All 30 MLB Teams' Top Flamethrowing Pitching Prospect
In baseball, there's one thing that many can get excited about, and that would be looking through prospects. Sure, it's an acquired excitement, but you never run short of them, and they usually end up being tomorrow's stars.
Each team has at least one player that will be a solid piece on their rotation, so long as everything goes well in the minor leagues. Some are far down in the minors or haven't even played a game yet, while others got a taste of the majors and are ready for more.
Here is each team's best flamethrowing pitching prospect.
Baltimore Orioles: Dylan Bundy
I'm trying to avoid using pitchers that have yet to play a professional game, but there's two reasons I put Bundy on here. First, the pitching core is weak on flamethrowers in Baltimore. The other best prospect was Zach Britton, and he's not a power pitcher.
Second, Bundy hit 100 MPH in some high school games. If he can do that in the minors, then he can be on this list no question.
Boston Red Sox: Anthony Ranaudo
Matt Barnes is beginning to be talked as the best flamethrower in the Red Sox's farm system, and that could be the case. However, Anthony Ranaudo has so far proved that he can hold his own in that regard.
With 117 strikeouts in 127 innings and a fastball in the mid-90s, Ranaudo can easily jump onto a major league roster if his outings become more consistently good, as outside of the strikeout count he was merely okay in Class A-Advanced Salem.
New York Yankees: Dellin Betances
Dellin Betances might be the guy in the Yankees' farm system that can match CC Sabathia. Not only are both big bodies, but Betances has the flamethrower ability to back up his frame.
His fastball can hit 97 when he needs it to, and it sits around 95 MPH without much difficulty. His arm also feels like it will hold the heat longer than Manny Banuelos, both of whom have comparably high strikeout ratios in the minors.
Tampa Bay Rays: Matt Moore
The nation got a glimpse of the Rays' big-time prospect in the playoffs, when he looked great against the Texas Rangers in the Rays' only 2011 playoff win.
Aside from being one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, Moore had 210 strikeouts in 155 minor league innings this past season thanks to a blazing fastball.
Toronto Blue Jays: Deck McGuire
When Deck McGuire was drafted, many analysts noted this as a "safe" pick, and after a season in the minor leagues, he seems like a safe pick to put on this list.
He threw 124 strikeouts in about as many innings, and his flamethrowing fastball has a natural sink to it. He tends to avoid overthrowing the ball, so the numbers on his fastball are not as good as many others on this list, but he can power it in when he needs to.
Chicago White Sox: Nestor Molina
Nestor Molina is not a guy you generally see on top prospect lists. However, with the way he's pitched in the minors the past couple seasons, he was the Blue Jays' best kept secret. At least, I thought he was, but the White Sox thought otherwise and picked him up a month back.
In 2011, Molina threw 148 strikeouts in 130 innings, finishing the year with a 12-3 record and a 2.21 ERA thanks to a fastball that can be deceptive. He's not a big-time flamethrower, but I can't use Chris Sale here since he has two years of experience now.
Cleveland Indians: Dillon Howard
The Indians traded their flamethrowers, Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, to Colorado, so that makes this slide tough. In the end, the best pitching prospect may very well be one that hasn't pitched yet, Dillon Howard.
Howard has a natural sinking fastball in the mid-90s, and we will know a lot more about him once he gets a season under his belt, though he could easily put up strikeout numbers like others on the list.
Detroit Tigers: Jacob Turner
The Detroit Tigers may not have to worry too much about finding a fifth starter for 2012, since they may very well have one in Jacob Turner, who has three MLB games to his credit now.
Turner's fastball has no trouble hitting the mid-90s, and his K/9 ratio has hovered in the 8.0 range throughout his minor league career. On top of that, his fastball is considered the best part of his game.
Kansas City Royals: Kelvin Herrera
I imagine most Royals fans would either be looking for Mike Montgomery or John Lamb here, two pitchers that almost seem interchangeable. Instead, I'm picking a third option, Kelvin Herrera.
Herrera will likely only be a reliever at the next level, but he has a fastball that can hit the upper 90s, and his 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings doesn't look to change in the major leagues.
Minnesota Twins: Hudson Boyd
The Minnesota Twins' pitching prospects are mostly consisted of low velocity guys. Their best ones, Liam Hendriks and Kyle Gibson, don't really throw their fastball over 90 MPH often.
As a result, I have to go with Hudson Boyd even though he hasn't played a professional game yet. His fastball is already in the mid-90s, and should only get higher as he gets more polished.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: John Hellweg
The Angels have a very deep farm system full of positional players. When it comes to pitchers though, that's not quite the case, but they do have a promising fireballer in John Hellweg.
Hellweg finally got to start some minor league games this year, and the result was 113 strikeouts in under 90 innings pitched. His fastball can hit the upper 90s, and clearly hitters are having trouble doing anything with it.
Oakland Athletics: A.J. Cole
All the trades the Oakland Athletics made actually made this tough, since I had a lot of players to look through. Tom Milone had the numbers but not the stuff, and Jarrod Parker has the stuff but not the numbers. A.J. Cole, acquired from the Washington Nationals, has both.
Cole had 108 strikeouts in 89 minor league innings in 2011, and has no trouble hitting the mid-90s with his fastball. He should rise through the minors quickly and be an entirely suitable replacement for Gio Gonzalez.
Seattle Mariners: James Paxton
Last year, the obvious choice on the list would have been Michael Pineda. He has since graduated to the majors and has looked great there, which means that the next great Mariners pitcher in line is James Paxton.
Paxton had 131 strikeouts in only 95 innings this past season, so calling him a flamethrower may be putting it lightly, as the fastball is his specialty. Even with the relatively deep talent in Seattle, there's room for a guy who can pitch like that.
Texas Rangers: Martin Perez
I bounced back and forth between including him on this list. Now that Alexi Ogando is in the majors, he is certainly the best pitching prospect, but is he the best fireballer? He prefers to throw his fastball around 93, so that's not really the case.
Perez threw 120 strikeouts in 137.1 innings, and while he struggled in AAA Round Rock this year, he has 2012 to make his fastball even better, or at least good enough to justify keeping him on here.
Atlanta Braves: Arodys Vizcaino
There's no doubt that Julio Teheran is the best prospect the Braves have in their farm system. He went 15-3 in AAA last year, and with him in the farm system, one can see why the Braves are trying to make a roster opening.
As for the best flamethrower, however, that title belongs to Arodys Vizcaino, whose fastball has been clocked as high as 101 MPH. We did not see too much from him in 2011, but the 21-year-old is just starting out, and his fastball could be a sight to see.
Miami Marlins: Chad James
Chad James is one of those pitchers that is gradually improving. He's not going to be an ace, but he's a hard worker with a good fastball, and that should keep him on a major league roster.
He had 124 strikeouts in 149.1 innings in 2011, and his fastball tends to be in the 95 MPH range early on.
New York Mets: Matt Harvey
In Matt Harvey's first full minor league season for the Mets, he showed just why they used a first-round pick on him. He went 13-5 total and had 156 strikeouts in 135.2 innings.
He can throw his fastball at 97 MPH, and can actually hold that for a good portion of the game, which will be an asset at the next level.
Philadelphia Phillies: Trevor May
If you thought the Philadelphia Philies had a great strikeout artist in Vance Worley during his rookie season, sit back and wait for Trevor May, as he may be the best pitching prospect people aren't talking about.
The 22-year-old had a decent year in A+ with a 3.63 ERA, but had 208 strikeouts in 151.1 innings. In fact, in his career, he's throwing nearly 12 strikeouts per nine innings. If he can improve his other stats then he could be great.
Washington Nationals: Alex Meyer
The Nationals traded away their best fireballer, A.J. Cole, for Gio Gonzalez, leaving this spot wide open. As a result, it goes to yet another guy who hasn't played a game yet, Alex Meyer.
Meyer was the Nationals' first-round pick last year, and he has a fastball that is already in the mid 90s. I can see it getting faster, and it's likely he will have great numbers in his first full season.
Chicago Cubs: Trey McNutt
I almost didn't put McNutt on the list since his 2011 strikeout numbers were quite low, however, he still has a career K/9 mark of 8.5, so it should improve.
Trey McNutt has a fastball in the mid-90s, and while it doesn't really move, people still have trouble hitting it. He was just okay in AA Tennessee last year, but if he turns it around, then he would likely be a September call-up.
Cincinnati Reds: Daniel Corcino
Daniel Corcino is a pitcher that tends to be downgraded for his small frame, but he makes up for it with great stuff to go with a solid track record.
Corcino had 156 strikeouts in 139.1 innings last year, and his fastball has no problem hitting 95 MPH now, even if it will slow down a bit as he gets older. The 21-year-old will likely be in AA next year, where Reds fans can get a closer look at him.
Houston Astros: Jarred Cosart
If there's one thing you can say about Jarred Cosart, the Astros pitcher they acquired earlier this year from the Phillies, it's that he's a hard thrower. His fastball can get to 97 MPH, and he relies on that and his curve rather heavily.
His K/9 rate is 7.6, which is lower than many on the list, but he has been able to progress without much issue, and depending on what Houston does in the offseason, he could be a September call-up.
Milwaukee Brewers: Tyler Thornburg
After spending 2010 in the rookie league, Tyler Thornburg skyrocketed with a great 2011, and has now popped up on everyone's radar after throwing 160 strikeouts in 136.2 innings.
Thornburg has no trouble throwing his fastball in the mid-90s, and while it doesn't move that much, it's still very difficult to hit. He's a guy who I can easily see popping up on Baseball America's prospect list in 2012.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Jameson Taillon
While some people might put Gerrit Cole here, I'm not sold on putting someone on the list who has yet to play a game in the minors. Instead, I'm going with Jameson Taillon.
The flamethrower had 97 strikeouts in 92.2 innings of work in 2011, and his fastball can reach 99 MPH. If he can continue to improve as he advances, perhaps the Pirates will actually get an ace that teams will fear.
St. Louis Cardinals: Shelby Miller
The Cardinals have reason to be optimistic in 2012 despite losing Albert Pujols. On the pitching end, they get Adam Wainwright back, and they may have a new guy to add to the rotation sooner rather than later in Shelby Miller.
The 21-year-old's fastball isn't all that fast, but the sinking fastball does the job well. How else would he have 170 strikeouts in under 140 innings in 2011? Combine that with a 9-3 AA record and he seems ready to go.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Trevor Bauer
The third overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft struggled a bit in his first minor league season. At the same time, however, he showed the Diamondbacks why they drafted him: his fastball.
The young flamethrower notched 43 strikeouts in 25.2 innings of work, so despite an ERA of 5.96 (with the struggles mainly coming in AA), he is still going to be a player to watch, and should be better next year.
Colorado Rockies: Drew Pomeranz
As a Tribe fan, I hated seeing Drew Pomeranz move to a different farm system, and there's a reason for that. In one full minor league season, he already looked major league ready thanks to his blazing fastball.
His fastball only hits around 95 MPH, but it looks a lot faster thanks to the way he throws it, which is evident by 119 strikeouts in 101 minor league innings this year.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Nathan Eovaldi
Allen Webster and Zach Lee are both great pitching prospects for the Dodgers that we should see in the majors soon. When it comes to the best flamethrower, however, that title belongs to Nathan Eovaldi.
I'm surprised he was already called up this year, but given his numbers, it's easy to see why. He had 99 strikeouts in 103 innings, and he's the only high-level pitcher whose fastball can hit 95 MPH without any difficulty, even if there's not much movement.
San Diego Padres: Keyvius Sampson
The San Diego Padres are a naturally good pitching team to begin with, but they could become far better once flamethrower Keyvius Sampson reaches the majors.
Sampson had 143 strikeouts in 118 innings at Class A Fort Wayne, and while his fastball is not all that fast in and of itself, it's deceptive enough to get that many strikeouts, and could cause him to rise quickly in the minors.
San Francisco Giants: Kyle Crick
So far, the 18-year-old Kyle Crick has only played in the rookie league, but he has shown great promise even in just the small sample size.
Crick was dominant in high school, and his fastball can already hit 95 without any difficulty. He's another guy who we will be able to take a closer look at once he has a full season of the minors under his belt.
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