MLB Prospects Update: Hottest, Coldest Pitchers at Every Minor League Level
Over his last two starts for Double-A Northwest Arkansas, 21-year-old Yordano Ventura has been nearly untouchable.
With a fastball that easily reaches triple-digits and sits comfortably in the upper-90s, as well as vastly improved secondary offerings, the right-hander has scattered only three hits while recording 10 strikeouts in each outing. You read that correctly: He has fanned 10 batters in back-to-back starts.
With a little over 50 innings of experience at Double-A under his belt, Ventura still needs more time to develop in the high minors. However, the flame-throwing right-hander’s outstanding start seemingly has him poised for a promotion to the major leagues later this season.
Here’s a look at the rest of the week’s hottest and coldest pitchers at every minor league level.
Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
25.1 IP, 4.97 ERA, .260 BAA, 16/11 K/BB (5 GS)
After giving up at least three earned runs in each start this season, the 20-year-old fired an absolute gem on Sunday: CG, SHO, 9 IP, 3 H, 5.1 K/BB.
Blake Snell, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
25.2 IP, 2.81 ERA, .237 BAA, 34/16 K/BB (6 GS)
Snell has had command issues in the early going this season, but continues to miss bats and induce ground-ball outs. Turned in his best start of the year on Wednesday: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 10/0 K/BB.
Miguel Almonte, RHP, Kansas City Royals
30.2 IP, 3.52 ERA, .252 BAA, 29/10 K/BB (6 GS)
I had the chance to see Almonte, 20, throw on Tuesday night against Lakewood—here’s some video. Impressive feel for three-pitch mix, including a fastball that sat 91-94 mph and topped out at 95. Last two starts: 12.2 IP, 6 H, ER, 16/5 K/BB.
Martin Agosta, RHP, San Francisco Giants
31.1 IP, 2.01 ERA, .196 BAA, 45/13 K/BB (6 GS)
The Giants’ 2012 second-rounder has been overpowering younger hitters in the South Atlantic League, and now has recorded 27 strikeouts over the last 16.2 innings.
Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins
17.1 IP, 2.55 ERA, .254 BAA, 21/1 K/BB (3 GS)
18-year-old right-hander has a projectable three-pitch mix with present command that’s rare for a hurler his age.
Lance McCullers, RHP, Houston Astros
26.2 IP, 1.69 ERA, .240 BAA, 29/9 K/BB (7 G; 4 GS)
The 41st overall selection in the 2012 draft, McCullers hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in a single outing and has fanned at least five batters on four different occasions.
Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
22.1 IP, 10.07 ERA, .343 BAA, 16/13 K/BB (7 G/6 GS)
The 2011 second-round bonus baby continues to look terrible as a professional and turned in arguably the worst start of his career on Wednesday: 1.1 IP, 7 H, 8 R (6 ER), 1/1 K/BB.
Brandon Brennan, RHP, Chicago White Sox
28 IP, 7.39 ERA, .333 BAA, 21/7 K/BB (6 GS)
A fourth-round selection last June, Brennan has allowed 39 hits through 28 innings this season. Last two starts: 5.2 IP, 12 H, 10 ER, 3/3 K/BB.
A.J. Cole, RHP, Washington Nationals
32 IP, 3.94 ERA, .264 BAA, 34/6 K/BB (6 GS)
The 21-year-old right-hander had scuffled in each of his starts this season before his dominant outing last Friday: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 9/0 K/BB.
Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
39.2 IP, 2.95 ERA, .211 BAA, 47/7 K/BB (7 GS)
After struggling throughout his full-season debut in 2012, the 6’5” right-hander has shown noticeable improvements from start-to-start this year in the Florida State League. Last three starts: 19 IP, 13 H, 4 ER, 27/3 K/BB.
Robbie Ray, LHP, Washington Nationals
39 IP, 2.08 ERA, .182 BAA, 48/18 K/BB (7 GS)
After struggling in the Carolina League in 2012 with a 6.56 ERA and 122 hits allowed (14 home runs) in 105.2 innings, the 21-year-old left-hander has been a different pitcher while repeating the level this season.
Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
34.2 IP, 2.60 ERA, .163 BAA, 34/10 K/BB (7 GS)
Possessing one of the higher ceilings among all pitching prospects in the minor leagues, Sanchez has been every bit as advertised this season at High-A Dunedin. Last two starts: 9 IP, 4 H, ER, 12/2 K/BB.
Tyler Anderson, LHP, Colorado Rockies
39.2 IP, 3.18 ERA, .221 BAA, 36/10 K/BB (7 GS)
After turning in his worst start of the season on May 1, the 23-year-old left-hander bounced back with his best on Monday: 6 IP, 2 H, 6/0 K/BB.
Clayton Blackburn, RHP, San Francisco Giants
33 IP, 3.00 ERA, .195 BAA, 42/6 K/BB (6 GS)
Blackburn dazzled in his full-season debut last year at Low-A Augusta, and is still missing plenty of bats this season despite moving up to the hitter-friendly California League.
Mark Sappington, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
41.2 IP, 1.73 ERA, .189 BAA, 40/15 K/BB (7 GS)
The 6’5” right-hander will go through bouts of command struggles, but has the fastball velocity to overpower young hitters. The 2012 fifth-rounder has been especially effective against right-handed hitters with a 0.39 ERA and .188 BAA.
Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox
32 IP, 2.25 ERA, .153 BAA, 40/11 K/BB (6 GS)
After fanning 130 batters in 101.2 innings last year in his full-season debut, the 6’6” left-hander is piling up strikeouts in the Carolina League. Last three starts: 3-0, 16 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 24/6 K/BB.
Sam Selman, LHP, Kansas City Royals
25.2 IP, 5.61 ERA, .225 BAA, 20/23 K/BB (6 GS)
After dominating in the Pioneer League last summer and capturing the league’s pitcher of the year honors, Selman has yet to showcase the control and command in High-A that made him so effective a year ago.
Hudson Randall, RHP, Detroit Tigers
28.2 IP, 3.45 ERA, .278 BAA, 10/5 K/BB (6 GS)
Randall was knocked around in his first Florida State League start after registering a 1.35 ERA at Low-A to open the season.
Navery Moore, RHP, Atlanta Braves
35 IP, 6.69 ERA, .293 BAA, 16/14 K/BB (7 GS)
The 6’2” right-hander had a promising full-season debut at Low-A in 2012, but his tentative feel for the strike zone has been exploited in High-A. Last three starts: 17.2 IP, 20 H, 12 ER, 8/5 K/BB.
Danny Salazar, RHP, Cleveland Indians
33.2 IP, 2.67 ERA, .220 BAA, 51/10 K/BB (7 GS)
The hard-throwing right-hander has been the top pitcher in the minor leagues over his last four starts: 21 IP, 11 H, ER, 38/5 K/BB.
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
36.2 IP, 1.23 ERA, .209 BAA, 54/13 K/BB (7 GS)
Currently leading all minor leaguers with 54 strikeouts this season, Bradley has continued to impress following his promotion to Double-A: 8 IP, 5 H, ER, 11/3 K/BB.
Jose Ramirez, RHP, New York Yankees
13 IP, 0.69 ERA, .140 BAA, 17/4 K/BB (3 G/2 GS)
After spending parts of four seasons between both Class-A levels, Ramirez has been excellent so far in his first taste of Double-A.
Nathan Karns, RHP, Washington Nationals
32.2 IP, 3.03 ERA, .191 BAA, 40/14 K/BB (6 GS)
After an ugly first start of the season at Double-A, the 25-year-old has been one of the top pitchers at the level over the last month. Last five starts: 29 IP, 15 H, 4 ER, 37/11 K/BB.
Matt Barnes, RHP, Boston Red Sox
26 IP, 5.19 ERA, .299 BAA, 31/9 K/BB (6 GS)
Barnes has been largely inconsistent this season at Double-A Portland, but has seemingly turned the corner over his last two starts: 12 IP, 8 H, ER, 14/3 K/BB.
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros
31 IP, 3.19 ERA, .262 BAA, 38/15 K/BB (8 G/6 GS)
After a solid start to the 2013 season at High-A Lancaster, the Astros recently bumped up Foltynewicz to Double-A Corpus Christi, where he dominated in his first start at the more advanced level: 5 IP, H, 9/1 K/BB.
Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals
29.1 IP, 1.84 ERA, .181 BAA, 43/11 K/BB (6 GS)
With an elite fastball and steadily improving secondary offerings, Ventura has been nearly unhittable over his last two starts: 11 IP, 3 H, 20/5 K/BB (he’s fanned 10 batters in each game).
Alex Wood, LHP, Atlanta Braves
31 IP, 0.58 ERA, .198 BAA, 38/7 K/BB (6 GS)
Making the jump from Low-A to Double-A this season, I don’t think anyone expected Wood to be this good, especially against more advanced competition. So far, the left-hander has been scored on in just one start.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
35 IP, 1.54 ERA, .150 BAA, 39/20 K/BB (6 GS)
After allowing four earned runs in his season debut, Walker has allowed a total of two earned runs over his last five starts: 30 IP, 13 H, 2 ER, 31/16 K/BB.
Chris Reed, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
37.2 IP, 5.02 ERA, .269 BAA, 19/15 K/BB (7 GS)
The 6’5’ left-hander hasn’t developed into the pitcher the Dodgers hoped he would when the selected him 16th overall in 2011. Last three starts: 14.2 IP, 20 H, 13 ER, 5/8 K/BB.
Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
38.2 IP, 3.26 ERA, .247 BAA, 39/13 K/BB (7 GS)
One of the top pitching prospects in the game, the 6’6” right-hander has been inconsistent as of late after opening the season with back-to-back gems. Last four starts: 20.2 IP, 26 H, 12 ER, 19/6 K/BB.
J.R. Graham, RHP, Atlanta Braves
33.2 IP, 4.28 ERA, .290 BAA, 27/10 K/BB (7 GS)
Graham has struggled overall in his first full season at Double-A, though he’s still missing bats at a favorable rate and generating plenty of ground-ball outs (2.24 GO/AO). Last three starts: 15.2 IP, 23 H, 11 ER, 13/6 K/BB.
Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
34 IP, 2.65 ERA, .178 BAA, 39/13 K/BB (6 GS)
Although his high fly-ball rate is still concerning, Odorizzi has been excellent thus far in his first season with the Rays. In his start on Sunday, the 23-year-old right-hander combined with two relievers to no-hit Triple-A Pawtucket. Last two starts: 12 IP, 4 H, 9/4 K/BB.
Kyle Gibson, RHP, Minnesota Twins
40.2 IP, 3.32 ERA, .242 BAA, 35/11 K/BB (7 GS)
While he’s turned in a few rough starts this season, the 25-year-old right-hander is coming off arguably the best outing of his professional career: CH, SHO, 9 IP, 4 H, 8/2 K/BB.
Michael Wacha, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
34.2 IP, 1.82 ERA, .195 BAA, 19/13 K/BB (6 GS)
Wacha isn’t missing as many bats as he did last summer in his lights-out professional debut, but the 6’6” right-hander’s plus command and three-pitch mix already have him banging on the door to the major leagues.
Jarred Cosart, RHP, Houston Astros
33 IP, 2.18 ERA, .207 BAA, 39/14 K/BB (7 G/6 GS)
While I’m terrified that my praise will only jinx the 22-year-old, it appears as though Cosart is finally putting it all together this season. Last two starts: 2-0, 11 IP, 10 H, ER, 16/5 K/BB.
Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York Mets
36 IP, 4.00 ERA, .246 BAA, 40/17 K/BB (7 GS)
Wheeler dealt with a blister problem early this season as he was forced to adjust to the unforgiving Pacific Coast League, but has seemingly righted the ship over his last two starts: 2-0, 12.2 IP, 8 H, ER, 12/2 K/BB.
Andre Rienzo, RHP, Chicago White Sox
32 IP, 8.72 ERA, .308 BAA, 28/15 K/BB (7 GS)
After a breakout 2012 campaign in which he registered a 2.53 ERA and .206 BAA across three minor-league levels, Rienzo has been a mess at Triple-A Charlotte thus far. Last start: 0.1 IP, 5 H (2 HR), 7 ER, 1/2 K/BB.
Daniel Corcino, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
25 IP, 7.56 ERA, .339 BAA, 20/12 K/BB (6 G/5 GS)
While the numbers aren’t pretty so far, it’s important to keep in mind that Corcino is a 22-year-old pitching at the Triple-A level for the first time.
Chris Heston, RHP, San Francisco Giants
38.2 IP, 5.82 ERA, .333 BAA, 38/15 K/BB (7 GS)
Coming off a breakout season at Double-A Richmond in which he posted a 2.24 ERA and .230 BAA over 148.2 innings, the 25-year-old right-hander has now allowed 52 hits in 38.2 innings this season in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
Chase Anderson, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
38.2 IP, 6.28 ERA, .323 BAA, 34/12 K/BB (7 GS)
As a fastball-changeup guy with a fringy breaking ball, Anderson has allowed at least five earned runs in three of his seven starts this season. Last three starts: 17.1 IP, 25 H, 15 ER, 12/5 K/BB.
Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
31.1 IP, 6.89 ERA, .273 BAA, 32/14 K/BB (6 GS)
After reaching the major leagues as a 21-year-old last season, Skaggs’ lack of command so far has led to some ugly outings in the Pacific Coast League. Last two starts: 9.2 IP, 15 H, 11 ER, 12/5 K/BB.