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Positional Prospect Ranks For Points Leagues: Starting Pitcher(1-20)
Zac Beck's Prospect Positional Rankings for Dynasty Points Leagues
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Positional Prospect Ranks: Pitchers
By UpperBeck for Dynasty Points Formats
Grayson Rodriguez, Baltimore Orioles, 23 - 6’5, 230 lbs
‘22: 75.2 IP, 17 G, 17 GS, 2.62 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 13.0 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 (A+, AA)
If you boot up The Show and attempt to create the ideal pitcher, chances are you’ve landed on a build with an eerie resemblance to Grayson Rodriguez.
He utilizes five plus or better pitches to carve through lineups. The fastball and slider grade out as double-plus and the change-up, curveball, and cutter project as plus. He commands the zone well, ceding 2.7 BB/9 in 69.2 IP at AAA last year, and his frame should sustain a starter’s workload.
A right lat injury abbreviated his 2022 campaign, but he’s since returned and tossed 11.1 innings in Spring Training. They weren’t particularly impressive innings and the Orioles front office has unfortunately decided to send Rodriguez to Triple-A to start the 2023 season. I’m still very in on him long-term but we’ll have to wait at least a short period of time to see him at the big league level.
Eury Perez, Miami Marlins, 19 - 6’8, 220 lbs
‘22: 77.0 IP, 18 G, 18 GS, 3.97 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 12.9 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 (A, AA)
Eury Perez is an alien (in the best possible way). The 19-year-old burst into the fantasy baseball zeitgeist with a breakout campaign in 2021, during which time he posted a 1.96 ERA in 78 innings as the youngest player in full-season ball. He entered 2022 as the youngest player in Double-A and more than held his own against much older competition. Excluding the two abbreviated starts he made before hitting the IL with a right lat injury, Perez’s season line reads 71 innings, 3.17 ERA, 102 Ks, and 19 BBs.
Eury’s extreme length generates a devastating fastball in the mid-to-upper 90’s with good shape, arm-side run, and induced vertical break. Complementing the 4-seamer are two effective secondaries: a low 80’s changeup that he commands for strikes and a high 70’s curveball most commonly deployed to induce swinging strikes out of the zone. He added a gyro slider in 2022 that’s still being developed but features more velocity than the curveball and plays well enough off the fastball that it carried a >40% CSW.
There is some injury concern considering Eury’s history and build. You can’t teach size and sometimes have a hard time keeping it healthy. With Perez you’re hoping the gangly frame blossoms into a top-of-the-rotation fantasy asset.
Eury follows me on Twitter. As a purely objective entity I feel compelled to inform you that that has not influenced this placement.
Ricky Tiedemann, Toronto Blue Jays, 20 - 6’4, 220 lbs
‘22: 78.2 IP, 18 G, 18 GS, 2.17 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 13.4 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 (A, A+, AA)
Tiedemann’s breakout campaign in 2022 is a good corollary for what to look for when identifying potential risers post-FYPD. Reports of dramatically increased velocity surfaced before Tiedemann ever took the bump in a professional contest and astute managers were able to acquire him late in drafts or at a steep discount.
It was a winding road for Tiedemann before landing with the Blue Jays. He went unselected in the 5-round 2020 draft, ultimately deciding to transfer to Long Beach Junior College and then to Golden West College. Once Toronto’s professional pitching development team got their hands on him they focused on transforming his body by adding weight and subsequently improved his velocity. He blossomed into one of the most promising young arms in minor league baseball largely because of the added life to his fastball and the subsequent separation from the rest of his repertoire.
Tiedemann’s arsenal is led by the fastball that sits 95-96 mph and has been up to 99 mph this spring. He complements it with a plus circle changeup featuring arm-side fade and a hard slider best leveraged as an effective taste breaker (no pun intended). He commands all three well enough but any improvements to his walk rate would be a welcome sight.
He turned a lot of heads in his spring training debut before shoulder soreness took him out of competition. He’s progressing well and it doesn’t appear to be an injury of any major concern, but a flag on the throwing arm of an electric youngster is always a bright shade of red. He should open the year at Double-A New Hampshire.
Kyle Harrison, San Francisco Giants, 21 - 6’2, 200 lbs
‘22: 113.0 IP, 25 G, 25 GS, 2.71 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 14.8 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 (A+, AA)
Harrison takes issue with batters putting the ball in play. Wouldn’t life be easier if your defense never had to make a play? If you could mitigate BABIP luck entirely?
These must be the questions Kyle Harrison is deeply committed to answering through scientific pursuit. He led all minor league pitchers (all of them, I’m including relievers in this query) in K/9 and K-BB% in 2022. He disposes of hitters with a devastating fastball and slider combination, the former featuring a whiff rate north of 40% and rivaled only by the four-seamers of Gavin Williams and Bobby Miller. His slider features sweeping action and is his best strike pitch.
His touch-and-go command and the absence of a third offering to throw with supreme confidence are the clear demerits in the profile. I would not be surprised if he were the most successful starter on this list should he sort those out, but I don’t think it’s particularly likely he makes significant walk rate improvements. His unorthodox delivery is responsible for creating deception that amplifies all of his offerings but is also the primary culprit behind his below-average control.
Gavin Stone, Los Angeles Dodgers, 24 - 6’1, 175 lbs
‘22: 121.2 IP, 26 G, 25 GS, 1.48 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 12.4 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 (A+, AA, AAA)
I’ve got two fun facts for you, both of which will be more irritating than fun unless you happen to root for the Dodgers:
Gavin Stone was a fifth-rounder selected with the second-to-last pick in the shortened 2020 draft.
Gavin Stone led the minor leagues in ERA last year.
Typical! There is a reason the Dodgers system consistently rates as one of the best in baseball. They scooped Gavin Stone up from Central Arkansas, helped him develop fastball velocity, and set him loose across three levels.
His best offering is a double-plus changeup with splitter action that produced a whiff rate greater than 50% in 2022. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with some arm-side run but only decent shape. He rounds out the repertoire with a slider that profiles as average but could be improved with more horizontal movement and command.
He should debut in 2023 and I’ll be trying to acquire shares before he does.
Gavin Williams, Cleveland Guardians, 23 - 6’6, 255 lbs
‘22: 115.0 IP, 25 G, 25 GS, 1.96 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 11.7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 (A+, AA)
The Guardians are really, really good at identifying and developing collegiate arms. Williams wasn’t necessarily difficult to spot, as his 2021 campaign at ECU resulted in All-American honors, but he’s continued to thrive in a professional setting. His .173 batting average against led the minor leagues and his 1.96 ERA ranked third.
His sturdy six-foot-six frame helps produce a double-plus fastball that sits mid-90s but can be dialed up to 100 mph when necessary. It plays best at the top of the zone where hitters are consistently late and under it. He has two breaking pitches – a tight slider and a looping curve – both of which are aided in efficacy by playing off his four-seamer.
He’s one of my favorite pitching prospects. He should debut in a full-time capacity some time in 2024. On most other teams he could be seen as a threat to crack the rotation early this year, but Cleveland’s surfeit of arms at the MLB level makes that likelihood low.
Brandon Pfaadt, Arizona Diamondbacks, 24 - 6’4, 220 lbs
‘22: 167.0 IP, 29 G, 29 GS, 3.83 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 11.7 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 (AA, AAA)
Pfaadt is a personal favorite of mine – partially because his last name produces a ton of hilarious pronunciations, partially because his delivery is reminiscent of an old school 70’s hurler. For the record, it’s FAHT as in do-re-mi-FA with a T on the end.
He was the 2022 minor league strikeout king, compiling 218 over a whopping 167 innings. That figure was the highest strikeout total in minor league baseball in 21 years. His K-BB rate of 26.9% was 4th among all MiLB pitchers (notably behind Kyle Harrison and Tanner Bibee).
The striking defect in the profile is his susceptibility to the longball. His HR/9 was bottom 30 in MiLB at 1.51 – for reference, Kyle Harrison’s HR/9 was 1.04. Part of that can be explained by his 105.1 inning stint at Amarillo, where the team had a HR/9 was 2.0 in 2022.
The Diamondbacks reassigned Pfaadt to minor league camp last week, signaling they intend to begin the year without him in the Opening Day rotation. I don’t anticipate a lengthy wait as Drey Jameson and Ryne Nelson haven’t been particularly impressive in Spring Training and it’s a matter of time before the wheels fall off for one of Madison Bumgarner or Zach Davies.
Hunter Brown, Houston Astros, 24 - 6’2, 212 lbs
‘22: 106.0 IP, 23 G, 14 GS, 2.55 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 11.4 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 (AA, AAA)
People are calling him Justin Verlander 2.0 (I’m people). As a Detroit-area native, he modeled his mechanics after Verlander and has been vocal about doing so.
The knock on Brown traditionally has been the command, a flaw in his game that plagued him for much of his minor league career. He carried walk rates between 10 and 13 percent in 2021 and 2022, but found consistency in the zone in the latter half of last year and was rewarded with a call up to the big league team in early September. His success is largely dependent on maintaining the command gains from last year.
The stuff is unquestionable. He possesses premium velocity, sitting mid-to-high 90’s with the fastball and capable of dialing it up to 99-100 mph when necessary. He complements it with a hammer curveball that features impressive vertical break coming from his high three-quarters release. The slider and changeup are developing, but have potential to be plus and average respectively.
Taj Bradley, Tampa Bay Rays, 21 - 6’2, 190 lbs
‘22: 133.1 IP, 28 G, 28 GS, 2.57 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 (AA, AAA)
If run prevention is the name of the game, Taj Bradley has been Mr. Monopoly for the better part of two and a half seasons now. He carried a sub-2.00 ERA and more than 10 K/9 across 175+ innings in 2021 and 2022, then finished the year at Triple-A Durham where he posted a respectable 3.66 ERA in 59 innings.
The leading weapons in his arsenal are a plus fastball and ‘slider’ thrown with a cutter grip. He commands both well and uses them to attack hitters early in counts. He can manipulate the slider to meet the demands of the game situation, tightening it up to back-leg lefties and giving it more sweep to miss barrels.
We’re still waiting to see Bradley develop a third pitch to attack hitters with. His curveball and changeup are both well below average presently and hitters at Triple-A made it clear why that’s an issue at the end of 2022.
I like him a lot as an arm with mid-rotation upside that will limit blow-up starts. He’s thrown more innings in the last two years than most and has yet to deal with any real injury concern (he left a Spring Training appearance earlier this month after being hit by a comebacker but he was OK), both of which are enormous positives.
Bobby Miller, Los Angeles Dodgers, 23 - 6’5, 220 lbs
‘22: 112.1 IP, 24 G, 23 GS, 4.25 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 11.6 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 (AA, AAA)
Miller is a brawny, explosive righty selected out of Louisville in the back of the first round in the 2020 draft. Concerns about his delivery and a widespread belief that he may be best utilized as a bullpen weapon deterred other organizations, but the Dodgers committed to grabbing him 29th overall and signing him for slightly under slot value. They identified elite stuff, developed it, and are cashing dividend checks.
He has ace stuff. The average velocity on his four seam fastball velocity was 99.1 mph in 2022 which would have led all qualified starting pitchers in Major League Baseball. Beyond the blistering four seamer, he mixes in a double-plus slider and a plus changeup. To give hitters another look, he’ll occasionally soft-toss a 93-96 mph two seamer.
He has the build to ostensibly sustain a starter’s workload, but Los Angeles has been careful with his innings thus far. I don’t totally trust the command yet and I think there’s a lower floor in his profile than the arms above him despite the obvious ceiling potential.
Andrew Painter, Philadelphia Phillies, 19 - 6’7, 215 lbs
‘22: 103.2 IP, 22 G, 22 GS, 1.56 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 13.5 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 (A, A+, AA)
Do you like physically imposing pitchers with prophetic last names? I sure do.
Andrew Painter was a force in his professional debut. He tossed 100+ innings spread evenly across 3 levels with elite ratios. He maintained a 13.5 K/9 and a 2.2 BB/9 by commanding 4 plus offerings: a fastball that sits 95-97 mph and averages 2400 RPM, a curveball with significant vertical break, a slider that tunnels well with the curveball on video, and a solid changeup.
It’s a terribly difficult time to rank Painter after an MRI revealed a UCL sprain in his right elbow. I happen to be in the camp that believes he’ll eventually require Tommy John surgery and I’ve weighed that uncertainty in this placement. A number of pitchers have successfully rehabbed a UCL injury without undergoing surgery (of note is Aaron Nola, whom Painter shares a team with) but the most likely course is that he rests, attempts to ramp up, and ultimately needs the ligament repaired.
Tanner Bibee, Cleveland Guardians, 24 - 6’2, 205 lbs
‘22: 132.2 IP, 25 G, 25 GS, 2.17 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 (A+, AA)
Nothing about Bibee’s four years at Cal State Fullerton struck me as a harbinger of future dominance, but the prognosticators in Cleveland’s scouting department saw enough spare parts to construct a right-handed pitching machine.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Bibee was a pitchability prospect who saw a huge uptick in fastball velocity and stuff throughout his repertoire once a professional development team got their hands on him. His fastball jumped from low 90’s to consistently sitting 94-97 mph. He’ll go to his slider and changeup in any count with confidence.
He ended the year with 73.2 innings of 1.83 ERA ball at Double-A and his most likely destination to start the year is Triple-A Columbus. Following Triston McKenzie’s shoulder strain in late March, any further injuries to the big league stable could mean an earlier debut than anticipated for Bibee.
Kodai Senga, New York Mets, 30 - 6’1, 202 lbs
‘22: Did Not Play - NPB Signing
Senga is a 3-time Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star and the clear number one option for pitching in the 2023 FYPD class. It’s not entirely clear how his game will translate but he has a stellar track record and his stuff jumps off the screen.
He has premium fastball velocity. Not premium relative to NPB standards – relative to MLB fastballs. He reportedly sits 96 mph and has touched as high as 102 mph. Though the shape and angle of the pitch leave something to be desired, you can at least rest assured the velo will play.
His prize pitch is a splitter (he refers to this as a ghost forkball, which is badass) that sits mid-80’s and features hard vertical break. It tunnels well with the heater, generating whiffs at twice the rate of his fastball and making it a devastating out pitch. He rounds out his repertoire with a slider and a curveball, giving him multiple breaking options should he have an off day with any of them.
He struggled a bit with command in three Spring Training appearances, yielding 5 walks over 9 innings of work. He’s walked 3.4 batsmen per nine for the entirety of his NPB career and could struggle early if he fails to work consistently in the zone.
Bryce Miller, Seattle Mariners, 24 - 6’2, 180 lbs
‘22: 133.2 IP, 27 G, 26 GS, 3.16 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 11.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 (A, A+, AA)
The Mariners selected Bryce Miller out of Texas A&M in the fourth round of the 2021 draft. He was a three year player for the Aggies but didn’t crack their rotation until 2021. He pitched to a 4.45 ERA while striking out 70 and walking 37 in 56.2 innings, flashing enough promising traits to warrant a top-120 selection.
One of those promising traits is his fastball, which is firmly a seven by way of its spectacular vertical approach angle and velocity. He sits 94 - 98 mph and can dial it up to triple digits when necessary. He’ll work off of it by alternating between a cutter and slider that have just enough movement and velocity separation to miss bats at a strong clip.
He’ll need to better command his breaking pitches to be effective moving forward, as the only offerings he lands consistently for strikes are his fastball and cutter. He’s had a history of command issues that loom large given his track record as a bullpen arm.
The majority of his work last year came at Hi-A. He finished the year with 50 innings at Double-A, and it’s possible we see him throwing important innings for the Mariners in 2023, whether that be as a starter or relief option.
Tink Hence, St. Louis Cardinals, 20 - 6’1, 175 lbs
‘22: 52.1 IP, 16 G, 16 GS, 1.38 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 13.9 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 (A)
Tink (whom I affectionately refer to as ‘Stink’ because he’s nasty) is another player I got live looks at in the Fall League. Listed at 6’1, 175 lbs, he’s very athletic on the mound with a slight frame that draws comparisons to Triston McKenzie and Deivi Garcia as amateurs.
He hasn’t done much to prove his durability, tossing just 52.1 innings at Low-A Palm Beach this year across 16 appearances, but the quality of the innings he did throw was astonishing. The usage has been reminiscent of another Cardinals arm in Alex Reyes (I’m referring here to Reyes’ major league tenure, not his work as a prospect) – short bursts, some coming as a starter and more recently out of the pen. Ultimately I think they push his workload as a starter.
He fanned 81 batsmen over those 52 frames by leveraging a plus fastball that sits 94 - 97 mph with tail due to his cross-body three-quarters release and a plus curveball. Key to unlocking his full potential as a rotation piece will be developing a nascent changeup.
I think he’ll struggle a bit as he progresses simply by way of regression to the mean. He allowed just one home run in 2022 for a 4.3% HR/FB%, whereas league average is usually close to 10.0%. It’s possible he could outpitch the peripherals by maintaining a high GB% but I’m not banking on it.
Daniel Espino, Cleveland Guardians, 22 - 6’2, 225 lbs
‘22: 18.1 IP, 4 G, 4 GS, 2.45 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 17.2 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 (AA)
If we assumed health for all pitching prospects, granted them invincibility and wiped their injury histories clean, Espino would have as strong a case for number one overall as any other arm in minor league baseball. He has a true 80-grade fastball that sits 96 - 98 mph with ride and run, a double-plus slider that often registers low 90’s on the radar gun, an above-average 12-6 looping curveball, and a firm changeup.
The problems are unfortunately all too familiar. He’s been a prospect since 2019 and has thrown just 133.2 career minor league innings as a result of a series of injuries that have kept him out of competition. His most recent ailments have been a bout with patellar tendonitis and a strain in his throwing shoulder. He appears to be progressing quickly but health is becoming a monumental risk to his future projection.
The Guardians will likely push for him to remain a starter until it’s clear he can’t sustain the workload. As far as 2023 is concerned, it’s a bit of wait and see. He has reportedly progressed to throwing weighted plyo balls at the Guardians’ development complex and could possibly miss as little as a month of minor league competition. Should he close the year without any further injuries, he could reclaim a top-5 spot in short order.
Cooper Hjerpe, St. Louis Cardinals, 22 - 6’3, 200 lbs
‘22: Did Not Play
I wish I was special
But I’m a creep
I’m a weirdo
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here
You do belong here, Cooper Hjerpe! You are special!
Hjerpe was selected 22nd overall in the 2022 draft out of Oregon State and he features a very funky delivery that some evaluators believe indexes toward relief or a swing-man role. He does not have premium velocity typically associated with first round draft picks, which puts more reliance on his ability to locate and execute a full arsenal. Those are fine nits to pick but I believe his mechanics and release characteristics make him a tremendously difficult at-bat.
From an underlying data perspective, Hjerpe is metrically elite. His release point and spin efficiency create incredible VAA on the four-seamer, which currently grades as plus but could be double-plus with the addition of a few ticks of velocity. His best secondary offering is a plus slider that he developed at driveline and he mixes in a good changeup that was his primary pitch prior to the 2022 season.
It’s unclear where Hjerpe will start his minor league campaign, but I’m a firm believe that he’ll eat the lower minors alive and progress quickly through the Cardinals’ system.
Mick Abel, Philadelphia Phillies, 21 - 6’5, 190 lbs
‘22: 108.1 IP, 23 G, 23 GS, 3.90 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 (A+, AA)
Mick is actually short for McLean, which is a fun tidbit we’re all aware of now. He was selected 15th overall in the 2020 draft as a prepster out of Oregon, but only managed to toss 44.2 innings in his professional debut season before a shoulder injury kept him off the mound for the remainder of the year.
Abel returned to the mound in 2022 and was very impressive. He progressed from Hi-A to Double-A rather quickly for a prep and managed to strike out nearly 11 batters per nine innings at both stops. His best offering is a double-plus fastball that averages nearly 2,500 RPMs and sits 94 - 97 mph. He employs a slider, changeup, and curveball to round out a balanced four-pitch mix.
The focus of Abel’s development in 2023 should be consistency in the zone. He has a tendency to be inefficient and I think more seasoned hitters in Double- and Triple-A will give him fits as they lay off nasty stuff out of the zone.
Ken Waldichuk, Oakland Athletics, 25 - 6’4, 220 lbs
‘22: 95.0 IP, 21 G, 21 GS, 2.84 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 13.0 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 (AA, AAA)
Waldichuk gets tagged with the ‘crafty lefty’ label frequently, primarily because he doesn’t have premium velocity. It’s not entirely wrong but feels derogatory for a pitcher as promising as he is. When I think crafty lefty I think Brent Suter – not Ken Waldichuk.
The delivery doesn’t do him any favors in that department, either. He closes his hips off to the batter, turning his front shoulder toward first base in a manner that creates some deception typically associated with the crafty lefty designation. From that delivery he fires a fastball from a low three-quarters slot with excellent shape, paired with a couple of breaking pitches that sometimes blend into one another.
All that to say this: Waldichuk is going to strike out a lot of batters. He’ll be playing in a good park but for a bad team, and he’ll have a rotation spot right out of the gate. In points leagues you can’t ask for much more.
Owen White, Texas Rangers, 23 - 6’3, 199 lbs
‘22: 80.1 IP, 15 G, 14 GS, 3.59 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 11.7 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 (A+, AA)
Mr. White of the Texas Rangers is nearly as badass as the Breaking Bad character who shares his name. He was the best pitcher I saw at the 2021 AFL where he tossed 28.1 innings en route to a 5-0 record, 1.91 ERA, and Fall League Pitcher of the Year honors.
His four offerings are a smattering of 50’s and 60’s. Among his most promising is a 93 - 97 mph fastball that is presently above-average but has potential to be excellent with improved spin efficiency, which should be a focus for his 2023 development. He also features a plus slider that generated a 40+% chase rate in 2022, an above-average curveball that steals called strikes effectively, and a get-me-over changeup.
White has already undergone Tommy John, suffered a broken hand that held him out of competition for part of 2021, and was shut down with forearm fatigue last July. When healthy he’s damn good, it’s just a matter of durability.