Corey Black, RHP, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats: 23 IP, 2.35 ERA, .128 BAA, 13 BB, 21 K (5 G/4 GS)
Acquired from the Yankees last season in the Alfonso Soriano trade, Black, 22, is off to a great start this season at Double-A Tennessee, as he’s held opposing hitters to a .128 batting average through 23 innings. After making his season debut out of the bullpen, Black has been dominant in his last four starts: 21 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 12 BB, 18 K.
Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres
2014 Stats: 30 IP, 2.10 ERA, .234 BAA, 6 BB, 35 K (6 GS)
Despite ranking among the sport’s top 50 prospects headed into the season, Wisler, 21, continues to fly under the radar. With a 2.80 ERA and 138/33 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 135 innings (26 starts) at Double-A San Antonio over the last two years, Wisler seemingly is due to receive a promotion to Triple-A (or possibly the major leagues) sometime soon.
Luke Jackson, RHP, Texas Rangers
2014 Stats: 27.1 IP, 2.63 ERA, .194 BAA, 6 BB, 26 K (5 GS)
Jackson has struck out at least six batters and allowed no more than four hits in three consecutive starts. If we removed the 22-year-old right-hander’s ugly outing on April 10 (3.1 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 2 BB) from his season line, then he’d have a 0.38 ERA and 25-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24 innings. I still think he ends up as a late-inning reliever, but it’s difficult to ignore his 1.66 ERA and 9.3 K/9 in 54.1 innings as a starter at Double-A Frisco dating back to last season.
Jon Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies
2014 Stats: 23.2 IP, 3.80 ERA, .241 BAA, 4 BB, 25 K (5 GS)
Gray, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft, struggled mightily in his second start this season, as he allowed six earned runs on seven hits and failed to complete the first inning. However, the 22-year-old right-hander has since righted the ship and dazzled in his past three outings, with a 0.53 ERA and 19-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17 innings.
Cam Bedrosian, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
2014 Stats: 2 SV, 10.2 IP, 1.69 ERA, .111 BAA, 3 BB, 26 K (10 G)
I normally don’t include relievers on these lists, but Bedrosian’s performance this season is simply too impressive to ignore. Splitting the first month between High-A Inland Empire and Double-A Arkansas, the 22-year-old right-hander has been scored on once in 10 appearances, and that one shaky outing is the only game in which he’s failed to strike out multiple batters. In fact, Bedrosian has struck out the side on six occasions. Given the ongoing struggles of the Angels’ bullpen, I wouldn’t be surprised if the right-hander is in the majors by the All-Star break.
Matt Boyd, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
2014 Stats: 31 IP, 0.29 ERA, .167 BAA, 5 BB, 37 K (5 GS)
Boyd has continued to surpass expectations as a starter after making the transition from the bullpen during the 2012 Cape Cod League. The 23-year-old left-hander—a sixth-round draft pick last June—was scored on once in his first five starts at High-A Dunedin, and he struck out a career-high 12 batters last Friday in eight shutout innings. Boyd was recently promoted (he broke the news on Twitter) to Double-A New Hampshire as a result of his overwhelming success, and he’s scheduled to make his first Eastern League start Thursday.
Kyle Crick, RHP, San Francisco Giants
2014 Stats: 12.2 IP, 2.84 ERA, .209 BAA, 14 BB, 15 K (4 GS)
The Giants have kept Crick, 21, on a short leash this season at Double-A Richmond due to his inconsistent command, which explains why he’s lasted five innings in just one start. Opposing hitters are only batting .209 against Crick this season, but he’s already issued 14 walks in 12.2 innings, including 11 in his last 7.2 frames.
Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox
2014 Stats: 28.2 IP, 3.77 ERA, .236 BAA, 12 BB, 29 K (5 GS)
Owens, the Red Sox’s top pitching prospect, began his season with nine strikeouts in back-to-back starts—the first one being a rain-shortened, six-inning no-hitter. However, the 21-year-old left-hander has since struggled in three consecutive outings, during which he’s posted a 6.75 ERA and 11-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 16 innings.