The Dynasty Guru’s Top 200 Dynasty League Starting Pitchers, Nos. 141-200
It’s been over two months since the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, ending the 2016 baseball season. But if you’re like most fantasy baseball owners, those two months probably feel like two years. Considering it’s still another month until Spring Training even starts, late January has to be the worst time to be a baseball fan. It’s too late to reflect on last year, but next season is too far ahead to look forward to. Luckily, with a little help from The Dynasty Guru, the next month is survivable, as we’ll be ranking and commenting on a whole lot of players over the next six weeks.
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You can view our rankings for previous positions, and the dates future rankings will come out, by clicking the link to TDG’s 2017 Consensus Dynasty Baseball Rankings splash page. With that, let’s continue our starting pitcher rankings, beginning with a perennial sleeper who fantasy owners are finally losing faith in.
141) Andrew Cashner, Texas Rangers (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 77)
The transformation from #2 starter to middle-reliever is almost complete. Cashner has gotten worse every year as a full-time starting pitcher and he now moves to a hitter-friendly park in the American League. There is a minimal amount of hope, though: his catcher is one of the better pitch-framers in the game and he may have the clout to convince Cashner to ditch his four-seam fastball in favor of his two-seamer. But other than as a cheap flier, avoid Cashner…the ceiling is rapidly lowering, and so is the floor.
142) Braxton Garrett, Miami Marlins (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
Garrett is the consensus #1 prospect in the Marlins system. I understand that isn’t a very high bar to clear at the moment, but here we are. Garrett didn’t pitch last year after being drafted with the 7th overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft, but the southpaw features a plus fastball and the foundation is there for a plus curveball. There are many directions this development path could take, with the best case ending in a solid #3 starter.
143) Matt Manning, Detroit Tigers (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
Manning is the consensus #1 prospect in the Tigers system. I understand that isn’t a very high bar to clear at the moment, but here we are. Manning didn’t throw much after being drafted with the 9th overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft, but the righty features a plus fastball and the foundation is there for a plus curveball. There are many directions this development path could take, with the best case ending in a solid #3 starter.
144) Tyler Beede, San Francisco Giants (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 170)
Beede took much-needed steps in the right direction with his command in 2016 and his velocity was reportedly up from 2015. There is a foundation here for a solid #3 starter in the mold of Ian Kennedy, and he could reach San Francisco by September this year. Beede’s ETA and upside should have pushed him up this list, but the risk of his command slipping again will keep his stock depressed for now.
145) Bartolo Colon, Atlanta Braves (Age: 44, Previous Rank: NR)
Only 14 pitchers since 1900 have thrown 100 innings after turning 44 years old. Colon should accomplish this feat sometime in August this year. If he can keep his ERA under 4.00, he’ll only be the 6th pitcher to ever do both. The other 5: Jack Quinn, Nolan Ryan, Hoyt Wilhelm, Satchel Paige and Cy Young. In short, Bartolo Colon is amazing and I would bet he ends up on this list again next year. What is even more amazing is that he does it with a single pitch.
146) Clay Buchholz, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 64)
Buchholz may be a little underrated heading into 2017. He brings a solid four pitch mix and league average contact rates to the easier league. The home run problem will probably follow him to Philly, but I’m betting on the fresh start and defined role to even some of that out. I anticipate a jump in our 2018 rankings.
147) Dan Straily, Miami Marlins (Age: 28, Previous Rank: NR)
Straily beat ERA estimators by over a full run, despite holding the National League’s lowest groundball rate. That’s, uh, not promising, and despite moving to a better ballpark, it’s easy to envision regression for Mr. Straily. Sell if you can, hope and stream if you can’t.
148) Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 91)
Gibson combines an above- average groundball rate with a league average swinging strike rate and has shown the ability to be an above-average major league pitcher in the past. If Jaime Garcia and Jimmy Nelson are owned in your league, Gibson should be as well.
149) Mike Fiers, Houston Astros (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 114)
Fiers is an interesting and confusing case. Over the last three seasons, he’s maintained a better contact rate, pop-up rate and K%-BB% than Danny Duffy, but he’s also on the verge of losing his rotation spot. This is a…fier I’m taking in every league I can, even with that weak fastball and poor job security.
150) Forrest Whitley, Houston Astros (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
We are a long, long way away from knowing what this finished product will look like, but at the moment, he’s a massive left-hander with a huge fastball and breaking ball. He could fly up this list if he’s dominating at a full-season affiliate to end 2017.
151) Justus Sheffield, New York Yankees (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
Traded to the Yankees in the Andrew Miller deal, Sheffield made his debut as a Yankee farmhand in September, striking out 9 in 4 shutout innings. He’s lefty with a plus fastball and two potential plus secondary pitches, but there’s relief potential here given his short stature. Still, this looks like a Carlos Rodon starter kit to some, and Sheffield isn’t far from forming a Judge and Justus combination in the big leagues with a certain massive outfielder.
152) Josh Tomlin, Cleveland Indians (Age: 32, Previous Rank: NR)
Tomlin is the definition of a solid back-of-the-rotation pitcher. He pounds the strike zone with four underwhelming pitches and pitches in front of a pretty solid defense. There is room for a small improvement in his strikeout rate, but what you see is probably what you get.
153) David Paulino, Houston Astros (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
I’m getting serious Michael Pineda vibes here…and the good ones. Paulino is huge, his fastball is a plus and he has the potential for a plus breaking ball. He’s going to strike out a ton of hitters. but command and the ability to stay on the field are going to be problems. He’s already debuted and the window to buy is closing, so take the leap now as worst case, you have a monster late inning reliever on your hands.
154) Aaron Blair, Atlanta Braves (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 89)
I’m not sure it’s possible to start 15 games, stay healthy and look worse than Blair did in a debut season last year. Among starting pitchers who pitched 70 innings or more in 2016, Blair finished with a higher ERA, by a full run, than any of them. His 3.7% K%-BB% ranked third worst. He does appear to be exceptional at inducing pop-ups and his swinging strike rate was league average. I expect him to be better in 2017, but there’s a reason he tumbled 65 spots in these rankings. I do not anticipate Blair making more than a handful of MLB starts this year but there is hope that another long stint in AAA will help him get his groove back.
155) Matt Andriese, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
This ranking feels a bit low. If only because Andriese is all but guaranteed a rotation spot for a team that will be sneaky good and fields a pretty underrated defense. Andriese appeared to make a real change in pitch usage last year, moving away from the relatively underwhelming fastball. If the Andriese owner in your league is blinded by the ERA, you may be able to grab him for next to nothing. I recommend you do so.
156) Carson Fulmer, Chicago White Sox (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 158)
The stuff is there for Fulmer to be a strikeout heavy #3 starter in the mold of Matt Moore, but the command is truly scary and may force him to the bullpen full-time. The good news is that Chicago appears set to embark on a rebuild journey that will allow him to attempt to iron-out these issues on the job.
157) Stephen Gonsalves, Minnesota Twins (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
If I’ve learned anything from the past five years, it’s to stop ignoring left-handed starters with plus changeups. Gonsalves dominated Double-A hitters last years and could debut in 2017.
158) Erick Fedde, Washington Nationals (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 172)
Fedde is now a full season removed from Tommy John surgery and looks like he’s on his way to mid-rotation starter land if the club’s needs don’t force him into relief. He, his plus fastball, and those two decent secondary pitches could be knocking on the door to Washington in late 2017.
159) Kendall Graveman, Oakland Athletics (Age: 26, Previous Rank: NR)
Graveman appears to be a zone-pounding, groundball-inducing, back-of-the-rotation starter. There is nothing wrong with that, but there doesn’t appear to be much upside here and Oakland is flush with young, MLB-ready starting pitching talent.
160) Wade Miley, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 93)
I completely forgot Wade Miley existed until this very moment. His stuff is incredibly underwhelming, he pitches in an impossible ballpark and division, and the defense behind him is ugly. He does have a rotation spot, so he’ll have some sort of value in super deep leagues.
161) Nate Karns, Kansas City Royals (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 198)
Karns was a popular breakout pick prior to the season as he moved from Tampa to Seattle. However, the M’s grew tired of his inability to work deep into games as a starter (12.67 ERA in the third time through the order in 2016) and banished him to the bullpen after 15 starts. Shipped to Kansas City in one of Jerry Dipoto’s 732 trades this winter, Karns has a chance to crack the Royal rotation, but he’ll likely succumb to the same fate as he did as a Mariner if he can’t solve his TTO issues; his career ERA is 6.92 the third time through the order and opponents have slugged a robust .522 against him as well.
162) Francisco Liriano, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 28)
Liriano’s huge fall is caused by a drop in his strikeout rate, a rise in his walk rate and the doubling of his HR/9 rate from 2014 and 2015. Liriano pitched better in his eight starts as a Blue Jay, but a return to the American League–where he owns a 4.32 career ERA–is going to make it very tough to climb back anywhere near his 2016 ranking.
163) Ervin Santana, Minnesota Twins (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 133)
Santana finished 23rd in ERA among qualified starters in 2016, but didn’t add much else. Santana is hugely reliant upon his surroundings at this point in his career and continuing to pitch on terrible teams–as he has for much of the decade–is going to make it difficult for him to make much of a fantasy impact outside of (very) deep leagues.
164) Jharel Cotton, Oakland Athletics (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
Cotton’s 2016 campaign was mighty impressive; Baseball Prospectus’ 2.03 DRA pegged him as the eighth most effective starter at the Triple-A level (min. 100 IP), and he dazzled in five starts with the A’s, posting a 2.15 ERA. Cotton did lose nine percent off of his strikeout rate in the majors, but has a clear path to a 2017 rotation spot and could be the best bet in this range to make a huge jump in next year’s rankings.
165) Mike Soroka, Atlanta Braves (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
The Braves allowed their not-so-secretly Canadian teenager to pitch 143 innings in his first year of full-season ball, and Soroka rewarded their faith by posting the 20th best strikeout rate of any qualified pitcher at the Low-A level. Soroka is advanced for a prep arm and his polish stands out in a Braves system loaded with pitching.
166) Tyler Jay, Minnesota Twins (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
The Twins kept Jay in the bullpen after picking him sixth overall in the 2015 draft, but deployed him as a starter for all but three of his appearances in 2016 as he reached the Double-A level. Jay has two plus pitches that should allow for a back-end bullpen role if he doesn’t succeed as a starter, and a full season’s worth of starts at the Double-A level in 2017 should dictate which route the Twins will take next.
167) Alec Hansen, Chicago White Sox (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
Hansen was overpowering in 12 starts after being selected 49th overall in the 2016 draft–showing the huge stuff that had him rumored to go in the top-10 earlier in the spring. Hansen is risky, even by pitching prospect standards, but he comes with the upside of a quality No. 2 or 3 fantasy starter–just don’t forget entirely the reasons why (health, command) he slipped to the second round in the first place.
168) Franklin Perez, Houston Astros (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
Making his debut stateside in 15 Midwest League (Low-A) appearances (ten starts), Perez has appeared in numerous top-100 prospect lists this winter as a result of his 27 percent strikeout rate overall (25 percent as a starter, 32 percent as a reliever) as an 18-year old. The ingredients are here for Perez to make a huge jump up next year’s list, but caution should be exercised in investing heavily in an arm that has 66.2 innings of experience above rookie ball.
169) Luiz Gohara, Atlanta Braves (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
Well, what the hell do you know, it’s another guy Jerry Dipoto traded this winter! Gohara’s third trip through the Northwest League was the charm in 2016, and although it seems like the large Brazilian has been on prospect lists forever, the raw, hefty lefty has only thrown just over 200 innings in his career. It’s probably time for the Braves to Gohara, or go home.
170) Brady Aiken, Cleveland Indians (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 125)
Aiken’s velocity was reportedly in the low-90’s after returning from Tommy John surgery to make 13 starts, eight of which came at the complex level. Not many exemplify the volatile nature of pitching prospects more than Aiken over the past few seasons, as he’s gone from number one overall pick in 2014, to 17th overall in 2015, to non-top 100 overall prospect for most this winter.
171) Thomas Szapucki, New York Mets (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
Szapucki, a prep fifth rounder in 2015, burst upon the scene in 2016, flashing a fastball in the 95-97 MPH range and punching out over 40 percent of the Appy and NYPL hitters he faced. A back injury limited him to nine starts on the season, but make no mistake–this is one of the better left-handed pitching prospects in the minors.
172) Adrian Morejon, San Diego Padres (Age: 18, Previous Rank: NR)
The Padres gave Morejon an $11 million bonus, but he’s more of a mid-rotation type than top-of-the-rotation dynamo, which still works just fine at Petco. The Cuban lefty’s pitchability could enable him to rise quickly through the Padre system, and what level he starts his 2017 season at should give a good indication of how close they think he is.
173) Luke Weaver, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
Weaver laid waste to the (Double-A) Texas League in 12 starts, posting a 1.40 ERA and a tidy 29 percent strikeout rate. The Cards gave Weaver one Triple-A start before jumping him to the majors, where he made eight starts and put up a 5.70 ERA. His first taste of the majors wasn’t nearly as horrific as the ERA indicates; his 3.34 xFIP and 27 percent strikeout rate–combined with a little #CardinalDevilMagic–make him a solid deep league target.
174) Nathan Eovaldi, Free Agent (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 98)
Eovaldi will miss the 2017 season with Tommy John, so we have plenty of time to discuss just how underwhelming his career has been to this point by this time next year.
175) Domingo Acevedo, New York Yankees (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
Acevedo is huge and touches 103 MPH. That he will turn 23 next month and has yet to reach Double-A tells you what you need to know about his developmental path.
176) Dylan Cease, Chicago Cubs (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
Cease features tantalizing upside, but the risks–both health and command related–keep him far down on the list. Cease has yet to reach full-season ball, pitch more than 44 innings in a season since being drafted in 2014, or walk less than 13 percent of the hitters he’s faced in a season–already leading to whispers of a move to the bullpen.
177) Dillon Tate, New York Yankees (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 152)
Whispers of a move to the ‘pen were realized for Tate when he was dealt to the Yankees at the trade deadline. Tate’s stuff ticked up and his control straightened out in the bullpen, but it remains to be seen if the Yankees have starting in the plan for the former fourth overall pick.
178) Edinson Volquez, Miami Marlins (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 112)
A move back to the NL should benefit Volquez, but it’s highly doubtful the Fish will let him pitch deep into games, as he posted a 4.50 ERA in 2015 and a 7.01 ERA in 2016 when facing his opponent’s lineup for the third time over his last two seasons with the Royals.
179) German Marquez, Colorado Rockies (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
Marquez had a good Double-A season in 2016, compiling a 2.85 ERA backed up by a 1.76 DRA and 3.25 FIP, but he’s likely a reliever and probably not a back-end one.
180) Jake Thompson, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 84)
Thompson’s strikeout numbers have tumbled all the way from a 30 percent rate in Double-A after being dealt from the Tigers to the Rangers in 2014, to a 17 percent rate at Triple-A in 21 starts and a 14 percent clip in ten big league starts last season. This development has likely curtailed any chance Thompson had of becoming an impact fantasy starter.
181) Touki Toussaint, Atlanta Braves (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 121)
After beginning the year with a middling strikeout-rate of 6.0 K/9, Braves Low-A pitching coach Dan Meyer got Touki to lower his arm slot to a three-quarters delivery, and the electric stuff that made him the 16th overall pick in the 2014 draft started to shine, striking out an astounding 11.2 K/9 in the second half. He has some of the highest upside of any starter in the minors, with a powering fastball and a hammer curve, but as with many exciting young starters, questions about his command as well as the development of a third pitch may ultimately relegate him to future bullpen duties.
182) Braden Shipley, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 139)
Shipley is a smart guy. Not only does he throw a no-seam fastball, but he also learned that he can take a few ticks off his changeup by curling his toes. The former college shortstop and first ever first round pick out of Nevada struggled in his Major League debut, pitching 70 innings of 5.27 ERA ball with a similar 5.76 FIP due to his weak strikeout (5.53 K/9) and walk (3.60 BB/9) rates. It’s possible he is still making mechanical tweaks; he showed the upside of a #3 starter in the minors and his walk rate in AAA last year was less than half what it was during his time in the majors. Still, it’s tough to get too excited about a low-strikeout pitcher unless he finds himself in a favorable home ballpark. It’s easy to get excited about his donuts though, because donuts are awesome. Go donuts.
183) James Shields, San Diego Padres (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 63)
After a wild, crazy 2015 season in which Shields set career highs in many statistical categories, both good and bad, many were anxious to see what type of James Shields would show up in 2016. The one we saw was about as bad as you can get and was certainly not what the Padres nor his fantasy owners were expecting from the guy who was traded for Wil Myers just four years ago. I don’t want to take up too much space with a big graphic, so if you look here, you’ll see Shields’ decline really began in June 2015. Those career “highs” he set in LOB%, HR/FB%, and FIP last year were really harbingers of what was to come. With everything pointing in the wrong direction now this may be the last time we see him on this list, but he is maybe *the* most durable starter of our generation so you could do worse than him if you’re trying to fill the last spot on your roster. Still, eating innings doesn’t help if you are turning the opposition into prime Barry Bonds for four-game stretches.
184) Martin Perez, Texas Rangers (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 144)
Not all players who return from Tommy John come back 100% right away so I’m willing to give Perez a pass on last season. However, his overall profile as a low-strikeout, groundball guy in Arlington isn’t all that exciting. He didn’t have much trouble throwing strikes last year so I’m willing to bet his walk-rate regresses back to his career norms, I just hope he can rediscover some of his prospect luster and start striking out guys like he did in the minors.
185) Hunter Harvey, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 104)
Let’s open with last year’s writeup:
“The 2015 season wasn’t a banner year for Harvey, starting the year with a fractured fibula and then experiencing elbow pain while rehabbing from the leg injury. A strained flexor mass put an end to his season before he threw a pitch, and more elbow pain cut instructs short for Harvey. Luckily, Harvey avoided Tommy John surgery and is reportedly doing well now.”
Super un-luckily, Harvey did not avoid Tommy John this go ‘round, going under the knife this past July. When he does throws his next professional pitch, he will be a 23 year-old right-handed pitcher who hasn’t pitched in full-season ball in what will be three seasons. Still we’re talking about a former 1st-rounder who struck out almost 11 batters per nine innings when he was 19. Feeling risky? You might develop stomach ulcers waiting for Harvey, but the payoff could be cooler than the sweet relief of a warm cup of earl grey tea and a couple hundred Tums. The chewable kind. Get the orange rush, goes great with the tea.
186) CC Sabathia, New York Yankees (Age: 36, Previous Rank: 138)
It’s easy to forget about CC but he was much better last year than in years past. Not only did he pitch to the lowest ERA in four years, but he let up the second lowest exit velocity among starters last year. Since he can’t blow his four-seamer past people anymore, he’s using his sinker more and scrapped his four-seamer for a cutter, trying to induce weak contact. It remains to be seen if his new approach to pitching can keep him successful, but it is encouraging to know that he did get help with that new cutter from some guy named Rivera. Cannot confirm or deny reports that CC may have in fact just eaten Rivera instead.
187) Phil Bickford, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
The 18th overall pick in 2015’s draft by the Giants, Bickford was suspended for 50 games for a second positive test for marijuana. Command of an above-average fastball is what got Bickford drafted so HIGH (sorry) in the first place and is what helped him get 30 strikeouts in just 27 innings, but his command took a step backward this year as he walked 15 in those same 30 innings. Like Touissant, he has a lot of upside as a potential average MLB starter who needs to take a step forward in his command and development of the changeup if he ever wants to find himself in a big league rotation some day, and if not, he as the upside to be an 8th-inning guy or even a closer. There were also some health-concern rumors floating around after Toronto drafted and subsequently failed to sign him with the 10th overall pick in the 2013 draft. He was moved with Andrew Susac for Will Smith at the deadline last year, so it will be interesting to see if he can put the questions about his command, release point, 3rd pitch, makeup, and now health to rest. If he can the upside here is high, man.
188) Andrew Triggs, Oakland Athletics (Age: 28, Previous Rank: NR)
One of my favorite sleepers for next season and perhaps beyond, Triggs checks off a lot of my analytical boxes not only in the K/BB department, but also in areas like spin-rate and release point. Last spring with Baltimore, he was impressing some dude named Zach with his sinker. With Daniel Mengden’s recent injury, Triggs looks to be opening the season in the much coveted A’s rotation. I could talk on and on about Triggs’ pop-up rate and the spacious foul territories of the Coliseum, but in this day and age, there are so few sleepers, so I don’t want to spoil this one for anybody. He has a higher floor than most names on here do to his ability to be an effective reliever, but I think he can start and pitch well for you if you stream him for home games only. If he’s available late in drafts, pull the… you guessed it, trigger.
189) Brandon McCarthy, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 107)
After being traded from the Diamondbacks to the Yankees back in 2014, McCarthy started using his cutter more, saw a huge uptick in velocity and strikeouts and finished the final 90 innings of the season with a 2.89 ERA. His stuff continued in 2015 in LA, but as is the case with many pitchers who see a sudden jump in velocity, McCarthy tore his UCL and needed Tommy John. He came back last season and showed his similar 92mph heat, but his walk-rate ballooned to career highs. He’s on the outside looking in for a rotation spot at the moment, but if you’re at all familiar with the Dodgers’ injury issues he should have no problem finding a place in the rotation at some point during the season. If this were ranking MLB-affiliated Twitter accounts, he’d be near the top for me.
190) Ariel Jurado, Texas Rangers (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
My second favorite Disney princess (my dog’s name is Jasmine, so yeah, move over Ariel), Jurado is yet another success story out of the Rangers’ Latin American pipeline, even finding his way on some top 100 lists this offseason. He’s put on 60 pounds since signing and can hit 94 but doesn’t project much higher than a #4 starter due to his limited remaining projectability. He’s a safe bet to reach the majors as a starter, perhaps as soon as this season, but I’m not sure he’ll be very fantasy relevant as long as he remains a low strikeout (7.21 K/9 last year in AA) pitcher in Arlington.
191) Phil Hughes, Minnesota Twins (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 117)
Like Shields, Hughes’ best years are almost certainly behind him. We’re now two seasons removed from his breakout 2014 and anyone who gets thoracic outlet surgery scares the living bejesus out of me. Hard pass for me, but I guess it’s at least theoretically possible he could rediscover that 2014 gusto.
192) Derek Holland, Texas Rangers (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 70)
We’ll likely never know what a full season of a completely healthy Derek Holland will look like. His strikeout- and walk-rates both went in the wrong direction, and the move from Arlington to U.S. Cellular Field doesn’t really help much. The White Sox are hoping he can stay healthy enough to soak up some innings until their young guns are ready. Like McCarthy, he’s phenomenal on Twitter.
193) Francelis Montas, Oakland Athletics (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 177)
Now in his third organization, Montas will really have to fight hard to prove that some negative labels that have been placed on him– labels like “overweight,” “injury-prone,” and “future reliever”–are incorrect. He was outstanding in his 16 regular-season innings last year but was decidedly less so in the AFL. I see a future closer here, but if he shows the same command he showed in those 16 regular season-innings and not the 17 AFL ones, he has the ceiling of a #3 starter in the big leagues.
194) Brett Anderson, Chicago Cubs (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 146)
The oft-injured groundball machine will battle Mike Montgomery for the Cubs 5th starter role. My money (and the Cubs’) is on Anderson. If he can somehow stay healthy like he did in 2015, he could end up being a steal in re-draft leagues, but I’d stay away if I were a dynasty owner.
195) Kohl Stewart, Minnesota Twins (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 159)
Stewart was touching 97 when we was nabbed by the Twins with the fourth overall pick in 2013 and looked like a future frontline starter. After back-to-back underwhelming seasons, he looked to be turning things around as he was repeating High-A but his strikeout rate plummeted in Double-A, which is a good litmus test for deciding if pitching prospects will project higher than a #3 at the highest level. Stewart unfortunately now looks more like a durable #4 starter at this point, much like Jurado, but he was young enough for the level (and is still relatively new enough to pitching) that I’m willing to give him another chance to justify that draft spot.
196) Franklyn Kilome, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 155)
Kilome has a lot of things going for him: he is tall, throws hard and has good feel for a curve. However, as with Toussaint, Bickford, Montas and many others, Kilome will need to take significant steps forward in both his command and the development of his third pitch if he wants to stay out of the bullpen. If he can, he can be a #3 starter, and tall guys (he’s 6’6”) sometimes need a little more time to grow into their bodies and smooth out their mechanics.
197) Fernando Romero, Minnesota Twins (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
On paper, Fernando Romero is easily a better prospect than Stewart. 27% K-rate, just a 4% BB-rate, touching 96 even in instructional league in September. BUT dig a little deeper and you notice he made only 15 combined starts in 2012-15 after already undergoing UCL reconstruction, so he does have a higher risk for injury than Stewart and many other pitching prospects, who are inherently risky themselves. Scouts also have some serious concerns about his body and his delivery but he is young enough, and inexperienced enough, that he could make some improvements in his delivery and mechanics and jump into the upper echelon of pitching prospects. Right now due to his risk he slides just below Stewart, and I am not too confident in the Twins’ ability to develop quality frontline pitching. He seems like someone who, if the Pirates or the Yankees or the White Sox or the Mets or Cardinals or any team with quality pitching coaches were to pick him up, could take off (provided he stays healthy of course). After the recent news of Alex Reyes, I’m beginning to think I may just be better off becoming one of those TINSTAAPP-nihilists.
198) Brock Stewart, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
It takes an impressive season for a 25 year-old previously unranked pitching prospect to make his way onto this list, but that’s exactly what throwing 71% strikes and allowing 75% contact across Double-A and Triple-A will do. Stewart ranked fourth among starters in K-BB ratio behind Josh Hader, Luke Weaver, and David Paulino, all consensus top 100 prospects. His fastball average is the same as Yu Darvish’s at 93.2 and his spin-rate ranks in the 96th percentile. He is a legitimate sleeper and a candidate to shoot up this list in a year. He’s also a candidate to disappear into thin air, as pitchers tend to do.
199) Max Fried, Atlanta Braves (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 175)
Fried reminds me a lot of Hunter Harvey, so again, let’s start with last year’s writeup:
“The seventh pick of the 2012 draft has done nothing of consequence–aside from getting injured–since becoming a professional. As part of the Justin Upton deal, the Braves are the latest team to take a chance on the highly talented lefty. The ceiling remains high, and Fried could skyrocket up this list if he flashes the stuff he showed in high school in his return to action in 2016.”
Well, if you can’t tell from the “Previous Rank” and our current ranking of Fried, he didn’t exactly flash the same stuff he showed in high school. He touched similar velocity (97, impressive from a lefty) but did not have command of it, walking 4.11 batters per nine innings. He still possesses the arsenal to potentially start at the front of the rotation just like his teammate Touki, but his fastball command and overall control may need to take two steps forward for him to reach his once lofty potential. At 23, he really needs to be ending 2017 in Double-A or Triple-A to avoid falling behind developmentally.
200) Justin Dunn, New York Mets (Age: 21, Previous Rank: N/A)
The 19th overall pick in this past amateur draft, Dunn worked primarily as a reliever in college up until two months before the draft when he started receiving buzz as a potential first round pick. Scouts became enthralled with his electric arm, and the early results are impressive but the track record for college relievers-turned-MLB starters isn’t great. Still, if it all comes together, we could be looking at a possible #2/3 starter. The problem with recent draftees is they’re all about potential and we can succumb to “shiny new toy syndrome,” especially with prospects in the lower levels of the minors. I’d flag him as a watch-list guy rather than a guy to go out and acquire shares of tomorrow, but if he’s showing the same results early next year, he’s a strong buy for me and, like Romero, could move up into the upper echelon of starting pitching prospects. The Mets, unlike the Twins, certainly know how to develop quality starting pitching, so maybe one of those two will turn out to be something. And just like that, we are Dunn ranking starters! Phew!
Comments by Frank Sides, J.J. Jansons, and Ryne Alber