2018 Top 180 Fantasy Pitching Prospects, Part 2
The Dynasty Guru recently released the annual, consensus rankings of the top 200 fantasy starting pitchers in dynasty leagues (#1-20, #21-50, #51-80, #81-120, #121-160, and #161-200), detailing several pitching prospects. The following rankings focus upon, and dive deeper into, fantasy pitching prospects.
There is no such thing as TINSTAAPP. Pitching prospects exist just as much as hitting prospects. All prospects carry risk, including injury risk, and no prospect is a sure thing.
Of course, Brent Honeywell suffered a torn right ulnar collateral ligament and underwent Tommy John surgery on February 27th.
Major league teams regularly carry 12-13 pitchers; therefore, pitching depth is crucial. Part 1 focused upon the cream of the crop, the top 21 pitching prospects. This article explores the rest of the top 40 pitching prospects, rounding out the top 100 overall prospects at Fernando Romero.
Before delving into the rankings, here is a brief explanation of fantasy tool grades:
A Guide to Fantasy Tools
Publicly-available scouting reports and past production make up a player’s “grades” for each of his skills. Those grades help anticipate a player’s ceiling, which, in turn, helps assess value. For fantasy purposes, only a few grades matter.
Repertoire: Most pitchers have at least three pitches to attack opposing hitters. Repertoire weighs the quality of these three pitches. A pitcher with average repertoire may have two above-average pitches and an average pitch, or one plus pitch and two average pitches, and so on.
Command & Control: Even if a pitcher possesses an elite arsenal, it is meaningless if a pitcher cannot command and control those pitches. Command relates to the quality of a strike or the ability to locate pitches within the strike zone. Control is the ability to throw a strike and is easier to measure using walk rate. In a 16-team dynasty league, the average walks per 9 innings is 3.09, which translates to approximately an 8% walk rate.
Depth Bonus: The depth bonus only applies to pitchers with four average or better pitches. Depth of repertoire allows a pitcher to work through a lineup multiple times by sequencing hitters differently each time.
Risk: Risk considers a multitude of factors, including, but not limited to, level, opportunity, industry reputation, age, and injury history.
Without further ado, the 2018 Top Fantasy Pitching Prospects:
2018 Top 22-40 Fantasy Pitching Prospects
|22||Ian Anderson ATL||19.91||A||2020|
|23||Corbin Burnes MIL||23.44||A+/AA||2019|
|24||Kolby Allard ATL||20.63||AA||2019|
|25||Adrian Morejon SD||19.09||A-/A||2020|
|26||Chance Adams NYY||23.64||AA/AAA||2018|
|27||Cal Quantrill SD||23.14||A+/AA||2019|
|28||Alex Faedo DET||22.38||N/A||2019|
|29||Jon Duplantier ARI||23.72||A/A+||2019|
|30||Jason Groome BOS||19.60||A-/A||2020|
|31||Matt Manning DET||20.17||A-/A||2020|
|32||Albert Abreu NYY||22.51||R/A/A+||2018|
|33||Max Fried SP ATL||24.20||AA/MLB||2018|
|34||Yadier Alvarez LAD||22.06||A+/AA||2019|
|35||J.B. Bukauskas HOU||21.47||R/A-||2020|
|36||Tyler Mahle CIN||23.50||AA/AAA/MLB||2018|
|37||Stephen Gonsalves MIN||23.73||AA/AAA||2018|
|38||Fernando Romero MIN||23.26||AA||2018|
|39||Dylan Cease CHW||22.25||A||2020|
|40||Anderson Espinoza SD||20.06||A+||2020|
22. Ian Anderson, RHP, Atlanta Braves
The third overall pick in the 2016 draft, Ian Anderson jumped straight to full season Low-A last year. The teenager impressed by allowing 0 home runs all year. Indeed, over his last 32 2/3 innings, Anderson only gave up an incredible 3 earned runs. A lean and projectable 6’3”, he creates excellent downhill plane with an over-the-top delivery. Anderson’s arsenal consists of a 91-96 m.p.h. fastball, a 12-to-6 upper-70s curveball, and a promising low-80s changeup. Despite a high walk rate last year, he projects to average or better command and control. With three potential plus pitches and projection remaining, Anderson is a future 2- or 3-starter.
23. Corbin Burnes, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Corbin Burnes broke out in his first professional season, moving to the Double-A Southern League after 60 dominant innings in the High-A Carolina League (1.05/0.88 ERA/WHIP). There, he was arguably the best pitcher, registering the lowest fielding independent pitching (2.23). Burnes credits his dominance to a change to his delivery, adding velocity and movement to his fastball. After the delivery change, his natural cut fastball sits between 92-95 m.p.h., and is accompanied by a slider, curveball, and developing changeup. Further, Burnes exhibits polished command of his deep repertoire, containing four potential above-average pitches. This year, he will face the daunting task of Triple-A Colorado Springs. Should he survive the thin air, he is a potential 3-starter.
24. Kolby Allard, LHP, Atlanta Braves
In first round of the 2015 draft, the Braves drafted Kolby Allard (14) and Mike Soroka (28). Thus far, they followed each other nearly start-for-start through the minors, both jumping past High-A last year. In fact, they had almost identical performances for Double-A Mississippi last year. Unlike Soroka, however, Allard experienced a slight dip in his stuff. Formerly working with a 92-95 m.p.h. fastball, he now throws a tailing, 88-92 m.p.h. fastball. Allard’s secondaries continue to improve, as both his curveball and changeup are potential plus pitches. Relying on craftiness, command, and control, he still has 3-starter upside, but looks much closer to a 4-starter.
25. Adrian Morejon, LHP, San Diego Padres
The Padres went on an international spending spree last summer, and Adrian Morejon was the $11 million headliner. Extremely advanced for an 18-year-old, he closed his state-side debut as one of the youngest players in Low-A. Morejon already has three above-average pitches: a 90-95 m.p.h. fastball, an upper-70s 1-to-6 curveball, and a mid-80s changeup. In the Northwest League, he flashed exceptional control, with only 3 walks in 35 1/3 innings. Upon his promotion, however, Morejon’s command took a step backward. Ultimately, his clean delivery and feel for pitching provide plus command potential. Morejon’s repertoire, paired with future elite control, earn him a profile as a 3-starter.
26. Chance Adams, RHP, New York Yankees
Despite debuting as a reliever, Chance Adams fully moved to starting in 2016 and never looked back. Of course, his relief background has many still questioning whether he is a starter long-term. However, Adams has all the traits of a mid-rotation pitcher, with four average-to-plus pitches. A 92-97 m.p.h. fastball and a diving, mid-80s slider headline his arsenal. Meanwhile, a mid-80s changeup and upper-70s curveball are serviceable and flash above-average. Last year, Adams saw his strikeout rate dip (8.08 K/9) and his walk rate spike (3.47 BB/9), and these rates are more representative of his present command and talent level. A major league ready arm, Adams has a major league ready arm and should debut this year, eventually slotting in as a 3- or 4-starter.
27. Cal Quantrill, RHP, San Diego Padres
The son of former pitcher Paul Quantrill and the eighth pick in the 2016 draft, Cal carries high expectations. Nearly three years removed from Tommy John surgery, his arm strength is back, but he is still rusty. Quantrill primarily relies on two plus pitches, a 92-96 m.p.h., running fastball and an elite, tumbling low-80s changeup. In addition, he sporadically throws two inconsistent breaking balls in the upper-70s (slider and curveball). While Quantrill struggled maintaining his mechanics at times, the most important takeaway from his 2017 performance is health. Should he develop a solid breaking ball and find consistency, he is a potential 2- or 3-starter. Otherwise, Quantrill still profiles as a high-end 4-starter.
28. Alex Faedo, RHP, Detroit Tigers
Two weeks after the Tigers selected Alex Faedo eighth overall, he led Florida to the College World Series championship and won Most Outstanding Player in the process. The Tigers decided to rest Faedo following the college season, so this year will be his first. When he debuts, he will showcase a 91-95 m.p.h., running fastball and a devastating, mid-80s slider. Given his one-two punch, Faedo rarely used his changeup in college, though it flashed above-average. Further, he demonstrates good command and control of all three pitches. A well-built 6’5” and 225 pounds, he profiles as a workhorse 3-starter.
29. Jon Duplantier, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Entering the 2016 draft, concerns persisted regarding Jon Duplantier’s shoulder, despite a healthy junior year. As such, he fell to the third round and had a limited one-inning debut. Last year, Duplantier silenced skeptics by throwing 136 innings and leading the minors in earned run average. His advanced command of a four-pitch repertoire matches the performance. Duplantier throws a 91-95 m.p.h. fastball with run, a mid-80s slider, an upper-70s, 12-to-6 curveball, and a low-80s, fading changeup. All four pitches project to average or better, with his changeup likely only average at peak. An athletic 6’4” and 225, with a deep repertoire, Duplantier profiles well as a mid-rotation, 3-starter.
30. Jay Groome, LHP, Boston Red Sox
Despite being the twelfth pick in the 2016 draft, last year did not start or end well for Jay Groome. In his first start, he lasted just 1 1/3 innings, giving up 9 earned runs. He then spent the next two months recovering from a lat injury. He performed well upon his return until landing on the disabled list in August with a forearm strain. Discounting his first and last start, Groome had a respectable season (4.06/1.24 ERA/WHIP). His arsenal remains intact, highlighted by an elite, upper-70s, 11-to-5, hammer curveball. Further, Groome throws a 91-95 m.p.h. fastball and a promising, low-80s, sinking changeup. A large 6’6” and 220 pounds, he is athletic and projectable, though he struggled with conditioning last year. With full health and development of his changeup, Groome has top-of-the-rotation upside.
31. Matt Manning, RHP, Detroit Tigers
In the 2016 draft, the Tigers selected Matt Manning three picks ahead of Jay Groome. An athletic and projectable 6’6”, he also excelled at basketball in high school. As such, many considered Manning a high-upside arm with a long developmental path. The Tigers agreed, holding him back in extended Spring Training to start last year. Initially assigned to the New York-Penn League, Manning was brilliant (1.89/1.23 ERA/WHIP), prompting a promotion to Low-A. After struggling over his first three Low-A starts, he finished strong with 25 strikeouts and just 1 earned run over his last 16 innings. Still refining his mechanics, Manning was inconsistent, but flashed two plus pitches: a mid-90s fastball and upper-70s, 12-to-6 curveball. He is incredibly raw and far from a finished product. Manning’s size, athleticism, and arm strength, however, provide a 2-starter ceiling.
32. Albert Abreu, RHP, New York Yankees
In November 2016, the Yankees dealt Brian McCann to the Astros for Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman. At the time, both were high-upside, lottery ticket arms, and both had tremendous seasons last year. Although Abreu missed two months with a shoulder strain, he impressed in the Arizona Fall League in August. With three potential plus-or-better pitches, he has elite-level stuff. Abreu throws a 93-98 m.p.h., running fastball, a low-80s, 11-to-5 curveball, and a mid-80s, tumbling changeup. Further, he made enough progress with his command that he is much more likely to remain a starter. If Abreu puts it all together, he is a potential 2-starter.
33. Max Fried, LHP, Atlanta Braves
Max Fried is a perfect example of the long and winding road of high school pitching prospects. The Padres drafted him seventh overall in the 2012 draft, then he underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2014. Nearly three years later, Fried finally debuted in the majors. His overall performance last year was poor; however, a blister plagued him for much of the season. Following almost a month on the disabled list in July, Fried finished the season strong. Over 74 innings in Double-A, Triple-A, his debut, and the Arizona Fall League, he had a 1.95 ERA. Fried throws a naturally sinking fastball (averaged 93 m.p.h. in debut), a diving, mid-70s curveball, and a mid-80s changeup. When he is on, he generates a lot of groundballs, and his curveball is a wipeout pitch. With improvement of his inconsistent command, Fried is a potential 3-starter.
34. Yadier Alvarez, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Like the Padres a year later, the Dodgers spent loads of money on the international market in 2015. The big-ticket item was Yadier Alvarez at $16 million. He was electric in his debut, regularly touching triple digits with his fastball and flashing three plus secondaries. Enamored with his performance and upside, the Dodgers assigned Alvarez to High-A California League last year. Unfortunately, he disappointed by battling inconsistency and command issues throughout the year. At times, however, Alvarez’s talent shined through, and he still possesses a potentially elite arm. In addition to his plus, upper-90s fastball, he throws a knockout, mid-80s slider and two developing off-speed pitches (curveball/changeup). Alvarez’s future is uncertain but still bright, with 2-starter upside and late-inning reliever downside.
35. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, Houston Astros
The fifteenth pick in the 2017 draft, J.B. Bukauskas is a seasoned college arm with a lethal one-two punch. He pairs a 94-97 m.p.h., sinking fastball with a mid-80s, 11-to-5 slider. Where Bukauskas falters is an underdeveloped, upper-80s changeup and erratic command. Given his smaller size (6’0”), high-effort delivery, and command/changeup concerns, he is a potential relief risk. Nevertheless, Bukauskas possesses considerable upside as a potential 3-starter or late-inning reliever.
36. Tyler Mahle, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Last year, Tyler Mahle shot through Double-A and Triple-A en route to the majors. Despite a career 1.85 BB/9, Mahle was unusually wild in his debut and issued 11 walks and 4 hit batters across 20 innings. Unlike many control artist pitchers, he also has a solid repertoire. Mahle throws a 91-96 m.p.h. fastball (averaged 93 m.p.h. in debut), a mid-80s slider, and a decent changeup and curveball. Although far from overpowering, Mahle is a solid, majors-ready 3- or 4- starter.
37. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Minnesota Twins
Until his brief foray at Triple-A last year, Stephen Gonsalves experienced nothing but wild success his entire career. Difficult to square up, he limited hits and home runs at every level. Standing a 6’5” and 213 pounds, he partially relies on deception by hiding the ball well with a crossfire delivery. Further, Gonsalves has solid stuff, with a low-90s fastball, an excellent, sinking changeup, and a solid, looping curveball. With borderline above-average repertoire and command *aided by deception), Gonsalves is a potential workhorse 3- or 4-starter.
38. Fernando Romero, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Prior to his last three starts, Fernando Romero was dominating Double-A (2.60/1.26 ERA/WHIP). Ultimately, he struggled in those final starts and landed on the disabled list with a shoulder impingement. Romero’s calling card is excellent command of a double-plus 93-98 m.p.h. running fastball. Meanwhile, he continues to develop his now above-average secondaries, an upper-80s power slider and an upper-80s fading changeup. No longer a two- or even one-pitch pitcher, Romero more safely fits in the rotation as a 3-starter. Still, his former arm trouble (2014 Tommy John surgery) and size (6’0″) provide risk of a late-inning relief role.
39. Dylan Cease, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Prior to the 2014 draft, Dylan Cease was a raw, high school arm in need of Tommy John surgery. Nevertheless, the Cubs drafted Dylan Cease in the sixth round of the 2014 draft with a well over-slot $1.5 million bonus. Over the next two years, the Cubs managed his workload by limiting him to just 68 2/3 innings. Last year, the Cubs finally unleashed Cease in Low-A and parlayed his superb performance into a trade for Jose Quintana. Cease is a power pitcher whose fastball sits at 93-97, and can touch triple digits. Pairing his heater with a 12-to-6 hammer curveball, He has an elite one-two combination. Unfortunately, he currently has little else, with a below-average changeup and poor command. Considering his dominant two-pitches, and lack of innings, a third pitch, and command, Cease appears to be a late-inning arm. With significant progress, however, he has legitimate 2-starter upside. As a closer, he would certainly have an 80-grade moniker, “Cease and desist.”
40. Anderson Espinoza, RHP, San Diego Padres
In 2016, the Red Sox traded Anderson Espinoza as the headliner in a package for Drew Pomeranz. Entering last year, he was a consensus top-25 prospect. Then, Espinoza opened the season on the disabled list with right elbow discomfort. The injury lingered and eventually led to Tommy John surgery in August. Since the surgery occurred late in the season, he will likely miss 2018 entirely. Espinoza has huge potential when healthy, with advanced command of a 94-98 mph fastball and two plus secondaries (curveball/changeup). Of course, his small stature (6’0”) and his health are huge questions moving forward.