MLB State of the Position 2020: Every Team's 5-Year Plan for Starting Rotation

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2020

MLB State of the Position 2020: Every Team's 5-Year Plan for Starting Rotation

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Offense might put fans in the stands, but pitching still wins championships.

    The money handed to Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Zack Wheeler this offseason is further evidence that quality starting pitching remains a hot commodity, and it makes a team's ability to develop its own cheap, controllable pitching that much more important.

    With that said, some clubs are better set up for success in the starting rotation than others.

    Ahead, we've broken down each team's present and future starting pitching options, highlighting their current starters and top five prospects to help paint a picture of the organizational outlook.

    Think of it as the team's five-year plan for the starting staff.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Zac Gallen
    Zac GallenRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Present

    • LHP Madison Bumgarner (Age: 30, controlled through 2024)
    • LHP Robbie Ray (Age: 28, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Luke Weaver (Age: 26, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Zac Gallen (Age: 24, controlled through 2025)
    • RHP Merrill Kelly (Age: 31, controlled through 2024)

    After trading Zack Greinke in a blockbuster deal last summer, the Diamondbacks replaced him by signing Madison Bumgarner to a five-year, $85 million contract during the offseason.

    Strikeout artist Robbie Ray will be one of the market's top free agents this offseason, and he could be shopped at this year's trade deadline. Zac Gallen has the potential to be the future ace of the staff after posting a 2.81 ERA and 1.23 WHIP with 96 strikeouts in 80 innings as a rookie.

    Other present options: RHP Taylor Clarke, RHP Jon Duplantier, LHP Alex Young

         

    Top Prospects

    • LHP Blake Walston (Tier 2)
    • RHP J.B. Bukauskas (Tier 3)
    • RHP Bryce Jarvis (Tier 3)
    • RHP Corbin Martin (Tier 3)
    • RHP Luis Frias (Tier 3)

    With a projectable 6'5", 175-pound frame and the potential for four average or better offerings, Blake Walston has top-of-the-rotation potential. The No. 26 overall pick in the 2019 draft has a long way to go in his development, but he could prove worth the wait.

Atlanta Braves

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    Mike Soroka
    Mike SorokaMichael Reaves/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Mike Soroka (Age: 22, controlled through 2024)
    • LHP Cole Hamels (Age: 36, controlled through 2020)
    • LHP Max Fried (Age: 26, controlled through 2024)
    • RHP Mike Foltynewicz (Age: 28, controlled through 2021)
    • LHP Sean Newcomb (Age: 27, controlled through 2023)

    Not long ago, the Braves had baseball's most impressive collection of minor league pitching talent. Mike Soroka and Max Fried are the two arms from that group who have established themselves as long-term rotation pieces so far, and Sean Newcomb has also shown flashes while shuffling between the rotation and bullpen.

    Veteran Cole Hamels was signed to a one-year, $18 million contract during the offseason to add a veteran presence.

    Other present options: RHP Touki Toussaint, RHP Patrick Weigel

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Ian Anderson (Tier 1)
    • RHP Kyle Wright (Tier 1)
    • LHP Kyle Muller (Tier 1)
    • RHP Bryse Wilson (Tier 2)
    • LHP Tucker Davidson (Tier 2)

    Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright were both first-round picks, and they could join Soroka and Fried as long-term rotation pieces in short order.

    Left-hander Kyle Muller posted a 3.14 ERA with 120 strikeouts in 111.2 innings at Double-A last season. The 22-year-old will need to improve on his 5.5 walks per nine innings to take the next step in his development.

Baltimore Orioles

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    DL Hall
    DL HallJason Miller/Getty Images

    Present

    • LHP John Means (Age: 27, controlled through 2024)
    • RHP Alex Cobb (Age: 32, controlled through 2021)
    • LHP Wade LeBlanc (Age: 35, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Asher Wojciechowski (Age: 31, controlled through 2024)
    • RHP Kohl Stewart (Age: 25, controlled through 2024)

    John Means earned a spot on the American League All-Star team and finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting last year with a 3.60 ERA and 4.8 WAR in 155 innings.

    A bounce-back season from Alex Cobb could turn him into a viable trade chip ahead of the final season of his four-year, $57 million contract. Kohl Stewart was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2013 draft, and he could provide some value after signing a one-year, $800,000 contract during the offseason.

    Other present options: LHP Tommy Milone, RHP Hector Velazquez

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Grayson Rodriguez (Tier 1)
    • LHP DL Hall (Tier 1)
    • RHP Michael Baumann (Tier 3)
    • LHP Keegan Akin (Tier 3)
    • RHP Dean Kremer (Tier 3)

    Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall are two of the best pitching prospects in baseball and represent the future of the Baltimore staff. They could both be part of the MLB rotation before the 2022 season is over.

    Michael Baumann, Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer headline a deep group of second-tier pitching prospects that also includes Zac Lowther, Alex Wells, Drew Rom, Cody Sedlock and Kyle Bradish.

Boston Red Sox

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    Eduardo Rodriguez
    Eduardo RodriguezAdam Glanzman/Getty Images

    Present

    • LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (Age: 27, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Age: 30, controlled through 2022)
    • LHP Martin Perez (Age: 29, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Ryan Weber (Age: 29, controlled through 2023)
    • LHP Brian Johnson (Age: 30, controlled through 2023)

    Eduardo Rodriguez finished sixth in AL Cy Young voting last season, and he's now the de facto ace of the Boston staff. A bounce-back season from Nathan Eovaldi and solid production from offseason addition Martin Perez would go a long way toward shoring up the starting staff.

    Chris Sale is signed through the 2024 season after inking a five-year, $145 million extension last March. The 31-year-old is out for the season following Tommy John surgery.

    Other present options: RHP Collin McHugh, LHP Brian Johnson

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Bryan Mata (Tier 2)
    • RHP Noah Song (Tier 3)
    • RHP Tanner Houck (Tier 3)
    • RHP Thad Ward (Tier 3)
    • LHP Jay Groome (Tier 3)

    Bryan Mata and Tanner Houck may still wind up in the bullpen long-term, but for now, they are the two best starting pitching prospects in the farm system. Navy standout Noah Song will not return to pro ball until after the 2021 season when he fulfills his military obligations. He could be the future ace.

Chicago Cubs

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    Kyle Hendricks
    Kyle HendricksRob Leiter/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Yu Darvish (Age: 33, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Kyle Hendricks (Age: 30, controlled through 2024)
    • LHP Jon Lester (Age: 36, controlled through 2021)
    • LHP Jose Quintana (Age: 31, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Tyler Chatwood (Age: 30, controlled through 2020)

    The Cubs rotation will have a distinctly different look in the years to come with Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood all headed for free agency during the next two offseasons.

    Kyle Hendricks is locked up on a four-year, $55.5 million deal that includes a vesting option for 2024, and he has logged a 3.14 ERA and 132 ERA+ in 966 career innings.

    Other present options: RHP Alec Mills, RHP Colin Rea

         

    Top Prospects

    • LHP Brailyn Marquez (Tier 2)
    • RHP Adbert Alzolay (Tier 3)
    • RHP Ryan Jensen (Tier 3)
    • RHP Cory Abbott (Tier 3)
    • RHP Kohl Franklin (Tier 3)

    Hard-throwing southpaw Brailyn Marquez has a chance to be the organization's best homegrown pitching prospect since Carlos Zambrano. The 21-year-old had a 3.13 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 103.2 innings between Single-A and High-A last year.

Chicago White Sox

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    Lucas Giolito
    Lucas GiolitoHannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Lucas Giolito (Age: 26, controlled through 2023)
    • LHP Dallas Keuchel (Age: 32, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Reynaldo Lopez (Age: 26, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Dylan Cease (Age: 24, controlled through 2025)
    • LHP Gio Gonzalez (Age: 34, controlled through 2021)

    Lucas Giolito emerged as a bona fide ace last year when he posted a 3.41 ERA with 228 strikeouts in 176.2 innings to finish sixth in AL Cy Young voting. The White Sox then went out and added Dallas Keuchel (3/$55.5M) and Gio Gonzalez (2/$5M) during the offseason to bolster the staff.

    A similar breakout performance from Reynaldo Lopez or Dylan Cease, or a return to relevance from left-hander Carlos Rodon, could help in the push back toward contention.

    Other present options: LHP Ross Detwiler, LHP Adalberto Mejia, LHP Carlos Rodon

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Michael Kopech (Tier 1)
    • RHP Jared Kelley (Tier 2)
    • RHP Dane Dunning (Tier 3)
    • LHP Garrett Crochet (Tier 3)
    • RHP Jonathan Stiever (Tier 3)

    After missing the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, hard-throwing Michael Kopech has opted out of the 2020 campaign. He still has top-of-the-rotation upside, but his electric stuff would also play at the back of the bullpen if the club decides to go that route.

    Garrett Crochet (No. 11 overall) and Jared Kelley (No. 47 overall) were two of the top pitching prospects in the 2020 draft. The White Sox spent $7.55 million of their $7.76 million bonus pool on those two players.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Luis Castillo
    Luis CastilloMichael Reaves/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Luis Castillo (Age: 27, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Sonny Gray (Age: 30, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Trevor Bauer (Age: 29, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Wade Miley (Age: 33, controlled through 2022)
    • RHP Anthony DeSclafani (Age: 30, controlled through 2020)

    After trading for Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer in 2019 and then signing Wade Miley to a two-year, $15 million contract in December, the Reds now have one of the deepest rotations in baseball.

    Luis Castillo is a budding ace coming off a breakout season, and Anthony DeSclafani was quietly rock solid last year with a 3.89 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 166.2 innings. Tyler Mahle provides excellent depth with some breakout potential if the opportunity presents itself.

    Other present options: RHP Tyler Mahle, RHP Lucas Sims

         

    Top Prospects

    • LHP Nick Lodolo (Tier 1)
    • RHP Hunter Greene (Tier 1)
    • RHP Tony Santillan (Tier 3)
    • RHP Lyon Richardson (Tier 3)
    • LHP Packy Naughton (Tier 3)

    Nick Lodolo made two starts at Single-A in his pro debut after going No. 7 overall in the 2019 draft, and he has a chance to rocket through the farm system. A healthy Hunter Greene still has superstar potential if he can harness his raw stuff and put his plus athleticism to use. After those two, the drop-off is steep.

Cleveland Indians

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    Shane Bieber
    Shane BieberJim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Shane Bieber (Age: 25, controlled through 2024)
    • RHP Mike Clevinger (Age: 29, controlled through 2022)
    • RHP Carlos Carrasco (Age: 33, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Aaron Civale (Age: 25, controlled through 2025)
    • RHP Zach Plesac (Age: 25, controlled through 2025)

    Shane Bieber (3.28 ERA, 259 K, 214.1 IP) and Mike Clevinger (2.71 ERA, 169 K, 126 IP) were two of the most overpowering starters in baseball last season. Their emergence as frontline options no doubt played a role in the team's willingness to move Corey Kluber.

    Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac and Adam Plutko all have valuable MLB experience under their belts, and that trio should be able to hold down the final two spots in the rotation behind a healthy Carlos Carrasco.

    Other present options: RHP Adam Plutko, RHP Jefry Rodriguez

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Ethan Hankins (Tier 2)
    • RHP Daniel Espino (Tier 3)
    • RHP Triston McKenzie (Tier 3)
    • LHP Logan Allen (Tier 3)
    • RHP Tanner Burns (Tier 3)

    Ethan Hankins was in the conversation to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft before an injury-plagued senior season caused him to slip to the Indians at No. 35 overall. The 20-year-old flashed some of his considerable upside last year with a 2.55 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 60 innings between Low-A and Single-A.

    Triston McKenzie has not progressed as hoped, and Logan Allen has seen his stock slip a bit, but both pitchers are still capable of developing into quality MLB starters. Daniel Espino will require some patience, but he was one of the most electric arms in the 2019 draft.

Colorado Rockies

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    Jon Gray
    Jon GrayScott Taetsch/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Jon Gray (Age: 28, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP German Marquez (Age: 25, controlled through 2024)
    • LHP Kyle Freeland (Age: 27, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Antonio Senzatela (Age: 25, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Jeff Hoffman (Age: 27, controlled through 2024)

    Beyond Jon Gray (135 ERA+, 150 IP) and German Marquez (109 ERA+, 174 IP), the Rockies rotation was an unmitigated disaster in 2019.

    Can Kyle Freeland rebound to his 2018 form? Can Jeff Hoffman finally break through and deliver on his top prospect pedigree? The answers to those questions will go a long way in determining the team's success this season.

    Other present options: RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez, RHP Peter Lambert

         

    Top Prospects

    • LHP Ryan Rolison (Tier 2)
    • RHP Chris McMahon (Tier 3)
    • LHP Helcris Olivarez (Tier 3)
    • RHP Karl Kauffmann (Tier 3)
    • RHP Ryan Castellani (Tier 3)

    Ryan Rolison is the closest thing the Rockies have to a top-tier pitching prospect. The 23-year-old has a high floor, and he logged a 4.40 ERA with 132 strikeouts in 131 innings between Single-A and High-A last year.

    Chris McMahon has a chance to be a steal as a second-round pick in this year's draft out of the University of Miami.

Detroit Tigers

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    Casey Mize
    Casey MizeMark Cunningham/Getty Images

    Present

    • LHP Matthew Boyd (Age: 29, controlled through 2022)
    • RHP Jordan Zimmermann (Age: 34, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Ivan Nova (Age: 33, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Spencer Turnbull (Age: 27, controlled through 2024)
    • LHP Daniel Norris (Age: 27, controlled through 2021)

    Matthew Boyd and Daniel Norris were acquired in the blockbuster trade that sent David Price to the Toronto Blue Jays at the 2015 trade deadline, and they are now arguably the two best starters on a rebuilding roster.

    This is the final year of the disastrous five-year, $110 million Jordan Zimmermann contract. He has a 5.61 ERA and 1.2 WAR in 508.2 innings during his time with the team. Can Michael Fulmer make an impact this year as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery?

    Other present options: LHP Tyler Alexander, RHP Michael Fulmer

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Casey Mize (Tier 1)
    • RHP Matt Manning (Tier 1)
    • LHP Tarik Skubal (Tier 1)
    • RHP Alex Faedo (Tier 2)
    • RHP Franklin Perez (Tier 3)

    Casey Mize and Matt Manning are the future of the Detroit rotation and two of baseball's most electric pitching prospects. They both have frontline potential and have impressed while climbing the ladder to this point.

    Lefty Tarik Skubal was a ninth-round pick in the 2018 draft, and he already looks like a steal after posting a 2.42 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with 179 strikeouts in 122.2 innings between High-A and Double-A last year.

Houston Astros

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    Justin Verlander
    Justin VerlanderJim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Justin Verlander (Age: 37, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Zack Greinke (Age: 36, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (Age: 26, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Jose Urquidy (Age: 25, controlled through 2025)
    • RHP Josh James (Age: 27, controlled through 2025)

    With Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley gone, the Astros will be relying on some of their younger arms stepping up in 2020, along with a return to health from 2017 All-Star Lance McCullers Jr.

    Looking to the future, veterans Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke are owed a combined $68.7 million in 2021 before they both reach free agency. They will be 38 and 37 years old, respectively, when they hit the open market.

    Other present options: RHP Austin Pruitt, LHP Framber Valdez

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Forrest Whitley (Tier 1)
    • RHP Bryan Abreu (Tier 2)
    • RHP Cristian Javier (Tier 3)
    • RHP Hunter Brown (Tier 3)
    • RHP Brandon Bielak (Tier 3)

    Forrest Whitley was the consensus top pitching prospect in baseball heading into 2019. He promptly imploded to the tune of a 7.99 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in 59.2 innings while struggling with injuries and ineffectiveness. The ingredients are still there for him to be a top-of-the-rotation ace, and a strong Arizona Fall League performance was a promising sign.

    Bryan Abreu and Cristian Javier both have swing-and-miss stuff, but they might fit best in the bullpen.

Kansas City Royals

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    Brady Singer
    Brady SingerJamie Squire/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Brad Keller (Age: 24, controlled through 2023)
    • LHP Danny Duffy (Age: 31, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Jakob Junis (Age: 27, controlled through 2023)
    • LHP Mike Montgomery (Age: 31, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Jorge Lopez (Age: 27, controlled through 2023)

    Brad Keller has gone from Rule 5 pick to de facto ace of the Kansas City staff. He has a 3.68 ERA, 123 ERA+ and 6.6 WAR over the last two seasons, and with control through the 2023 season, he has a chance to be a long-term piece.

    Left-hander Danny Duffy will earn $15.5 million in 2021 before reaching free agency.

    Other present options: RHP Jesse Hahn, RHP Glenn Sparkman

         

    Top Prospects

    • LHP Asa Lacy (Tier 1)
    • LHP Daniel Lynch (Tier 1)
    • RHP Brady Singer (Tier 1)
    • RHP Jackson Kowar (Tier 1)
    • LHP Kris Bubic (Tier 2)

    Brady Singer (No. 18), Jackson Kowar (No. 33), Daniel Lynch (No. 34) and Kris Bubic (No. 40) were all chosen in the 2018 draft, and that group represents the future of the Kansas City rotation. Texas A&M ace Asa Lacy was the most well-rounded pitcher in the 2020 draft with a good mix of polish and remaining upside, and he was a great addition to the system with the No. 4 overall pick.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Griffin Canning
    Griffin CanningBrandon Wade/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Julio Teheran (Age: 29, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Dylan Bundy (Age: 27, controlled through 2021)
    • LHP Andrew Heaney (Age: 29, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Griffin Canning (Age: 24, controlled through 2025)
    • RHP Shohei Ohtani (Age: 26, controlled through 2023)

    After whiffing on free agent Gerrit Cole, the Angels settled for signing Julio Teheran (1/$9M) and acquiring Dylan Bundy (trade with Baltimore) to bolster a starting rotation that was among the worst in baseball last year.

    If Andrew Heaney and Griffin Canning can take another step forward and a healthy Shohei Ohtani can pick up where he left off on the mound before Tommy John surgery, the staff has some upside, but it is still lacking a bona fide ace.

    Other present options: RHP Matt Andriese, RHP Jaime Barria, LHP Dillon Peters, RHP Felix Pena

         

    Top Prospects

    • LHP Reid Detmers (Tier 2)
    • RHP Chris Rodriguez (Tier 3)
    • RHP Jose Soriano (Tier 3)
    • RHP Jack Kochanowicz (Tier 3)
    • LHP Hector Yan (Tier 3)

    With a plus-plus curveball and mid-90s fastball, Reid Detmers has one of the highest floors of any pitcher in the 2020 draft. He immediately became the top pitching prospect in the Angels system by a wide margin after going No. 10 overall.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Walker Buehler
    Walker BuehlerRob Leiter/Getty Images

    Present

    • LHP Clayton Kershaw (Age: 32, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Walker Buehler (Age: 25, controlled through 2024)
    • LHP Julio Urias (Age: 23, controlled through 2023)
    • LHP Alex Wood (Age: 29, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Ross Stripling (Age: 30, controlled through 2022)

    With Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill leaving in free agency, Kenta Maeda traded and David Price opting out of the 2020 season, the Dodgers' rotation depth will be put to the test.

    Young left-hander Julio Urias is going to move into the rotation, and 2017 All-Star Alex Wood is back on a one-year, $4 million contract. Will this be the year Walker Buehler overtakes Clayton Kershaw as the clear-cut ace of the staff?

    Other present options: RHP Jimmy Nelson, RHP Dennis Santana

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Dustin May (Tier 1)
    • RHP Brusdar Graterol (Tier 1)
    • RHP Josiah Gray (Tier 1)
    • RHP Tony Gonsolin (Tier 2)
    • RHP Ryan Pepiot (Tier 3)

    Dustin May (34.2 IP, 3.63 ERA), Brusdar Graterol (9.2 IP, 4.66 ERA) and Tony Gonsolin (40.0 IP, 2.93 ERA) all saw time at the MLB level in 2019 and are ready to contribute as needed. Josiah Gray went 11-2 with a 2.28 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 147 strikeouts in 130 innings while reaching Double-A last year, so he's also not far from the majors.

Miami Marlins

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    Sixto Sanchez
    Sixto SanchezMark Brown/Getty Images

    Present

    • LHP Caleb Smith (Age: 28, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Sandy Alcantara (Age: 24, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Jose Urena (Age: 28, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Pablo Lopez (Age: 24, controlled through 2024)
    • RHP Jordan Yamamoto (Age: 24, controlled through 2026)

    Caleb Smith had a breakout season in 2019, and Sandy Alcantara tossed two shutouts while earning a spot on the National League All-Star team.

    That duo and rookie standout Jordan Yamamoto (4.46 ERA, 82 K, 78.2 IP) have a chance to be long-term pieces in the starting rotation, while Pablo Lopez might be a dark horse for a breakout season after logging a 4.28 FIP in 111.1 innings last year.

    Other present options: RHP Elieser Hernandez, RHP Sterling Sharp

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Sixto Sanchez (Tier 1)
    • RHP Edward Cabrera (Tier 1)
    • RHP Max Meyer (Tier 2)
    • LHP Braxton Garrett (Tier 2)
    • LHP Trevor Rogers (Tier 3)

    Sixto Sanchez was the prize of the J.T. Realmuto trade with the Philadelphia Phillies, and he immediately became the No. 1 prospect in a Marlins farm system on the rise. Edward Cabrera is not far behind in terms of future upside.

    Electric right-hander Max Meyer has a chance to move quickly after he was added to the team's 60-man roster pool following his selection at No. 3 overall in the 2020 draft. Braxton Garrett (No. 7 in 2016) and Trevor Rogers (No. 13 in 2017) also have first-round pedigrees.

Milwaukee Brewers

16 of 30

    Brandon Woodruff
    Brandon WoodruffDylan Buell/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Brandon Woodruff (Age: 27, controlled through 2024)
    • RHP Adrian Houser (Age: 27, controlled through 2023)
    • LHP Brett Anderson (Age: 32, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Josh Lindblom (Age: 33, controlled through 2022)
    • LHP Eric Lauer (Age: 25, controlled through 2024)

    Brandon Woodruff was an All-Star in 2019, and Adrian Houser looks like a potential breakout candidate after logging a 3.02 ERA and 1.03 WHIP while holding opponents to a .201 average and tallying 52 strikeouts in 47.2 innings over his final 10 starts.

    Veteran Brett Anderson, 2019 KBO MVP Josh Lindblom and controllable left-hander Eric Lauer were all acquired during the offseason to revamp the starting staff.

    Other present options: RHP Corbin Burnes, RHP Shelby Miller, RHP Freddy Peralta

         

    Top Prospects

    • LHP Ethan Small (Tier 2)
    • LHP Aaron Ashby (Tier 3)
    • RHP Drew Rasmussen (Tier 3)
    • LHP Antoine Kelly (Tier 3)
    • RHP Zack Brown (Tier 3)

    The Brewers might have the thinnest farm system in baseball, and that applies to both the position player and pitcher side of things. Ethan Small and Aaron Ashby are more floor than ceiling, but they have a good chance to hold down MLB rotation spots.

Minnesota Twins

17 of 30

    Jose Berrios
    Jose BerriosRon Vesely/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Jose Berrios (Age: 26, controlled through 2022)
    • RHP Jake Odorizzi (Age: 30, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Kenta Maeda (Age: 32, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Homer Bailey (Age: 34, controlled through 2020)
    • LHP Rich Hill (Age: 40, controlled through 2020)

    Jose Berrios is one of baseball's best young pitchers, and Jake Odorizzi is back on a one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer after earning his first All-Star selection in 2019.

    With Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez gone and Michael Pineda suspended to start the year, veterans Homer Bailey (1/$7M) and Rich Hill (1/$3M) were added in free agency, and Kenta Maeda was acquired from the Dodgers in exchange for top prospect Brusdar Graterol.

    Other present options: RHP Randy Dobnak, RHP Michael Pineda, LHP Devin Smeltzer

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Jordan Balazovic (Tier 1)
    • RHP Jhoan Duran (Tier 1)
    • RHP Blayne Enlow (Tier 3)
    • RHP Matt Canterino (Tier 3)
    • LHP Lewis Thorpe (Tier 3)

    Jordan Balazovic (2.69 ERA, 129 K, 93.2 IP) and Jhoan Duran (3.76 ERA, 136 K, 115 IP) emerged as top-tier prospects in 2019, and they could be ready for a spot in the MLB rotation before the 2021 season is over.

New York Mets

18 of 30

    Jacob deGrom
    Jacob deGromQuinn Harris/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Jacob deGrom (Age: 32, controlled through 2024)
    • RHP Marcus Stroman (Age: 29, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Rick Porcello (Age: 31, controlled through 2020)
    • LHP Steven Matz (Age: 29, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Michael Wacha (Age: 29, controlled through 2020)

    The Mets will be without Noah Syndergaard in 2020 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, and free agency awaits the big right-hander after the 2021 season.

    The only starter on the roster signed beyond the 2021 season is reigning NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, and after the team paid a steep price to acquire Marcus Stroman from the Blue Jays last summer, it will be interesting to see if it makes a push to re-sign him.

    Other present options: RHP Walker Lockett, RHP Corey Oswalt

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Matthew Allan (Tier 2)
    • LHP David Peterson (Tier 3)
    • RHP J.T. Ginn (Tier 3)
    • LHP Thomas Szapucki (Tier 3)
    • RHP Josh Wolf (Tier 3)

    The Mets gave Matthew Allan a $2.5 million bonus after he slipped to the third round of the 2019 draft. The 6'3", 225-pound right-hander has three plus pitches and advanced command, giving him the highest ceiling of any pitching prospect in the system.

    Health will be the key for J.T. Ginn and Thomas Szapucki to live up to their potential.

New York Yankees

19 of 30

    Gerrit Cole
    Gerrit ColeMark Brown/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Gerrit Cole (Age: 29, controlled through 2028)
    • RHP Masahiro Tanaka (Age: 31, controlled through 2020)
    • LHP James Paxton (Age: 31, controlled through 2020)
    • LHP J.A. Happ (Age: 37, controlled through 2021)
    • LHP Jordan Montgomery (Age: 27, controlled through 2023)

    With Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery) and Domingo German (suspended) both out of commission, the Yankees rotation will be an X-factor in 2020.

    Gerrit Cole is now the clear ace of the staff after inking a record-breaking nine-year, $324 million contract, but the long-term outlook for the rest of the rotation is up in the air with Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton both headed for free agency during the offseason.

    Other present options: RHP Michael King, RHP Jonathan Loaisiga

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Deivi Garcia (Tier 1)
    • RHP Clarke Schmidt (Tier 1)
    • RHP Luis Gil (Tier 2)
    • RHP Roansy Contreras (Tier 2)
    • RHP Alexander Vizcaino (Tier 3)

    The Yankees took a chance on Clarke Schmidt with the No. 16 pick in 2017 after he underwent Tommy John surgery a month before the draft. The 24-year-old has been brought along slowly with just 114 pro innings under his belt, but his frontline upside was clear last year when he pitched his way to Double-A.

    While Deivi Garcia has electric stuff, his middling command and undersized frame could land him in the bullpen.

Oakland Athletics

20 of 30

    Jesus Luzardo
    Jesus LuzardoMichael Zagaris/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Mike Fiers (Age: 35, controlled through 2020)
    • LHP Sean Manaea (Age: 28, controlled through 2022)
    • RHP Frankie Montas (Age: 27, controlled through 2023)
    • LHP Jesus Luzardo (Age: 22, controlled through 2025)
    • LHP A.J. Puk (Age: 25, controlled through 2025)

    With Frankie Montas returning from suspension, Sean Manaea now healthy and Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk finally ready to assume spots in the rotation, the Athletics suddenly have an abundance of starting pitching options.

    To that point, Chris Bassitt posted a 3.81 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 141 strikeouts in 144 innings last year, and he's currently on the outside looking in for a spot in the projected rotation.

    Other present options: RHP Chris Bassitt, RHP Daniel Gossett, RHP Daniel Mengden

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Daulton Jefferies (Tier 3)
    • RHP James Kaprielian (Tier 3)
    • RHP Tyler Baum (Tier 3)
    • RHP Grant Holmes (Tier 3)
    • LHP Hogan Harris (Tier 3)

    With Luzardo and Puk moving on to the majors, it's slim picking down on the farm.

    Daulton Jefferies pitched just 20.1 innings in his first three pro seasons after going No. 37 overall in the 2016 draft. The 24-year-old was finally healthy last year, and he logged a 3.42 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 79 innings while reaching Double-A.

Philadelphia Phillies

21 of 30

    Aaron Nola
    Aaron NolaMitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Aaron Nola (Age: 27, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Zack Wheeler (Age: 30, controlled through 2024)
    • RHP Jake Arrieta (Age: 34, controlled through 2022)
    • RHP Vince Velasquez (Age: 28, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Zach Eflin (Age: 26, controlled through 2022)

    The Phillies rotation was a mess behind ace Aaron Nola last season, and they addressed that issue during the offseason by signing Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million contract. If Jake Arrieta can return to form, the rotation will have a trio of established frontline starters to anchor the staff.

    Zach Eflin quietly posted a 4.13 ERA with two complete games in 163.1 innings last year.

    Other present options: RHP Nick Pivetta, LHP Ranger Suarez

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Spencer Howard (Tier 1)
    • RHP Francisco Morales (Tier 2)
    • RHP Mick Abel (Tier 2)
    • RHP Adonis Medina (Tier 2)
    • RHP Enyel De Los Santos (Tier 3)

    Spencer Howard has pitched just 211.1 pro innings since going in the second round of the 2017 draft, but he's knocking on the door after making six starts at Double-A last year. The 23-year-old had a 2.03 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and .173 opponents' batting average with 94 strikeouts in 71 innings overall in 2019.

    Keep an eye on 20-year-old Francisco Morales, who is on the cusp of joining the top-100-prospect conversation.

Pittsburgh Pirates

22 of 30

    Mitch Keller
    Mitch KellerBrace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Joe Musgrove (Age: 27, controlled through 2022)
    • RHP Trevor Williams (Age: 28, controlled through 2022)
    • LHP Steven Brault (Age: 28, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Mitch Keller (Age: 24, controlled through 2025)
    • LHP Derek Holland (Age: 33, controlled through 2020)

    With Chris Archer (thoracic outlet surgery) and Jameson Taillon (Tommy John surgery) both watching from the sidelines, Joe Musgrove is the de facto ace of the Pittsburgh staff after finishing the 2019 season strong.

    Top prospect Mitch Keller had an unsightly 7.13 ERA in 48 innings last season. Below the surface, his 3.19 FIP and 65-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio provide ample reason for optimism.

    Other present options: RHP Chad Kuhl, RHP Chris Stratton

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Tahnaj Thomas (Tier 2)
    • RHP Cody Bolton (Tier 2)
    • RHP Quinn Priester (Tier 3)
    • RHP Brennan Malone (Tier 3)
    • RHP Braxton Ashcraft (Tier 3)

    With a projectable 6'4", 190-pound frame and a fastball that touches 100 mph, Tahnaj Thomas has an extremely high ceiling. He has a chance to be the marquee player in the Erik Gonzalez-for-Jordan Luplow trade.

    Quinn Priester (No. 18 pick) and Brennan Malone (No. 33 pick) had two of the highest ceilings among prep arms in the 2019 draft class. Malone was acquired from the D-backs in the Starling Marte trade.

San Diego Padres

23 of 30

    MacKenzie Gore
    MacKenzie GoreRalph Freso/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Chris Paddack (Age: 24, controlled through 2024)
    • RHP Garrett Richards (Age: 32, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Zach Davies (Age: 27, controlled through 2021)
    • LHP Joey Lucchesi (Age: 27, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Dinelson Lamet (Age: 27, controlled through 2023)

    The Padres rotation is chock full of potential X-factors.

    Chris Paddack is one of the game's best young pitchers, Zach Davies is a reliable workhorse, and Joey Lucchesi has exceeded expectations in the majors. If Garrett Richards can stay healthy after tossing just 147.1 innings over the past four seasons and Dinelson Lamet can deliver on his breakout potential, this team could make some serious noise.

    Other present options: RHP Jerad Eickhoff, RHP Cal Quantrill

         

    Top Prospects

    • LHP MacKenzie Gore (Tier 1)
    • RHP Luis Patino (Tier 1)
    • LHP Adrian Morejon (Tier 2)
    • LHP Ryan Weathers (Tier 2)
    • LHP Joey Cantillo (Tier 3)

    MacKenzie Gore has a strong case for the title of top pitching prospect in baseball, and Luis Patino is not far behind in terms of upside. Those two could front the rotation alongside Paddack for years to come.

    Adrian Morejon and Ryan Weathers both have high floors and a good chance of contributing in some capacity, while Joey Cantillo is one to watch after he logged a 2.26 ERA with 144 strikeouts in 111.2 innings last year. Not bad for a 16th-round pick in the 2017 draft.

San Francisco Giants

24 of 30

    Logan Webb
    Logan WebbThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Johnny Cueto (Age: 34, controlled through 2022)
    • RHP Jeff Samardzija (Age: 35, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Kevin Gausman (Age: 29, controlled through 2020)
    • LHP Drew Smyly (Age: 31, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Logan Webb (Age: 23, controlled through 2025)

    As the Giants start what could be a lengthy rebuild, expect them to look for value in the form of veterans on one-year deals. Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly and Trevor Cahill all fit the bill among this winter's additions.

    Logan Webb gained some valuable experience last year and looks like the best bet to emerge as a long-term option.

    Other present options: LHP Tyler Anderson, RHP Trevor Cahill, RHP Dereck Rodriguez, LHP Andrew Suarez

         

    Top Prospects

    • LHP Seth Corry (Tier 2)
    • RHP Sean Hjelle (Tier 3)
    • RHP Tristan Beck (Tier 3)
    • RHP Blake Rivera (Tier 3)
    • RHP Gregory Santos (Tier 3)

    Seth Corry showed significantly improved command last season while racking up an eye-popping 172 strikeouts in 122.2 innings with a 1.76 ERA and 1.07 WHIP at Single-A. Sean Hjelle and Tristan Beck both have high floors as polished college standouts.

Seattle Mariners

25 of 30

    Logan Gilbert
    Logan GilbertNorm Hall/Getty Images

    Present

    • LHP Marco Gonzales (Age: 28, controlled through 2025)
    • LHP Yusei Kikuchi (Age: 29, controlled through 2025)
    • RHP Taijuan Walker (Age: 27, controlled through 2020)
    • LHP Justus Sheffield (Age: 24, controlled through 2025)
    • RHP Kendall Graveman (Age: 29, controlled through 2021)

    The Mariners signed Marco Gonzales to a four-year, $30 million extension after he tossed a career-high 203 innings last season with a 109 ERA+ and 3.4 WAR. There's plenty of value in a league-average innings-eater.

    A four-year, $66 million extension can be triggered for Yusei Kikuchi after the 2021 season by way of a club option. Otherwise, it becomes a $13 million player option for 2022, followed by free agency.

    Other present options: RHP Nick Margevicius, RHP Yohan Ramirez

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Logan Gilbert (Tier 1)
    • RHP Emerson Hancock (Tier 1)
    • RHP George Kirby (Tier 2)
    • RHP Justin Dunn (Tier 2)
    • LHP Brandon Williamson (Tier 3)

    The Mariners have used their first-round pick on a college pitcher in each of the last three years, selecting Logan Gilbert (No. 14 in 2018), George Kirby (No. 20 in 2019) and Emerson Hancock (No. 6 in 2020). The development of that trio will go a long way in determining the club's future contention window.

St. Louis Cardinals

26 of 30

    Jack Flaherty
    Jack FlahertyDylan Buell/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Jack Flaherty (Age: 24, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Miles Mikolas (Age: 31, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Dakota Hudson (Age: 25, controlled through 2024)
    • RHP Adam Wainwright (Age: 38, controlled through 2020)
    • LHP Kwang Hyun Kim (Age: 31, controlled through 2021)

    Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson now represent the present and future of the St. Louis starting rotation after breakout 2019 seasons. Flaherty has a chance to be one of the best pitchers in baseball if he can build off an untouchable second half.

    Carlos Martinez is still an option for the rotation, but with Jordan Hicks opting out of the 2020 campaign, he could serve as the team's closer once again. He's under contract through the 2023 season.

    Other present options: LHP Austin Gomber, RHP Daniel Ponce De Leon

         

    Top Prospects

    • LHP Matthew Liberatore (Tier 1)
    • LHP Zack Thompson (Tier 2)
    • LHP Genesis Cabrera (Tier 3)
    • RHP Johan Oviedo (Tier 3)
    • RHP Jake Woodford (Tier 3)

    The Cardinals acquired Matthew Liberatore from the Tampa Bay Rays during the offseason in exchange for Randy Arozarena and Jose Martinez, and he immediately became the top pitching prospect in the system. Still just 20 years old, he has the frame, projectability and stuff to be a frontline starter.

Tampa Bay Rays

27 of 30

    Tyler Glasnow
    Tyler GlasnowTim Warner/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Charlie Morton (Age: 36, controlled through 2021)
    • LHP Blake Snell (Age: 27, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Tyler Glasnow (Age: 26, controlled through 2023)
    • LHP Ryan Yarbrough (Age: 28, controlled through 2024)
    • LHP Brendan McKay (Age: 24, controlled through 2025)

    The Rays finished fourth in the majors last season with a 3.64 ERA from their starters, and they could be even better this year with a healthy Tyler Glasnow back in the mix and a rising star in Brendan McKay.

    McKay had a 4.03 FIP with 56 strikeouts over 49 innings in his MLB debut last season after confounding minor league hitters to the tune of a 1.10 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and 12.5 K/9 in 73.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.

    Other present options: LHP Jalen Beeks, RHP Yonny Chirinos, RHP Trevor Richards

         

    Top Prospects

    • LHP Shane McClanahan (Tier 1)
    • RHP Shane Baz (Tier 1)
    • RHP Joe Ryan (Tier 1)
    • RHP Nick Bitsko (Tier 2)
    • RHP Brent Honeywell (Tier 3)

    Shane McClanahan racked up 154 strikeouts in 120.2 innings last season while answering some concerns about his overall command. He walked batters at a 5.7 BB/9 clip during his final season at South Florida in 2018 but trimmed that to 3.4 BB/9 over three levels last year.

    Shane Baz and Joe Ryan both have impact potential, while Nick Bitsko was one of the most projectable arms in the 2020 draft class. He could not have landed in a better situation.

Texas Rangers

28 of 30

    Corey Kluber
    Corey KluberTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Present

    • RHP Corey Kluber (Age: 34, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Lance Lynn (Age: 33, controlled through 2021)
    • LHP Mike Minor (Age: 32, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Kyle Gibson (Age: 32, controlled through 2022)
    • RHP Jordan Lyles (Age: 29, controlled through 2021)

    Lance Lynn and Mike Minor were quietly one of the best one-two punches in baseball last season, but the rest of the Texas rotation was a mess.

    After swinging a trade to acquire Corey Kluber and signing both Kyle Gibson (3/$28M) and Jordan Lyles (2/$16M) in free agency, the rotation now looks like a potential strength, though there is admittedly a good deal of volatility with all three of the newcomers.

    Other present options: LHP Kolby Allard, LHP Brock Burke, RHP Ariel Jurado

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Yerry Rodriguez (Tier 2)
    • RHP Hans Crouse (Tier 2)
    • LHP Joe Palumbo (Tier 3)
    • RHP Cole Winn (Tier 3)
    • RHP Ronny Henriquez (Tier 3)

    With a projectable 6'2", 198-pound frame and three quality pitches, Yerry Rodriguez has emerged as the best pitching prospect in the Texas system. He had a 2.08 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 85 strikeouts in 73.2 innings at Single-A last year and is one to watch in a system that has had some trouble developing pitching talent.

Toronto Blue Jays

29 of 30

    Nate Pearson
    Nate PearsonJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    Present

    • LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (Age: 33, controlled through 2023)
    • RHP Tanner Roark (Age: 33, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Chase Anderson (Age: 32, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Matt Shoemaker (Age: 33, controlled through 2020)
    • RHP Trent Thornton (Age: 26, controlled through 2024)

    With an exciting young offensive core in place, the Blue Jays turned their attention to the pitching staff during the offseason, signing Hyun-Jin Ryu (4/$80M), Tanner Roark (2/$24M) and Shun Yamaguchi (2/$6.35M) in free agency while also acquiring Chase Anderson from the Brewers.

    Those veterans will be tasked with bridging the gap to a solid collection of pitching prospect talent.

    Other present options: LHP Ryan Borucki, RHP Shun Yamaguchi, RHP T.J. Zeuch

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Nate Pearson (Tier 1)
    • RHP Simeon Woods Richardson (Tier 1)
    • RHP Alek Manoah (Tier 1)
    • LHP Anthony Kay (Tier 2)
    • RHP Adam Kloffenstein (Tier 3)

    Flame-throwing Nate Pearson is one of the safest bets of any pitching prospect to develop into a legitimate staff ace. Simeon Woods Richardson also has an extremely high ceiling with a chance to hold down the No. 2 spot in the rotation long-term.

    Others like Alek Manoah, Adam Kloffenstein, Kendall Williams, Eric Pardinho and Patrick Murphy offer various levels of upside as second-tier arms, while Anthony Kay could be ready for a rotation spot in 2020.

Washington Nationals

30 of 30

    Stephen Strasburg
    Stephen StrasburgScott Taetsch/Getty Images

    Present

    • RHP Max Scherzer (Age: 35, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Stephen Strasburg (Age: 31, controlled through 2026)
    • LHP Patrick Corbin (Age: 30, controlled through 2024)
    • RHP Anibal Sanchez (Age: 36, controlled through 2021)
    • RHP Austin Voth (Age: 28, controlled through 2025)

    The Nationals return their top four starters from last year's World Series-winning team after re-signing Stephen Strasburg to a seven-year, $245 million contract. With three legitimate ace-caliber starters, their rotation stacks up against any in baseball.

    With Joe Ross opting out of the 2020 season, Austin Voth and Erick Fedde are the leading candidates to claim the No. 5 starter spot. Voth, 28, had a 3.30 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in 43.2 innings last year.

    Other present options: RHP Erick Fedde, RHP Kyle McGowin

         

    Top Prospects

    • RHP Jackson Rutledge (Tier 2)
    • RHP Mason Denaburg (Tier 3)
    • RHP Wil Crowe (Tier 3)
    • RHP Cade Cavalli (Tier 3)
    • LHP Tim Cate (Tier 3)

    Mason Denaburg (No. 27 in 2018) and Jackson Rutledge (No. 17 in 2019) both have significant upside to match their first-round pedigrees, while Wil Crow and Tim Cate have high floors and a good chance of developing into quality back-of-the-rotation starters.

    While they are sorely lacking in position-player talent, the Nationals have plenty of pitching talent on the farm.

         

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. Contract information via Spotrac. Prospect tiers refer to each player's status in B/R's most recent farm system rankings.

    Catch up on past State of the Position articles: Catcher, First Base, Second Base, Shortstop, Third Base, Outfielders