Dylan Bundy: Baseball's unanimous top pitching prospect for the 2013 season.
Since completing my ranking of each organization’s top 10 prospects earlier this month, I have been busy ranking the top prospects in the game by position, ceiling and proximity to the major leagues.
In preparation for spring training, which is now only a month away, I’ve composed a tentative ranking of the top pitching prospects in the game. Some of my scouting notes for each pitcher have been derived from their original scouting report.
Here’s a look at the top 25 can’t-miss pitching prospects headed into the 2013 season.
6’0" left-hander’s fastball consistently sits in the low-90s, and he’s shown the ability to scrape mid-90s in the past; his curveball has lost some of the shape and effectiveness that previously made it one of the best in the minors; changeup has come a long way and grades as an easy above-average pitch thrown with deception and arm-side fade; two-seam fastball and slider are recent additions to his arsenal and should steadily improve as he gains a feel for each offering.
Scouting Notes: This 6’9” right-hander has a massive frame and long limbs and shows body control and repeatable mechanics uncommon in players his size; throws everything on a steep downhill plane and was impressive and showed more command than expected in full-season debut in 2012.
His fastball is difficult to barrel; registers between 93-97 mph and can flirt with triple-digits in shorter stints; plus slider has a sharp, wipeout break; changeup showed signs of being at least average last season and will need to continue to develop to remain a starter; ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter; high floor of a late-inning, high-leverage bullpen arm.
Scouting Notes: Biddle thrived as a 20-year-old at High-A last season after refining his mechanics; eliminated some of the cross-body delivery that hindered his command in 2011; uses 6’4” frame to advantage and throws on a downward plane.
Works 90-93 mph running fastball in and out; doesn’t catch as much plate with the pitch as he used to; curveball features tight spin and late, downer bite; comfortable throwing it for a strike as well as spotting to induce whiffs; changeup vastly improved this past season and gives him a chance to have three at least above-average offerings.
Scouting Notes: A large, physical right-hander at 6’6”, 205 pounds, Heredia is yet another power pitcher in the Pirates’ loaded system; pitched entire 2012 season as a 17-year-old in the New York-Penn League; will have to work hard to stay in shape, as his massive frame involves minimal projection.
He’s still only a teenager, but his fastball already reaches the mid-90s and he’s adept to manipulating it for additional movement; utilizes his height by throwing the pitch on a steep downhill plane that usually results in weak contact; curveball is still raw and lacks overall consistency, though he’ll have plenty of time to refine it over the upcoming seasons; changeup is advanced for his age and features late fade; overall pitchability could make him a No. 2 or 3 starter in a few years.
Scouting Notes: Excellent power pitcher’s frame at 6’4”, 185 pounds with room to fill out; wiry athleticism allows him to repeat active delivery and stay balanced throughout; knows how to use his lower half and doesn’t rely on pure arm strength; collegiate pitcher that still involves projection; should be a solid No. 2 starter afterBundy in Orioles’ rotation.
Loose, fluid arm action results in easy fastball velocity in the mid-90s, and he’ll run it up to 97 to 98 mph on occasion; two-seamer is a few ticks slower with arm-side action; offers significant contrast to crisp four-seam; changeup in the low-to-mid-80s is a second plus pitch and is highly advanced for a pitcher his age; features both a curveball and slider—the latter draws more whiffs and projects to be an above-average pitch; refined command could make it a weapon in relation to his fastball-changeup combo.
Scouting Notes: Showed pitchability and polish in full-season debut at Low-A Lansing; projectable 6’3”, 160-pound frame with room to grow; exceptional at repeating his mechanics; can make it look easy; minor cross-body delivery lends to his overall deception; advanced feel for mixing his pitches and when to add/subtract; high-floor, mid-rotation upside.
Fastball sits 88-92 mph; commands it to both sides of the plate; challenges both right-handed and left-handed hitters; changeup is a plus offering and easily his best pitch; thrown with deceptive arm action relative to fastball; features late fade out of the zone; comfortable throwing it in any count; mixes in a curveball that has improved over the last year; gets too loopy at times; uses entire arsenal efficiently; keeps hitters off balance with tough sequencing.
Scouting Notes: 6’4”, 200-pound right-hander has a tall, durable frame built for innings; clean, repeatable mechanics that results in effortless velocity; high three-quarter arm slot creates good downward plane on all his pitches; pounds lower half of strike zone to generate groundball outs; consistently finishes his pitches which enables above-average command of entire arsenal.
Barnes’ best pitch is his plus fastball which sits around 95 mph, and he holds the velocity well into his starts; his command of the pitch is excellent and has been key to early success in minors; almost relies on the pitch too much, throwing it exclusively at times; curveball has excellent shape and late, downer bite, but his command of the pitch needs refinement; flashes above-average potential when thrown with consistency; development of changeup will be crucial towards overall development.
Scouting Notes: Excellent athlete who was headed to the University of Louisville for both baseball and football; headlined the prospect package acquired from the Brewers in exchange for Zack Greinke; was promoted from Double-A Northwest Arkansas to Triple-A Omaha at the same time as Wil Myers last season; made two unimpressive starts for the Royals in late Sept.; secondary prospect acquired by the Rays in the James Shields trade.
The 6’2” right-hander is agile but comfortable on the mound; repeats his mechanics well and understands how to use his lower half; clean, fluid arm action; fastball will range 92 to 95 mph with sink and action to the arm side; occasionally will get under the pitch and pipe up in the zone with minimal movement; needs to throw on a downward plane with more consistency; curveball has an impressive top-to-bottom shape and will freeze right-handed hitters; also throws a slider and changeup, though neither are as advanced as the curveball; he’ll need to refine the command of his four-pitch mix, but he should be able to reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.
Scouting Notes: 6’5” right-hander has a power pitcher’s frame and frontline starter upside; physical presence on the bump who throws everything on a solid downward plane; repeats mechanics well given his size and features a strong core; fastball sits in the mid-90s with late, arm-side life and he’ll even flirt with triple-digits in shorter stints; uses to amass a healthy mix of strikeouts and groundball outs.
Curveball has plus potential as it’s a tight-breaker with late, downward bite; command of the pitch is inconsistent and will be challenged at higher levels; features better command of his changeup, though it’s not as dynamic of a pitch; offering is thrown with deceptive arm speed; if breaking ball doesn’t develop as planned, he still has an incredibly high ceiling as a late-inning reliever.
Scouting Notes: 20-year-old opened the season at High-A before landing on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis; was promoted to Double-A starting rotation upon his return with no lingering issues; undersized right-hander boasts a plus fastball in the mid-to-upper-90s thanks to a lightning-quick arm and explosive delivery; still has a few kinks to iron out in his delivery which should improve his overall command; secondary pitches are still on the raw side but flash above-average-to-plus potential; curveball is a hammer when he’s throwing it from a consistent release point; changeup should be a major asset given his excellent velocity and blinding arm speed.
Scouting Notes: The Royals selected Zimmer with the fifth-overall pick in the 2012 draft; 6’3” right-hander reached Low-A Kane County in his professional debut; had surgery following the season to remove bone chips in his elbow; clean, repeatable mechanics; fluid arm action; lack of mileage after moving to the mound as a college sophomore.
Zimmer’s fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s with late life; jumps out of his hand thanks to quick arm; can reach back for 96-98 mph at times; curveball projects to be a second plus pitch with sharp downer break; also throws an average slider with tight rotation; changeup has come along nicely and gives him a deep, four-pitch mix; could be fast-tracked this season as long as his elbow is healthy.
Scouting Notes: The 6’3”, 195-pounder possesses present physical strength and quiet athleticism; strong upper body and broad shoulders leave room for favorable projection; arms works well and the ball leaves his hand well; he can get a little long on the backside and work against his body, though it does create cross-body deception in his delivery.
Despite age and lack of experience, Guerrieri flashes the potential for four above-average-to-plus pitches; two-seam fastball is an excellent pitch in the low-to-mid-90s with considerable weight and late life to the arm side; commands the pitch effectively to both sides of plate; isn’t afraid to challenge both right- and left-handed hitters middle-in; will mix in the occasional four-seam fastball that scrapes 96 to 97 mph.
Plus curveball is a second viable weapon with tight spin, consistent shape and late, downward bite; advanced enough to locate the pitch for strikes and bury it to induce whiffs; changeup is coming along nicely, as is his pitchability.
Scouting Notes: One of the game’s top prospects headed into 2012, he regressed this past season and enduring a frustrating campaign considering he repeated Triple-A after dominating the level in 2011; has a high ceiling but will need to prove last season was a fluke; still love his arm speed and aggressiveness.
Teheran's fastball was flatter this past season but still in the 91-95 range to both sides of the plate; pitch was left up in the zone too often; changeup is still a plus pitch given its speed differential and the deception of his arm speed; lack of a third legitimate pitch continues to impede the final stages of development; should pitch considerably better this season after reverting to his previous mechanics during the offseason; neither his curveball nor slider is currently passable as a show-me pitch.
Scouting Notes: Left-hander is loaded with polish and pitchability; should be able to regain the command that made him a top draft pick; features the classic, deceptive Virginia delivery to deliver the ball across his body; despite the command issues and wavering approach that were magnified upon reaching Triple-A Tacoma, Hultzen’s stuff still suggests Nos. 2 or 3 starter upside; fastball registers in the low-90s with plenty of arm-side movement, and he’ll reach back for 94-95 at times; changeup plays well off his fastball, though he can catch too much plate with it at times; the same goes for his 80-84 mph slider.
Scouting Notes: The Blue Jays finally allowed a greater workload this past season with excellent results; effortless and fluid delivery with a quick arm, though he’s still learning how to beat it with consistency; Highly athletic and projectable at 6’4” with ideal frame to add a bit more strength.
Pure stuff is excellent and sets him apart from most pitching prospects; fastball registers at an easy 94-98 mph and explodes out of his hand; plus curveball has tight spin and sharp downer break, and he showed an improved feel for it this past season; changeup has some nice fade and is a viable third pitch, but is not as advanced as other two offerings; right-hander’s command still has a way to go after walking just over five batters per nine innings last season; will need to refine command as he begins to move up the ladder.
Scouting Notes: 6’4”, 225-pound right-hander with excellent athleticism for his size; was recruited as a quarterback by University of Oklahoma in high school; turned in impressive full-season debut last year and was arguably the top arm in the Midwest League (Low-A); employs a strong, athletic delivery that includes a momentum-building leg kick; impedes his control at times but is nothing that can’t be ironed out.
Right-hander’s fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s; heavy pitch that is thrown consistently on a downhill plane; holds velocity deep into starts; can scrape 95-96 mph when needed; curveball is a hammer with sharp, downward bite; plus offering that should be a legitimate out-pitch in the big leagues; changeup flashes above-average potential with late fade; command of pitch varies, but he shows a solid feel for it relative to his experience; could move very quickly once control/command improve.
Scouting Notes: Fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s with some late arm-side action; flattens out when left up in the zone; curveball is an absolute hammer and a second plus pitch; explosive, torque-oriented delivery makes it especially deceptive and difficult to recognize out of his hand; loaded arsenal also features a tumbling splitter, slider and above-average changeup.
Dominated in the minor leagues but struggles were overwhelming in big league stint; tried to nibble at the strike zone rather than trusting his pure stuff; tried to fool hitters with deep arsenal; more concerned about executing perfect pitches; concerns about his makeup and coachability made his time with the Diamondbacks short-lived; now in a much more favorable position with the Indians; could break camp as the Tribe's No. 3 starter.
Scouting Notes: 6’3”, 195-pounder is the top left-handed pitching prospect in the game; showed good stuff and poise in big-league debut last season; projectable frame with clean, repeatable mechanics; has bouts of inconsistency like any young pitcher; struggles usually stem from flying open with front shoulder; hips and core don’t explode and arms drag; stuff gets flat as a result and he loses too many pitches to his arm side; above-average three-pitch mix that could make him a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter.
Fastball isn’t overpowering in the high-80s/low-90s, but has some late life to the arm side; needs to spot it more aggressively; does a nice job throwing on a downhill plane; curveball is a hammer and one of my favorites among all minor league pitchers; features a tall shape with deceptive pace; legitimate 12-to-6 downer that should always draw tons of swing and misses; changeup is fringy at the moment, but has the potential to be a third above-average offering with further refinement; lacks feel for all three pitches at one time; consistency will come from experience, he’s young.
Scouting Notes: Regarded as one of baseball’s top pitching prospects headed into the season, Miller had a frustrating first-half at Triple-A Memphis; left too many fastballs up in the zone without effectively mixing in secondary pitches; was impressive as a Sept. call-up and made the Cardinals' postseason roster.
Miller uses a rhythmic and repeatable delivery, exploding towards the plate following a modest foot strike; fastball is actually pretty straight, but it’s one of those rare swing-and-miss heaters that draws whiffs at 92-95 mph; commands the pitch well throughout the strike zone; works inside to both right and left-handed hitters; curveball will need to get sharper, but offers a difficult look when thrown off his well-located fastball; with more refinement, his low-to-mid-80s changeup could emerge as a viable weapon next season.
Scouting Notes: Another tall (6’6”) power pitcher with a huge ceiling; Taillon’s arsenal isn’t quite as electric and advanced as Cole’s; despite long limbs, mechanics and delivery are still inconsistent and could inhibit his overall command; demonstrated vast improvement over the course of the 2012 season.
Right-hander’s fastball sits in the mid-to-high-90s with movement to the arm side; curveball is a second plus pitch with sharp, two-plane break; changeup is currently average at best as he noticeably lacks a feel for the pitch and how to execute it; needs to iron out some minor issues with his mechanics and refine his overall command before reaching the major leagues.
Scouting Notes: At 6’3”, 215 pounds, the right-hander has a power frame that’s built for innings; surprising athleticism for his size; excellent mound presence; oozes confidence on the mound, which is often perceived as arrogance; strong lower half allows him to repeat his mechanics; will have to keep his weight down as he develops physically.
Fastball is an easy plus pitch that ranges anywhere between 92-97 mph with weight; was touching 97-99 mph in 2012 XM Futures Game; pitch explodes out of his hand with late life to his arm side; curveball is a second plus pitch in the mid-80s with excellent depth and pace; throws a hard slider with sharp, two-plane break that projects to be at least a third above-average offering; possesses a feel for his changeup beyond his years (yet another above-average to plus pitch); a lot to love in his pitchability, though he relied more on pure stuff in full-season debut;
As he adds polish, Fernandez should be able to reach his ceiling as a No. 1 or No. 2 starting pitcher. Given his advanced makeup and potentially elite four-pitch mix, the 20-year-old could move quickly with a chance of reaching the major leagues in late 2013.
Scouting Notes: 6’4” right-hander has incredibly projectable frame and the potential to be a frontline starter; athletic delivery and lightning-quick arm result in overall deception; throws each of his pitches with similar tilt; a rarity in that he’s also adept to stifling running game.
Boasts a plus fastball that sits 93-96 mph with explosive arm-side run; effortless velocity overwhelms hitters; pitch is difficult to barrel; curveball is a hammer and a second plus offering; both slider and changeup aren’t thrown as often, but should give him a four-pitch mix of at least above-average offerings.
Scouting Notes: Large, durable, 6’4”, 220-pound frame; epitome of a power pitcher; the right-hander actually did a good job repeating his mechanics and delivery during his professional debut in 2012; power arsenal is highlighted by a plus-plus fastball that sits in the high-90s and routinely touches triple-digits.
Complements heater with a plus slider that’s thrown in the high-80s and features a devastating, wipeout break; completes elite arsenal with an above-average changeup that can be filthy when around the zone; despite his three dynamic offerings, Cole didn’t dominate last season as he should have; with a year of experience under his belt, the talented right-hander is poised for a big season and potentially long career at the front of the Pirates’ starting rotation; true No. 1 starter upside; shouldn't take him long to reach the major leagues.
Scouting Notes: Walker pitched the entire 2012 season as a 19-year-old at Double-A; possesses an ideal frame at 6’4”, 210 pounds; excellent athlete with little mileage on his arm gives him a high ceiling; easy, fluid mechanics that he repeats well; love his smooth yet explosive arm action.
Fastball consistently registers at 93-96 mph and jumps on opposing hitters; can dial it up to 97-98 mph on occasion and sustains velo well into his starts; curveball has plus shape and a late, downward bite, though he’ll over-grip and spike it on occasion; changeup has come a long way over the last season and looks to be a viable third above-average offering; Mariners introduced a cutter into his arsenal this past season; should keep hitters off his other offerings once he develops a more natural feel.
Scouting Notes: 6’1” right-hander is physically gifted and possesses a feel for pitching well beyond his years; superstar potential is already obvious with a strong chance he reaches his incredibly high ceiling.
Bundy boasts an advanced four-pitch mix highlighted by a mid-90s two-seam fastball with exceptional run; will also blow hitters away with a four-seamer that easily reaches the high-90s; breaking ball is a hammer and plus pitch, though he’s still developing command of the pitch and will occasionally leave it up in the zone; changeup is his most consistent secondary pitch at the moment with the potential to be another above-average offering; he also has a slider but primary breaking ball is the curve.