MLB Predictions: The Next 10 Pitching Prospects to Reach the Majors
How many times have you heard the phrase "you can never have enough pitching?"
Probably more times than you can count, so there obviously is some truth to it. This season there appears to be plenty of up-and-coming pitching talent through the Minor League systems.
Last season we all watched Stephen Strasburg steal the show after his promotion. Jeremy Hellickson, Aroldis Chapman, Mike Minor and Kyle Drabek were also kept on close watch when they got the call up to the majors.
Here are 10 people who have the best opportunity to make that move to the major leagues in the 2011 season.
10: Christian Friedrich (Rockies)
Christian Friedrich has talents that rank far above where he is placed on this list. However, the Rockies have been consistent with taking it slow with Friedrich. His promotions have been enforced purely on his dominating at every level he advances to.
There is some concern with Friedrich's variety of pitches. He has a phenomenal curve, but there is some question about his fastball. Some reports show Friedrich hitting speed in the mid 90s with his fastball, which is plenty to keep hitters guessing as a lefty.
The Rockies rotation is basically set in the first four slots. The fifth slot will more than likely not go to Friedrich, but if he continues to dominate throughout the season he could push the Rockies to promote him to the majors.
9: Simon Castro (Padres)
The Padres had the second-best pitching rotation in baseball last season, so I was hesitant to put Castro on this list.
Castro has pitched many more games than most of the players on this list. In his 95 games, Castro has put up solid stats. The Padres have advanced him at a very slow rate, but at the end of 2010 he did move up to Triple-A.
Despite the good pitching last season, Aaron Harang and Dustin Moseley each showed some inconsistency. If they struggle and Castro continues to perform well, he may get a chance at the end of the starting rotation.
8: Jarrod Parker (Diamondbacks)
Going into the 2010 season, Jarrod Parker was one of the leading candidates in the minor leagues to make a move into the majors. However, the season didn't go down as many suspected when Parker went down with an elbow injury.
This positioning is completely dependent on how Parker returns from his elbow ligament replacement surgery. If things go well, he could find himself a spot in the Diamondback's pitching rotation which was very shaky last year.
During his time in the minors, Parker had a career 3.31 ERA with 212 strikeouts in 215 innings.
7: Jordan Lyles (Astros)
Despite being only 20 years old, Jordan Lyles is by far the Astros best prospect.
Last season Lyles played the majority of the season in Double-A before being promoted up to Triple-A near the end of the year. During his time in Double-A, Lyles managed a 3.12 ERA which is well above the mark for most pitchers in his age group. His move to Triple-A has been a bit of a rough start. Lyles gave up a 5.40 ERA in his three games played.
Despite the rocky showing after the promotion, it has already been confirmed that Lyles will be competing for the fifth spot in the Astros rotation during spring training. Even if he doesn't win the spot, he will be a starter soon enough in the majors.
6: Manny Banuelos (Yankees)
It's not every day that a spot in the Yankees' pitching rotation just falls in someones lap. That may be the case for Manny Banuelos.
The future of Andy Pettite is still up in the air. The Yankees failed to snag Cliff Lee. The two guys who Yankee fans thought would be the two stars this season, they may end up with neither. This leaves a huge opportunity for Banuelos, with the fourth and fifth pitching spots wide open.
Banuelos is probably the best fit for the fifth spot. He is one of the best prospects that the Yankees have, and he has dominated in the minors. In his career he has maintained a 2.59 ERA. The only hesitation may be on his age and inexperience. If the Yankees choose to leave him in the minors and he continues to perform, it's only a matter of time before he pokes his head into the rotation.
5: Martin Perez (Rangers)
All the hype was centered around Martin Perez heading into the 2010 season. He was considered to be one of the top prospects heading into the season. Things didn't go as planned.
Perez struggled throughout the entire season, but you must remember he is only a teenager pitching in the Double-A. Don't give up on the kid yet.
He often draws comparisons to Johan Santana, and it may not be too far off. He is one of the few on this list with the physical ability to become a future ace. He has a fantastic changeup to go with his fastball which reaches speeds in the mid 90s. He struggled with a lot of his control in 2010, but if he can get it back, it won't be long until people start talking about Perez again.
4: Julio Teheran (Braves)
Another 20-year-old, Julio Teheran, may just be one of the best pitchers in the minors. The only problem he may run into is the Braves' current pitching rotation. Mike Minor was promoted from the minors last season and seems to have the fifth slot locked.
What Teheran brings to the table is unthinkable for most pitchers his age. He has a fastball that reaches the mid 90s. His curveball isn't quite a 12-6, but when he has the right feel he can get it in the zone. It's inconsistent, but still a masterful pitch if he is having an on day. He also has a changeup that he uses for his out pitch. In his 239 innings pitched, Teheran has accumulated 243 strikeouts.
There isn't much room for Teheran to move up, but if something should happen he would probably be the Braves first choice.
3: Zach Britton (Orioles)
There has not been a pitcher in the minors who has been more consistent than Zach Britton. Every year Britton has moved up a level in the minors, ending last season in Triple-A. Every year he has shown improvement, and he may be ready to take the step to the majors.
He won't struggle too much to make it happen. The Baltimore Orioles don't quite have the pitching rotation you would find in Philadelphia.
The left hander doesn't have quite the strikeout total as most of the pitchers on this list, but he trumps them when it comes to getting groundball outs. This is due to his mixture of throws consisting of a slider, hard sinker, and changeup. Britton has great control over all these pitches and is ready to show off his stuff at Camden Yards.
2: Mike Pineda (Mariners)
Mike Pineda has all the weapons needed to be a future ace in the league. Although he has the ability to start the season on the Mariners roster, the chance may be slim due to his limited time in at the Triple-A level.
During his time in the minors, Pineda had the best looking stat sheet of any prospect waiting for a shot in the majors. He has a career 2.49 ERA, 396 strikeouts in 404.1 innings pitched, and has a career record of 31-14.
Pineda's fastball can reach speeds in the upper 90s, and he keeps great control over it. He has a very nice slider to complement his fastball. He also has a changeup and a cutter that will require work, but can also be very valuable.
It won't be long before Mike Pineda and Felix Hernandez are a fantastic one-two punch for the Mariners.
1: Mike Montgomery (Royals)
Mike Montgomery was another player plagued with injuries throughout 2010. The injuries were just about the only thing to slow him down. He was on and off the disabled list throughout the season.
When Montgomery did play, he was a force. Since being drafted, Montgomery has held a 2.27 ERA in his three seasons pitching. He has accumulated 220 strikeouts in 245.2 innings.
Considered to be the top minor league prospect for the Royals, if Montgomery comes back strong from an injury-plagued season he could easily work his way to the Royals pitching rotation with ease. There is a lot of uncertainty already with Kyle Davies and Vin Mazzaro, so the push may come quickly.