1. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 79 IP, 3.65 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .261 BAA, 78/14 K/BB (15 G/14 GS)
2013 Stats (MLB): 33.1 IP, 6.21 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, .301 BAA, 26/9 K/BB (9 G/5 GS)
While Gausman was expected to move quickly through the Orioles' system, the organization rushed him to the major leagues this season. As a result, he showed excellent stuff but struggled with his command against big league hitters. The 22-year-old fared better as a reliever, registering a 2.08 ERA in 8.2 innings over four appearances, but has been working as a starter following a demotion to Triple-A Norfolk in mid-July.
The Orioles have carefully monitored Gausman’s workload over the last few weeks to keep him fresh, and there’s no question that the right-hander has the potential to be an X-factor for them over the final month of the season.
2. Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 72.2 IP, 2.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .219 BAA, 63/27 K/BB (15 GS)
2013 Stats (MLB): 16 IP, 6.19 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, .302 BAA, 13/7 K/BB (11 G/1 GS)
After a late start to his season due to visa issues, Martinez has split the year between the minor and major leagues. The 21-year-old has pitched very well this season as a member of both the Double- and Triple-A starting rotations, but struggled in 11 appearances with the Cardinals (10 as a reliever).
Boasting a three-pitch mix highlighted by a plus fastball and changeup, the right-hander has the stuff to miss bats with ease at any level. However, due to his lack of stamina and frequent struggles to work deep into games, Martinez will likely work out of the Cardinals bullpen once again in September.
3. Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
2013 Stats (AAA): 116.1 IP, 3.56 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .232 BAA, 113/39 K/BB (21 GS)
2013 Stats (MLB): 18 IP, 6.00 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, .297 BAA (3 HR), 14/4 K/BB (4 G/3 GS)
Even though Odorizzi features above-average command of a deep, four-pitch mix, the 23-year-old right-hander doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff and his evolution into a fly-ball pitcher remains a concern. Still, Odorizzi has already shown the ability to get out major league hitters this season between two separate stints with the Rays and should receive more opportunities, in some capacity, once the rosters expand on September 1.
4. Brian Flynn, LHP, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 149 IP, 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, .240 BAA, 139/42 K/BB (25 GS)
Acquired last July in the deal that sent Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to Detroit, Flynn has made a strong impression during his first full season with the Marlins. At 6’7”, 240 pounds, the left-hander has started to put things together this season and moved up the organizational ladder as a result.
After registering a 1.57 ERA over four starts for Double-A Jacksonville, the 23-year-old was promoted to Triple-A New Orleans where he’s posted a 3.00 ERA and 8.1 K/9 in 126 innings. And with a lack of long-term options in the starting rotation beyond Jose Fernandez and Jacob Turner, it makes sense for the Marlins to audition Flynn in the major leagues over the final month of the season.
5. Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 123.1 IP, 2.92 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .229 BAA, 144/51 K/BB (24 G/23 GS)
After conquering the Double-A level over the first half of the season, Ventura was rewarded with a promotion to Triple-A Omaha in early June.
While the 22-year-old got off to a shaky start within the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, posting a 5.95 ERA with 26 hits allowed and a 21-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his first five starts, he’s since righted the ship with a 2.00 ERA and 43-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his last 36 frames (seven starts).
After adding considerable strength to his wiry, 5’11” frame over the last year, Ventura has blossomed into a legitimate starting pitcher this season in the high minors. However, due to the collective success of the team’s starting pitching since the All-Star break, he's likely to be used as a reliever this September.
6. Erik Johnson, RHP, Chicago White Sox
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 130 IP, 2.01 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, .198 BAA, 118/34 K/BB (22 GS)
One of the few bright spots in the White Sox’s bleak system, Johnson has emerged as the organization’s top pitching prospect this season behind a projectable four-pitch mix. The 23-year-old right-hander will work comfortably in the low to mid-90s with his fastball and complements it with one of the better right-handed sliders in the minor leagues.
After excelling at both Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte this season, Johnson is deserving of a promotion to the major leagues. And with a strong performance this September, the right-hander could earn a spot in the 2014 starting rotation.
7. Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
2013 Stats (AA): 95 IP, 3.22 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .235 BAA, 109/22 K/BB (17 GS)
Stroman sat out the first 50 games of the 2013 season while serving a PED-related suspension but has been excellent in the Double-A starting rotation since returning in May. Despite his diminutive, 5’9” build, Stroman possesses ridiculous arm strength with an explosive fastball that reaches the upper 90s, and he complements the pitch with a wipeout slider and underrated changeup.
Because he missed time earlier in the year and logged only 95 innings as a result, the 22-year-old is a prime candidate to finish his season in the major leagues. In general, I think it would be a healthy and appropriate challenge for him.
8. Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, Houston Astros
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 148.2 IP, 3.27 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .218 BAA, 121/48 K/BB (26 G/22 GS)
Wojciechowski has quickly ascended the Astros’ system since coming over from the Blue Jays in July 2012, largely due to the vast improvement of his secondary pitches. At 6’4”, 235 pounds, the right-hander is a workhorse capable of eating innings and demonstrates a consistent feel for three average or better offerings.
The 24-year-old has already logged 148.2 innings this year between two minor league levels, so there’s some question as to how long the Astros will let him go this season. But if they view Wojciechowski as a candidate for the 2014 starting rotation, then it’s likely he’ll at least get his feet wet this September.
9. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
2013 Stats (A+/AA): 136.2 IP, 1.84 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, .214 BAA, 150/59 K/BB (23 GS)
No pitching prospect has improved his stock more this season than Bradley. Moved up to Double-A Mobile after five dominant starts in the California League, the 21-year-old didn’t skip a beat despite the jump in competition and has thrived as one of the younger pitchers in the Southern League.
Bradley has logged only 136.2 frames so far this year and may require more work following the conclusion of the minor league season. For that reason, and especially if the Diamondbacks play their way back into playoff contention, the right-hander has a realistic chance to be promoted in September, even if only to gain some experience out of the bullpen.
10. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 126.1 IP, 2.92 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .218 BAA, 117/42 K/BB (22 GS)
The No. 39 overall selection in the 2010 draft, Ranaudo had a hugely disappointing 2012 season in which he logged only 37.2 innings (nine starts) and spent most of the year on the disabled list. This season, however, the 23-year-old has made up for lost time with a strong performance at Double-A Portland and now Triple-A Pawtucket.
The Red Sox have turned to the minor leagues for a starter on several occasions this season (Allen Webster, Brandon Workman), and Ranaudo is seemingly next in line for a promotion.
11. Rafael Montero, RHP, New York Mets
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 138.2 IP, 2.86 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, .228 BAA, 134/31 K/BB (24 GS)
Although he doesn’t have the pure stuff of Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler, Montero possesses an outstanding feel for pitching with above-average command of four pitches. The 22-year-old made quick work of the Eastern League before a midseason promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas and is making a strong case for a September call-up with a 0.82 ERA and 21-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his last three starts.
He probably won’t miss as many bats in the major leagues as he has in the minors, but he still has the potential to prove his value as a solid back-end starter with a strong showing next month.
12. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats (A+/AA): 82.1 IP, 1.42 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .208 BAA, 80/23 K/BB (17 G/16 GS)
The Marlins aren’t afraid to go against the grain and promote a prospect to the major leagues ahead of schedule, as evidenced by the recent call-ups of outfielders Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick. It may not be long until left-hander Andrew Heaney, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2012 draft, joins his former Double-A teammates in Miami.
After missing roughly the first six weeks of the 2013 season with an oblique injury, the 22-year-old has asserted his proximity to The Show since returning with a dominant showing between High-A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville. With only 82.1 innings under his belt, Heaney, like Marcus Stroman, is a candidate to complete his workload this season in the major leagues.
13. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 130.1 IP, 3.11 ERA, .217 BAA, 145/51 K/BB (23 GS)
Walker mastered the Double-A level in his second tour this season and has held his own with Triple-A Tacoma following a promotion in late June. However, the 21-year-old has struggled with his command at the more advanced level and, at times, been a victim of the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League environments.
He’s already eclipsed his inning total from 2012 (126.2 IP) and has roughly five more starts remaining with Tacoma. Although a promotion to the major leagues in September is a possibility, the combination of his age and need for additional refinement makes it doubtful.
14. Mike Wright, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
2013 Stats (AA): 135.1 IP, 3.19 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .261 BAA, 129/36 K/BB (24 GS)
After struggling at Double-A Bowie to conclude the 2012 season, Wright, 23, has been more consistent this year in his second tour of the level.
The 6’6”, 215-pound right-hander features a three-pitch arsenal that’s highlighted by an above-average-to-plus fastball. He doesn’t feature Kevin Gausman-like stuff, but his feel for pitching and ability to sequence could help him get a few starts with the Orioles, if the need arises, over the final month of the season.
15. Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 135.2 IP, 3.25 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, .242 BAA, 139/55 K/BB (24 GS)
Considering the Brewers already have auditioned some of their better pitching prospects in the major leagues this season, it’s seemingly only a matter of time until Nelson gets the call. At 6’6”, 245 pounds, the right-hander is a presence on the mound and pounds the lower half of the strike zone with a heavy fastball in the low to mid-90s.
Furthermore, the major part of his success this season in the high minors stems from his ability to execute his secondary offerings. While his command has regressed slightly following a midseason promotion to Triple-A Nashville, the 24-year-old could receive a late-season call-up with a chance at cracking the 2014 starting rotation.