MLB Prospects Update: Hottest, Coldest Pitchers at Every Minor League Level
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Although Archie Bradley has shot up the rankings this season thanks to a dominant first half between High-A Visalia and Double-A Mobile, Mariners top prospect Taijuan Walker is still the best young arm in the minor leagues.
After mastering the Southern League with a 2.46 ERA and 96/30 K/BB in 84 innings, Walker received a well-deserved promotion to Triple-A Tacoma. The hitter-friendly conditions of the Pacific Coast League have been a non-factor through is first two starts, as the 20-year-old is yet to allow an earned run and held opposing hitters to a .132 batting average.
Here’s a look at the rest of the hottest and coldest pitchers at every minor league level.
Courtesy of Chris Blessing (BullpenBanter.com)
Michael Fulmer, RHP, New York Mets
12 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 13/1 K/BB (2 GS)
The 44th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Fulmer flew under the radar last season during his impressive full-season debut for Low-A Savannah (108.1 IP, 2.74 ERA, 101/38 K/BB). And after missing the first three months after undergoing minor knee surgery, the 20-year-old right-hander seems to be back on track. Except a promotion to Low-A (possibly even High-A) sometime soon.
Edwin Diaz, RHP, Seattle Mariners
16 IP, 0 ER, 9 H, 20/2 K/BB (3 GS)
After struggling last season in the Arizona League, Diaz has just looked like a different pitcher through his first three starts in the Appalachian League.
Paul Blackburn, RHP, Chicago Cubs
15 IP, 0 ER, 8 H, 20/2 K/BB (3 GS)
The 56th overall selection in the 2012 draft, Blackburn’s prospect stock is on the rise thanks to a terrific start for Short-Season Boise.
Yency Almonte, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
8.1 IP, 8 ER, 9 H, 5/3 K/BB (2 GS)
Considering that he’s only logged 11.1 innings as a professional, I’m probably being too hard on the 19-year-old.
Collin Wiles, RHP, Texas Rangers
14.1 IP, 7 ER, 17 H, 7/4 K/BB (3 GS)
After posting a 6.87 ERA during his professional debut last summer in the rookie-level Arizona League, Wiles has made noticeably improvements this season at a more advanced level, but is still too hittable.
LHP Julio Urias / Courtesy of lildun34
Hottest (Once again...all hots, no colds.)
Mauricio Cabrera, RHP, Atlanta Braves
75.1 IP, 4.30 ERA, .240 BAA, 66/40 K/BB (14 GS)
Last two starts: 11 IP, 6 H, 14/3 K/BB.
Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
26.1 IP, 3.42 ERA, .268 BAA, 30/13 K/BB (7 GS)
The 16-year-old left-hander already boasts a plus fastball in the low-to-mid-90s and showcases a distinct feel for both a changeup and curveball that project to be at least above-average offerings.
Vincent Velasquez, RHP, Houston Astros
75 IP, 3.84 ERA, .244 BAA, 88/23 K/BB (19 G/10 GS)
Velasquez missed all of 2011 and part of 2012 while recovering for Tommy John surgery, but has made up for lost time with a strong first half for Low-A Quad Cities; last 10 starts: 39 IP, 3.00 ERA, .253 BAA, 44/12 K/BB.
Miguel Almonte, RHP, Kansas City Royals
79.2 IP, 3.39 ERA, .244 BAA, 80/27 K/BB (15 GS)
One of my favorite pitching prospects in the low minors; Almonte, 20, has shown the potential for three above-average-to-plus offerings during his full-season debut.
C.J. Edwards, RHP, Texas Rangers
76 IP, 2.01 ERA, .183 BAA, 98/29 K/BB (15 GS)
The wiry right-hander’s impressive full-season debut for Low-A Hickory has his stock on the rise; last 10 starts: 52.2 IP, 2.05 ERA, .186 BAA, 69/22 K/BB.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
66.1 IP, 2.44 ERA, .149 BAA, 98/39 K/BB (15 GS)
The 6’7” right-hander has emerged as one of the fastest rising young arms in the minors this season thanks to a ridiculous first half at Low-A West Virginia; a strong finish could push him into the top 30 overall.
Lucas Sims, RHP, Atlanta Braves
57.1 IP, 2.83 ERA, .187 BAA, 65/22 K/BB (17 G/7 GS)
Last 10 starts: 43 IP, 2.09 ERA, .195 BAA, 55/10 K/BB; making a case for a top-50 ranking in the midseason update.
Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
65 IP, 2.08 ERA, .226 BAA, 50/11 K/BB (13 GS)
After turning in his fourth consecutive scoreless outing on Monday, Guerrieri’s scoreless innings streak now stands at 22.
Dylan Baker, RHP, Cleveland Indians
84.1 IP, 3.63 ERA, .223 BAA, 62/31 K/BB (15 G/14 GS)
Regarded as the top community college pitcher in the 2012 draft class, it’s taken Baker a while to get going this season, but he’s really come into his own over the last month: 4-1, 36.2 IP, 2.95 ERA, .169 BAA, 23/14 K/BB (6 GS).
RHP Kyle Crick / Courtesy of connorglennpenfold
Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies
98.1 IP, 2.01 ERA, .175 BAA, 93/38 K/BB (17 GS)
After dominating younger hitters in the South Atlantic League, Butler, who has the potential for three plus pitches at maturity, has continued to deal since arriving at High-A Modesto: 44 IP, 2.45 ERA, .217 BAA, 42/13 K/BB (8 GS)
Justin Nicolino, LHP, Miami Marlins
84.2 IP, 2.23 ERA, .236 BAA, 56/17 K/BB (16 GS)
Nicolino doesn’t have dynamic stuff like so many other players on this list, but his pitchability grades through the roof.
Matt Purke, LHP, Washington Nationals
29 IP, 2.48 ERA, .229 BAA, 41/7 K/BB (6 GS)
Purke, the Nationals’ third-round bonus baby from the 2011 draft, is finally healthy and putting up big numbers; was recently promoted to High-A Potomac after six impressive starts in the South Atlantic League.
Kyle Crick, RHP, San Francisco Giants
18.2 IP, 0.48 ERA, .232 BAA, 30/13 K/BB (5 GS)
After spending roughly two months on the disabled list with an oblique strain, Crick has been a beast since returning to the mound: 9 IP, 6 H, 18/4 K/BB.
Luke Jackson, RHP, Texas Rangers
70.1 IP, 2.30 ERA, .222 BAA, 74/34 K/BB (14 GS)
Although the inability to repeat his delivery and pound the strike zone was a major issue last season, the quality of Jackson’s stuff has never been questioned; it’s good to see him start putting things together this season.
Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals
71.2 IP, 5.40 ERA, .249 BAA, 83/30 K/BB (15 GS)
Although he’s unexpectedly struggled for basically the entire first half of the 2013 season, Zimmer’s stuff is simply too good for it to last all year. The Royals’ top prospect turned in his best start of the season on Saturday against High-A Potomac, as he carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before finishing with a complete-game shutout.
Daniel Winkler, RHP, Colorado Rockies
98 IP, 2.02 ERA, .147 BAA, 113/25 K/BB (16 GS)
Selected in the 20th round of the 2011 draft, the 23-year-old is enjoying a huge breakout year for High-A Modesto, and is due for a second-half promotion to Double-A. Last 10 starts: 8-1, 63 IP, 1.71 ERA, 79/17 K/BB; has also struck out at least seven batters in each outing.
Navery Moore, RHP, Atlanta Braves
83.2 IP, 6.45 ERA, .307 BAA, 58/31 K/BB (16 GS)
Last two starts (brace yourself): 9 IP, 23 H, 18 ER, 8/3 K/BB.
Mike Augliera, RHP, Boston Red Sox
81 IP, 4.67 ERA, .296 BAA, 46/22 K/BB (15 GS)
The 2012 fifth-rounder has allowed six or more hits in eight of his last 10 starts.
Clayton Blackburn, RHP, San Francisco Giants
81 IP, 4.67 ERA, .296 BAA, 46/22 K/BB (15 GS)
Promoted to High-A San Jose after an impressive full-season debut for Low-A Augusta in 2012, Blackburn has been a victim of the hitter-friendly California League this year; still posting a favorably strikeout-to-walk rate.
RHP Noah Syndergaard / Courtesy of baseballinstinct
Keyvius Sampson, RHP, San Diego Padres
78.2 IP, 3.43 ERA, .237 BAA, 77/36 K/BB (17 G/16 GS)
After an ugly start to his season at Triple-A Tucson, Sampson has finally found his groove back at Double-A San Antonio. The 22-year-old has been absolutely dominant over his last two outings: 14 IP, 4 H, ER, 22/1 K/BB.
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
74.2 IP, 2.45 ERA, .249 BAA, 80/19 K/BB (14 GS)
The 20-year-old right-hander has been very impressive this season and emerged as one of the top pitching prospects in the game; since promotion to Double-A: 11 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 16/3 K/BB (2 GS).
Brooks Pounders, RHP, Kansas City Royals
69.1 IP, 4.02 ERA, .239 BAA, 57/24 K/BB (18 G/10 GS)
The 6’4”, 270-pound right-hander isn’t much of prospect, but he gets the nod for this week’s installment after firing a no-hitter against Double-A Midland.
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
95.1 IP, 1.79 ERA, .204 BAA, 110/39 K/BB (16 GS)
Following his only poor start of the 2013 season on June 22 (5 IP, 7 H, 6 ER), Bradley was his usual self last Thursday: 7.2 IP, 3 H, 7/2 K/BB; and if there’s a need, don’t be surprised if the Diamondbacks turn to the 20-year-old right-hander at some point later this season.
Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres
80 IP, 3.15 ERA, .233 BAA, 72/20 K/BB (15 GS)
Since his promotion to Double-A San Antonio: 49 IP, 3.86 ERA, 44/14 K/BB (9 GS); fresh off his best start of the season on June 27: 6 IP, 6 H, ER, 8/0 K/BB.
Neil Ramirez, RHP, Texas Rangers
86 IP, 3.14 ERA, .190 BAA, 106/37 K/BB (16 GS)
Coming off a dismal 2012 campaign in which he registered a 6.28 ERA and received a demotion to Double-A, Ramirez has rebounded well while repeating the level for a third time. Last three starts: 17 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 25/4 K/BB.
Andrew Chafin, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
102.2 IP, 3.24 ERA, .249 BAA, 81/43 K/BB (17 GS)
Owner of one of the best sliders in the minor leagues, Chafin turned in arguably his best start of the season on Monday for Double-A Mobile: 6 IP, 2 H, 5/2 K/BB.
Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
88.1 IP, 2.95 ERA, .237 BAA, 80/24 K/BB (17 G/16 GS)
Lee has made impressive strides with his command and effectiveness this season as a 21-year-old in Double-A, and he will likely be called upon to make his major league debut at some point during the second half.
Matt Barnes, RHP, Boston Red Sox
67.2 IP, 5.19 ERA, .282 BAA, 83/25 K/BB (15 GS)
Barnes appeared to putting things together in June, as he held Double-A Reading and Trenton scoreless in back-to-back outings. However, the right-hander’s inconsistent sophomore campaign continued on Saturday with a clunker against New Hampshire: 5 IP, 9 H (2 HR), 4 ER, 5/2 K/BB; hey, at least he’s still missing plenty of bats.
Aaron Northcraft, RHP, Atlanta Braves
75.1 IP, 4.30 ERA, .253 BAA, 67/29 K/BB (15 GS)
After leading the Carolina League in strikeouts (160) in 2012, Northcraft has struggled this in his first taste of Double-A.
Trevor May, RHP, Minnesota Twins
89 IP, 3.84 ERA, .256 BAA, 87/40 K/BB (16 GS)
Although the strikeout rate is about where it should be, May’s command and ability to execute secondary offerings hasn’t progressed as hoped; too many pitches left up in the zone has made him prone to the long ball since the start of the 2012 season.
RHP Taijuan Walker / Courtesy of Chris Blessing (BullpenBanter.com)
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
95 IP, 2.18 ERA, .188 BAA, 108/34 K/BB (16 GS)
The game’s top pitching prospect just continues to impress in his age-20 season, continuing to dominate opposing hitters following recent promotion to Triple-A Tacoma: 2-0, 11 IP, 5 H, 12/4 K/BB.
Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
76 IP, 4.26 ERA, .256 BAA, 87/28 K/BB (13 G/11 GS)
The 6’5” left-hander was desperately in need of an outing like the one he turned in on Saturday: 8.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 13/3 K/BB; he’ll likely replace the injured Trevor Cahill in the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation.
Cody Martin, RHP, Atlanta Braves
88 IP, 2.45 ERA, .228 BAA, 95/32 K/BB (19 G/14 GS)
After quietly breezing through the Southern League (2.82 ERA in 67 IP), Martin has been outstanding through three starts for Triple-A Gwinnett: CG, 21 IP, 11 H, 3 ER, 24/5 K/BB.
Erik Johnson, RHP, Chicago White Sox
97.2 IP, 2.21 ERA, .191 BAA, 87/27 K/BB (16 GS)
In his two starts since receiving a promotion to Triple-A Charlotte: 13 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 13/6 K/BB; expect to see the 23-year-old in the major leagues later this season.
James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners
77.1 IP, 5.24 ERA, .294 BAA, 81/33 K/BB (16 GS)
A notorious slow starter, Paxton turned in his best outing of the year on June 22 (6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 11/1 K/BB), but followed it up with one of his worst on Friday: 5.1 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 5/1 K/BB.
A.J. Schugel, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
84 IP, 6.43 ERA, .312 BAA, 71/32 K/BB (17 GS)
Schugel seemed as though he was turning the corner in early June when he strung together three consecutive quality starts. However, the right-hander has regressed over his last three outings: 14.1 IP, 19 H, 12 ER, 10/6 K/BB.