MLB Prospects Update: Hottest, Coldest Pitchers at Every Minor League Level
Selected by the Red Sox with the 39th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Anthony Ranaudo was expected to make a quick ascent to the major leagues. However, the 6’7” right-hander hit a roadblock during his sophomore campaign in 2011, as he battled a groin injury over the first few months of the season prior to being shut down for the season in July with shoulder fatigue.
Making up for lost time, the 23-year-old decided to pitch in the Puerto Rico Winter League during the offseason and began to look more like the pitcher the Red Sox envisioned when they drafted him a few years earlier. More importantly, he’s built upon that success this season at Double-A Portland while emerging as one of the top pitchers in the minor leagues.
Things have truly come full circle for Ranaudo, who turned in his best outing as a professional on Friday against Erie: 7.2 IP, 2 H, 13/2 K/BB.
Here’s a look at the rest of the hottest and coldest pitchers from every minor league level.
Paul Blackburn, RHP, Chicago Cubs
5 IP, H, 8/0 K/BB
After registering a 3.48 ERA in 20.2 innings last season in the rookie-level Arizona League, Blackburn was dominant in his Short Season debut for Boise.
David Ledbetter, RHP, Texas Rangers
3 IP, H, 2/0 K/BB
A third-round pick of the Rangers along with his twin brother, Ledbetter was sharp in his professional debut.
Mitch Gueller, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
5 IP, 3 H, 3/1 K/BB
Gueller struggled last season in the Gulf Coast League and registered a 5.27 ERA in 27.1 innings, but tossed five strong innings in his Short Season debut on Monday.
Peter Tago, RHP, Colorado Rockies
4.2 IP, 2 H, 6 ER, 3/7 K/BB
The 47th overall selection by the Rockies in the 2010 draft, Tago began his professional career at a full-season level but has been steadily pitching himself out of baseball ever since.
C.J. Edwards, RHP, Texas Rangers
66 IP, 2.05 ERA, .174 BAA, 86/27 K/BB (13 GS)
The 21-year-old right-hander’s command can be fringy, but he’s loaded with deception and a swing-and-miss fastball. Last three starts: 13.2 IP, 4 H, ER, 27/8 K/BB.
Steve Matz, LHP, New York Mets
50 IP, 2.88 ERA, .251 BAA, 56/16 K/BB (11 GS)
A second-round draft pick in 2009, Matz has been plagued by arm problems over the last three years and finally made his professional debut in 2012. The left-hander was dominant in his start on June 14: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 10/2 K/BB.
Pierce Johnson, RHP, Chicago Cubs
69.2 IP, 3.10 ERA, .255 BAA, 74/22 K/BB (13 GS)
The 2012 first-rounder has been impressive so far in his full-season debut and has fanned at least five batters in eight of his last 10 starts.
Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
54 IP, 2.50 ERA, .219 BAA, 43/10 K/BB (11 GS)
The 6’3” right-hander continues to solidify his stock as one of the best young pitching prospects in the minor leagues. Last two starts: 11 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 9/3 K/BB.
Martin Agosta, RHP, San Francisco Giants
68.2 IP, 1.97 ERA, .179 BAA, 88/27 K/BB (12 GS)
Agosta has been outstanding this season for Low-A Augusta, as he’s been difficult to barrel while missing bats at a ridiculous rate (12.0 K/9). Last two starts: 14 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 17/4 K/BB.
Matt Purke, LHP, Washington Nationals
18 IP, 4.00 ERA, .286 BAA, 24/6 K/BB (4 GS)
The perpetually injured left-hander has been touched up at times to begin the season, but the fact that he’s still missing bats is encouraging.
Lucas Sims, RHP, Atlanta Braves
47 IP, 2.87 ERA, .190 BAA, 53/17 K/BB (15 G/5 GS)
Sims has quickly emerged as one of the top pitchers in the South Atlantic League this season. Last five starts: 24.1 IP, 20 H, 7 ER, 32/5 K/BB.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
57.1 IP, 2.83 ERA, .143 BAA, 85/36 K/BB (13 GS)
Although he’s struggled with his command at times, Glasnow has been nearly unhittable in a majority of his starts this season and currently sports a 13.4 K/9 rate. He’s now recorded at least seven strikeouts in seven of his last 10 starts.
Lance McCullers, RHP, Houston Astros
60.2 IP, 2.08 ERA, .221 BAA, 68/26 K/BB (16 G/10 GS)
The 2012 sandwich pick continues to exceed expectations in his full-season debut.
Shane Watson, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
56 IP, 5.79 ERA, .250 BAA, 40/24 K/BB (13 GS)
The 6’4” right-hander has been knocked around over his last four outings: 14 IP, 16 H, 14 ER, 13/8 K/BB.
Austin Brice, RHP, Miami Marlins
52.1 IP, 5.85 ERA, .251 BAA, 46/49 K/BB (13 G/10 GS)
Brice has a power arm but no idea where the ball is going, and has worked mostly out of the bullpen in June.
Brandon Brennan, RHP, Chicago White Sox
68.2 IP, 6.55 ERA, .318 BAA, 49/22 K/BB (13 GS)
Opposing hitters have had no trouble squaring up the 2012 third-rounder, as he’s now allowed 91 hits in 68.2 innings.
Ismael Guillon, LHP, Cincinnati Reds
57 IP, 6.00 ERA, .232 BAA, 71/59 K/BB (14 G/13 GS)
Guillon has taken a step back after a strong showing at Low-A Dayton to finish the 2012 season, though he did turn in his best start of the year on June 16: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7/2 K/BB.
A.J. Cole, RHP, Washington Nationals
71.1 IP, 4.16 ERA, .261 BAA, 82/18 K/BB (13 GS)
Cole has had his share of rocky outings, but has been absolutely dominant his last two times out: 13 IP, 7 H, ER, 21/4 K/BB.
Edwin Escobar, LHP, San Francisco Giants
55.2 IP, 3.23 ERA, .233 BAA, 73/14 K/BB (12 G/11 GS)
The 21-year-old left-hander has been sharp this season in the hitter-friendly California League. Last three outings: 14 IP, 15 H, 5 ER, 22/2 K/BB.
Rafael De Paula, RHP, New York Yankees
64.1 IP, 2.94 ERA, .189 BAA, 96/23 K/BB (13 GS)
After dominating in the South Atlantic League, De Paula was recently promoted to High-A Tampa.
Chris Beck, RHP, Chicago White Sox
74 IP, 3.16 ERA, .254 BAA, 39/28 K/BB (13 GS)
Beck has showcased impressive pitchability this season, but his inability to miss bats consistently is worrisome.
Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox
65.1 IP, 3.03 ERA, .200 BAA, 80/28 K/BB (13 GS)
Owens has developed into one of the better left-handed pitching prospects in the game and has continued to miss bats despite moving up to the High-A Carolina League. Last four starts: 20.1 IP, 12 H, 3 ER, 25/11 K/BB.
R.J. Alvarez, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
28.1 IP, 2.54 ERA, .194 BAA, 47/16 K/BB (20 G/1 GS)
Alvarez has been a strikeout machine this season (15.1 K/9) for High-A Inland Empire and will likely debut in the major leagues at some point later in the summer.
Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals
58.2 IP, 5.98 ERA, .258 BAA, 71/25 K/BB (13 GS)
Zimmer has been piling up strikeouts but has struggled mightily since the beginning of May; has allowed five or more earned runs in five of his last 10 starts.
Sam Selman, LHP, Kansas City Royals
56.1 IP, 4.79 ERA, .218 BAA, 49/43 K/BB (13 GS)
Selman against left-handed hitters this season: 2.61 ERA, .145 BAA; against right-handed hitters: 6.06 ERA, .255 BAA.
Garrett Gould, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
63.1 IP, 6.25 ERA, .283 BAA, 46/23 K/BB (13 G/12 GS)
Gould’s second tour of the California League has been worse than his initial exposure last season.
Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
71.2 IP, 2.89 ERA, .248 BAA, 77/27 K/BB (13 GS)
Taillon has been excellent in his first two June starts: 11 IP, 0.82 ERA, 9/1 K/BB.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
77.1 IP, 2.56 ERA, .190 BAA, 84/30 K/BB (13 GS)
Recently ranked as Prospect Pipeline’s top pitching prospect, Walker has been outstanding this season back at Double-A. Last three starts: 18.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, .194 BAA, 21/3 K/BB.
Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
67 IP, 2.15 ERA, .174 BAA, 76/21 K/BB (12 GS)
Limited by injuries in 2012, Ranaudo has emerged as the most improved pitcher in the minor leagues this season. The right-hander turned in the best start of his career on June 13: 7.2 IP, 2 H, 13/2 K/BB.
Taylor Jordan, RHP, Washington Nationals
77.1 IP, 0.93 ERA, .204 BAA, 68/12 K/BB (13 G/12 GS)
Since his early-season promotion to Double-A Harrisburg: 5-0, 2 CG/SHO, 0.66 ERA, .181 BAA, 39/6 K/BB.
Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
71.1 IP, 2.65 ERA, .234 BAA, 65/20 K/BB (14 G/13 GS)
Besides his above-average command profile, the fact that Lee is finally missing bats with consistency should help him reach the major leagues later this season. Last two starts: 13 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 13/2 K/BB.
Kevin Quackenbush, RHP, San Diego Padres
31 IP, 13 SV, 0.29 ERA, .151 BAA, 46/10 K/BB (29 G)
Despite his lack of a dominant pitch, everything Quackenbush throws plays up due to his deception; candidate to be fast-tracked to the major leagues this season.
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
82.2 IP, 1.42 ERA, .202 BAA, 97/36 K/BB (14 GS)
Since being promoted to Double-A in early May: 5-2, CG, 1.50 ERA, .194 BAA, 54/26 K/BB (9 GS).
Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
26 IP, 4.15 ERA, .262 BAA, 29/8 K/BB (6 GS)
Since allowing seven earned runs on May 29, the hard-throwing right-hander has been sharp over his three subsequent outings: 16 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 16/5 K/BB.
Matt Barnes, RHP, Boston Red Sox
53.2 IP, 5.87 ERA, .287 BAA, 64/16 K/BB (12 GS)
After an impressive full-season debut in 2012 between both Class-A levels, Barnes has been very disappointing so far at Double-A. Last five starts: 22.2 IP, 27 H, 19 ER, 26/4 K/BB.
Deck McGuire, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
71 IP, 5.45 ERA, .275 BAA, 65/33 K/BB (13 GS)
Now in his third consecutive disappointing season at Double-A New Hampshire, the next stop for McGuire may be the bullpen.
Rafael Montero, RHP, New York Mets
78.2 IP, 2.40 ERA, .209 BAA, 84/11 K/BB (13 GS)
Since promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas: 12 IP, 2.25 ERA, .239 BAA, 12/1 K/BB (2 GS); candidate for a late-season call-up to the major leagues.
Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, Houston Astros
76.2 IP, 2.70 ERA, .213 BAA, 71/25 K/BB (15 G/12 GS)
Easily the most underrated pitcher in the Astros’ organization. Last four starts: 24.2 IP, 15 H, 4 ER, 24/8 K/BB.
Sonny Gray, RHP, Oakland Athletics
82.1 IP, 2.62 ERA, .254 BAA, 83/27 K/BB (13 GS)
The 2011 first-rounder has put it all together this season and is seemingly on the verge of a promotion to the major leagues. Over his last 10 starts, Gray has gone six or more innings while recording at least five strikeouts.
Robbie Erlin, LHP, San Diego Padres
52.1 IP, 5.50 ERA, .301 BAA, 47/20 K/BB (11 GS)
Erlin turned in the worst start of his professional career on June 16 against Reno: 2 IP, 11 H, 11 ER, 2/2 K/BB.
A.J. Schugel, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
74.2 IP, 6.39 ERA, .314 BAA, 66/27 K/BB (15 GS)
Coming off a breakout campaign at Double-A in 2012, Schugel has been hammered this season in the Pacific Coast League; he’s now allowed 97 hits in 74.2 innings.
Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Atlanta Braves
71 IP, 5.83 ERA, .308 BAA, 47/30 K/BB (13 GS)
While he’s struggled on all fronts this season, Gilmartin has especially struggled with right-handed hitters: 6.12 ERA, .332 BAA, 28/25 K/BB.
James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners
66 IP, 5.18 ERA, .295 BAA, 65/31 K/BB (14 GS)
After showing signs of turning the corner in May (4.21 ERA, 29/8 K/BB), Paxton has returned to his early-season form in June.