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Monthly Prospect Update: Pitchers, May 2019

Each month, The Dynasty Guru will provide a prospect update, including notable performances (good and bad), assignments, promotions, trades, injuries, and suspensions. Most importantly, the monthly update will examine prospects with increasing and decreasing fantasy value, from the elite to the obscure.

At the beginning of May, TDG reviewed April performances for infielders, outfielders, and pitchers. Since then, several notable prospects exceeded rookie limits and others arrived in the majors. As this update only reviews performances for one month, please note this bright, flashing warning: SMALL SAMPLE SIZE!

Notable Pitching Prospect Performances

The Rising Pitching Prospect

Brendan McKay, Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays smartly decided to limit McKay to designated hitter duties this year. In response, he breezed through Double-A and impressed in his first Triple-A start. This past month, McKay was untouchable, allowing just 1 earned run in 28 innings. Now, he is on the cusp of the majors, and the competitive Rays are currently utilizing two openers. As such, he may arrive in the majors sooner rather than later. McKay has advanced command of a deep, four-pitch repertoire of above-average offerings. Further, he displays exceptional pitchability and sells each of his pitches with the same arm speed. This type of arm tends to transition pretty seamlessly into the majors.

Shane Baz, Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays acquired Baz from the Pirates as the player-to-be-named-later in the Chris Archer trade (what a coup!). The twelfth overall pick in the 2017 Draft, he has feel for four distinct pitches, three of which flash plus, headlined by his mid-to-upper-90s fastball. In early May, Baz made his season debut in Low-A, proving nearly unhittable over his first four starts. With improved command and consistency, he has top-of-the-rotation upside. There is reason for optimism given his athleticism and ideal 6’3″ frame.

The Graduated Pitching Prospect

Mike Soroka, Atlanta Braves. Through May, Soroka incredibly allowed one run or less in all eight of his starts (1.07/0.89 ERA/WHIP). His outstanding stuff supports his elite performance. Soroka works with a stellar, four-pitch arsenal, including a four- and two-seam fastball, a plus slider, and an average change-up. In fact, his two-seam fastball (pictured below) ranks as the best of its kind in the majors. In addition, both his four-seam fastball and slider are playing as plus pitches. To this point, Soroka has exhibited a plus (or better) repertoire with above-average control. At just 21 years old, he is one of the best young arms in the majors and a top 75 overall dynasty asset.

Yusei Kikuchi, Seattle Mariners. The high-profile Japanese import has held his own in his debut (4.43/1.31 ERA/WHIP). However, Kikuchi has failed to elicit many whiffs (8.2% swinging strikes). Specifically, both his fastball (6.6% whiffs) and curveball (4.4% whiffs) miss few bats. Rather, Kikuchi uses his curveball to induce ground balls (59.4%) and it has been his best pitch. A pleasant surprise has been his above-average control, especially of his offspeed pitches. Without strikeouts, however, Kikuchi lacks much upside.

Others of Note:

  • Touki Toussaint, Atlanta Braves
  • Spencer Turnbull, Detroit Tigers
  • Josh James, Houston Astros
  • Trent Thornton, Toronto Blue Jays
  • Merrill Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Framber Valdez, Houston Astros
  • Yoan Lopez, Arizona Diamondbacks

The Major League Pitching Prospect

Griffin Canning, Los Angeles Angels. The 2017 second round pick debuted healthy last spring with improved stuff, quickly ascending through the minors. While he struggled late in the season in Triple-A, and his velocity waned, he likely experienced understandable fatigue. Now, Canning is thriving in the majors. Notably, he is sitting in the mid-90s (94 mph) with two plus breaking balls (slider and curveball). Impressively, he is eliciting tons of swing-and-miss (15.5% whiffs), and his slider has been dominant (27.4% whiffs). Despite his solid velocity, however, Canning has been hit hard at times (.309 ISO). Still, he has a deep, four-pitch arsenal and above-average control.

Jon Duplantier, Arizona Diamondbacks. Back in the majors, Duplantier hopefully is here to stay in the rotation. He possesses a deep, five-pitch repertoire, including a four- and two-seam fastball, slider, curveball, and change-up. All five pitches are average-to-above and both his breaking balls generate tons of whiffs. The ongoing issues for Duplantier are his health, command, and control (13% walks and 60% strikes this year).

Zach Plesac, Cleveland Indians. Profiled last month, Plesac earned a well-deserved promotion in late May. Already, he has demonstrated his improved stuff, including a mid-90s fastball (94.7 mph) and three average-to-above secondaries (slider, curveball, and change-up). Further, Plesac possesses impeccable control, issuing just 9 walks (3.5%) this year. This is not just a backend starter. Buy while you still can!

Others of Note:

  • Devin Smeltzer, Minnesota Twins
  • Cal Quantrill, San Diego Padres
  • Shaun Anderson, San Francisco Giants
  • Ryan Helsley, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Tyler Beede, San Francisco Giants
  • Taylor Clarke, Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Adrian Houser, Milwaukee Brewers
  • Clay Holmes, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Elvis Luciano, Toronto Blue Jays

The Good: Top 200 Pitching Prospect

MacKenzie Gore, San Diego Padres. What Gore has done in the hitter-friendly California League is remarkable. Over his last 8 starts, he has allowed 1 run or less, including just 3 in 27 1/3 innings in May. Not only does Gore have elite swing-and-miss stuff (38.5% strikeouts and 15.9% whiffs), but he also has elite control (5.5% walks).

Casey Mize, Detroit Tigers. Like Gore, Mize has done nothing but impress this year. The first overall pick is more than living up to his draft pedigree. Thus far, he has made Double-A look like a cake walk (1.21/0.83 ERA/WHIP). The only blemish on an otherwise flawless Double-A performance has been his more modest whiff rate (23.7% strikeouts and 13.2% whiffs).

Matt Manning, Detroit Tigers. The Tigers have an exciting group of young arms on the way. In addition to Mize, Manning has top-of-the-rotation upside with two potentially elite pitches (fastball and curveball). Further, his control has taken a step forward (68% strikes). Given his size (6’6″), developing command, and improving change-up, he may experience some growing pains, but he has elite upside.

Kyle Muller, Atlanta Braves. The large, 6’6″ left-hander has excelled in Double-A. This past month, Muller allowed only 3 earned runs in 33 1/3 innings. Despite his success, his command and control remain works in progress (14.8% walks and 60% strikes).

Others of Note:

  • Ian Anderson, Atlanta Braves (3.09/1.31 ERA/WHIP, 32 IP, 44/17 K/BB)
  • Luis Patino, San Diego Padres (2.30/0.95 ERA/WHIP, 27 1/3 IP, 31/9 K/BB)
  • Bryse Wilson, Atlanta Braves (3.25/1.19 ERA/WHIP, 36 IP, 28/8 K/BB)
  • Deivi Garcia, New York Yankees (3.46/1.15 ERA/WHIP, 26 IP, 42/11 K/BB)
  • Grayson Rodriguez, Baltimore Orioles (2.05/0.87 ERA/WHIP, 26 1/3 IP, 33/6 K/BB)
  • Justin Dunn, Seattle Mariners (3.60/1.12 ERA/WHIP, 25 IP, 27/4 K/BB)
  • Zac Gallen, Miami Marlins (2.43/0.76 ERA/WHIP, 40 2/3 IP, 50/8 K/BB)
  • Brady Singer, Kansas City Royals (0.90/1.00 ERA/WHIP, 30 IP, 29/5 K/BB)
  • Tony Santillan, Cincinnati Reds (3.24/1.35 ERA/WHIP, 33 1/3 IP, 28/12 K/BB)
  • Luis Oviedo, Cleveland Indians (3.51/1.14 ERA/WHIP, 33 1/3 IP, 25/13 K/BB)
  • Logan Allen, San Diego Padres (3.14/1.15 ERA/WHIP, 28 2/3 IP, 34/10 K/BB)
  • Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners (1.73/1.04 ERA/WHIP, 26 IP, 34/5 K/BB)
  • Daniel Lynch, Kansas City Royals (1.74/0.94 ERA/WHIP, 31 IP, 28/5 K/BB)
  • Jordan Balazovic, Minnesota Twins (2.13/0.67 ERA/WHIP, 25 1/3 IP, 35/5 K/BB)
  • Ryan Rolison, Colorado Rockies (2.20/1.15 ERA/WHIP, 28 2/3 IP, 30/8 K/BB)
  • Luis Gil, New York Yankees (2.55/1.18 ERA/WHIP, 24 2/3 IP, 32/10 K/BB)

The Good: Non-Top 200 Pitching Prospect

Braxton Garrett, Miami Marlins. A first round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, Garrett lost nearly two years to Tommy John surgery. Now healthy, he appears to have fully regained his form, including a strong May performance (1.57/1.00 ERA/WHIP). Garrett works in the low-90s with a plus curveball, and a solid change-up. While his control is not fully back, he has a fluid delivery and projects to develop above-average command.

Zac Lowther, Baltimore Orioles. In five May starts, Lowther allowed earned runs in just one (0.60/0.97 ERA/WHIP). Although his fastball only sits in the upper-80s, it has plenty of run and plays up due to deception and extension. A finesse left-handed pitcher, Lowther profiles as a potential 4-starter behind solid command and a plus curveball.

Anthony Kay, New York Mets. Despite requiring Tommy John surgery, Kay went in the first round in the 2016 MLB Draft. Now, his low-to-mid-90s velocity is fully back, sitting around 92-93 mph. In addition, Kay has two offspeed pitches (curveball and change-up) that flash above-average. At his best, he showcases three above-average offerings with average command. This year, Kay has dominated Double-A (1.62/0.92 ERA/WHIP) and, at this pace, he likely debuts later this year.

Jordan Holloway, Miami Marlins. Few prospects possess Holloway’s elite, mid-to-upper-90s velocity. While he is a flamethrower with a plus curveball, he struggles with command and control (16.8% walks and 56.7% strikes). At this point, he can simply blow away High-A hitters (just 16 hits allowed in 35 2/3 innings), but his command will need to sharpen for the upper minors.

Andres Munoz, San Diego Padres. A potential elite reliever, Munoz has been lights out lately, with 15 straight appearances without an earned run through May. In fact, he allowed just 2 hits with 22 strikeouts across 13 innings in May.

Others of Notes:

  • Edward Cabrera, Miami Marlins (2.73/1.06 ERA/WHIP, 26 1/3 IP, 37/8 K/BB)
  • Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay Rays (2.33/1.22 ERA/WHIP, 27 IP, 38/14 K/BB)
  • Kris Bubic, Kansas City Royals (2.66/1.06 ERA/WHIP, 23 2/3 IP, 36/12 K/BB, promoted to High-A)
  • Jordan Yamamoto, Miami Marlins (2.12/0.88 ERA/WHIP, 29 2/3 IP, 26/7 K/BB)
  • Cody Bolton, Pittsburgh Pirates (2.70/0.94 ERA/WHIP, 26 2/3 IP, 33/5 K/BB)
  • Hector Perez, Toronto Blue Jays (2.51/1.22 ERA/WHIP, 28 2/3 IP, 25/10 K/BB)
  • Jasseel De La Cruz, Atlanta Braves (3.00/0.91 ERA/WHIP, 33 IP, 32/11 K/BB, no hitter, promoted to Double-A)
  • Blayne Enlow, Minnesota Twins (2.12/1.01 ERA/WHIP, 29 2/3 IP, 30/8 K/BB, promoted to High-A)
  • Eli Morgan, Cleveland Indians (2.51/1.05 ERA/WHIP, 28 2/3 IP, 29/9 K/BB, promoted to Double-A)
  • Aaron Ashby, Milwaukee Brewers (2.37/0.99 ERA/WHIP, 30 1/3 IP, 36/8 K/BB)
  • Tucker Davidson, Atlanta Braves (1.78/1.16 ERA/WHIP, 35 1/3, 38/14 K/BB)
  • Edwin Uceta, Los Angeles Dodgers (1.86/0.97 ERA/WHIP, 29 IP, 39/6 K/BB)
  • Rico Garcia, Colorado Rockies (2.37/0.96 ERA/WHIP, 30 1/3 IP, 35/6 K/BB)
  • Jesus Castillo, Los Angeles Angels (1.53/1.05 ERA/WHIP, 35 1/3 IP, 22/9 K/BB)
  • Robert Dugger, Miami Marlins (2.33/0.93 ERA/WHIP, 38 2/3 IP, 39/6 K/BB)
  • Austin Cox, Kansas City Royals (2.52/0.93 ERA/WHIP, 35 2/3 IP, 38/9 K/BB)
  • Drew Rom, Baltimore Orioles (0.35/0.78 ERA/WHIP, 25 2/3 IP, 32/8 K/BB)
  • Trey Supak, Milwaukee Brewers (1.34/0.77 ERA/WHIP, 40 1/3 IP, 27/7 K/BB)
  • Cody Sedlock, Baltimore Orioles (0.41/0.59 ERA/WHIP, 22 IP, 21/5 K/BB)
  • Tony Dibrell, New York Mets (1.38/1.31 ERA/WHIP, 26 IP, 24/13 K/BB)
  • Enoli Paredes, Houston Astros (1.82/0.89 ERA/WHIP, 24 2/3 IP, 31/9 K/BB)
  • Brett Conine, Houston Astros (1.07/0.75 ERA/WHIP, 25 1/3 IP, 33/5 K/BB, promoted to High-A)
  • Thad Ward, Boston Red Sox (1.41/0.72 ERA/WHIP, 32 IP, 35/8 K/BB)
  • Chris Vallimont, Miami Marlins (2.18/0.73 ERA/WHIP, 33 IP, 43/9 K/BB)
  • Joe Ryan, Tampa Bay Rays (2.20/0.83 ERA/WHIP 32 2/3 IP, 46/7 K/BB, promoted to High-A)

The Bad Pitching Prospect

Forrest Whitley, Houston Astros. While Whitley struggled in April, he hit rock bottom in May, allowing 21 hits, 9 walks, and 6 home runs across 10 1/3 innings. Then, he went to the injured list with shoulder fatigue. At this point, Whitley is far from the top pitching prospect in baseball. His command has fallen off the rails.

Others of Note:

  • Simeon Woods Richardson, New York Mets (10.89/2.03 ERA/WHIP)
  • Taylor Widener, Arizona Diamondbacks (9.39/1.78 ERA/WHIP)
  • Nick Margevicius, San Diego Padres (8.59/1.91 ERA/WHIP, 7 HRA)
  • Luis Medina, New York Yankees (9.53/2.35 ERA/WHIP, 23 BB in 17 IP)
  • Brayan Bello, Boston Red Sox (15.16/2.63 ERA/WHIP, 41 H in 19 IP)
  • JoJo Romero, Philadelphia Phillies (9.55/1.98 ERA/WHIP, demoted to Double-A)

Additional Pitching Prospect Notes

  • The Rangers moved Hans Crouse briefly off the Low-A roster to help manage his innings.
  • Riley Pint, Colorado Rockies has transitioned to a relief role.
  • Notable May injury debuts: Michael Baez, San Diego Padres (Double-A); James Kaprielian, Oakland Athletics (High-A); Dean Kremer, Baltimore Orioles (Double-A); Aaron Civale, Cleveland Indians (Double-A); Jose De Leon, Tampa Bay Rays (Triple-A); John Rooney, Los Angeles Dodgers (Low-A)
  • Notable May assignments: Matthew Liberatore, Tampa Bay Rays (Low-A); Cole Winn, Texas Rangers (Low-A); Matt Tabor, Arizona Diamondbacks (Low-A)
  • Notable May promotions: Mitchell White, Los Angeles Dodgers (Double-A to Triple-A); Cristian Javier, Houston Astros (High-A to Double-A); Josiah Gray, Los Angeles Dodgers (Low-A to High-A); Blaine Knight, Baltimore Orioles (Low-A to High-A); Sean Hjelle, San Francisco Giants (Low-A to High-A); Alec Hansen, Chicago White Sox (High-A to Double-A); Patrick Weigel, Atlanta Braves (Double-A to Triple-A); Jordan Sheffield, Los Angeles Dodgers (High-A to Double-A); Jake Wong, San Francisco Giants (Low-A to High-A); Cole Sands, Minnesota Twins (Low-A to High-A); Packy Naughton, Cincinnati Reds (High-A to Double-A); Joey Murray, Toronto Blue Jays (Low-A to High-A)
  • Notable May injuries: Brusdar Graterol, Minnesota Twins (shoulder impingement); Jonathan Loaisiga, New York Yankees (right shoulder strain, shut down for 4 weeks); Franklin Perez, Detroit Tigers (right shoulder inflammation); Stephen Gonsalves, Minnesota Twins (elbow, out indefinitely); Matt Sauer, New York Yankees (Tommy John surgery)

Jesse Roche's 2019 Prospect Series

11/5/18Top 600 Dynasty League Players, Fall Preview
11/12/182019 Top 40 Fantasy Catcher Prospects
11/19/182019 Top 30 Fantasy First Base Prospects
11/26/182019 Top 30 Fantasy Second Base Prospects
12/3/182019 Top 40 Fantasy Third Base Prospects
12/10/182019 Top 70 Fantasy Shortstop Prospects, Part 1
12/17/182019 Top 70 Fantasy Shortstop Prospects, Part 2
12/24/182019 Top 140 Fantasy Outfield Prospects, Part 1
12/31/182019 Top 140 Fantasy Outfield Prospects, Part 2
1/7/192019 Top 210 Fantasy Pitching Prospects, Part 1
1/16/192019 Top 210 Fantasy Pitching Prospects, Part 2
1/21/19Upon Further Review: Notable Grade Changes
1/28/192019 Top 500 Fantasy Prospects
2/11/192019 Top 100 Upside-Only Fantasy Prospects
2/20/192019 First Year Player Draft Rankings
3/11/192019 Impact Prospects
3/18/192019 Breakout Prospects
4/1/19Prospects Breaking Camp
4/3/19Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, March 2019
4/4/19Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, March 2019
4/5/19Monthly Prospect Update: Pitchers, March 2019
4/22/19Scouting Report: Grayson Rodriguez
4/29/19Scouting Reports: Delmarva & Greensboro
5/2/19Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, April 2019
5/4/19Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, April 2019
5/8/19Monthly Prospect Update: Pitchers, April 2019
5/10/19Top 200 Fantasy Prospects, May 2019
5/27/192019 MLB Draft: Top Fantasy Prospects
6/3/192019 MLB Draft Live Observations
6/5/19Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, May 2019
6/6/19Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, May 2019
6/7/19Monthly Prospect Update: Pitchers, May 2019
6/10/19Top 200 Fantasy Prospects, June 2019
6/17/192019 Short Season Assignments: DSL, PIO, NWL & NYP
6/24/192019 Short Season Assignments: AZL, GCL & APP
7/1/19Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, June 2019
7/3/19Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, June 2019
7/5/19Monthly Prospect Update: Pitchers, June 2019
7/8/192019/2020 First Year Player Draft, Rounds 1-2
7/12/19Top 600 Dynasty League Players, July 2019
7/15/192019/2020 First Year Player Draft, Rounds 3-4
7/22/192019/2020 First Year Player Draft, Rounds 5-6
7/29/19Short Season Breakout Prospects
8/7/19Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, July 2019
8/8/19Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, July 2019
8/9/19Monthly Prospect Update: Pitchers, July 2019
8/12/19Top 200 Fantasy Prospects, August 2019
8/19/19Scouting Report: Seth Corry
9/11/19Monthly Prospect Update: Infielders, August 2019
9/13/19Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, August 2019
10/4/19Top 200 Fantasy Prospects, September 2019

Please feel free to post comments, questions, or your own observations!

Next Monday, I update the Top 200 Fantasy Prospects, extending to 240 and including new draftees. Stay tuned!

Follow me on Twitter @jaroche6

The Author

Jesse Roche

Jesse Roche

Jesse is an attorney, currently residing in Greensboro. An avid fantasy baseball player, Jesse has experience in a diverse range of leagues, including head-to-head, rotisserie, points, and simulation. Jesse is a five-time website-wide champion at Benchwarmer Baseball and a repeat champion of a dynasty league with John Sickels at Minor League Ball. With a specific interest in baseball prospects, Jesse plans to provide in-depth analysis of up-and-coming stars accessible to all league sizes and types.

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