Teens* Who Mow ‘Em Down: Five Young Pitching Prospects to Watch
Earlier this month, fellow TDG writer Matt Pullman highlighted five short-season hitters to watch who may still be flying under-the-radar in your dynasty league even after excellent 2016 campaigns. There are several equally exciting pitching prospects that are worth keeping track of as they perhaps make their full-season debuts next season, so it is important to stay on top of these guys and pick them up before your other league members do! Here are five pitching prospects who burst onto the scene in 2016 and could have exciting careers ahead of them.
*Not all of these guys are technical ‘teens,’ but I wanted to keep the theme going of young prospects who may be overlooked in your leagues right now.
Yadier Alvarez, rhp, Dodgers
Standing at 6-3, 175, this 21 year-old is the oldest prospect on this list is also the one with the most upside. Armed with a future 70-grade fastball that sits 96-99 early on and 94-97 later on in starts, Alvarez struck out almost 35% of Low-A hitters this season. Scouts note his “grace in the delivery and [his] overall athleticism” and project his current below-average command to improve enough to where it could even be slightly above-average in the future. In fact, he already showed signs of making the necessary adjustments in that area, as he cut his walk rate in half after being promoted from the Arizona League straight past the Pioneer and New York-Penn Leagues up to full-season ball in the Midwest League. His secondaries are currently a work-in-progress, but scouts project Alvarez to have an above-average slider and changeup and an average curveball to go with his nearly unhittable fastball that can touch 101. Sounds like all the ingredients of a frontline starter to me.
Thomas Szapucki, lhp, Mets
A 2015 5th-round draft pick, Szapucki looks to be next in a long line of exciting pitching prospects for the Mets. Unlike Alvarez, Szapucki has not yet reached full-season ball, but that can be more attributed to a back injury that ending his season prematurely. Scouts note some “red flags” in the delivery, so there is a greater chance that Szapucki could end up in the pen in the long run. Still, Szapucki can hit the mid-90s with his fastball and his curveball can show plus potential, so he definitely has the weapons needed to get batters out as he moves up the ladder. It will be interesting to see if his repertoire will remain as effective (86 Ks in 52 innings!) as it has been, and we also need to keep track of his health, but this is another arm worth getting excited about and one that your league-mates may not be too familiar with yet since he was not a big draft pick nor an international signing.
Sixto Sanchez, rhp, Phillies
Any time a pitcher throws for a 0.50 ERA in 11 starts, you have to start paying attention. The GCL Pitcher of the Year pounds the zone with a fastball that sits 92-96 and can touch 98 when needed. Standing at 6-1/200, Sanchez doesn’t have the same projection remaining that other 18 year-olds may possess, but not many 18 year-olds are already throwing 96 for strikes like Sanchez did consistently last year. Baseball America (subscription required) notes that his two secondaries both flash plus, and he is athletic and fields his position well. Sanchez sounds more advanced than fellow-Phil Franklyn Kilome was when he was 18, so he will be someone’s bandwagon you won’t want to miss.
Alvaro Seijas, rhp, Cardinals
A July 2-signee in 2015, Seijas does not have the same upside that the other pitchers on this list possess, but his feel for starting and three-pitch mix as a 17 year-old have fantasy owners excited nevertheless. His fastball already ranges anywhere from 91-95 mph and was not afraid to use both of his secondaries, best of which is a curveball with tight spin. He is very far away from the majors, but he also may have the best chance at remaining a starter out of anyone on this list.
Jose Albertos, rhp, Cubs
A total wild-card, Albertos threw all of 4 innings last year. However, he ranks in the Top Ten Cubs’ prospects on MLB Pipeline. It is hard to truly gauge the value of a player with so little experience, but he sounds like someone worth getting excited about. More of a wait-and-see type for 2017, but if your league rosters 300+ minor league players, he is not a bad lottery ticket to take a chance on.