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by Ray Kuhn Devin Mesoraco, we hardly knew you… After having what appeared to be a breakout in 2014, the Reds catcher has fallen just about completely off our radars.  In the last two seasons he missed a combined 287 games and had three surgeries; two on his hip and one on his shoulder. He’s managed a combined 95 AB over the two years and is essentially a non-factor entering this season. Given the state of the catcher position, (read more...)

Earlier
by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) The injury to Sonny Gray obviously hurt the Oakland A’s, but could there be a silver lining?  His absence means an opportunity for Andrew Triggs, and it’s possible that he grabs a rotation spot and never relinquishes it. Having never worked as a starter since being selected in the 2012 draft, the biggest questions facing the soon to turn 28-year old are: How many innings can he throw? Can his stuff hold up (read more...)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) Yesterday Greg Johns, via Twitter, reported: “Mariners option Vogelbach to AAA. Surprising move.” “Surprisimg” may not be the right word, as Vogelbach was fully expected to share first base duties starting from Opening Day. Instead an extremely poor spring showing, hitting .228 with 1 HR in 57 AB, appears to have cost him that role. While we obviously aren’t about to give up on him, you have to at least wonder… Vogelbach struggled (read more...)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) There is a battle building in the Colorado Rockies bullpen in terms who the closer will be.  First, let’s identify the candidates: Greg Holland Adam Ottavino Both pitchers have shown the ability to be assets at the end of games, so who should fantasy owners be pulling for in this battle?  Let’s take a look: Greg Holland It’s been a long road back for Holland, who missed all of 2016 due to Tommy John (read more...)

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Fri, Mar 24, 2017 Category: BASEBALL
This season Rotoprofessor will be sending out a free newsletter (which will start in the preseason)!  While we are still finalizing the details, included will be: Links to recent articles Closer in Waiting Power Rankings And More! Make sure to sign up today to stay up-to-date with all of the latest Rotoprofessor has to offer! Sign Up Now For Email Marketing you can trust. (read more...)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) Earlier today we posted the first half of this rankings, which were influenced by injury scares and concerns.  While that obviously has a trickle down effect, the next set of 20 pitchers is full of high upside, intriguing arms.  Who makes the cut?  Let’s take a look: 21) Jon Gray – Colorado Rockies 22) Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers 23) Kenta Maeda – Los Angeles Dodgers 24) Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies 25) Marcus Stroman (read more...)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) Entering the spring the assumption was that Charlie Tilson would open the season as the White Sox centerfielder.  The addition of Peter Bourjos on a minor league contract clouded the issue, at least somewhat, but could another youngster be forcing his name into consideration?  With Tilson looking like he’s going to open the season on the DL, there should be room for Jacob May and he’s done everything he can (read more...)

13) Fernando Romero – Minnesota Twins
Current Grade – B+
ETA – 2018/2019

After missing part of 2014 and all of 2015 it was easy to forget about Romero entering the 2016 season.  What he did once taking the mound, though, has got to catch your attention:

Single-A – 28.0 IP, 1.93 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 8.04 K/9, 1.61 BB/9 High-A – 62.1 IP, 1.88 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 9.39 K/9, 1.44 BB/9

Seeing that type of control, after missing so much time, says a lot, as does his 1.54 GO/AO.  A hard thrower, the biggest question may be his size (6’0”) and if he is going to be able to hold up to a full workload.  He likely will be brought along slowly, which could ultimately delay his arrival, but he’s a pitcher who you need to keep a close eye on.

14) Sean Reid-Foley – Toronto Blue Jays
Grade – B+
ETA – 2018

While the Blue Jays’ system may lack star quality, laying in wait is someone who could quickly become a big pitching prospect.  Just look at his numbers (split between Single-A and High-A) in the three skills that we generally target from any pitcher:

Strikeouts – 10.1 K/9 Walks – 3.0 BB/9 Groundballs – 1.40 GO/AO

The control was the big turnaround, after posting a 6.3 BB/9 in ’15.  The second round pick is clearly still developing, and at 21-years old he has time to continue honing his secondary offerings.  That said, scouting reports have him potentially bringing three average or better pitches to the table (depending on the development of his changeup) so the upside is there for a front of the rotation arm.

15) Yadier Alvarez – Los Angeles Dodgers
Grade – B+
ETA – 2019

The 20-year old split his time between Rookie Ball and Single-A, impressing at each stop:

Rookie (20.0 IP) – 1.80 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 11.70 K/9, 4.50 BB/9, 2.60 GO/AO Single-A (39.1 IP) – 2.29 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 12.58 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, 1.14 GO/AO

There are some who feel that the flame thrower (reports are he hits 100 mph) will move to the bullpen, though the Dodgers will obviously give him time to mature physically (6’3”, 175 lbs.) and develop his secondary pitches.  If he can fully find his control and consistency the upside is that of an elite starting pitcher.

 

16) Matt Manning – Detroit Tigers
Grade – B+
ETA – 2020

The ninth overall selection in the 2016 draft is going to need time to develop, but he certainly made a tremendous first impression.  All he did in his 29.1 innings was rack up 46 K against 7 BB, which alone would turn heads.  At 6’6” and 190 lbs, there’s reason to believe that he’s just going to add strength and velocity, making him even more imposing.

Now throw in his athleticism, which he clearly has thanks to his past as a basketball player.  It should allow him to continue to develop his delivery and his secondary pitches, just adding to the appeal.  He has top of the rotation upside, and if he were further along in his development he would likely earn an A/A- grade.  The upside is there, just give him time.

17) Dylan Cease – Chicago Cubs
Grade – B+
ETA – 2018

Cease has been limited over the past two seasons as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, though that hasn’t stopped him from showing off his impressive upside:

2015 (24.0 IP) – 9.38 K/9, 6.00 BB/9, 3.18 GO/AO 2016 (44.2 IP) – 13.30 K/9, 5.04 BB/9, 1.70 GO/AO

The flame-thrower clearly needs to refine his control, but that’s something that should come with experience.  Listed at 6’2” and with the control questions there’s the risk that he ultimately is shifted to the bullpen (though if that were to happen he could quickly emerge as a lights out closer).  Either way there’s a lot to like.

18) Luis Castillo – Cincinnati Reds
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017

Acquired as part of a three-player package in exchange for Dan Straily, the converted reliever brings strikeout potential despite not yet showing it (7.0 K/9 over 131.2 IP between High-A and Double-A in ’16).  He throws hard and as he learns how to harness his stuff as a starter it’s easy to envision a strikeout per inning (or more).  The biggest question has always been his control, but that has been trending in the right direction:

2014 (Single-A) – 3.8 2015 (Single-A/High-A) – 2.8 2016 (High-A/Double-A) – 1.7

He was even better prior to his 3 starts at Double-A (1.4 BB/9 over 117.2 IP at High-A), and when you couple that with a 1.20 GO/AO for his career it’s easy to envision strong numbers.  He’s not the biggest name in the system, but he’s close to arriving and should make an impact.

 

19) Cal Quantrill – San Diego Padres
Grade – B+
ETA – 2018

Selected with the eighth pick in the 2016 draft, Quantrill impressed immediately over his first 37.0 professional innings as he posted 46 K, 8 BB and a 1.83 GO/AO.  At 22-years old he can move quickly, though he’s still likely working his way back from Tommy John surgery in 2015 so it will be interesting to see how cautious San Diego is with him.  Reports are that his breaking ball needs work, but once he establishes that pitch (something that’s expected) he could emerge as a top of the rotation starter (think #2 for an MLB team).

20) Mike Soroka – Atlanta Braves
Grade – B+
ETA – 2018

Selected in the first round of the 2015 draft, Soroka spent the entire season at Single-A and flashed all three skills we generally look for:

Strikeouts – 7.87 K/9 Control – 2.01 BB/9 Groundballs – 1.49 GO/AO

The big question is going to be if his fastball ticks up another notch or two, something that’s possible as he fills out and gains experience (he’s listed at 6’4” and 195 lbs.).  At 19-years old (he won’t turn 20 until August), that would be a very reasonable expectation.  If it does, the argument could be made that his upside could be even greater than Allard’s.

Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Frangraphs, Baseball Reference

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by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor Earlier this week we kicked off our rankings of the Top 20 Right-Handed Pitching Prospects (click here to view).  Who fills out the rankings?  Let’s take a look: 11) Triston McKenzie – Cleveland Indians Grade – B+ ETA – 2019 We can nitpick and say that we’d like to see more groundballs, having posted a 0.66 GO/AO between two levels of Single-A.  We also have to hope that he adds a little bit (read more...)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) We often talk about players whose name value may outweigh their on-the-field production, though generally that’s geared towards long established veterans.  However, the Twins’ Nick Gordon has the potential to be that type of player, butthe 21-year old still has time to put things together. The son of former MLB pitcher Tom Gordon and the brother of Miami’s Dee Gordon, Nick doesn’t fit the same 50+ SB as his brother.  If that’s (read more...)


3) Alex Reyes – St. Louis Cardinals
Grade – A
ETA – Already Arrived

Reyes arrived in the Majors in 2016 with much fanfare, and while he did spend some time pitching out of the bullpen (12 appearances, 5 starts) he showed off his electric stuff en route to a 10.17 K/9.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t questions, as he continually has struggled to find his control:

High-A (2015) – 4.38 Double-A (2015) – 4.67 Triple-A (2016) – 4.41 Majors (2016) – 4.50

Just 22-years old (he’ll turn 23 in August), there’s obviously still time for him to figure things out.  However we’d like to see some sort of growth, otherwise a move to the bullpen where he could emerge as an elite closer isn’t out of the question.  There was also the 50-game suspension to open the season for testing positive for marijuana, just adding another thing to keep an eye on.

(Note: Had it not been for the injury Reyes likely would’ve been #1 or #2 on this list)

4) Brent Honeywell – Tampa Bay Rays
Grade – A-
ETA – 2017

Generally known for an ability to develop young pitching, Honeywell is a name that people need to become accustomed with in short order.  Selected in the second round of the 2014 draft he’s shown an impressive ability to both generate strikeouts and control the strike zone since being selected:

Strikeouts – 9.2 K/9 Walks – 1.9 BB/9

He’s listed at 6’2” and 180 lbs., so there’s room for him to grow and further add velocity as he continues to mature (he’ll turn 22-years old just before the start of the 2017 season).  Couple that with a screwball, which is rarely seen (and he is highly effective with), changeup and curveball and you get the makings of a top of the rotation star.  While we’d love to see a few more groundballs, it’s splitting hairs. Blake Snell has gotten all of the attention, but Honeywell deserves his share and the dup provide significant hope for the team’s long-term outlook.

5) Anderson Espinoza – San Diego Padres
Grade – A-
ETA – 2019

He will turn 19-years old prior to the start of the ’17 season, making the numbers that much more impressive.  Splitting time between two different Single-A teams (thanks to the trade from Boston), he put up the following numbers:

108.1 IP, 4.49 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 100 K, 35 BB, 1.11 GO/AO

Maybe the numbers weren’t that impressive, though consider his age and the potential for him to continue to grow and mature (he’s currently listed at 6’0” and 160 lbs.).  The stuff is there, but he needs to be given time to learn/develop.  There are going to be bumps along the way, but look for him to learn from them and continue to improve.

 


6) Francis Martes – Houston Astros
Grade – A-
ETA – 2017

Acquired from Miami back in 2014, Martes was impressive in his first full season at Double-A as he posted a 3.30 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.  His control took a small step backwards, though no one is going to complain about a 3.4 BB/9 (he was at 2.5 in ’15) when you generate a 9.4 K/9 and 1.00 GO/AO (he owns a 1.19 mark over the course of his career).

A hard thrower, reports have his curveball as being his best secondary offering with his changeup taking dramatic steps forward as well.  If he can master the latter the upside is tremendous, though being listed at 6’1” is going to give some people concern.  Regardless he has ace-like stuff and could arrive before long.

7) Jose De Leon – Tampa Bay Rays
Grade – A-
ETA – Already Arrived

De Leon has gone from a 24th round draft pick to one of the premier pitching prospects in the game.  While his four starts in the Majors weren’t anything special, he showed an elite skill set over 86.1 IP at Triple-A:

Strikeouts – 11.57 K/9 Walks – 2.08 BB/9

With a minor league 12.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 it’s clear that he owns both of these skill, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t concern.  Now pitching in the AL East there’s a very real possibility that home runs become an issue.  Last season he posted a 0.62 GO/AO an owns a minor league career mark of 0.87.  It’s not an issue that’s going to disappear, and until he proves that he can keep the ball in the ballpark in the Major Leagues, it’s going to be a question hanging over him.

8) Mitch Keller – Pittsburgh Pirates
Grade – B+
ETA – 2019

A 2014 second round pick, Keller spent the bulk of 2016 at Single-A and impressed with a 9.48 K/9, 1.30 BB/9 and 1.50 GO/AO.  Standing at 6’3” and 195 lbs., there’s the potential that he continues to develop physically and sees his stuff improve a little bit more (aka adding more velocity).

For a 20-year old to show this type of control, while also showing the ability to generate a significant number of groundballs, the upside is clearly there.  With the potential for the stuff to improve, given his age and projectability, there’s the potential for him to fully breakout in 2017.
 

9) Michael Kopech – Chicago White Sox
Grade – B+
ETA – 2018

He missed the start of the season after breaking his pitching hand, and the incident (when coupled with last year’s suspension) certainly brings question to his maturity.  It’s certainly fair, though there’s no questioning the actual talent.  Pitching at High-A he racked up 82 K over 52.0 IP this past season and owns one of the biggest fastballs in the minor leagues.  His control is a question (5.02 BB/9), though there are reports that the team is working on his delivery to help him find consistency.  If he can get there, the upside of a true ace is there.  The upcoming season is going to be a telling one, but he has the potential to develop into a Top 10 pitching prospect overall.

10) Erick Fedde – Washington Nationals
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017

After returning from Tommy John surgery in 2015, Fedde was fully rounding back into form in 2016 between High-A and Double-A:

High-A (91.2 IP) – 9.33 K/9, 1.87 BB/9, 1.35 GO/AO Double-A (29.1 IP) – 8.59 K/9, 3.07 BB/9, 0.90 GO/AO

We aren’t going to read too much into the Double-A numbers, as they came in a small sample size.  In 185.0 innings since returning from surgery he’s racked up 182 K, 45 BB and a 1.35 GO/AO.  It’s impressive across the board, and at 23-years old (he’ll turn 24 in February) he should move quickly.  After the Nationals traded away much of their MLB ready pitching depth, Fedde should debut in Washington at some point in the second half.

Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Frangraphs, Baseball Reference

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by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) As you would expect, some of the premier prospects in the game can be found on this list.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be questions, especially when it comes to control, and the injury to Alex Reyes does put a damper on things a little bit.  Still, when you start looking at the names you see the future and it’s bright.  Let’s take a look at how they (read more...)