Top 30 Pitching Prospects: #11-20 (Preseason 2018 Edition)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Earlier this week we began counting down our Top 30 pitching prospects (click here to view).  Now the question is who fell just short of the Top 10 but certainly brings impressive upside?  Let’s keep the countdown rolling with #11-20:


11) Corbin Burnes – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – A-
ETA – 2018
Milwaukee Brewers #1 Prospect

It was an eye-opening season for Burnes, who split time between High-A and Double-A and posted a 1.67 ERA and 0.95 WHIP.  Before we point towards luck concerns (.265 BABIP, 81.4% strand rate), it’s important to note that he displayed all of the skills we look for:

  • Strikeouts – 8.65 K/9
  • Control – 2.22 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 51.4%

There’s even more upside in the strikeout department, with an 11.6% SwStr% (something he maintained at Double-A, with an 11.5% mark).  There’s always concerns about pitching half your games in Milwaukee, but that skillset should play up anywhere and has the potential to continue improving.


12) Cal Quantrill – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2019
Grade – A-
San Diego Padres #3 Prospect

While it’s more likely that Quantrill reaches the Majors in 2019, he did rise to Double-A in ’17 and therefore it’s not impossible he gets a late season callup.  Considering the numbers, splitting time between two levels, he is going to need to prove something before the recall comes:

  • High-A (73.2 IP) – 3.67 ERA, 9.29 K/9, 2.93 BB/9
  • Double-A (42.1 IP) – 4.04 ERA, 7.23 K/9, 3.40 BB/9

So the strikeouts fell and the walks rose upon reaching Double-A…  He did still post an 11.1% SwStr% at the level and it’s possible fatigue played a role.  Further removed from Tommy John surgery and clearly having the stuff, don’t be surprised if he fully breaks out this year.


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13) Koby Allard – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – A-
ETA – 2018
Atlanta Braves #2 Prospect

The 2015 first round pick spent the entire season at Double-A, posting a 3.18 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over 150.0 IP.  His strikeout was unimpressive, with a 7.74 K/9, though he did show solid control (2.70 BB/9) and enough groundballs (41.6%).  If you look at his 9.0% SwStr% you would think that upside isn’t there, but he was significantly better in the second half:

  • First Half – 57 K over 73.2 IP
  • Second Half – 72 K over 76.1 IP

There is no questioning his upside, especially as a southpaw that brings both strikeouts and control.  He has a curveball that many consider among the best in the minors, and considering the impressive group of young arms Atlanta has assembled it speaks volumes that he sits atop the list.


14) Walker Buehler – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – B+
Los Angeles Dodgers #1 Prospect

Buehler saw his stock rise significantly in 2017, pitching across three levels in the minor leagues before making eight appearances out of the LA bullpen.  In 88.2 IP in the minors he showed impressive skills across the board:

  • Strikeouts – 12.69 K/9 (12.6% SwStr%)
  • Control – 3.15 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 54.3%

It’s the skill set of a potential ace, so why does he come in as a “B+” as opposed to an “A” or “A-“?  For one is the slight question about his control, as it regressed upon reaching Triple-A (4.24 BB/9) and then in the Majors (7.71 BB/9).  We can give him a pass on that, due to the transition to working out of the bullpen, but there’s also a question as to his ability to work deep into games.  We won’t know with certainty until the Dodgers take off the handcuffs, but Buehler didn’t go longer than 5.1 innings in any start in ’17 and at 6’2” and 175 lbs. it’s fair to wonder how he’ll hold up.  It’s not a significant red flag, but it’s a question that needs to be answered.


15) Triston McKenzie – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2019
Cleveland Indians #2 Prospect

He won’t turn 21 until August, but after spending all of ’17 at High-A there’s clearly a lot to like.  McKenzie continued to show swing and miss stuff, with an 11.71 K/9 courtesy of a 14.4% SwStr%.  Coupling that with solid control (2.83 BB/9) only adds to the appeal, but there are two warning signs that need to be monitored:

  • 8% groundball rate
  • 6’5”, 165 lbs.

Obviously the groundball rate could mean he’ll be prone to home runs, though time will tell.  Thus far he hasn’t developed physically, and he’ll need to add weight if he’s going to ultimately reach his ceiling.  We’d think that would come, in time, though we’ll have to wait and see.  The upside is obvious, as he has Top 25 starting pitcher potential.


Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.50!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.


16) Jay Groome – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2019
Boston Red Sox #1 Prospect

He clearly has big-time strikeout ability, including an 11.71 K/9 and 11.5% SwStr% while splitting time between two levels of Single-A.  A 6.70 ERA and 1.56 WHIP at Single-A raised red flags, but it’s a small sample size (44.1 IP), was based off poor luck (.355 BABIP, 59.8% strand rate) and after missing time early with a strained lat he could’ve simply been rounding into form.

From a skills perspective it’s hard to argue against the upside, especially as he combined the strikeout stuff with an ability to generate groundballs (55.2% in ’17).  The question comes from his control, as he posted a 4.88 BB/9 between the two levels.  At the same time he’s big, listed at 6’6”, and that’s generally the last thing that taller pitchers are able to discover.  A southpaw who throws hard and generates groundballs is a huge commodity, and it should just be a matter of time before he puts it all together.


17) Brendan McKay – First Baseman/Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2019
Tampa Bay Rays #3 Prospect

The fourth overall selection in 2017, it will be intriguing to follow McKay and see if he continues to operate both at the plate (where he will be utilized at first base and DH) and on the mound.  How long the Rays allow him to do both remains to be seen, though he showed promise in both areas last season:

  • He hit .232 at Low-A in his first taste of professional baseball, though he also displayed a good approach with a 14.1% walk rate and 23.9% line drive rate over 149 PA.
  • He was even more impressive on the mound, with 21 K (courtesy of a 15.0% SwStr%) vs. 5 BB over 20.0 IP.

No one is going to question the upside in either spot, it’s the development that we’ll have to watch closely and see if splitting his time ultimately has a negative impact.


18) Fernando Romero – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2018
Minnesota Twins #2 Prospect

There were some bumps along the way for Romero in ’17, throwing 125.0 IP at Double-A, but at the end of the day he continued to show all of the skills that we like to see:

  • Strikeouts – 8.64 K/9
  • Walks – 3.24 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 52.0%

His control has generally been better than that and he did improve in the second half (3.05 BB/9).  Couple the improvement with the ability to generate swings and misses (12.0% SwStr%) and groundballs (career 1.71 GO/AO) and it’s easy to see the potential for success.  The Twins are always on the lookout for help in the rotation and it’s easy to envision Romero stepping in at some point in ’18 and making an impact.


Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.50!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.


19) Dane Dunning – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2019
Chicago White Sox #4 Prospect

Dunning continues to fly under the radar, thanks to being part of one of the most impressive farm systems in the game.  He shouldn’t be, however, as he would likely be the top prospect for many organizations.  He spent the bulk of his time at High-A last season (118.0 IP), amassing impressive numbers over 144.0 total innings:

  • ERA – 2.94
  • WHIP – 1.15
  • Strikeouts – 10.50 K/9
  • Walks – 2.38 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 52.0%

Couple those numbers with a 12.1% SwStr% and it appears that the 2016 first round pick carries the full skillset that we look for.  The question is going to be if these numbers will translate to the upper levels of the minors, something we should find out in 2018.  He has the potential to really leap up prospect lists and is a player to have on all watch lists.


20) Jon Duplantier – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2019
Grade – B+
Arizona Diamondbacks #2 Prospect

In his first full season of professional baseball Duplantier split time between Single-A (72.2 IP) and High-A (63.1 IP) showing promise at each level:

  • Single-A – 9.66 K/9, 1.86 BB/9, 50.0% GB%
  • High-A – 12.36 K/9, 3.84 BB/9, 51.9% GB%

All told he generated a 14.0% SwStr%, and when coupled with the other skills there’s a lot to like.  We also have to remember that he was older for the levels he pitched, having turned 23-years old during the year, and has battled arm issues in the past.  This coming year, where he’ll likely start at Double-A, will be telling and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him emerge as the team’s top prospect.


Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.50!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.

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