MLB Prospects Update: Hottest, Coldest Pitchers at Every Minor League Level
Since the last installment in this series, there have been several notable promotions throughout the minor leagues.
To begin with, the Rockies promoted right-hander Jonathan Gray, the No. 3 selection in the 2013 draft, from the Rookie-level Pioneer League to High-A Modesto, where he dominated in his first start.
A trio of pitchers, right-handers Eddie Butler and Luke Jackson and left-hander Andrew Heaney, were moved up to Double-A for the conclusion of the 2013 season, and each impressed in their debut at the level.
Meanwhile, the Pirates and Red Sox have promoted right-handers Jameson Taillon and Anthony Ranaudo, respectively, to Triple-A. And like all of the aforementioned hurlers, each hurler was sharp in his debut.
Here’s a look at the rest of the hottest and coldest pitchers at every minor league level.
Hottest (no coldest once again due to small sample sizes)
Jake Johansen, RHP, Washington Nationals
32.1 IP, 1.11 ERA, .164 BAA, 30/15 K/BB (8 GS)
Selected by the Nationals in the second round of the 2013 draft, Johansen, a 6’6”, 235-pound right-hander, has a plus fastball that bumps the upper 90s and sharp slider but lacks an overall feel for pitching; at worst, the size and stuff could make him an elite closer. Last three starts: 15 IP, 14 H, 2 ER, 11/3 K/BB.
Jamie Callahan, RHP, Boston Red Sox
33.2 IP, 3.74 ERA, .203 BAA, 32/9 K/BB (7 GS)
Hard to find a hotter pitcher in the minors than the 18-year-old right-hander (he turns 19 later this month); last two starts: 12 IP, H, 0 ER, 17/0 K/BB.
Zachary Bird, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
72.2 IP, 6.19 ERA, .260 BAA, 69/52 K/BB (22 G/14 GS)
It’s been an rough season for the 2012 ninth-rounder, as he was handed a midseason demotion to the Pioneer League after struggling with Low-A Great Lakes. However, his latest start was a step in the right direction: 6 IP, 6 H, 9/2 K/BB.
Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
6 IP, 3.00 ERA, .182 BAA, 10/1 K/BB (3 GS)
In Harvey’s third professional start on August 1, the right-hander fanned eight batters over three hitless innings. Not bad, right?
Severino Gonzalez, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
72.2 IP, 1.86 ERA, .212 BAA, 85/14 K/BB (20 G/9 GS)
The 20-year-old has been impressive following an early-season promotion to High-A Clearwater, where he’s excelled as both a reliever (1.54 ERA, 28 K in 23.1 IP) and starter (2.25 ERA, 26 K in 28 IP).
Tom Windle, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
31.2 IP, 1.99 ERA, .215 BAA, 30/12 K/BB (8 G/7 GS)
The No. 56 overall selection in the 2013 draft, Windle has not allowed more than two runs in an outing to begin his career.
Jake Thompson, RHP, Detroit Tigers
57 IP, 3.16 ERA, .250 BAA, 60/18 K/BB (12 GS)
The Tigers’ top pitching prospect has turned in an impressive full-season debut with Low-A West Michigan, missing more than a bat per inning while showcasing an advanced feel for pitching. Granted it’s a relatively small sample, but the 6’4” right-hander has dominated same-side hitters this season (1.67 ERA, 34/8 K/BB in 32.1 IP) but struggled against lefties (5.11 ERA, 32 H in 24.2 IP).
Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
66.2 IP, 5.13 ERA, .274 BAA, 77/37 K/BB (19 G/18 GS)
It’s been an up-and-down full-season debut for Norris, though the fact that he’s gaining significant experience is a positive sign. Furthermore, the southpaw has shown signs of coming into his own over his last 10 starts: 36.1 IP, 2.97 ERA, .250 BAA, 49/18 K/BB.
Vince Velasquez, RHP, Houston Astros
104 IP, 3.38 ERA, .223 BAA, 116/31 K/BB (24 G/15 GS)
The 21-year-old is technically behind the age curve, but that’s mostly because he missed all of 2011 and part of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery; arguably the most underrated pitching prospect in a loaded Astros system. Last two starts: 13 IP, 5 H, ER, 14/3 K/BB.
Christian Binford, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
115.1 IP, 1.95 ERA, .238 BAA, 113/21 K/BB (19 GS)
The 6’6" right-hander has put himself on the prospect radar this season with an impressive full-season debut. Between June and July, Binford registered a 1.11 ERA with 59/9 K/BB in 56.2 innings.
Nick Travieso, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
54.2 IP, 5.10 ERA, .282 BAA, 42/20 K/BB (12 GS)
The 2012 first-rounder has looked sharp at times during his full-season debut but is still largely inconsistent; not sold on his ability to remain a starter given the arm slot and lack of quality secondary offerings. Last nine starts: 40.2 IP, 5.53 ERA, 43 H, 15 BB.
Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins
86.2 IP, 3.74 ERA, .273 BAA, 85/33 K/BB (16 GS)
After a hot start to his full-season debut that included a 2.31 ERA in April and 2.63 ERA in May, Berrios has struggled with his command since the beginning of June: 4.77 ERA, 62 H, 51/25 K/BB in 37.2 IP.
Jonathan Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies
18.1 IP, 2.95 ERA, .243 BAA, 22/2 K/BB (5 GS)
After posting a 4.05 ERA and 15/2 K/BB over 13.1 innings in the Pioneer League, Gray, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft, was dominant in his debut for High-A Modesto on Friday: 5 IP, 2 H, 7 K.
Sam Selman, LHP, Kansas City Royals
99.2 IP, 3.61 ERA, .214 BAA, 95/67 K/BB (22 GS)
After a dismal start to the season that included a 5.19 ERA and 42/33 K/BB ratio through 10 starts, Selman has made noticeable adjustments and posted a 2.66 ERA and 53/34 K/BB ratio since the beginning of June.
Mike Augliera, RHP, Boston Red Sox
113 IP, 4.06 ERA, .269 BAA, 63/30 K/BB (21 GS)
Augliera had a forgettable month of June during which he registered a 7.15 ERA and allowed 33 hits (five home runs) in 22.2 innings but has pitched significantly better since the beginning of July: 2.53 ERA, 24 H (0 HR), 17/8 K/BB in 32 innings.
Michael Ynoa, RHP, Oakland Athletics
72.2 IP, 3.84 ERA, .241 BAA, 64/34 K/BB (20 GS)
Although it’s been a breakout season for the oft-injured Ynoa, he didn’t respond as hoped to a midseason promotion to High-A Stockton (9.00 ERA, 16/16 K/BB in 18 IP). Even more concerning, the 21-year-old right-hander was removed from his start on August 1 due to shoulder soreness. Uh-oh.
Rafael De Paula, RHP, New York Yankees
96 IP, 4.03 ERA, .221 BAA, 132/42 K/BB (20 G/19 GS)
Few pitchers enjoyed as impressive of a first half as De Paula, who breezed through the South Atlantic League with a 2.94 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 64.1 innings. However, the same can’t be said following his midseason bump to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League: 6.25 ERA, 34 H, 36/19 K/BB in 31.2 innings.
Raul Alcantara, RHP, Oakland Athletics
123 IP, 2.91 ERA, .262 BAA, 95/15 K/BB (22 GS)
Here’s a quick breakdown of Alcantara’s performance since making his High-A debut on June 23: First five starts: 24.2 IP, 19 H, 5 ER, 21/7 K/BB; next four starts: 21.2 IP, 25 H (5 HR), 14 ER, 16/1 K/BB.
Onelki Garcia, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
50.1 IP, 2.86 ERA, .216 BAA, 52/31 K/BB (24 G/6 GS)
Garcia’s lack of command made his work as a starter short-lived this season with Double-A Chattanooga. That said, he’s certainly found his niche as a reliever: 30.1 IP, 1.48 ERA, 35/15 K/BB (18 G). He’s also been extremely effective against same-side hitters: 1.69 ERA, .151 BAA, 20 K in 16 IP.
Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies
127 IP, 1.98 ERA, .186 BAA, 124/46 K/BB (23 GS)
After making quick work of the South Atlantic and California Leagues, respectively, Butler was awesome in his Double-A debut on Sunday: 5 IP, 2 H, 6 K. Expect to see him in the major leagues at some point next season.
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
67.2 IP, 0.80 ERA, .189 BAA, 69/18 K/BB (14 G/13 GS)
Following his returning to the mound after an oblique strain delayed his start to the season, Heaney promptly shined in the Florida State League and earned a promotion to Double-A Jacksonville as a result. His first start at the more advanced level: 6 IP, 3 H, 3/1 K/BB. The 22-year-old left-hander has now compiled 34 straight scoreless innings.
Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
76 IP, 2.96 ERA, .213 BAA, 92/21 K/BB (14 GS)
After a shaky first month with Double-A New Hampshire, Stroman, the No. 22 overall pick in the 2012 draft, has registered a 2.21 ERA with 76/17 K/BB over his last 61 frames (10 starts).
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
104.2 IP, 2.67 ERA, .240 BAA, 113/25 K/BB (20 GS)
Some thought that Syndergaard would be challenged following a promotion to Double-A Binghamton in late June. That certainly hasn’t been the case so far: 41 IP, 1.98 ERA, .215 BAA, 49/9 K/BB in eight starts.
Keyvius Sampson, RHP, San Diego Padres
115.2 IP, 2.88 ERA, .216 BAA, 117/45 K/BB (23 G/22 GS)
The 22-year-old was given a promotion to Triple-A Tucson to begin the 2013 season but was clearly overmatched as he posted an 8.03 ERA through four starts. However, Sampson has been a monster following a demotion back to Double-A San Antonio in late April: 2.26 ERA, .199 BAA, 110/33 K/BB in 103.1 innings.
Luke Jackson, RHP, Texas Rangers
103 IP, 2.36 ERA, .213 BAA, 108/48 K/BB (20 G/19 GS)
Recently promoted from High-A Myrtle Beach to Double-A Frisco, Jackson, a 6’2” right-hander, was outstanding in his debut at the new level on Sunday: 2 IP, 4 K, BB. He was pulled after two innings as a means of controlling his workload.
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
124.2 IP, 1.88 ERA, .222 BAA, 133/54 K/BB (21 G)
After issuing a season-high seven walks in his start on July 27, Bradley rebounded in a big way with his second complete game of the year on August 2 against Jacksonville: 9 IP, 6 H, 7/1 K/BB.
Trevor May, RHP, Minnesota Twins
121.1 IP, 4.52 ERA, .261 BAA, 121/57 K/BB (22 GS)
May showed signs of turning the corner when he posted a 3.23 ERA and 34/8 K/BB ratio in 30.2 June innings but has regressed considerably since the beginning on July: 6.35 ERA, 35 H, 34/17 K/BB in 32.1 innings.
Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
111.1 IP, 3.96 ERA, .209 BAA, 123/62 K/BB (22 GS)
Since his appearance in the All-Star Futures Game on July 14: 14 IP, 14 H, 13 ER, 16/13 K/BB.
Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
115.2 IP, 2.80 ERA, .202 BAA, 111/40 K/BB (20 GS)
Ranaudo was recently promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after posting a 2.95 ERA and 106/40 K/BB ratio in 109.2 innings for Double-A Portland. In his first start at the new level: 6 IP, 4 H, 5 K.
Rafael Montero, RHP, New York Mets
124.2 IP, 3.10 ERA, .237 BAA, 117/29 K/BB (22 GS)
The 22-year-old right-hander turned in arguably his best start of the season on Sunday against Triple-A Memphis: 8 IP, 4 H, ER, 4 K.
Michael Wacha, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
85 IP, 2.65 ERA, .210 BAA, 73/19 K/BB (15 GS)
After receiving additional rest around the All-Star break, Wacha has been outstanding in three starts since rejoining the Triple-A Memphis rotation: 17 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 21/1 K/BB.
Danny Salazar, RHP, Cleveland Indians
93 IP, 2.71 ERA, .211 BAA, 129/24 K/BB (21 G/20 GS)
The 23-year-old right-hander has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues, as evidenced by his last three starts: 14 IP, 6 H, 25/1 K/BB. I’m excited to see how he fares against the Tigers’ potent offense on Wednesday.
Brian Flynn, LHP, Miami Marlins
136 IP, 2.71 ERA, .235 BAA, 136/39 K/BB (23 GS)
One of the lesser-known players included in the 2012 trade that sent Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit, Flynn has quietly emerged as one of the better left-handers in the high minors this season. And considering his overwhelming success since the beginning of July (1.09 ERA, 37/14 K/BB in 41.1 IP), it’s looking like we’ll see him in the major leagues sometime soon.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
119 IP, 2.80 ERA, .216 BAA, 131/43 K/BB (21 GS)
Walker was outstanding following a promotion to Triple-A Tacoma in late June, allowing only one earned run over his first three starts. Since then, though, the right-hander owns a 7.71 ERA over his last three outings.
Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
101.1 IP, 3.73 ERA, .235 BAA, 100/35 K/BB (18 GS)
Odorizzi turned in possibly his worst outing of the year on Friday against Triple-A Toledo: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 4/2 K/BB.