From the 21st of January to the 20th of February, the writers at TDG will be taking you through our rankings position-by-position. As I mentioned in the primer, this year we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of having my personal rankings up on this site, like last year, these rankings for 2014 are of the consensus variety and being brought to you by all of the TDG staff. Everyone put a lot of work into this project, so we hope you enjoy the end result. And if you are looking for my personal dynasty league rankings, you can find them this off-season at Baseball Prospectus.
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Now the final 75 best starting pitchers in dynasty leagues, starting with a Braves’ pitching prospect who has a bright future ahead of him:
126) Lucas Sims, Atlanta Braves (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
The Braves top prospect acquitted himself well in the Sally last summer, allowing just 83 hits in 116 2/3 innings. He’s ticketed for the Hi-A Carolina League to start this season, with a promotion to AA a very real possibility by mid-season if he continues to hone his command. He makes for a solid trade target for rebuilding owners with an eye on 2015 and beyond.
127) Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
Quintana made great strides in his Age 24 season, boosting his K rate from 5.3 to 7.4-per-9 and logging a full 200 inning season for the White Sox. He’s got a great fastball from the left side, and if he can continue to build on last year’s gains this ranking could look very light a year from now. As is he’s a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm with upside for more.
128) Michael Pineda, New York Yankees (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 90)
The Yankees’ 6’7” giant is finally in the homestretch of his recovery from major shoulder surgery. Whether he can recapture any of his former prospect shine is an open question, but he should make his way to the Bronx this season, possibly right out of Spring Training. Shoulder injuries are awfully tough to feel good about, and Pineda’s stock is low until he proves something. The pedigree is there, though, so if the wing cooperates he still has the ability to become a very good fantasy starter.
129) Hector Santiago, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Age: 26, Previous Rank: NR)
Santiago posted solid strikeout numbers in his 23 starts last season and was shipped off to Anaheim in the off-season. The move is a big plus in terms of home ballpark, but Santiago’s still a pitcher who struggles with consistent control and gives up his fair share of hits. He’ll never be a help for your WHIP or, barring a run of luck, your ERA, but his strikeout potential makes him a solid back-of-the-rotation type for most standard leagues.
130) Casey Kelly, San Diego Padres (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 61)
The former top-25 prospect is completing his journey back from 2013 Tommy John surgery after making his Major League debut in the second half of 2012. And while big league hitters welcomed him rudely in his first 29 innings he retains the upside of a consistent mid-rotation starter. Calling PETCO home will help as well, and he should be an even money bet to break into the Padres rotation by June, as long his recovery continues to go relatively smoothly.
131) Ross Detwiler, Washington Nationals (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 131)
After a nice breakthrough season in 2012 Detwiler took a few steps back last year while dealing with an ugly pinched nerve in his back. Even when healthy his lack of strikeouts make him a fairly boring target, but he’ll head to Spring Training with an inside track to the 5th spot in Washington’s rotation and possesses some sneaky potential value at the end of drafts or as a trade throw-in for rotation depth.
132) Jesse Biddle, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 171)
Has lost some luster in prospect circles, but despite ongoing control issues struck out 10 batters-per-nine as a 21 year-old at AA and has the stuff to develop into a quintessential “late-blooming lefty” if he can figure out how to harness his stuff.
133) Allen Webster, Boston Red Sox (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 104)
His right arm is a lightning bolt with top-of-the-rotation stuff, but he struggles to get his fastball down in the zone and maintain his confidence on the mound. Given the starting pitching depth in Boston’s system he’s rapidly approaching put-up-or-shut-up range and may very well end up in the bullpen.
134) Phil Hughes, Minnesota Twins (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 65)
Hughes’ first-round pedigree and relative youth landed him a generous multi-year deal in the Twin Cities, and he’ll look for a fresh start in a ballpark that should be much more forgiving to his extreme flyball tendencies.
135) Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 205)
Leake put up a very solid real-life breakout season last year that wasn’t nearly as exciting for fantasy owners. His sub-6 K/9 rate and fairly hittable repertoire make him highly dependent on BABIP and W luck for his fantasy value, and a regression by his HR/FB rate in Cincy’s bandbox could very easily send his ERA back into the 4’s next year.
136) Travis Wood, Chicago Cubs (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 198)
Wood was an under-the-radar back-end guy last year, but he’ll probably cost a bit more if he’s available in your league this year. He’s put together two straight seasons with a WHP under 1.20, and last year rode some good HR/FB and LOB rate fortunes to a 3.11 ERA. You shouldn’t expect a repeat of that number in 2014, but a mid-3’s ERA with a solid WHIP and won’t-kill-you strikeout totals is easily with reach, and that has value.
137) Alexi Ogando, Texas Rangers (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 25th as a RP)
Ogando returned to the rotation last year with mixed results. His 3.11 ERA and 1.23 WHIP were both solid, but as with his last transition to starting his K’s disappeared and he struggled to work deep into games, which limited his W potential. He should be able to provide more innings this year, but owners should keep expectations in check for a sudden surge in strikeouts.
138) Jorge de la Rosa, Colorado Rockies (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 125)
It’s hard to believe that George of the Rose is 33 already, but it’s true. And last year it showed, as his first full-ish season post-Tommy John saw a significant decrease in his strikeout totals all the way down to a 6.0/9 rate. He’s always been a guy that gives up hits and threatens your WHIP, so if the K’s don’t come back he’ll be in danger of tumbling even further down this list next year.
139) Randall Delgado, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 176)
Delgado pitched well for the Diamondbacks last season, and should be in a relatively strong position to hold onto a rotation spot amid Arizona’s crowded depth chart despite a second half fade. His minor league strikeout numbers still haven’t translated to the Majors, but he was able to make great strides last year with his control. There’s some significant upside here if he can find the strikeouts, but even if he doesn’t he still looks like a decent-enough mid-rotation arm going forward.
140) Zach Lee, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 147)
Lee continues to get precious little love in fantasy prospect circles, despite the best efforts of some of our writers. Despite not looking like the future #1 he was pegged as when drafted he has one of the higher floors of any pitching prospect in baseball and should be ready for a big league trial sometime this year. He’s going to stabilize the middle of many a fantasy rotation for years to come despite the lack of sexy.
141) Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 136)
Duffy made his way back from Tommy John surgery in time to make five September starts last season, and he looked an awful lot like the pre-surgery version. He throws a high-octane heater with poor control, and it’s still an open question if he sticks in the rotation long-term. If he can make some progress in harnessing command there’s still hope, but with a bunch of young starting pitching moving up the KC minor league ladder it’s getting to be now-or-never time for Duffy.
142) Tyler Chatwood, Colorado Rockies (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
Chatwood had a weird season last year, with a stellar ERA and not much else to offer. His strikeout rate was terrible (5.3/9), and even more remarkable is that within that rate he threw up two 10+ K games in his 20 starts. Chatwood’s elite groundball profile is intriguing as a baseline, and his slider has shown flashes of being a plus knockout pitch. If he actually starts throwing it on a regular basis and maintains the GB rate there’s some very definite upside here.
143) Sean Manaea, Kansas City Royals (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
Manaea was headed for top 10 pick territory before a hip injury last spring dinged his draft stock and sent him to Kansas City for over-slot money in the supplemental 1st round. Manaea’s a horse of a kid at 6’5” 235 and creates some serious downhill plane from the left side. He has the pedigree and stuff to move quickly through the system if the hip is 100%, and could be one of the top pitching prospects in baseball by this time next year.
144) Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 51)
Your guess is as good as ours at this point. He was terrible in the majors last year. He was terrible in the minors last year. He just walked a guy and drilled another in the ribs while you were reading this. He’s not really worth any more internet ink at this point until he shows some sign of life. Good luck to you if you own him.
145) Dillon Gee, New York Mets (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 140)
Gee should have himself a long career as a prototypical innings-eater type, and he’ll have stretches where he’s better than that for a while. He’s got solid control that should keep him in the low-2-per-9 walk range, and that should in turn keep his WHIP in playable range for fantasy owners. He’s not gonna be a plus strikeout guy, but he won’t hurt you too badly there either. All in all a solid, average profile. You could do worse.
146) C.J. Edwards, Chicago Cubs (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
Edwards dominated the Sally for the Rangers’ Hickory affiliate before shipping off to the Cubs organization as the centerpiece of last July’s Matt Garza deal. He picked up right where he left off after a subsequent promotion to the A+ Florida State League, and appears on track for a bunch of AA innings this summer. There’s an open question about how his tiny 155 lb. frame will hold up, but even if he’s eventually bullpen-bound there’s serious fantasy potential in his right arm.
147) Marco Estrada, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 84)
Estrada enjoyed a stellar breakout campaign in 2012 with a tasty combination of 9.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 rates, and surged up draft boards for 2013 appropriately. But he dealt with the injury bug again, and was unable to build on his 138 inning workload from 2012. The upside for a top-20 season is still there with Estrada, but at some point you’re a 30 year old who’s never thrown 140 innings in a Major League season, and he’s about as risky a roll of the dice as fantasy owners are likely to be tempted by this season.
148) Mike Foltynewicz, Houston Astros (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
The Astros 2010 1st round pick has a big fastball but has yet to refine his command or secondary stuff enough to develop of a front-of-the-rotation profile. He pitched decently as a 21 year-old at AA last year, but walked 4 ½ batters-per-nine overall on the season and may find himself bullpen-bound. It wouldn’t be the worst thing for him, as he’s got the stuff to become a dangerous late-inning reliever.
149) Erik Johnson, Chicago White Sox (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
Johnson’s one of the poster children for a prospect with way more real world value than fantasy value. His minor league resume is sparkling, but he lacks the kind of stuff to dominate Major League hitters in quite the same way. And he’s stuck in a worst case scenario for a home park. The 14.7% HR/FB rate he allowed in his brief debut last year may be an unfortunate harbinger of things to come.
150) Jake Odorizzi, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 110)
Odorizzi’s profile is similar to that of Johnson in that scouting reports don’t paint quite as glowing a picture as his minor league stats. He’s had a tough time cracking Tampa’s crowded rotation and it won’t be any easier this year. He’s got the upside of a lower end mid-rotation starter, and expectations for more should be held in check.
151) Eduardo Rodriguez, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
The Orioles have been aggressive with the young Venezuelan, pushing him all the way to AA in his Age 20 season last year. He held his own, but he’s still got some development ahead of him before he’s ready for primetime. He’s got the stuff to become a #2 starter eventually, but dynasty leaguers should be careful to not expect an immediate return on investment.
152) A.J. Burnett, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 37, Previous Rank: 58)
Burnett’s standing on this list was hurt by uncertainty over whether he would in fact pitch again this season, and despite declaring his intent he remains unsigned as of this writing. For owners in win-now mode he rates as a top 50 option for 2014, but banking on anything beyond this year is not a smart play.
153) Jarred Cosart, Houston Astros (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
Cosart had a really impressive debut in Houston last summer, in that he managed to put up a sub-2.00 ERA over 10 starts and 60 innings despite walking more batters than he struck out. That sentence is true, you can look it up. And that’s…that’s a really impressive achievement, is what that is. Expect uh, some regression to his .246 BABIP and look elsewhere until he shows he can hang with Major League hitters.
154) Rafael Montero, New York Mets (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
Montero’s yet another one whose impressive minor league numbers may be challenged to translate into sustained big league success. The Dominican logged 155 stellar innings between AA and AAA as a 22 year old in 2013, and he should be poised for a trial run in Queens this summer. He makes for an intriguing flyer this year, and has a future as a useful fantasy piece (with upside for more) for a long time.
155) Erasmo Ramirez, Seattle Mariners (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 134)
Ramirez was a popular pick to break out last season, but after losing out on a rotation spot in the spring and suffering through some soreness in his wing he was unable to recapture his ’12 form once he did get his shot in the season’s second half. He oddly decided to stop throwing his plus-plus change-up last year for some reason, so if he gets back to what he’s good at the upside is still there for a quick riser this season.
156) Bud Norris, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 126)
Norris’ strikeout rate exploded after a mid-season trade from Houston to Baltimore, but unfortunately so did many a baseball that didn’t miss the bat swinging at it. He gave up 10.8 hits/9, which for a pitcher with his notoriously spotty control is a dangerous recipe. There’s talk of shifting him to a late inning role for this season, which may be a best case scenario for his fantasy value in the loaded AL East.
157) Kyle Kendrick, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 213)
Kendrick managed to jump from 213 on our rankings last year to 157 this year on the strength of his 81 ERA+ and dashing good looks. Dare to dream, dreamers.
158) J.R. Graham, Atlanta Braves (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 150)
Graham suffered a season-ending shoulder injury last May that did not end up requiring surgery, and that’s the good news. The bad news is he lost an important year of development and is unlikely o be a factor at the Major League level in 2014. There’s mid-rotation potential here, but it’s much tougher to gamble on given the health uncertainties.
159) Garrett Richards, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 169)
Richards was solid in his 16 starts last season, with a 6.2 K/9 rate and solid-if-unspectacular 1.31 WHIP. He’ll need to come out of the gate swinging this season if he wants to hold onto his rotation spot given the Angels’ playoff ambitions, and he’s probably more of a swing man longterm.
160) Braden Shipley, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
The #15 pick in the 2013 draft, Shipley has the makings of a fast-moving #2 ceiling starter for the D’backs on the strength of mid-90’s heat and an excellent change-up. He’s likely to open the season in Hi-A and could be a factor in Arizona as soon as next year.
161) Taylor Guerrieri, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 21, Previous rank: 80)
Had Tommy John surgery and got popped for a 50 game suspension for a drug violation. He is now well behind in his development and a flyer.
162) Justin Nicolino, Miami Marlins (Age: 22, Previous rank: 123)
Cuffed around a bit in his exposure to AA, but is on the right development path. Strikeouts are dropping off as he moves; needs to adjust.
163) Miguel Almonte, Kansas City Royals (Age: 20, Previous rank: NR)
Long ways away, but strong K and BB numbers at low-A in 2013.
164) Josh Beckett, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 33, Previous rank: 82)
Beckett was hurt in 2013 shocking few. He is reportedly healthy, but he’s also old and the Dodgers have about multiple contenders for the fifth starters job.
165) Alberto Tirado, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 19, Previous rank: NR)
Tirado is a very intriguing prospect considering he hasn’t reached full-season ball yet. Reports on his stuff are great and if he gets his mechanics and command to a higher level he will have a ton of upside.
166) Adalberto Mejia, San Francisco Giants (Age: 20, Previous rank: NR)
Mejia doesn’t have huge velocity, and secondary stuff needs work, but he showed fairly well at high-A for the Giants. A full season in the high minors will tell us where he is at and how fast he moves.
167) Wei-Yin Chen, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 28, Previous rank: 170)
Chen suffered an oblique injury during the season and had knee surgery in the off-season, which are really just two more reasons on top of a second so-so season not to expect too much from him.
168) Miguel Gonzalez, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 27, Previous rank: NR)
The Phillies’ mystery man hasn’t pitched in a meaningful game in two years and he didn’t pitch in pro ball after signing in August 2013. He will need time in the minors to start the year and projecting him short- and long-term is a crapshoot.
169) Bartolo Colon, New York Mets (Age: 40, Previous rank: NR)
Colon did things that no nearly 40 year-old should be able to do, including pitch with radial tire around his waist. He managed to parlay that into a two-year deal with the Mets, which should help him be decent for most of the contract.
170) Henderson Alvarez, Miami Marlins (Age: 23, Previous rank: 168)
Alvarez doesn’t strike out enough guys, but gets grounders at a decent clip and some of his peripherals suggest he could drop his ratios with better luck, but wins and Ks will still be scarce. Still just 23 years old.
171) Brandon Maurer, Seattle Mariners (Age: 23, Previous rank: 172)
Maurer was not good in 2013 in the majors or minors, but he’s just 23 and had better results previously at AA.
172) Vincent Velasquez, Houston Astros (Age: 21, Previous rank: NR)
Velasquez put some intriguing numbers at low-A with a taste of high-A late in the year. Could move quickly if he gets a breaking ball to go with plus-FB and CH.
173) Bronson Arroyo, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 37, Previous rank: 197)
Arroyo seems to have been rockin’ out forever, eating up innings and not striking anyone out. Moving to Arizona won’t hurt that badly, but there just isn’t a lot to love here unless you think he keeps up posting sub-4 ERAs with 5.5 K/9.
174) Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 25, Previous rank: NR)
A live arm who can’t stay on the mound, it’s not clear if Colome will pitch in the rotation or if he moves to the bullpen to get some value out of his four plus pitches.
175) Alex Gonzalez, Texas Rangers (Age: 22, Previous rank: NR)
Gonzalez should start the year at AA and has shown success with good strikeout rates and an ability to get groundballs, which is a good mix for a Texas arm.
176) Tyler Thornburg, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 25, Previous rank: NR)
Thornburg was decent in a small sample in the majors after being pretty bad at AAA in 2013. May have lost a shot at the rotation in spring after the Brewers signed Garza, but will be around in the mix in Milwaukee for a few years.
177) Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals (Age: 27, Previous rank: NR)
A mediocre track record didn’t stop Roark from throwing down when he reached the majors as an injury replacement in 2013. That said, he is probably destined to be on the bus to Syracuse this year and his window may have already closed with elite prospects coming hard behind him.
178) Joe Ross, San Diego Padres (Age: 20, Previous rank: 161)
Had a good, not great year at low-A where he didn’t miss a lot of bats. Between that and the need for more reps his stock is falling a bit.
179) Kyle Lohse, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 35, Previous rank: 101)
Three straight years of good ratios and gobbling innings in the NL are good for the soul (patch). Nothing more special than Bronson Arroyo except for being two years younger.
180) Lewis Thorpe, Minnesota Twins (Age: 18, Previous rank: NR)
Thorpe has a high ceiling and a very high range of possible outcomes given his age, but reports from his pro debut were promising with what could be a big arsenal.
181) Charlie Morton, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 30, Previous rank: NR)
Morton gets a lot of groundballs, eats innings, and doesn’t strike out a lot of guys. He is Bronson Arroyo and Kyle Lohse only younger still.
182) Jason Vargas, Kansas City Royals (Age: 32, Previous rank: 100)
Keeps chewing up innings and spitting them out with so-so ratios and not many strikeouts. There’s some weird pattern going on here of these kind of pitchers gravitating toward the bottom of the list (see Arroyo, Lohse, Morton).
183) Edinson Volquez, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 30, Previous rank: 97)
Volquez’s declining control is now matched by declining strikeouts. He is like a right-handed Oliver Perez and now they share time spent in Pittsburgh together.
184) Alexander Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 19, Previous rank: NR)
Reports of frontline stuff that’s still a long way away, Reyes needs to ramp up his command. Could move fast up the rankings if he does.
185) Pierce Johnson, Chicago Cubs (Age: 22, Previous rank: NR)
Johnson has a lower ceiling, but probably a safer one than many prospects ahead of him. Needs to be consistent with command/control to get the most of his stuff.
186) Wandy Rodriguez, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 35, Previous rank: 127)
Look, just read the Arroyo, Lohse, Morton, Vargas write ups and then say, “if healthy; from the left side.
187) Jose Berrios, Minnesota Twins (Age: 19, Previous rank: 154)
Berrios has big stuff and will work on his command, including keeping the ball in the park as he moves up through the higher minors.
188) Trey Ball, Boston Red Sox (Age: 19, Previous rank: NR)
Ball has a lot of lank and a lot of projection, but is also a long way from seeing Fenway. Monitor though because in a stacked system he can get lost.
189) Daniel Hudson, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 27, Previous rank: 86)
Hudson is likely out until mid-season as he won the TJ surgery lottery twice in two years. Taking Hudson is a lottery ticket after two years without being on the mound in the majors.
190) Jeremy Guthrie, Kansas City Royals (Age: 34, Previous rank: 160)
He’s like Arroyo, Lohse, Morton, Vargas, and Wandy, only worse.
191) Jose Martinez, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 19, Previous rank: NR)
Long way off and not much clarity in terms of what he will become, but he’s got stuff you can’t teach with two plus-plus pitches.
192) Drew Hutchison, Toronto, Blue Jays (Age: 23, Previous rank: 189)
Hutchison worked his way back from TJ surgery in 2013 and although the ERA looks rough he had good strikeout rates and his control came around as the season went on. Is probably closer to the majors than most prospects at this end of the list.
193) Luiz Gohara, Seattle Mariners (Age: 17, Previous rank: NR)
He’s pitching in pro-ball at 16 (and sitting low 90s) when most of us are trying to figure out the stick shift in our parents’ car. He’s a glint in the eye of the majors though with a lot to learn.
194) Tommy Milone, Oakland Athletics (Age: 27, Previous rank: 165)
Milone is like Arroyo, Lohse, Morton, etc, except without a guaranteed rotation spot. God, there are a lot of these kind of guys down here.
195) Edwin Escobar, San Francisco Giants (Age: 21, Previous rank: NR)
Escobar doesn’t have an elite ceiling, but he pitched his way to AA and fared pretty well, so he is getting close to San Francisco. Has a high probability of being a starter in the majors.
196) Zack McAllister, Cleveland Indians (Age: 26, Previous rank: 179)
McAllister could be another innings eater-type with a few more striekouts, but really needs to get the walks down a bit to post enjoyable other stats.
197) Alex Torres, San Diego Padres (Age: 26, Previous rank: NR)
Torres just moved to pitcher’s nirvana after a breakout with the Rays in 2013. He will probably start in the bullpen, but could be a cheap upside find with a move to the rotation.
198) Zach Eflin, San Diego Padres (Age: 19, Previous rank: 211)
Eflin improved as the season progressed during his time at low-A. He will look to put more hitters away as he moves up and tries to reach pitcher nirvana. His age is a plus, but his ultimate ceiling is a question.
199) Danny Hultzen, Seattle Mariners (Age: 24, Previous rank: 60)
Poor Hultzen, who was probably somewhat overrated for a time, is going to miss 2014 after shoulder surgery. He has a long, tough road back and you won’t see him for a while.
200) Bobby Wahl, Oakland Athletics (Age: 22, Previous rank: NR)
Don’t let Wahl’s draft slot fool you, reports peg him as a potential mid-rotation starter and he could move quickly.
Commentary by Wilson Karaman and Noel Baldwin.