Monthly Prospect Update: Pitchers, June 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 June, TDG reviewed May 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
Jose Urquidy, Houston Astros. Urquidy lost the 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery. While he performed well last year in High-A, he was old for the level (23), still sitting in the low-90s, and relying on pitchability. Now, his sitting velocity is in the mid-90s and he touches the upper-90s. Consequently, Urquidy thrived in Double-A and Triple-A (3.40/0.98), tallying 104 strikeouts (34%) against just 15 walks (4.9%). Notably, his stuff is missing bats (16.3% swinging strikes) and he exhibits superb command. On Wednesday, he made his major league debut after a dominant June (1.84/0.92). During his debut, he showcased a four-pitch arsenal, including a slider, change-up, and curveball. Urquidy is most known for his above-average change-up, while his breaking balls often grade out as borderline-average offerings. Further, his smaller stature (6’0″) and injury history are reasons for durability concerns. Regardless, Urquidy has some upside as a potential 4-starter.
Starting the story.
1st @MLB strikeout for Jose Urquidy! #TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/UXrXb6jICa
— Houston Astros (@astros) July 3, 2019
Joey Cantillo, San Diego Padres. The Padres doled out a fifth round signing bonus ($302,500) to Cantillo (2017 16th). So far, it is looking like a wise investment. This past month, he allowed just 1 earned run, 8 hits, and 1 walk in 25 innings (0.36/0.36)! A tall (6’4″) and deceptive left-handed pitcher, Cantillo bears a striking resemblance to Joey Lucchesi, relying on excellent command of a low-90s fastball and a plus change-up.
Joey Cantillo's (@joeyycantillo) last 3 starts: 16.1 IP, 3 BB, 19 K
We spoke pregame. He emphasized strikes, ⬇️ curve usage. Pitching coach told him: "Let’s stop throwing 20 curves/day, get back to changeup, back to up-down."
He threw 0 curves in Beloit, ~7 v Lansing. #Padres
— Lance Brozdowski (@LanceBroz) May 21, 2019
Joey Cantillo (@joeyycantillo) tells me he’s going to hit 94 mph by the end of the season. Currently sitting a consistent 89-91. I believe him. ?
Heck of a 2019 debut Saturday: 7 K through 3 IP, final line of 4.1 IP, 3 H, BB, 8 K @TinCaps #Padres #FriarFaithful
— Lance Brozdowski (@LanceBroz) April 8, 2019
The Graduated Pitching Prospect
Griffin Canning, Los Angeles Angels. For the most part, Canning has enjoyed a stellar debut (3.79/0.99) with swing-and-miss (9.19 K/9 and 15.1% swinging strikes) and few walks (5.6%). Notably, his slider is generating tons of whiffs (24.6%) and his curveball has confounded opposing hitters (.114/.162/.143). However, Canning is running into trouble with his fastball and change-up, both of which are getting hit around. In particular, his fastball induces very few ground balls (13.7%) and, therefore, tons of home runs (8). Ultimately, he is missing bats with two plus breaking balls and strong command, which will play.
Rookie player, veteran mindset.@griffin_canning's final line Monday: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K pic.twitter.com/tlIcKbGcDZ
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) June 11, 2019
Shaun Anderson, San Francisco Giants. A paltry 13.7% strikeout rate does not engender confidence despite serviceable rate stats (3.86/1.34). A converted college reliever, Anderson has a surprisingly deep, five-pitch repertoire, but mostly relies on a four- and two-seam fastball, and a slider. With a pair of heavy fastballs, he often pitches to contact to generate ground balls (48.3%). His slider, however, misses too few bats (9.5% swinging strikes) to make him an effective fantasy option.
Others of Note:
- Daniel Ponce de Leon, St. Louis Cardinals
- Nick Margevicius, San Diego Padres
- Adrian Houser, Milwaukee Brewers
- Clay Holmes, Pittsburgh Pirates
The Major League Pitching Prospect
The Stud Pitching Prospect
Brendan McKay, Tampa Bay Rays. On the heels of an epic run in the minors (0.87/0.81 over his last 62 innings), McKay made his major league debut at the end of June. As in the minors, he was lights out, throwing six shutout innings and flashing a solidly above-average three-pitch mix (fastball, cutter, and curveball). McKay is a polished arm with plus command, advanced pitchability, and borderline-plus stuff. This type of arm often transitions seamlessly to the majors. Meanwhile, he also received a start at designated hitter to open July. The two-way dream is alive! Regardless whether he hits, McKay is an elite pitching prospects and already a top 50 option for the rest of the season.
1⃣5⃣⬇️@RaysBaseball's Brendan McKay is absolutely dealing in his @MLB debut.
Here's a look at the two-way phenom's first #MLB K. pic.twitter.com/ctmCm5thZh
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 29, 2019
Zac Gallen, Miami Marlins. Before Brendan McKay arrived, Gallen was all the rage. His debut followed an eye-opening stretch in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League (1.77/0.71). Despite his success, he lacks the same high-end upside as McKay. Gallen has a deep, four-pitch repertoire, including a low-to-mid-90s fastball (92.9 mph), a mid-to-upper-80s slider/cutter, an upper-70s curveball, and a mid-80s change-up. All four pitches and his command are potentially average-to-above. Notably, each of his offspeed pitches induce plenty of swinging strikes, lead by his change-up (22.7%). Given his strikeout potential, Gallen is a legit fantasy option, but profiles more as a 3- or 4-starter, than a frontline arm.
Zac Gallen, Disappearing 85mph Changeup. ? pic.twitter.com/IheJGYdl0z
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 21, 2019
The Top 200 Pitching Prospect
Bryse Wilson, Atlanta Braves. It is easy to forget Wilson is still just 21 years old. In the context of his age, his initial struggles in Triple-A (which have turned around) and the majors are understandable. Nevertheless, he profiles as a workhorse with a sturdy build, a mid-90s fastball, and two average-to-above secondaries. Further refinement of his command and more consistency with his off-speed pitches will allow Wilson to take the next step.
Zach Plesac, Cleveland Indians. In his last start, Plesac allowed 7 earned runs, 7 hits, 3 walks, and 2 home runs to the Orioles. Puke! Consequently, some have truly soured on him, while others were skeptical to begin with given his lack of strikeouts (6.8 K/9). Plesac sports two above-average offerings in his mid-90s fastball (94.6 mph) and mid-80s change-up, but neither miss many bats. His slider is his most promising breaking ball (18.1% swinging strikes), but it has been hit around. Without even an average breaking ball, Plesac will continue to struggle to rack up strikeouts. However, he should still find some success behind his fastball/change-up and strong command.
Zach Plesac was electric on Tuesday night in Texas allowing just one run on two hits vs the Rangers! ?#RallyTogether pic.twitter.com/6rMJVRTi9i
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) June 19, 2019
Logan Allen, San Diego Padres. A deceptive left-handed pitcher, Allen has a solid, three-pitch arsenal, including a low-90s fastball (92.7 mph), a low-80s slider, and a low-80s change-up. In addition, he occasionally mixes in a mid-70s curveball as a show-me offering. His three chief pitches all profile as average-to-above and play up due to his deception and pitchability.
The Non-Top 200 Pitching Prospect
Jordan Yamamoto, Miami Marlins. A dominant first two starts was quite the introduction for Yamamoto. This type of arm often finds initial success before experiencing a reckoning at the major league level. A small (6’0″), pitchability arm, he utilizes six distinct pitches! This incredible repertoire depth does provide some hope Yamamoto will continue to keep hitters off balance and carve out a Kyle Hendricks-type career (best case scenario). Still, he does not miss many bats and his command is far from Hendricks-esque.
Only 19 pitchers in #MLB history had allowed ≤ 5 baserunners while striking out ≥ 5 in ≥ 7 shutout innings in their @MLB debut before #Marlins' Jordan Yamamoto did it Wednesday. And no one had ever done it in each of their first TWO starts before he did it again tonight. pic.twitter.com/GKVcACKkxz
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 19, 2019
Cal Quantrill, San Diego Padres. The eighth overall pick in the 2016 draft, Quantrill has struggled with consistency and development of a breaking ball to finally arrive in the majors. At his best, he possesses an above-average, mid-90s four- and two-seam fastball (94.7 mph) and two swing-and-miss secondaries (change-up and slider). However, Quantrill has still yet to put it all together and remains frustratingly inconsistent. For now, he is operating as a multi-inning reliever and spot starter.
Adbert Alzolay, Chicago Cubs. Although the Cubs optioned Alzolay to Triple-A on Tuesday, he should be back in the majors before long. During his debut, he flashed three above-average pitches, including a mid-90s fastball (95 mph), a low-80s curveball, and an improved, mid-80s change-up. Injuries (lat/side) have derailed his ascent, and, paired with his smaller stature (6’0″), should draw durability questions.
Others of Note:
- Sean Reid-Foley, Toronto Blue Jays
- Peter Lambert, Colorado Rockies
- Lewis Thorpe, Minnesota Twins
- Tyler Beede, San Francisco Giants
- Ranger Suarez, Philadelphia Phillies
- Chance Adams, New York Yankees
- Taylor Clarke, Arizona Diamondbacks
- Colin Poche, Tampa Bay Rays
The Good: Top 200 Pitching Prospect
Deivi Garcia, New York Yankees. Listed at just 5’9″ and 163 pounds, Garcia is an atypical pitching prospect. Despite his diminutive size, he possesses a lethal low-to-mid-90s fastball and plus (or better) curveball combination. As a result, he leads all minor league pitchers in strikeout rate (39.3%) and strikeouts per 9 innings (14.94). This past month, Garcia struck out 15 batters in just 6 innings and followed that start with 5 no-hit innings. Given his performance at just 20 years old in Double-A, it is easy to look past his size. Of course, his size, poor control (11.4% BB), and distant third pitch (change-up) likely point to a future as a reliever. Nonetheless, Garcia is either a potential mid-rotation arm or high-leverage reliever.
Insane overlay of Deivi Garcia's fastball and curveball. #Yankees (?️: @NYYPlayerDev) pic.twitter.com/ITy72OvmT9
— Lance Brozdowski (@LanceBroz) June 25, 2019
Matthew Liberatore, Tampa Bay Rays. Despite only receiving an assignment to Low-A in mid-May, Liberatore already has amassed 48 innings pitched, averaging 6 innings per start. In June, he averaged 6.6 innings/start, allowing just 2 earned runs in 33 innings (0.55/0.82). Tall and lean, Liberatore has plenty of remaining projection and already flashes durability, pitchability, and an above-average, four-pitch arsenal.
Others of Note:
- MacKenzie Gore, San Diego Padres (0.96/0.75, 18 2/3 IP, 28/7 K/BB)
- Sixto Sanchez, Miami Marlins (2.05/1.01, 30 2/3 IP, 35/5 K/BB)
- Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates (3.45/1.31, 31 1/3 IP, 34/11 K/BB)
- Ian Anderson, Atlanta Braves (2.35/0.95, 30 2/3 IP, 43/11 K/BB)
- Dustin May, Los Angeles Dodgers (2.86/1.09, 28 1/3 IP, 26/6 K/BB, promoted to Triple-A)
- Kyle Wright, Atlanta Braves (3.86/1.07, 28 IP, 30/7 K/BB)
- Justin Dunn, Seattle Mariners (3.33/1.26, 27 IP, 36/9 K/BB)
- Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners (2.59/1.11, 24 1/3 IP, 24/4 K/BB)
- Simeon Woods Richardson, New York Mets (2.38/1.15, 22 2/3 IP, 29/6 K/BB)
- Luis Gil, New York Yankees (1.90/1.23, 23 2/3 IP, 32/9 K/BB)
- Jackson Kowar, Kansas City Royals (3.10/1.24, 29 IP, 28/9 K/BB, promoted to Double-A)
The Good: Non-Top 200 Pitching Prospect
Jhoan Duran, Minnesota Twins. The Twins acquired Jhoan Duran from the Diamondbacks in the Eduardo Escobar trade (a rare, win-win). A large (6’5″ and 230 pounds) flame thrower, he sits in the upper-90s and touches triple-digits with a lively, plus or better heater. In addition, he flashes a potential plus power curveball, which generates tons of swing-and-miss, and two potential average change-of-pace offerings (splitter and change-up). As with many power arms, Duran has below-average command and gets by on his overpowering stuff.
Trending up: #MNTwins RHP Jhoan Duran. Now T100 every start, holding high-90s all game. Control and pitchability making gains; CB and power splitter flash swing/miss action. Chance to place on our Midseason T125 at @2080ball.
Full Report:https://t.co/e3M1gmHE41 pic.twitter.com/HEjdyNVnvg
— Adam McInturff (@2080adam) June 9, 2019
Josiah Gray, Los Angeles Dodgers. A competitive balance selection in the 2018 draft, Gray was a small school converted position player with a big power arm. As such, he is still a raw pitcher, but he possesses plus athleticism, strong command, a low-to-mid-90s fastball, and a potential plus power slider. Notably, Gray is second among minor league pitchers in swinging strikes (18.6%). This past month, he made the California League look not so hitter-friendly with a stellar 38-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Continued development of his nascent change-up will dictate his future potential as a mid-rotation starter.
Tarik Skubal, Detroit Tigers. Another 2018 draftee (9th), Skubal has truly emerged this year as a legit prospect. Tommy John surgery clouded his college career and he returned without any command, issuing 56 walks in 80 innings his junior year. Now, it appears he has regained his control (5.9% BB). An athletic, 6’3″ left-handed pitcher, he possesses an above-average, lively, low-to-mid-90s fastball, which touches the upper-90s, and three promising, but inconsistent, secondaries (curveball, slider, and change-up). This past month, he allowed just 1 earned run in 23 innings while strikeout out 35 (0.39/0.91).
Aaron Civale, Cleveland Indians. The Indians have churned out backend, command-over-stuff arms, and Civale is the latest. Like Yamamoto above, Civale sports a deep, six-pitch repertoire of average, give or take, offerings. In addition, Civale has never had a walk rate over 5% since his professional debut. While he likely serves as rotation depth for now, he could surprise if given an extended opportunity.
Others of Note:
- Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay Rays (1.14/0.76, 23 2/3 IP, 26/4 K/BB, promoted to High-A)
- Edward Cabrera, Miami Marlins (1.61/0.90, 22 1/3 IP, 22/6 K/BB, promoted to Double-A)
- Braxton Garrett, Miami Marlins (2.78/1.06, 22 2/3 IP, 30/6 K/BB)
- Alex Faedo, Detroit Tigers (2.29/1.17, 19 2/3 IP, 21/5 K/BB)
- Kolby Allard, Atlanta Braves (2.43/1.30, 37 IP, 36/14 K/BB)
- Yerry Rodriguez, Texas Rangers (1.46/0.61, 24 2/3 IP, 22/6 K/BB)
- Bryan Mata, Boston Red Sox (1.23/1.14, 22 IP, 21/7 K/BB)
- Dean Kremer, Baltimore Orioles (2.48/1.00, 29 IP, 33/5 K/BB)
- Aaron Ashby, Milwaukee Brewers (1.73/0.88, 26 IP, 28/9 K/BB, promoted to High-A)
- Garrett Whitlock, New York Yankees (2.10/1.17, 30 IP, 25/5 K/BB)
- Ronny Henriquez, Texas Rangers (2.37/1.16, 19 IP, 25/5 K/BB)
- Trevor Rogers, Miami Marlins (1.09/0.65, 24 2/3 IP, 32/4 K/BB)
- Cristian Javier, Houston Astros (2.08/0.79, 30 1/3 IP, 40/12 K/BB)
- Sean Hjelle, San Francisco Giants (1.26/1.01, 28 2/3 IP, 30/6 K/BB)
- Matt Tabor, Arizona Diamondbacks (2.81/0.86, 25 2/3 IP, 37/3 K/BB)
- Blayne Enlow, Minnesota Twins (2.13/0.99, 25 1/3 IP, 20/7 K/BB)
- Joe Ryan, Tampa Bay Rays (1.35/0.75, 20 IP, 30/4 K/BB)
- Thad Ward, Boston Red Sox (1.37/1.37, 26 1/3 IP, 32/15 K/BB, promoted to High-A)
- Francisco Morales, Philadelphia Phillies (1.47/0.98, 18 1/3 IP, 24/10 K/BB)
- Victor Santos, Philadelphia Phillies (2.29/0.86, 19 2/3 IP, 19/3 K/BB)
- Gregory Santos, San Francisco Giants (0.95/1.05, 19 IP, 12/5 K/BB)
- Griffin Jax, Minnesota Twins (1.40/0.83, 19 1/3 IP, 11/3 K/BB)
- Jonathan Bowlan, Kansas City Royals (2.10/1.00, 30 IP, 35/3 K/BB, promoted to High-A)
- Seth Corry, San Francisco Giants (2.14/1.19, 21 IP, 27/12 K/BB)
- Joey Murray, Toronto Blue Jays (1.64/0.86, 22 IP, 30/4 K/BB)
- Yennsy Diaz, Toronto Blue Jays (2.53/1.09, 32 IP, 21/8 K/BB)
- Jason Bahr, Texas Rangers (1.59/0.84, 22 2/3 IP, 28/9 K/BB, promoted to Double-A)
- Bruce Zimmermann, Atlanta Braves (2.43/1.18, 29 2/3, 33/12 K/BB)
- Brandon Bailey, Houston Astros (0.00/0.57, 17 2/3 IP, 21/2 K/BB)
- John Rooney, Los Angeles Dodgers (0.67/1.05, 26 2/3 IP, 25/11 K/BB)
- Elvin Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers (2.22/0.95, 24 1/3 IP, 26/8 K/BB)
- Anthony Castro, Detroit Tigers (1.52/0.76, 23 2/3 IP, 28/9 K/BB)
- Damon Jones, Philadelphia Phillies (1.17/0.82, 30 2/3 IP, 44/9 K/BB)
- Levi Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks (1.78/0.71, 25 1/3 IP, 31/6 K/BB)
- Hector Yan, Los Angeles Angels (2.19/0.97, 24 2/3 IP, 34/12 K/BB)
The Bad Pitching Prospect
Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox. The White Sox called up Cease on Wednesday despite his recent struggles (8.31/2.13, 14-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in June). Although he has electric stuff, he still has shaky command. As such, it would not be surprising if he is wildly inconsistent in the majors this year.
Justus Sheffield, Seattle Mariners. At the beginning of June, Sheffield had a disastrous three-start stretch in which he lasted only 7 innings, allowing 20 earned runs, 11 walks, and 4 home runs. Since then, he has settled down, but his control issues this year are alarming (15.6% BB).
Others of Note:
- Tony Santillan, Cincinnati Reds (8.87/2.06, 23 1/3 IP, 13/12 K/BB)
- Ryan Rolison, Colorado Rockies (7.76/1.61, 26 2/3 IP, 10 HRA)
- Jordan Holloway, Miami Marlins (9.42/2.02, 14 1/3 IP, 10/12 K/BB)
- Dennis Santana, Los Angeles Dodgers (7.61/1.99, 23 2/3 IP, 21/19 K/BB)
- Darwinzon Hernandez, Boston Red Sox (20 BB in 15 2/3 IP)
Additional Pitching Prospect Notes
- Jesus Luzardo (shoulder strain) and A.J. Puk (Tommy John surgery) both returned to action for the Athletics this month. However, Luzardo already suffered another injury (lat strain).
- Griffin Roberts, St. Louis Cardinals returned from suspension this month.
- The Mariners acquired Juan Then from the Yankees in the Edwin Encarnacion trade.
- Notable June injury returns: Spencer Howard, Philadelphia Phillies (GCL); Eric Pardinho, Toronto Blue Jays (GCL); Beau Burrows, Detroit Tigers (Triple-A); Clarke Schmidt, New York Yankees (GCL); Ryan Helsley, St. Louis Cardinals (Triple-A); Carlos Hernandez, Kansas City Royals (AZL); Emilio Vargas, Arizona Diamondbacks (AZL); Tristan Beck, Atlanta Braves (GCL); Brendon Little, Chicago Cubs (AZL)
- Notable 2019 draftees: Nick Lodolo, Cincinnati Reds (PIO); Alek Manoah, Toronto Blue Jays (EST); Jackson Rutledge, Washington Nationals (TBD); George Kirby, Seattle Mariners (NWL); Daniel Espino, Cleveland Indians (AZL); Quinn Priester, Pittsburgh Pirates (GCL); Zack Thompson, St. Louis Cardinals (GCL); Matthew Allan, New York Mets (TBD, but he signed!); Brennan Malone, Arizona Diamondbacks (TBD)
- Notable June promotions: Anthony Kay, New York Mets (Double-A to Triple-A); Joe Palumbo, Texas Rangers (Double-A to Triple-A, MLB debut); Cody Bolton, Pittsburgh Pirates (High-A to Double-A); Rico Garcia, Colorado Rockies (Double-A to Triple-A); Robert Dugger, Miami Marlins (Double-A to Triple-A); Austin Cox, Kansas City Royals (Low-A to High-A); Tim Cate, Washington Nationals (Low-A to High-A); Josh Winckowski, Toronto Blue Jays (Low-A to High-A); Conner Menez, San Francisco Giants (Double-A to Triple-A); Enoli Paredes, Houston Astros (High-A to Double-A); Chris Vallimont, Miami Marlins (Low-A to High-A); Alex Lange, Chicago Cubs (High-A to Double-A)
- Notable June injuries: Casey Mize, Detroit Tigers (shoulder inflammation); Nate Pearson, Toronto Blue Jays (groin); Jon Duplantier, Arizona Diamondbacks (shoulder inflammation); Corbin Martin, Houston Astros (elbow, serious); Daniel Lynch, Kansas City Royals (arm soreness); Zack Burdi, Chicago White Sox (knee, out for the season)