
54 Jose Suarez LAA 21 Triple-A High upside back up rotation arm or RP with high K%
55 Adbert Alzolay CHC 24 Triple-A Mid-impact SP will need an injury but innings cap not an issue
56 Zack Brown MIL 24 Double-A Mid-impact SP if rotation underperforms or low leverage RP
57 Dakota Hudson STL 24 MLB Mid-high leverage RP with unlikely path to the 8th or 9th inning
58 Williams Jerez LAA 26 MLB Mid-high leverage RP with unlikely path to the 8th or 9th inning
59 Trent Thornton TOR 25 Triple-A Mid-high leverage RP with unlikely path to the 8th or 9th inning; chance for some starts
60 Hector Perez TOR 22 Double-A Mid leverage RP if called up
61 Matthew Festa SEA 25 MLB Mid leverage RP
62 Nick Rumbelow SEA 27 MLB Mid leverage RP
63 Trevor Stephan NYY 23 Double-A Mid leverage RP if called up
64 James Bourque WAS 25 Double-A Mid leverage RP if called up
65 Art Warren SEA 25 Double-A Mid leverage RP if called up
66 Zack Littell MIN 23 MLB Likely path as a low leverage RP
67 Jorge Guzman MIA 23 High-A 100mph fastball, only member of the list never to see Double-A, best chance in MLB as RP
68 Kolby Allard ATL 21 MLB Would need several injuries to see starts - likely long relief
69 Chance Adams NYY 24 MLB Likely low impact RP
70 Clay Holmes PIT 25 Triple-A Low impact SP or long reliever
71 J.T. Brubaker PIT 25 Triple-A Low impact SP or long reliever
72 Shaun Anderson SFG 24 Triple-A Low impact SP or long reliever
73 Jacob Nix SDP 23 MLB Low impact SP until others are promoted or long reliever
74 Peter Lambert COL 21 Triple-A Mid-low impact SP with no innings cap
75 Dean Deetz HOU 25 MLB RP likely used in low leverage

Lastly, I’d like to focus a little bit on Colin Poche. I was admiring his stats from afar. They are unbelievable. He’s consistently struck out batters at an unfathomable clip. I’d just be saying the same thing as this great article so I’ll share the link here:

Needless to say, if you are consistently striking out batters 40% of the time, you are my best bet to be this year’s Josh Hader. He will be valuable in this year’s landscape. The Rays will have several dominant arms in the bullpen and it should be fun to see how they are used. As for the rotation, with the emergence of Morton and Honeywell, it may be back to a more traditional rotation this year. I would not bet the farm on it, don’t get me wrong. However, this could be good news for Beeks, Faria, or even De Leon.

Watch out for Ray Black in San Francisco and Jose Castillo (when healthy) in San Diego as they can both rack up strikeouts. I see Castillo as the future dominant closer and if you doubt it, there are some convincing arguments here:

Stay tuned for later this week for the Top 200 Pitchers for Dynasty Leagues.