MLB Prospects Update: Hottest, Coldest Pitchers at Every Minor League Level
H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY
A pair of Dodgers prospects highlights this week’s installment of the hottest pitchers in the minor leagues.
Selected with the No. 28 overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, the Dodgers gave right-hander Zach Lee a $5 million signing bonus to turn down a football scholarship (quarterback) to Louisiana State. Despite struggling at High-A Rancho Cucamonga to open the 2012 season, the organization still handed Lee an aggressive promotion to Double-A Chattanooga at the halfway mark. Over 13 starts at the more advanced level, the right-hander registered a 4.25 ERA with 51/22 K/BB in 65.2 innings.
This season, however, Lee has put things together while repeating the level. Overall, the 21-year-old owns a 2.79 ERA with 85/24 K/BB through 93.2 innings.
Meanwhile, teammate Chris Reed has also enjoyed a breakout season in the Double-A Chattanooga starting rotation. A closer (at Stanford) when the Dodgers selected him No. 16 overall in 2011, the 6’5” left-hander has been kept on a short leash in terms of workload since turning pro, but has still been moved up the ladder quickly.
Like Lee, Reed split 2012 between High-A and Double-A, and struggled over the second half of the season at the more advanced level with a 4.84 ERA and 29/20 K/BB in 35.1 innings.
However, the Dodgers have scaled back the caution this season while having him repeat the level, and the 23-year-old is enjoying a breakout campaign as a result. Through his first 18 outings, Reed owns a 3.46 ERA with 74/32 K/BB in a career-high 96.1 innings.
Here’s a look at the rest of the hottest and coldest pitchers at every minor league level.
RHP Ben Lively / Courtesy of pwardell06
Luiz Gohara, LHP, Seattle Mariners
10.2 IP, 4.22 ERA, .318 BAA, 16/2 K/BB (3 GS)
The 16-year-old recorded his first scoreless start as a professional on Monday: 5 IP, 3 H, 9 K, 0 BB.
Paul Blackburn, RHP, Chicago Cubs
23 IP, 1.17 ERA, .185 BAA, 24/8 K/BB (5 GS)
The 2012 supplemental first-rounder is off to a great start at the Short Season level and should reach a full-season affiliate by the end of the season; has logged five innings in four of five starts.
Daniel McGrath, LHP, Boston Red Sox
19.2 IP, 1.37 ERA, .143 BAA, 26/7 K/BB (4 GS)
An Australia native, the 19-year-old left-hander was dominant for the third time in four starts on Monday: 5 IP, H, 9 K, 4 BB.
Ben Lively, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
9 IP, 7 H, 15/2 K/BB (3 GS)
The 2013 fourth-rounder is yet to allow an earned run through three starts.
Edwin Diaz, RHP, Seattle Mariners
22 IP, 0.41 ERA, .205 BAA, 25/2 K/BB (4 GS)
The 19-year-old right-hander was recently named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Week and has quickly proven to be more advanced than expected.
David Ledbetter, RHP, Texas Rangers
17 IP, 0.53 ERA, .194 BAA, 16/3 K/BB (4 GS)
The undersized (5’11”) right-hander was the first player ever drafted out of Cedarville (Ohio) and has been excellent through four professional starts.
Mitch Brown, RHP, Cleveland Indians
30.2 IP, 10.27 ERA, .354 BAA, 32/18 K/BB (9 GS)
Brown has continued to struggle following a demotion to the rookie-level Arizona League: 15 IP, 24 H, 15 ER, 14/7 K/BB in four starts.
Duane Underwood, RHP, Chicago Cubs
17.1 IP, 6.75 ERA, .267 BAA, 13/8 K/BB (4 GS)
The hard-throwing right-hander has been plagued by poor defense, but it’s not like the lack of control has helped his pitch count either.
RHP Lucas Sims / Courtesy of Christopher Blessing (BullpenBanter.com)
Hottest (All hot, no cold)
Tyler Pike, LHP, Seattle Mariners
83 IP, 2.39 ERA, .197 BAA, 71/41 K/BB (16 GS)
The 19-year-old left-hander has mid-rotation stuff and a feel for how to get outs, but the control and command will need considerable refinement. Last 10 starts: 56 IP, 1.93 ERA, 34 H, 43/31 K/BB.
Lucas Sims, RHP, Atlanta Braves
62.1 IP, 2.60 ERA, .183 BAA, 71/24 K/BB (18 G/8 GS)
After struggling in April (6.35 ERA), the 2012 first-rounder has improved with each subsequent month. Last 10 starts: 46 IP, 1.96 ERA, 31 H, 58/12 K/BB.
Jayson Aquino , LHP, Colorado Rockies
28 IP, 2.89 ERA, .235 BAA, 21/6 K/BB (5 GS)
The 6’1” left-hander made his first start for Low-A Asheville on Sunday: 5 IP, 3 H, ER, 5 K, BB.
C.J. Edwards, RHP, Texas Rangers
81.2 IP, 1.98 ERA, .190 BAA, 108/30 K/BB (16 GS)
The 21-year-old is enjoying one of the best breakout seasons in the minor leagues. Last 10 starts: 53 IP, 1.70 ERA, 37 H, 77/21 K/BB.
Miguel Almonte, RHP, Kansas City Royals
84.2 IP, 3.30 ERA, .244 BAA, 86/27 K/BB (16 GS)
Last seven outings: 39.1 IP, 36 H, 10 ER, 44/7 K/BB.
Jeff Ames, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
73.1 IP, 1.96 ERA, .187 BAA, 55/20 K/BB (15 GS)
Has not allowed an earned run in last 24 innings.
Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
65 IP, 2.08 ERA, .226 BAA, 50/11 K/BB (13 GS)
Has not allowed an earned run in last 22 innings.
Vincent Velasquez, RHP, Houston Astros
81 IP, 3.56 ERA, .232 BAA, 93/25 K/BB (20 G/11 GS)
The 21-year-old right-hander is having an impressive full-season debut after missing all of 2011 and part of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
32.1 IP, 2.78 ERA, .239 BAA, 38/13 K/BB (8 GS)
The 16-year-old southpaw has the potential to be special, and turned in the best outing of his promising career on July 3: 6 IP, 2 H, 8 K.
RHP Raul Alcantara / Courtesy of In the Shadows of Wrigley
Matt Loosen, RHP, Chicago Cubs
71 IP, 4.82 ERA, .220 BAA, 73/37 K/BB (15 G/13 GS)
Tossed a no-hitter on Tuesday against Dunedin; 24-year-old right-hander has pitched well since a demotion from Double-A Tennessee to High-A Dayton in early June: 36 IP, 2.25 ERA, 41/11 K/BB (6 GS).
Mark Sappington, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
104.2 IP, 3.78 ERA, .239 BAA, 84/47 K/BB (18 GS)
The 6’5” right-hander has a plus fastball in the mid-90s but lacks consistent secondary offerings. Last three starts: 21 IP, 14 H, 5 ER, 18/6 K/BB.
Raul Alcantara, RHP, Oakland Athletics
95.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, .266 BAA, 70/12 K/BB (17 GS)
The 20-year-old right-hander bounced back on Monday after a pair of shaky starts for High-A Stockton: 6.1 IP, 3 H, ER, 7 K, 2 BB.
Justin Nicolino, LHP, Miami Marlins
90.2 IP, 2.18 ERA, .247 BAA, 60/17 K/BB (17 GS)
Nicolino leads all qualified Florida State League pitchers with a 2.18 ERA and is likely to receive a promotion to Double-A during the second half of the season.
Daniel Winkler, RHP, Colorado Rockies
104.2 IP, 2.15 ERA, .154 BAA, 120/26 K/BB (17 GS)
The 23-year-old right-hander currently leads the minors with 120 strikeouts and has now fanned at least seven batters in each of his last 10 starts.
Matt Purke, LHP, Washington Nationals
37.2 IP, 4.30 ERA, .272 BAA, 46/10 K/BB (8 GS)
The frequently injured left-hander was hammered in his second High-A start on Monday: 3.2 IP, 11 H, 9 ER, 3 K, BB.
Sam Selman, LHP, Kansas City Royals
74 IP, 4.01 ERA, .209 BAA, 68/55 K/BB (17 GS)
The Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year in 2012, Selman’s control has been a mess since moving up to the Carolina League.
Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
55.2 IP, 3.23 ERA, .182 BAA, 49/23 K/BB (13 GS)
The promising right-hander turned in arguably his worst start of the season on Monday: 3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2/3 K/BB. It’s OK; he’s still a stud.
Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox
79.1 IP, 3.40 ERA, .206 BAA, 93/39 K/BB (16 GS)
The high-ceiling left-hander is having a great age-20 season but has hit a rough patch over his last two starts: 7 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 7 K, 10 BB.
A.J. Cole, RHP, Washington Nationals
88.1 IP, 4.58 ERA, .267 BAA, 98/22 K/BB (16 GS)
The 21-year-old right-hander has electric stuff with the ability to miss bats when he’s on—which he hasn’t been in his last two starts: 11 IP, 15 H, 10 ER, 11 K, 4 BB.
RHP Noah Syndergaard / Couresty of baseballinstinct
Chad Bettis, RHP, Colorado Rockies
46 IP, 3.52 ERA, .263 BAA, 48/9 K/BB (9 GS)
Since returning from the disabled list (shoulder) in early July: 10 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 11 K, 4 BB in two starts.
Chris Reed, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
96.1 IP, 3.36 ERA, .238 BAA, 74/32 K/BB (18 G/16 GS)
The 2011 first-rounder is finally being allowed to work deep into games and is having a solid season for Double-A Chattanooga. Last 10 starts: 55.1 IP, 1.79 ERA, 40 H, 49 K, 12 BB.
Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
49.2 IP, 3.26 ERA, .225 BAA, 58/12 K/BB (10 GS)
The hard-throwing (but undersized) right-hander is quickly making up for lost time after serving a 50-game PED suspension to open the season. Last seven starts: 39.2 IP, 9 ER, 26 H, 45 K, 9 BB.
Sean Nolin, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
56.2 IP, 2.38 ERA, .237 BAA, 61/12 K/BB (11 GS)
The 6’5” left-hander has settled in nicely at Double-A New Hampshire after an ugly cup of coffee in the major leagues. Last two starts: 11.2 IP, 7 H, 14 K, 2 BB.
Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
95 IP, 2.94 ERA, .244 BAA, 91/33 K/BB (17 G/16 GS)
The next great Pirates pitching prospect’s stock is holding steady thanks to a solid season at Double-A. Since the beginning of June: 34.1 IP, 34 H, 9 ER, 33 K, 7 BB in six starts.
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros
84 IP, 2.79 ERA, .231 BAA, 90/46 K/BB (21 G/13 GS)
The 21-year-old right-hander has taken a huge step forward this season thanks to a velocity spike into the elite range; has been very impressive since an early-season promotion to Double-A: 58 IP, 2.33 ERA, .231 BAA, 90/46 K/BB (14 G/8 GS).
Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Chicago Cubs
101.1 IP, 2.13 ERA, .235 BAA, 81/24 K/BB (17 GS)
Acquired from the Rangers last summer in the Ryan Dempster deal, Hendricks projects as a mid-rotation starter with a heavy fastball and above-average command of four pitches.
Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
93.2 IP, 2.79 ERA, .233 BAA, 85/24 K/BB (18 G/17 GS)
Like teammate Chris Reed, Lee is putting together an excellent season at Double-A Chattanooga and could get a crack at the major leagues later in the year. Last two games: 12.1 IP, 5 H, 11 K, 2 BB.
Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
93.1 IP, 3.09 ERA, .200 BAA, 102/46 K/BB (17 GS)
The Phillies’ top pitching prospect got off to a hot start to begin the season but gradually cooled off in May (4.75 ERA, 32/18 K/BB) and June (3.12 ERA, 21/15 K/BB), but was sharp in his latest outing against Trenton: 6 IP, 3 H, ER, 9 K, BB.
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
81.2 IP, 2.76 ERA, .253 BAA, 87/20 K/BB (15 GS)
Acquired by the Mets in the offseason trade of R.A. Dickey, Syndergaard has been every bit as advertised since joining the organization. Since his promotion to Double-A: 18 IP, 17 H, 3 ER, 23, 4 K in three starts.
RHP Sonny Gray / Courtesy of Stork Montgomery
Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals
92.1 IP, 3.31 ERA, .215 BAA, 110/37 K/BB (18 G/17 GS)
The right-hander with a triple-digit fastball has been knocked around at times since reaching Triple-A, but is still missing plenty of bats. Last outing: 5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 9 K.
Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, Houston Astros
105.1 IP, 2.82 ERA, .197 BAA, 93/36 K/BB (19 G/16 GS)
After issuing 10 walks between his previous two starts, Wojciechowski fired a one-hit shutout on Monday night with five strikeouts and a walk against Triple-A Round Rock.
Andre Rienzo, RHP, Chicago White Sox
100.2 IP, 4.47 ERA, .263 BAA, 96/36 K/BB (18 GS)
After a disastrous start to the season with a 7.71 ERA in April and 5.74 ERA in May, Rienzo has found his groove since the beginning of June: 2 CG, 38.1 IP, 40 H, 11 ER, 48 K, 11 BB in seven starts.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
100 IP, 2.16 ERA, .193 BAA, 112/35 K/BB (17 GS)
The top-ranked right-hander has been absolutely brilliant this season, especially since a promotion to Triple-A in late June: 16 IP, 11 H, ER, 16 K, 5 BB in three starts.
Sonny Gray, RHP, Oakland Athletics
102.1 IP, 2.81 ERA, .249 BAA, 107/34 K/BB (16 GS)
Things seemingly have clicked for Gray, who has been one of the more impressive pitchers in the high minors this season; has logged at least six innings/six strikeouts in each of his last 10 starts.
Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
101.1 IP, 3.02 ERA, .239 BAA, 101/38 K/BB (18 GS)
The 6’6”, 245-pounder was pitching well for Triple-A Nashville before he was shelled on Monday night: 5 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 3 K, 5 BB.
Jack Leathersich , LHP, New York Mets
40.1 IP, 3 SV, 3.12 ERA, .197 BAA, 74/25 K/BB (36 G)
After fanning 55 batters in 29.1 innings out of the Double-A Binghamton bullpen, the 5’11” left-hander has struggled following a mid-June promotion: 11 IP, 10 H, 9 ER, 19 K, 9 BB in 12 appearances.
A.J. Schugel, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
89.1 IP, 7.05 ERA, .324 BAA, 76/33 K/BB (19 GS)
Things just aren’t getting any better in the Pacific Coast League for the 24-year-old. Last two starts: 5.1 IP, 13 H, 10 ER, 5 K, BB.