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Review of Pre-Season Top 50 Pitching Prospects for 2013

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Looking back at January's Top 50 pitching prospect list.

Jose Fernandez
Jose Fernandez
Marc Serota

The first thing I do when writing a new book each year is a review of what I wrote last year. I started the 2014 Baseball Prospect Book this weekend, and Step One is a review of the Top 50/50 lists.

This list is what I came out with this past January. In the book, I keep hitters and pitchers on separate lists, which I think is better philosophically and is certainly more convenient for fantasy owners. The 50/50 list also has more of a fantasy tilt than the Top 150 list I produced here for Minor League Ball last spring. It also tends to give extra weight to players who are close to the majors.

I posted the hitters yesterday.

Top 50 Pitching Prospects for 2013 (Review of 2013 Baseball Prospect Book January list)

1) Dylan Bundy, RHP, Orioles: Missed season trying to rehab elbow, but finally gave up and had Tommy John surgery in late June.

2) Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pirates: Made 19 major league starts, going 10-7, 3.22 with a 100/28 K/BB in 117 innings. Legitimate top-of-the-rotation starter that Pirates fans have long been waiting for. All systems go.

3) Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals:
Went 15-9, 3.06 in 31 big league starts, 169/57 K/BB in 173 innings. Like Cole, Miller met or exceeded all expectations.

4) Jose Fernandez, RHP, Marlins
: As good as Cole and Miller were, Fernandez was even better, going 12-6 for a poor team, 2.19 ERA, 187/58 K/BB in 173 innings, only 111 hits allowed. What a year for young pitching.

5) Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians:
Now this one didn’t go so hot: 4.15 ERA, 106/73 K/BB in 121 innings in Triple-A; 5.29 ERA with 11/16 K/BB in 17 innings for Cleveland. Bauer’s command went backwards and his velocity was down a bit, and he continued to puzzle observers with mechanical tinkering. His stock is down, but keep in mind that Julio Teheran had a bad year in Triple-A in 2012 and was strong in the majors in ’13.

6) Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Diamondbacks: 4.59 ERA with a 107/39 K/BB in 104 innings in Triple-A; 5.12 in seven major league starts with a 36/15 K/BB in 39 innings. I still like him, component ratios remained solid. Just needs to pitch.

7) Zack Wheeler, RHP, Mets: Fine Triple-A performance resulted in big league promotion with good results, 3.42 ERA with 84/46 K/BB in 100 innings, 90 hits, another very strong rookie performance from this group. Just needs to stay healthy.

8) Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pirates:
Combined for 3.73 ERA with 143/52 K/BB in 147 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Solid year that positions him for big league exposure in 2014.

9) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Mariners:
2.93 ERA in 141 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, with a 150/57 K/BB ratio. Looked good in three big league starts, 3.60 ERA with 12/4 K/BB in 15 innings. I think he’s ready and currently rates as the top pitching prospect in baseball for me.

10) Archie Bradley, RHP, Diamondbacks:
Went 14-5, 1.84 ERA with 162/69 K/BB in 151 innings between High-A and Double-A, just 115 hits allowed. If Walker isn’t the top one, it is Bradley. Excellent stuff, but still working on command refinements.

11) Carlos Martinez, RHP, Cardinals:
2.49 ERA in 16 minor league starts between Double-A and Triple-A, 72/28 K/BB in 80 innings. Pitched 28 major league innings, 5.08 ERA with 24/9 K/BB. Plenty of stuff, just needs to settle into a role, fully capable of pitching as well as Shelby Miller.

12) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets:
Went 9-4, 3.06 between High-A and Double-A, 133/28 K/BB in 118 innings, 107 hits. No diminution in performance after promotion. On course for a big league trial in 2014.

13) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Orioles: 3.51 ERA with 82/14 K/BB in 82 innings between Double-A and Triple-A; 5.66 ERA in 48 innings in the majors, 49/13 K/BB, 51 hits. He was rushed, but he pitched better than the 5.66 mark implies. I still expect him to be an outstanding pitcher as long as he stays healthy.

14) Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, Cardinals:
Excellent season in big league pen, 2.63 ERA with 108/20 K/BB in 75 innings, 63 hits. Capable of being a superior closer, but he could start games too.

15) Chris Archer, RHP, Rays:
3.22 ERA in 23 starts for the Rays, 101/38 K/BB, 107 hits allowed in 129 innings. Yet another successful rookie pitcher.

16) Danny Hultzen, LHP, Mariners:
Performed well statistically in Triple-A, 4-1, 2.05 in six starts, 34/7 K/BB in 31 innings, but missed most of season with persistent shoulder soreness. He had surgery in October to repair his labrum, putting 2014 in doubt.

17) Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Blue Jays: 3.34 ERA with 75/40 K/BB in 86 innings for High-A Dunedin, just 63 hits allowed, 2.34 GO/AO. Impressive stuff, tough to hit, but command issues remain apparent.

18) Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Royals A somewhat strange season: 4.82 ERA with 113/31 K/BB in 90 innings in High-A, but with a run of outstanding pitching his last few weeks there. Moved up to Double-A, posted a 1.93 ERA with 27/5 K/BB in 19 innings but was shut down early to rest his arm. Looked like a future ace at times.

19) James Paxton, LHP, Mariners:
4.45 ERA with 131/58 K/BB in 146 innings in Triple-A, with very mixed scouting reports. Looked excellent in September, 3-0, 1.50 in four big league starts with a 21/7 K/BB in 24 innings. A talented enigma.

20) Casey Kelly, RHP, Padres:
Missed season with Tommy John surgery.

21) Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox
: 4.13 ERA with 142/48 K/BB in 113 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Sort of a right-handed Paxton, looks really good at times but results aren’t always there.

22) Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds
: 2.99 ERA with 136/35 K/BB in 114 innings, 92 hits allowed, combined between Low-A, High-A, and Double-A. Had some command issues at the highest level but that’s not unexpected; overall he was excellent and boosted his already-high stock.

23) Taylor Guerrerri, RHP, Rays: Impressive in Low-A, 2.01 ERA with 51/12 K/BB in 67 innings, 3.09 GO/AO, before going down with Tommy John surgery.

24) Justin Nicolino, LHP, Marlins
: 2.23 ERA with 64/18 K/BB in 97 innings in High-A, 4.96 ERA with 31/12 K/BB in 45 innings in Double-A, giving up 63 hits at that level. Not overpowering but I think he will make the necessary adjustments to at least be a fourth starter. This slot was too high.

25) Tony Cingrani, LHP, Reds:
Another excellent rookie pitcher: 2.92 in 105 innings for the Reds, 120/43 K/BB, just 72 hits allowed. Very successful.

26) Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants:
1.57 ERA with 95/39 K/BB in 69 innings in High-A, just 48 hits allowed. K/IP and H/IP show terrific dominance potential, but needs to throw more strikes at higher levels.

27) Michael Wacha, RHP, Cardinals:
Lookie here, another good rookie pitcher. 2.65 ERA with 73/19 K/BB in 85 innings in Triple-A, then a 2.78 ERA with a 65/19 K/BB in 65 big league innings. Doesn’t look like a fluke to me.

28) Jesse Biddle, LHP, Phillies:
3.64 ERA with 154/82 K/BB in 138 innings in Double-A, 104 hits. Another youngster with strong dominance ratios who needs to lower his walk rate.

29) Alex Meyer, RHP, Twins:
2.99 ERA with 100/32 K/BB in 78 innings between Double-A and rehab in rookie ball. He pitched very, very well, only problem was a shoulder injury, though he pitched well in last few outings and is supposed to be OK.

30) Chris Stratton, RHP, Giants: 3.27 ERA with 123/47 K/BB in 132 innings in Low-A, 128 hits. Solid season, though he was a college guy in Low-A so we need to see more.

31) Luis Heredia, RHP, Pirates:
3.05 ERA with 55/37 K/BB in 65 innings in Low-A, 52 hits, very credible numbers for an 18/19 year old in full-season ball. Would like to see fewer walks but that is nitpicking at this point.

32) Roberto Osuna, RHP, Blue Jays:
5.53 ERA with 51/11 K/BB in 42 innings in Low-A, 39 hits. Performed better than ERA implies, but was shut down in July due to persistent elbow trouble.

33) Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Rays: Solid Triple-A season, 3.33 ERA with 124/40 K/BB in 124 innings, 101 hits. Performed reasonably well in the majors, 3.94 ERA with 22/8 K/BB in 30 innings. All he needs is an opportunity and I think he will be a fine inning-eater with good command.

34) Daniel Corcino, RHP, Reds:
Wow, this one was really bad: 7-14, 5.86 ERA with 90/73 K/BB in 129 innings, 141 hits in Triple-A. Louisville is not in the Pacific Coast League and he wasn’t injured, so no extenuating circumstances. Young enough to rebound at age 23 but stock unavoidably down.

35) Clayton Blackburn, RHP, Giants:
Posted 3.65 ERA with 138/35 K/BB in 133 innings, 111 hits in High-A, very impressive for the California League, pitched better as the season wore on.

36) Julio Teheran, RHP, Braves: I had moved him up to 18 in early March after the book was out, following positive spring reports. Really fine season, 14-8, 3.20 ERA in 30 starts for the Braves, 170/45 K/BB in 186 innings, 173 hits.

37) Kyle Gibson, RHP, Twins
: Very effective in Triple-A (2.92 ERA, 87/33K/BB in 102 innings, 85 hits) but not so much in the majors (6.53 ERA, 29/20 K/BB in 51 innings, 69 hits). I imagine the Twins will keep running him out there.

38) Wily Peralta, RHP, Brewers:
Went 11-15, 4.37 ERA with a 129/73 K/BB in 183 innings, 187 hits for the Brewers. Erratic, but there is talent here and it would not surprise me at all if he is one of the top 10 starters in the National League three years from now.

39) Nick Maronde, LHP, Angels:
3.51 ERA with 63/37 K/BB in 56 innings in Double-A, 6.75 ERA with 5/8 K/BB in five big league innings. Less attractive now that he’s a full-time reliever, and needs to improve his command in any event.

40) J.R . Graham, RHP, Braves: 4.04 ERA with 28/10 K/BB in 36 innings in Double-A, was shut down in May with shoulder problem and didn’t pitch again. Status unclear pending health reports.

41) Michael Fulmer, RHP, Mets: Posted 3.33 ERA with 42/19 K/BB in 34 innings between High-A and rookie ball rehab stints, missed early part of season with a torn meniscus and the last few weeks with a sore shoulder.

42) Robbie Erlin, LHP, Padres: Went 8-3, 5.07 with 84/34 K/BB in 99 innings in Triple-A, 125 hits. That’s Tucson in the PCL; his major league numbers were 3-3, 4.12 in nine starts with a 40/15 K/BB in 55 innings, 53 hits. Nobody should write this kid off.

43) Allen Webster, RHP, Red Sox: 3.60 ERA with 116/43 K/BB in 105 innings in Triple-A, just 71 hits. Command problems in majors resulted in 8.60 ERA, 23/18 K/BB in 30 innings, 37 hits. High ceiling, needs better control obviously.

44) Brandon Maurer, RHP, Mariners
: Rushed to majors early and suffered for it, 6.30 ERA with 70/27 K/BB in 90 innings, 114 hits. Triple-A tune-up resulted in 5.21 ERA in 10 starts, 47/26 K/BB in 47 innings. He’s capable of better than this and should get more chances.

45) Yordano Ventura, RHP, Royals: Posted 3.14 ERA with 155/53 K/BB in 135 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, then put up a 3.52 ERA in three big league starts, 11/6 K/BB in 15 innings. Outstanding velocity and pitchability continues to improve.

46) A.J. Cole, RHP, Nationals: Went 10-5, 3.60 with 151/33 K/BB in 143 innings between High-A and Double-A, 127 hits, particularly sharp late in the year. A big league trial sometime in 2014 is possible.

47) Max Fried, LHP, Padres:
Posted 3.49 ERA with 100/56 K/BB in 119 innings, 107 hits allowed in Low-A, 2.09 GO/AO. Needs some refinement but I like his chances for a large step forward in 2014.

48) Matt Wisler, RHP, Padres:
Went 10-6, 2.78 ERA with 131/33 K.BB in 136 innings between High-A and Double-A, 107 hits allowed. Spectacular at times, stock with scouts is way up.

49) Victor Sanchez, RHP, Mariners: 2.78 ERA in 20 starts in Low-A, 79/18 K/BB in 113 innings, 106 hits. Remarkable control for an 18-year-old in full-season ball.

50) Dan Straily, RHP, Athletics: Went 10-8, 3.96 ERA in 27 big league starts, 124/57 K/BB in 152 innings, 132 hits. Should be a solid starter going forward.

I think this list turned out well. Teheran was too low at 36, but I did revise him up to 18 before the season began so I'm not going to beat myself up on that one. Nicolino was too high.