MLB Power Rankings: Ranking Every Team's Top Pitching Prospect
In baseball, pitching is the name of the game. As the phrase goes, good pitching beats good hitting.
Each year, a crop of young pitching prospects cracks the major leagues. Some only stay for a cup of coffee while others become mainstays in their team's starting rotation or bullpen.
I have compiled a list of the best pitching prospect for every team. As often is the case, a team's top pitching prospect doesn't always make a name for himself in the majors, but this list is based solely on potential.
Note: Besides the top 10 or so, the rankings are completely arbitrary.
30. Mark Rogers, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Rogers was drafted by the Brewers in 2004, but injuries hampered his progress.
He spent most of 2010 in Double-A where he went 6-8 in 24 starts, but he was moved to Triple-A later in the season for one start.
The Brewers brought him up in September, and he pitched very well.
In 10 innings, Rogers had a 1.80 ERA and 11 strikeouts.
With the additions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to Milwaukee's rotation, Rogers will likely start the season in Triple-A.
29. Brody Colvin, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Colvin has a fastball in the mid-90s and had stretches of dominance in Single-A for the Phillies.
He's had some anger management issues including an arrest early last year. However, he is only 20 years old and has tremendous upside.
Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels should man the fort on the big league level for the Phillies, so expect Colvin in Double-A.
28. Tyson Ross, RHP, Oakland Athletics
Ross grew up in Oakland and was drafted in 2008 by his hometown team.
The 6'6" right-hander actually made the Athletics big league roster out of spring training in 2010 even though he had never pitched higher than Double-A.
In 29 games for the A's, he went 1-4 with a 5.49 ERA
Oakland appears to have a crowded pitching staff heading into 2011. Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden and Gio Gonzalez highlight the starters while new additions Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour are guaranteed bullpen spots.
The A's might be best off letting Ross develop at Triple-A where they can make a decision on whether he will be a starter or reliever.
27. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Ranaudo had a huge season at LSU in 2009, going 12-3 with 159 strikeouts in 124.1 innings.
Though his 2010 LSU season began with elbow soreness, the Red Sox still drafted him in the first round.
The 6'7" righty is just 21 years old and has a low-90s fastball with a power curveball.
Boston appears patient in the progression of Ranaudo. Single-A or Double-A is a likely destination to start the season.
26. Chad James, LHP, Florida Marlins
James has drawn comparisons to Jon Lester, which is a great compliment to the young lefty.
He throws a mid-90s fastball with a good breaking ball and is also said to be developing a changeup.
At age 19, he finished 5-10 in Single-A, but he did strike out 105 batters in 114.1 innings.
From Livan Hernandez to Josh Beckett to now Josh Johnson, the Marlins have had a history of developing young talented arms and would love to add James to that list.
However, we may not see James regularly for another few seasons.
25. Jordan Walden, RHP, Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim
Walden's fastball tops out at 100 mph. He was drafted in 2006 and spent three seasons as a decent minor league starter.
However, before 2010, he transitioned into a reliever and found his groove.
He finished 32 games between Double-A and Triple-A before being called up to the Angels late in the year.
He recorded a 2.35 ERA in 15.1 innings of work with one save.
With Brian Fuentes heading to Oakland, Walden will likely compete in spring training with Fernando Rodney for the closer's role for the Angels.
He appears to be a likely candidate for the Angels' bullpen even if he doesn't win the closer's job.
24. Trey McNutt, RHP, Chicago Cubs
McNutt rose through the ranks quickly in just his second year in the Cubs system.
He was 6-0 at Daytona and 4-0 at Peoria (both Single-A) before being brought up to Double-A Tennessee, where he finished 0-1 in three starts.
Still, 10-1 with a 2.48 ERA was quite impressive.
Expect him to start at Double-A with a bump up to Triple-A likely at some point.
23. Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Cleveland Indians
The Ole Miss product Drew Pomeranz was selected as the fifth overall pick in 2010 by the Cleveland Indians.
He is said to have a mid-90s fastball with an excellent curveball. He can work both sides of the plate and has good command.
The Indians will sport a young pitching staff this season, but don't expect Pomeranz to join that group just yet.
Single-A is his most likely destination in 2011.
22. Kyle Gibson, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Standing at 6'6", Gibson projects as a solid major league starter.
He started 16 games at Double-A last year and finished 7-5 with a 3.68 ERA.
He recorded a 1.72 ERA in three games at Triple-A, which is where he is likely to start the season. He was invited to spring training as a non-roster invitee.
The Twins are another team that takes pride in developing young arms, and Gibson is well on his way.
21. Zack Wheeler, RHP, San Francisco Giants
Wheeler was ranked as high as No. 2 behind Brandon Belt among San Francisco Giants' prospects.
Still only 20, the young righty showed his versatility at Single-A last season, starting 13 games and making eight appearances out of the pen.
He finished 3-3 with a 3.99 ERA. However, the 70 strikeouts in 58.2 innings should stand out.
The Giants should treat Wheeler similarly to former top prospect Madison Bumgarner since that plan worked well with the latter.
20. A.J. Cole, RHP, Washington Nationals
In mid-August of last year, the Washington Nationals awarded Cole a $2 million signing bonus, the highest ever for a fourth-round pick.
In 2010, Cole struck out a whopping 10.7 batters per nine innings at Oviedo High in Florida.
Though maybe not as highly touted as Stephen Strasburg, Cole has a mid-90s fastball that explodes out of his hand based on his arm angle.
Give him two or three years and he can join a healthy Strasburg in Washington's rotation.
19. Jenrry Mejia, RHP, New York Mets
Normally a starter, Mejia earned a spot in the Mets bullpen in 2010 due to an electric performance during spring training.
However, the youngster was seldom used at the big league level.
In late June, Mejia was sent to Double-A to work on being a starter once again.
Despite battling injuries, Mejia recorded a 1.32 ERA in six starts.
In his only start at Triple-A Buffalo, he pitched eight innings of one-run ball.
Mets' manager Terry Collins has already said that he expects Mejia to contribute to the big club at some point this season.
Mejia will likely start at Triple-A but will be ready if the Mets call. Knowing the Mets' recent injury history, that call may come sooner rather than later.
18. Kenley Jansen, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Jansen was drafted by the Dodgers as a catcher in 2005. He actually was the starting catcher for the Netherlands team during the World Baseball Classic in 2009.
Prior to the 2009 season, the Dodgers decided to convert Jansen into a reliever.
It only took him a year-and-a-half to crack the majors, and he won't be returning to the minors anytime soon.
In 27 innings for the Dodgers, Jansen posted a 0.67 ERA and four saves.
Coming off a poor season, Jonathan Broxton's days in LA could be numbered, but the Dodgers believe Jansen could step into the closer's role.
He will likely begin the year as a set-up man for Broxton and see where that takes him.
17. Manny Banuelos, LHP, New York Yankees
Despite missing time last season due to an appendectomy, Banuelos showed flashes of brilliance at Single-A Tampa.
Though only 5'10", he has bulked up since being drafted and has learned to work both sides of the plate.
The lefty has topped out at 97 mph but relies more on spotting his curveball on the corners.
Though 0-4 in 15 starts between three levels of the Yankees' farm system, Banuelos recorded a stellar 2.51 ERA and 85 strikeouts in just 64.2 innings.
The Yankees signed Mark Prior, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia this offseason to compete for spots in the starting rotation, so depth will be important moving forward.
Banuelos is only 19 so should be given the proper time to develop.
16. Zach Britton, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore's prized lefty is expected to crack the majors at some point this season.
Britton finished 7-3 with a 2.48 ERA at Double-A before being promoted to Triple-A.
At Norfolk, he posted a 2.98 ERA in 12 starts.
Though the Orioles significantly improved their offense with the additions of Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy, the starting rotation is loaded with question marks.
Jeremy Guthrie, Justin Duchscherer and Brian Matusz are locks while Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta will duke it out for the final two spots.
Britton will be lurking in the weeds in Triple-A.
15. Casey Kelly, RHP, San Diego Padres
Kelly was part of the deal that allowed the Red Sox to acquire Adrian Gonzalez.
Boston drafted Kelly in 2008 as a pitcher and shortstop. He spent all of 2010 on the mound, however.
In 21 starts at Double-A, he finished 3-5 with a 5.31.
Don't let the numbers fool you. He is only 21 and will be given ample time to develop in the Padres system.
San Diego is hoping he pans out, since they did give up Adrian Gonzalez in the trade.
14. Jarrod Parker, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Parker earned an invite to spring training this year for the Diamondbacks.
His fastball touches the high 90s, and he is said to have an arsenal complete with a curveball, slider and changeup.
He actually did not pitch in 2010 following Tommy John Surgery in mid-2009.
That year, he finished 12-5 at Single-A and struck out 74 batters in 78.1 innings at Double-A.
Arizona will rely on a young pitching staff in 2011. A healthy Parker may get the call, but he will likely start in the minors since he is coming off an injury.
13. Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers
The 19-year-old hasn't quite put up the stats in his three years in the Rangers' minor league system.
However, the young lefty has been compared to fellow Venezuelan Johan Santana.
His fastball touches the mid-90s and he has a strong curveball to boot.
His change-up is his main weapon, similar to Santana.
Give him some more time and he could make a huge impact in Texas' rotation in the near future.
12. Michael Pineda, RHP, Seattle Mariners
The 6'5" righty had a big year between Double-A and Triple-A in Seattle's system.
He went 8-1 with a 2.22 ERA at Double-A. He struggled to the tune of a 4.76 ERA at Triple-A, but he still has plenty of potential.
In a Seattle rotation that features Felix Hernandez and little else, Pineda may be called upon at some point this season.
The Mariners expect Hernandez and Pineda to form an impressive 1-2 punch for years to come, assuming Hernandez doesn't sign elsewhere after the 2014 season.
11. Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Miller was ranked as the No. 20 prospect in the MLB heading into this season.
In 24 starts at Single-A, the 20-year-old went 7-5 with 3.62 ERA.
He struck out 140 batters in just 104.1 innings.
He should likely start the year in Double-A.
The Cardinals have strong starting pitching, but by the time Miller is ready for big league action, there just might be a spot.
10. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
The Canadian-born righty was drafted with the second overall pick in the 2010 draft and already has moved up to the No. 18 rated prospect in the game.
He is 6'7" and can hit 99 mph on the radar gun.
He had a huge high school career and has been compared to Stephen Strasburg.
The great thing about being drafted by a perennial losing team like the Pirates is that a prospect is bound to get a shot within his first few years.
Taillon may not be ready this year, but we should see him in Pirates uniform in the near future.
9. Jacob Turner, RHP, Detroit Tigers
Another high school standout, Turner was selected in the first round by the Detroit Tigers in the 2010 draft.
He pitched at two levels of Single-A for the Tigers last season. In 13 starts for Lakeland, he finished 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA and 51 strikeouts.
Not only is he Detroit's top pitching prospect, but he is also their top overall prospect.
Some development time in Double-A will aid his progress, but expect him to join the likes of Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer very soon.
8. Tyler Matzek, LHP, Colorado Rockies
Matzek had a big year in his first minor league action after being selected in the first round by the Rockies.
At Single-A, he started 18 games and finished 5-1 with a 2.92 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 89.1 innings.
The lefty was awarded with a hefty $3.9 million signing bonus.
His fastball tops out at 97 mph and he is said to have great command with his changeup.
The Rockies have earned a reputation recently for developing good young arms including Ubaldo Jimenez and Jhoulys Chacin, and they hope to add Matzek to that list.
7. Jordan Lyles, RHP, Houston Astros
The Astros view Lyles as the hallmark of their recent youth movement.
The 20-year-old righty hasn't put up big numbers in the wins column since being drafted in 2008, but he posted a 3.12 ERA in 20 starts for Double-A Round Rock last season.
Using his 90-92 mph fastball, solid curveball and deadly change-up, strikeouts are his biggest asset. He totaled 167 strikeouts in 2009 and 137 in 2010.
He struggled late last year in Triple-A with a 5.40 ERA and 0-3 record in six starts.
Expect him to start the year at Triple-A. The Astros are another team that will have starting pitching question marks, so there's a good chance Lyles makes his long awaited Astros' debut this season.
6. Chris Sale, LHP, Chicago White Sox
Sale was the first of the 2010 draft picks to reach the majors. He did so on August 4th of last season for the White Sox.
He was used primarily as a reliever and closer in the minors where he posted a 1.93 ERA before being recalled.
He generates a lot of ground balls with a good sinking fastball that touches 94 mph.
With Bobby Jenks donning the "Red Sox" these days, the White Sox have a huge void in the closer's role.
Last year's All-Star set-up man Matt Thornton has the inside track, but Sale may give him a run during spring training.
Rumors have surfaced that the White Sox would like to also look at Sale as a starter, especially with the injury-prone Jake Peavy manning one of the five spots.
Either way, there is likely a place for Sale on Chicago's roster.
5. Kyle Drabek, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Son of former Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek, Kyle Drabek is beginning to distinguish himself as more than just the player who was traded for Roy Halladay.
He went 14-9 at Double-A with a 2.94 ERA in 27 starts.
The Blue Jays recalled him on September 12th last year, and he made his Major League debut three days later.
Though nothing is official, the Blue Jays have penciled in Drabek to one of their final two rotation spots for 2011.
Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil and Brandon Morrow are locks with Jesse Litsch, Scott Richmond, Mark Rzepczynski, Jo-Jo Reyes and Drabek as candidates to fill out the rotation.
Expect Drabek to win one of those spots.
4. Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves
The Braves always have good pitching prospects. From the days of Tom Glavine and John Smoltz (though Smoltz was drafted by the Tigers) to last year's phenom Tommy Hanson, the Braves know how to develop young arms.
This year is no different.
Though Mike Minor and Craig Kimbrel may both be contributing at the big league level next season, Julio Teheran takes the cake as the Braves' top pitching prospect.
His mid-90s fastball coupled with an above average curveball should lead to success at the next level.
He posted a 2.59 ERA in 24 starts between three levels of Atlanta's minor league system.
The fifth starter spot for the Braves is wide open. Though it appears Minor will win the position for now, expect Teheran to make that decision tough in spring training.
3. Mike Montgomery, LHP, Kansas City Royals
With Zack Greinke in Milwaukee and Gil Meche retired, what does that mean, Royals fans?
Besides meaning that the team may not be too competitive this year, it means Mike Montgomery is likely to see plenty of action.
Montgomery's fastball sits in the mid-90s, and his velocity is expected to increase as he matures. Though his curveball and change-up need some work, they are both analyzed as potentially plus pitches.
He does have a palmball which he throws occasionally as well.
His 2.61 ERA in 20 starts between three levels of Kansas City's minor leagues stands out.
He hasn't pitched higher than Double-A, so the Royals would be wise to start him in either Double-A or Triple-A this season.
He is likely to spend time with the big club though at some point in 2011.
2. Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Cincinnati Reds
With all the hype last year surrounding Aroldis Chapman, it's hard to believe that he only appeared in 15 games for Cincinnati last year.
He did, however, post a 2.03 ERA and 19 strikeouts in those 15 games.
Chapman projects into a shut-down closer. The Reds still do have Francisco Cordero, who saved 40 games in 48 opportunities in 2010.
Arthur Rhodes signed with the A.L. Champion Texas Rangers, so expect Chapman to slide nicely into the eighth inning role for Cincinnati.
The N.L. Central should be competitive this year, so the Reds will need Chapman to reproduce his success from late last season.
1. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
If it hasn't happened already, the name "Jeremy Hellickson" is bound to become a household name this season.
The Rays feel so confident about their young star that they traded Matt Garza to the Cubs.
Hellickson was 12-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 21 starts at Triple-A before he was recalled in August.
Though he was sent back and forth between the majors and minors several times, he wound up with a 4-0 record for the Rays along with a 3.47 ERA in 36.1 innings of work.
He is expected to take the fifth slot in Tampa Bay's rotation behind David Price, James Shields, Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis.
The A.L. East will likely be the best division in baseball this season, but Hellickson has the tools to be successful.