Please find an updated and expanded list below of my top 50 starting pitching prospects. I have listed the highest minor league level achieved and the stats I compiled are cumulative. Also note, the age listed reflects how old the player was as of the last day of the season.
My rankings are based on several criteria. (no particular order)
1. Statistical Analysis
3. Gut feeling/Instincts
5. Personal Bias/Cool Name etc..
This list took me almost 2 weeks to complete and I'm extremely interested to see what the community thinks. Also, Scott Elbert did not make the list because it is my feeling he will not be used as a starter due to command and injury history. That sentiment is also shared by some at BA, BP and amongst other sources.
statistical legend = INN / HA / BBI / K / ERA / WHIP / GOAO / BAA
Titanium : #'s 1 - 10
1. David Price (L) - AAA(TB) 23 - 109.2 / 92 / 32 / 109 / 2.30 / 1.14 / 1.45 / .228
Tore up the minor leagues and has shown why he's been so highly touted since joining the bigs in an albeit brief pressure packed stint with the Rays. David works off a mid 90's fastball, a devastating slider and a changeup that, right now, is about average at best. However, if there were such a thing as a can't miss prospect it would be him.
2. Trevor Cahill (R) - AA(OAK) 20 - 124.1 / 76 / 50 / 136 / 2.61 / 1.02 / 2.43 / .179
Trevor had a phenomenal season while making the jump from A+ to AA as well as the Olympics without skipping a beat. Trevor's arsenal includes a mid 90's fastball, curveball, slider, all of which are plus, and a developing change. Oakland has a very nice stable of pitching prospects highlighted by this young man. I would have to say the future looks very bright in Northern California!
3. Neftali Feliz (R) - AA(TEX) 20 - 127.1 / 89 / 51 / 153 / 2.69 / 1.10 / 1.19 / .201
To say that Neftali rocketed up the prospect rankings would be an understatement as his high 90's moving fastball just explodes on hitters. He also uses a hard curveball that is considered plus albeit inconsistent at times along with a changeup that he must continue to develop. With improved secondary offerings & command he could easily become a dominant starter which is something that Texas hasn't had in a long, long time.
4. Madison Bumgarner (L) - A(SF) 19 - 141.2 / 111 / 21 / 164 / 1.46 / 0.94 / 0.86 / .216
Madbum's arsenal includes a mid 90's fastball, curveball & changeup both of which are improving steadily. Bumgarner also gets high praise for having exceptional demeanor and mound presence. What amazes me is the command he has for a lefty at such a young age. If his secondary offerings continue to improve which many scouts feel will happen Madbum could easily be the best pitching prospect in baseball next year.
5. Rick Porcello (R) - A+(DET) 19 - 125 / 116 / 33 / 72 / 2.66 / 1.19 / 2.48 / .244
The source of many heated debates on this site. Many question his strikeout totals and point to that as a warning sign. An indicator, if you will, that he really hasn't shown all that much to be given this type of ranking. I, on the other hand, think his season was nothing short of stellar. The fact that he was able to get hitters out without using his complete arsenal was very impressive. One has to love his groundball rates as well. I am firmly in the camp that believes the best is yet to come. Watch out!
6. Derek Holland (L) - AA(TEX) 21 - 150.2 / 111 / 40 / 157 / 2.27 / 1.01 / 1.20 / .209
Well, Dewey Finn should be "reasonably" happy with this ranking. Derek was another Texas pitcher who burst on the scene in 08'. A hard throwing lefty who's fastball has been clocked in the mid 90's with advanced secondary offerings that got better & better as the year went on has to make the Rangers brass extremely excited about the future of this team. Feliz & Holland could be anchoring this rotation for years to come.
7. Brett Anderson (L) - AA(OAK) 20 - 105 / 95 / 27 / 118 / 3.69 / 1.16 / 1.92 / .237
A quote from my distinguished colleague PaulThomas says it best. "If you didn’t know, he has apparently put himself in much, much better physical condition than when he was drafted (dropping 15 pounds of pudge or so), with the result that his fastball now has plus velocity for a lefty. (Also faster than Cahill, who’s 89-91 most of the time.) Couple that with what are, by all reports, two great offspeed pitches and plus command, and groundball tendencies on top of that (not ridiculous like Cahill’s, but pretty strong). He’s smart and the son of a coach, so he knows how to pitch."
8. Chris Tillman (R) - AA(BAL) 20 - 135.2 / 115 / 65 / 154 / 3.18 / 1.33 / 0.82 / .227
Chris had a terrific season in AA showing the potential to become a #1 type starter. Chris features a low to mid 90's fastball, an above average curveball along with a developing albeit promising change piece. As is the case with other pitchers on this list he really needs to bare down on his walk rate. At 20 years old he certainly has time on his side and could with continued improvement push for a rotation spot sometime in 09'. Does anyone think the Mariners are regretting this deal right about now?
9. Thomas Hanson (R) - AA(ATL) 22 - 138 / 85 / 52 / 163 / 2.41 / 0.99 / 0.71 / .175
I don't think this pitcher gets as much recognition as he should as he features a four pitch arsenal that includes a lively low 90's fastball, plus curveball, plus slider and plus changeup. Tommy has since taken his act to the AFL where he remains unhittable. Maybe the Braves should take him out of the discussions for Jake Peavy?
10. Brian Matusz (L) - AFL(BAL) 21 - 7 / 3 / 2 / 9 / 1.29 / 0.71 / 1.40 / .125
I have to admit that I'm purely going off what I've read about this guy with respect to this ranking. If his early AFL performance is any indicator he looks to be another fancy addition to Baltimore's young arsenal of hurlers. One can certainly envision a Tillman / Matusz one, two punch.
Platinum : #'s 11 - 20
11. Jhoulys Chacin (R) - A+(COL) 20 - 177.2 / 143 / 42 / 160 / 2.03 / 1.04 / 2.83 / .221
Jhoulys is yet another example of a pitcher who burst on the scene in 08' . Chacin showcases a low to mid 90's four seamer, a high 80's/low 90's 2 seamer with good sink, a plus changeup (which is his best pitch), and also a much improved curveball. One also has to marvel at the groundball rate which should help him immensely in Coors but also the exceptional command he demonstrated. What's not to like? He could have easily been included in the top 10 and am left wondering if in fact he should've.
12. Tim Alderson (R) - A+(SF) 19 - 145.1 / 125 / 34 / 124 / 2.79 / 1.10 / 1.02 / .235
Another terrific pitching prospect hoping to leave his mark in the bay area. Tim's claim to fame is his exceptional command but that's not to stay he doesn't have above average stuff. Tim features a high 80's/low 90's sinking fastball, plus curveball and an improving changeup and with advanced command it allows all of his pitches to play up a tick. Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner & Alderson. Oh my!
13. Jarrod Parker (R) - A(ARI) 19 - 117.2 / 113 / 33 / 117 / 3.44 / 1.25 / 1.01 / .251
Scouts were abuzz with Parker's arsenal and above avg. command. He sports a mid 90's fastball, plus slider & curve along with a developing change. To quote BA "Like no other guy his size, he throws downhill and he does it easy," a National League scout said. "When you're 6 foot tall and you throw downhill with that velocity, that's special." Parker and his extremely high ceiling could easily be in the top 10 this time next year. In fact, I'd almost count on it.
14. Phillippe Aumont (R) - A(SEA) 19 - 55.2 / 46 / 19 / 50 / 2.75 / 1.18 / 1.73 / .224
At 6'7" and already throwing in the mid 90's projection remains to further advance that to the high 90's. He's also shown decent command in an albeit injury plagued season along with a plus curveball and developing changeup. As Jim Callis notes "Shutting him down was more a precaution than a red flag. Aumont's potential ranks with just about any pitcher's in the minors—he has that much upside."
15. James McDonald (R) - AAA(LAD) 23 - 141 / 115 / 53 / 141 / 3.26 / 1.19 / 0.65 / .223
Color me impressed at what I saw in his brief sting with the Dodgers. His fastball showed a lot of life to me although I've read contraring opinions on it. He also showed a nice curve & change. I think he's underrated and I'm making what I think is my first bold ranking.
16. Jordan Zimmermann (R) - AA(WSH) 22 - 134 / 104 / 47 / 134 / 2.89 / 1.13 / 1.36 / .215
I really, really like this pitcher. For some reason I have a very good feeling about him and regret like hell that I passed on him several times during the draft last year. Zimmerman has command of four pitches including a low to mid 90's fastball, slider, curve, change combo. With a strong start to the season he should crack that putrid Washington rotation sometime in 09'.
17. Adam Miller (R) - AAA(CLE) 23 - 28.2 / 26 / 12 / 20 / 1.88 / 1.35 / 1.44 / .239
One of my personal favorites although I'm getting very impatient. All of the attributes are there when considering an ace pitcher but he needs to stay healthy. Thankfully, none of his injuries required surgery so there's still hope he can still become what we all expected.
18. Wade Davis (R) - AAA(TB) 23 - 160.2 / 143 / 66 / 136 / 3.47 / 1.31 / 0.96 / .243
Davis works off of 2 plus pitches in his low to mid 90's fastball and an overpowering 12 to 6 curveball. He's working on improving his changeup and cutter to help him with lefties. If not for the logjam of starters in Tampa he may have been given a cup of java but as it stands he has plenty of time to iron out any issues.
19. Michael Bowden (R) - AAA(BOS) 22 - 144.1 / 112 / 29 / 130 / 2.62 / 0.98 / 0.87 / .212
Another pitcher who flies under the radar and I have to admit that I've overlooked him myself until recently. Bowden features a low 90's fastball, curveball and changeup with good deception and what he lacks in overall stuff he more than compensates for with exceptional makeup. I've heard #3 starter ceiling but his numbers would indicate otherwise.
20. Carlos Carrasco (R) - AAA(PHI) 21 - 151.1 / 146 / 58 / 155 / 3.69 / 1.35 / 1.11 / .253
Carlos throws a low to mid 90's fastball, curveball and a plus changeup that's just flat nasty when on. The knock on Carlos has always been his toughness and mound presence although he did make significant strides this year. He will be pitching in the Venezuelan league this winter and should be a candidate for the Philly rotation sometime in 09'.
Gold : #'S 21 - 30
21. Jake Arrieta (R) - A+(BAL) 22 - 113 / 80 / 51 / 120 / 2.87 / 1.16 / 1.14 / .199
Jake was the Carolina League's pitcher of the year posting some very impressive numbers in the process. He commands an explosive mid 90's fastball but needs to refine his secondary pitches which some scouts say could end up being of the plus variety. Jake is definitely a high ceiling pitcher and could join Tillman & Matusz to round out a young formidable rotation.
22. Jeremy Hellickson (R) - AA(TB) 21 - 152 / 148 / 20 / 162 / 2.96 / 1.11 / 1.12 / .258
Jeremy's "stuff" isn't considered to be upper echelon but he makes up for it in terms of "pitchability" and command. Jeremy sports a low to mid 90's fastball, curveball & change that both grade out as average at best. How this will translate at the big league level is an uncertainty which tempers my overall ranking.
23. Jordan Walden (R) - A+(LAA) 21 - 156.1 / 122 / 56 / 141 / 2.76 / 1.14 / 2.11 / .213
Jordan sports a mid 90's heater with a nice curve/slider and a change piece that he's been developing. Like most young pitchers he needs to work on his command and likey has the ceiling of a #2 starter if he can put it all together. One also has to love the 2.11 go/ao ratio. Definitely the best arm in the Angels minor league system imo.
24. Brett Cecil (L) - AAA(TOR) 22 - 118.2 / 100 / 41 / 129 / 2.88 / 1.19 / 2.28 / .225
Brett features a solid fastball touching the low 90's and a plus slider which he uses quite effectively. Questions still remain whether he is better suited for the bullpen rather than the rotation which tempers my ranking. One has to like the groundball to flyball ratio and he certainly faired pretty well as a starter. Next year will be very telling as to where he'll ultimately end up.
25. Jeremy Jeffress (R) - AA(MIL) 21 - 94 / 82 / 52 / 115 / 4.31 / 1.43 / 1.41 / .238
After returning from suspension for marijuana use Jeremy still possesses a high 90's albeit straight fastball that sometime hits triple digits. That and his hard curveball, which has the makings of a plus pitch, are a large reason why he maintains such a high ceiling. Right now he's a 2 pitch pitcher so questions will remain as to whether or not he's better utilized out of the bullpen but he is working on a changeup as well as improving his command which right now is shoddy at best.
26. Daniel Cortes (R) - AA(KC) 21 - 116.2 / 103 / 55 / 109 / 3.78 / 1.36 / 0.76 / .241
Daniel acquitted himself quite well in the hitter friendly Texas league while ranking amongst the league leaders in strikeouts. Daniel possesses a low to mid 90's fastball with late life and a true strikout pitch in his plus curveball. He is currently working on a changeup and needs to further refine his command.
27. Aaron Poreda (L) - AA(CHW) 21 - 161 / 148 / 40 / 118 / 3.13 / 1.17 / 1.39 / .244
Poreda features a nasty mid 90's fastball with late movement along with a hard diving slider and an improving change. Although his k rate was a bit puzzling it did improve with his promotion to the Southern League. Some scouts believe that he's better utilized out of the pen and could in fact thrive in that role right now. However, after logging 161 innings and an additional 5 so far in the AZL it seems the Sox, at least for now, have remained committed to his role as a future starter.
28. Martin Perez (L) - A(TEX) 17 - 61.2 / 66 / 28 / 53 / 3.65 / 1.54 / 1.57 / .274
Martin, as a 17 yr. old in A ball drew comparisons to none other than Johan Santana. He already throws a low 90's fastball that touches 94 along with what scouts call the best curveball in the system as well as the makings of a third plus pitch in his changeup. In other words, his ceiling is off the charts.
29. Daniel Duffy (L) - A(KC) 19 - 81.2 / 56 / 25 / 102 / 2.20 / 0.99 / 0.55 / .193
It's hard to tell by these mind blowing numbers that Duffy got hit hard in his first 3 starts of the season but he certainly ended the year in style giving up only 1 run in his final 29.1 innings of work. Duffy works off a low 90's fastball, a potential plus curve and a developing change. Aside from the extreme flyball tendencies I see a pitcher with tremendous upside.
30. Jess Todd (R) - AAA(STL) 22 - 153 / 116 / 42 / 136 / 2.88 / 1.03 / 1.41 / .213
Jess, despite his smallish frame, posseses a 2 seam fastball that he uses to get groundouts and a 4 seamer that reaches the low to mid 90's along with a slider. He keeps the ball down and questions regarding a future bullpen assignment have subsided due to the way he pitched in 08'.
Silver : #'s 31 - 40
31. David Huff (L) - AAA(CLE) 24 - 146.1 / 112 / 29 / 143 / 2.52 / 0.97 / 1.28 / .209
Huff projects to have the ceiling of a #3 starter although his numbers were nothing short of spectacular. After an injury plagued 2007 the lefthander certainly bounced back featuring a low 90's fastball, plus change, curveball & slider.
32. Hector Rondon (R) - A+(CLE) 20 - 145 / 130 / 42 / 145 / 3.60 / 1.19 / 0.85 / .239
Rondon has an electric arm featuring a mid 90's fastball to go along with developing secondary pitches. His numbers would look even better if not for the horrible start he got off to in April. Rondon will be playing winter ball in Venezuela and is definitely one to watch next year.
33. Mat Latos (R) - A(SD) 20 - 56 / 49 / 13 / 69 / 2.57 / 1.11 / 1.41 / .229
Mat pretty much dominated by season's end after missing the majority of the season and is definitely a pitcher I will be watching closely. He shows strong components and should at least reach A+ if he can remain healthy.
34. Michael Main (R) - A(TEX) 19 - 58.2 / 47 / 18 / 65 / 2.76 / 0.75 / .219
Michael reportedly suffered what I think is best described as a dead arm period during the season which caused his fastball velocity to max out in the low 90's. It apparently also caused his secondary offerings to dip as well but since then he's been back up to the mid 90's and has seen a serious spike in performance across the board. Here's a quote from Jason Parks who is the author of this report http://rangers.mvn.com/2008/10/rangers-fall-instructional-league-report-part-i.html. He was kind enough to speak with me over at LSB and is extremely high on this guy. " Main’s velo was down a bit this year, sitting in the 88-92 range. At fall instructs, his velo was in the 92-95 range with reports of it reaching 96. After a slight mechanical adjustment, not only did his velo increase, but so did his command. I’ll say this: Main looked like a major league pitcher this fall. His stuff was ridiculously good."
35. Fautino De Los Santos (R) - A+(OAK) 22 - 23 / 29 / 11 / 26 / 5.87 / 1.74 / 1.56 / .309
Fautino underwent Tommy John surgery after struggling out of the gate. I'm assuming that his poor showing was due to injury and that his outstanding performance last season is the true indicator of what he's capable of. Having said that, my ranking is tempered based on how this surgery will affect him going forward.
36. Vincent Mazzaro (R) - AAA(OAK) 22 - 171 / 164 / 45 / 131 / 2.74 / 1.22 / 1.39 / .253
Vincent burst on the scene this year earning himself Texas League pitcher of the year honors. Vince's repertoire includes a power sinker that sits in the low 90's along with a 4 seam fastball and slider. Vince also gets accolades for his demeanor and bulldog approach especially with runners on base.
37. Carlos Rosa (R) - AAA(KC) 24 - 95.2 / 81 / 19 / 86 / 2.73 / 1.05 / 1.58 / .231
Carlos certainly made up for lost time jumping from A+ all the way to the majors before being shutdown in June for precautionary reasons. Rosa features a low to mid 90's fastball, slider, curveball and a much improved changeup along with good command of all his pitches. He should be fine come spring training.
38. Ross Detwiler (L) - A+(WSH) 22 - 124 / 140 / 57 / 114 / 4.86 / 1.59 / 1.61 / .289
Ross went through some early struggles while revamping his delivery but that process started to pay dividends as the season wore on. Despite his overall numbers scouts weren't concerned due to his exceptional stuff. Ross features a mid 90's fastball, a plus curveball and an improving change.
39. Cole Rohrbough (L) - A+(ATL) 21 - 90 / 82 / 39 / 104 / 4.40 / 1.34 / 0.96 / .243
Cole got off to a rough start battling rotator cuff and ankle injuries but settled down rather nicely as the season progressed. Cole throws a low 90's fastball and power curve but still needs to refine his changeup and gain command of the strike zone. He still has plenty of projection and as one scout who was quoted in BA said, "His stuff is electrifying. Everything he throws is above average. When he's sharp, particularly with his breaking ball, he's close to unhittable. He also eats innings and competes very well."
40. Matthew Moore (L) - R(TB) 19 - 54.1 / 30 / 19 / 77 / 1.66 / 0.91 / 2.12 / .154
Matthew's arsenal includes a low to mid 90's fastball, curveball and changeup, all considered potential plus pitches. His tremendous makeup, averaging 12.8 k's per 9 innings and almost winning the Appy league ERA title while not allowing a homerun all year make him a very promising pitching prospect.
Bronze : #'s 41 - 50
41. Nick Barnese (R) - A(TB) 18 - 66 / 52 / 24 / 84 / 2.45 / 1.15 / 1.32 / .212
Barnese gets high marks for having exceptional command and a bulldog demeanor. Nick features a low 90's fastball with late life along with a curveball and developing change. At 6'2", 170 lbs there remains room for projection which could mean added velocity.
42. Neil Ramirez (R) - A(TEX) 19 - 44 / 25 / 29 / 52 / 2.66 / 1.23 / 0.91 / 0.85 / .166
Neil has exceptional pure stuff featuring a mid 90's fastball with late life along with a plus curveball and a promising changeup. Neil, like many young pitchers will need to learn to harness his stuff as evidenced by the extremely high walk totals. With improved command he has true ace potential.
43. Jacob McGee (L) - AA(TB) 22 - 77.2 / 65 / 37 / 65 / 3.94 / 1.32 / 1.00 / .230
Questions were raised as to whether or not Jacob would be able to succeed as a starting pitcher with shaky command at best. Now, with Tommy John surgery in the rearview mirror those questions have intensified. With a mid 90's fastball, inconsistent slider and no real third pitch I believe his destiny resides in the bullpen which is why he is ranks so low. However, if he can somehow remain a starter he would definitely vault up the list.
44. Sean West (L) - A+(FLO) 22 - 100.2 / 79 / 60 / 92 / 2.41 / 1.39 / 1.40 / .224
Sean seemed to bounce back fully from labrum surgery as he was soon throwing low to mid 90's fastballs along with a hard slider and changeup. It did take him awhile to improve his command as he allowed a whopping 60 walks in 100.2 innings but by August this trend had markedly improved. He is currently pitching in the AZL for the Mesa Solar Sox having given up only 3 walks in 10 innings of work while striking out 9.
45. Dellin Betances (R) - A(NYY) 20 - 121.2 / 100 / 62 / 141 / 3.92 / 1.34 / 0.88 / .222
Dellin scuffled a bit out of the gate but really came on strong over the last 10 games of the season issuing no more than 3 walks in any one game which was his biggest problem during the season. In fact, over his last 55.1 innings he only issued 18 free passes which was a huge improvement. With a blazing fastball and improved command his potential is huge.
46. Julio Teheran (R) - R(ATL) 17 - 15 / 18 / 4 / 17 / 6.60 / 1.47 / 1.27 / .305
Apparently he was shutdown for precautionary reasons but from what I've read he has signicant upside. As is the case with 17 year old pitchers we'll just have to wait and see what the future holds.
47. Jonathan Niese (L) - AAA(NYM) 21 - 164 / 152 / 58 / 144 / 3.13 / 1.28 / 1.54 / .248
Jonathan, in my opinion, has limited upside. Maybe that of a #3 starter at best. Niese features a high 80's - low 90's fastball, a plus curve (by far his best offering) and a slider. Another thing he has going for him besides the curve is a rather desceptive delivery but I'm not seeing significant upside. For me, he just makes the top 50 and I could have just as well left him off the list entirely.
48. Jeffrey Locke (L) - A(ATL) 20 - 139.2 / 150 / 38 / 113 / 4.06 / 1.35 / 1.59 / .269
Locke had a mixed bag of sorts in that he was very inconsistent throughout the year. However, with 2 plus pitches in his low 90's fastball and power curve to go along with a developing change he has a chance to be a solid #3 starter. His delivery is rather deceptive and he gets high marks for mound presence.
49. David Hernandez (R) - AA(BAL) 23 - 141 / 112 / 71 / 166 / 2.68 / 1.30 / 0.74 / .217
This is a pitcher I'm very leary about in that his command is shoddy and although his fastball & slider are plus at times he's basically a 2 pitch pitcher that could very well be bullpen bound. A feeling that is shared by many scouts.
50. Jairo Heredia (R) - A(NYY) 18 - 102.1 / 99 / 43 / 95 / 3.25 / 1.39 / 1.96 / .249
Heredia features a low to mid 90's fastball, a curveball that has the potential to be a plus pitch, along with a developing change. Improved command is an area of concern but luckily he has time on his side. One also has to like his extreme groundball tendencies. Jairo is definitely a prospect to watch.
HONORABLE MENTION - in alphabetical order
Nick Adenhart, Wilfredo Boscan, Jose Casilla, Manuarys Correa, William Inman, Jaime Garcia, Danny Gutierrez, Zach McAllister, Michael Montgomery, Jeff Niemann, Juan Ramirez, James Simmons