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Top 50 2014 PRE-SEASON pitching prospects in review

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2015 Baseball prospect season is now underway, with a review of the 2014 Top 50 PRE-SEASON pitching prospects list.

Yordano Ventura
Yordano Ventura
Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

After some delays, I am now starting work on the 2015 Baseball Prospect Book. We will start taking pre-orders for the book in a day or two and I will make a special announcement and provide an ordering link at that time.

This means that the Top 20 Prospect Lists per organization, which are based on the research conducted for the book each year, will start showing up here at Minor League Ball, hopefully with the first list (the Minnesota Twins) about this time next week.

The first step of the process is reviewing the Top 50 Hitters and Top 50 Pitchers prospect lists that were in the 2014 edition of the book.


This is a review of the old list, which I do every fall in order to see how things turned out and to help improve the analytical method. These are the pitchers, the hitters were posted yesterday afternoon.

As with any prospect list, it will take five years or so before we know how things turn out.

Top 50 Pitching Prospects for 2014 (review)

1) Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, New York Yankees, Grade A:
Went 13-5, 2.77 with 141/21 K/BB in 136 major league innings. Excellent until he got hurt.

2) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks, Grade A:
Went 3-7, 4.45 with 75/49 K/BB in 83 innings between Double-A, Triple-A, and a rookie rehab outing. Struggled with health and command much of the season. Stock down some, but still an elite talent if his arm is OK.

3) Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds, Grade A:
7-10, 4.74 ERA with 140/74 K/BB in 137 innings in Double-A, 114 hits. Maintained his stuff but command slippage resulted in some struggles. Still an elite prospect.

4) Jon Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies, Grade A:
Went 10-5, 3.91 with 113/41 K/BB in 124 innings in Double-A, 117 hits. Decent season but not as dominant as anticipated given what he did in college.

5) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles, Grade A:
Played roster pingpong for a while but a fine major league rookie season overall, 7-7 with 3.57 ERA, 88/38 K/BB in 113 innings, 111 hits. And he’s still just scratching the surface.

Kevin Gausman

Kevin Gausman, photo by Tommy Gilligan, USA Today

6) Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals, Grade A-:
2-4, one save, 4.03 with 84/36 K/BB in 89 innings in the majors, 90 hits. Not much fantasy impact with this usage pattern, but the physical talent remains obvious.

7) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets, Grade A-:
Went 9-7, 4.60 with 145/43 K/BB in 133 innings for Triple-A Las Vegas, 154 hits. Got blown up a few times but overall it was a good season for the context, great K/BB ratio.

8) Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies, Grade A-:
Like Gray, didn’t repeat former dominance, 3.58 ERA with 63/32 K/BB in 108 innings in Double-A, 104 hits, hit hard in brief major league action and had health concerns.

9) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins, Grade A-:
9-6, 3.28 with 143/36 K/BB in 137 innings, 120 hits between Double-A and Triple-A. Posted 5.83 ERA with 20/7 K/BB in 29 major league innings, 32 hits. Still an elite prospect.

10) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners, Grade A-:
Another one who fought health concerns but looked great when things were right, 4.37 ERA with 91/27 K/BB in 82 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 2.61 ERA with 34/18 K/BB in 38 major league innings.

11) James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners, Grade A-:
Like Walker, effective when healthy, 6-4 with 3.04 ERA with 59/29 K/BB in 74 major league innings, 60 hits.

James Paxton

James Paxton, photo by Kelley L. Cox, USA Today

12) Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals, Grade A-:
Excellent season in Low-A, 10-2, 2.20 with 110/28 K/BB in 98 innings, 70 hits. Just needs to build up his innings to complete Tommy John recovery.

13) Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals, Grade A-:
Helped get KC to the World Series, 14-10, 3.20 in 183 innings, 159/69 K/BB, 168 hits. Just needs to stay healthy and can improve even further if he does.

14) Kyle Crick, RHP, San Francisco Giants, Grade A-:
6-7, 3.79 in 90 innings in Double-A, 111/61 K/BB, 78 hits. Continues impressive K/IP and H/IP profile but too many walks. Plenty of stuff if he can harness it.

15) Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays, Grade A-:
3.95 ERA in 100 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 84/57 K/BB but just 88 hits. Looked great in major league pen, 1.09 ERA with 27/9 K/BB in 33 innings, only 14 hits. Closer?

16) Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals, Grade A-:
Bothered by vague shoulder problems all year, pitched just five innings in the Pioneer League, then shut down again in the Arizona Fall League. Status unclear.

17) Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles, Grade A-:
3.27 ERA with 37/16 K/BB in 41 innings between NY-P and Low-A, 38 hits. Fastball not all the way back yet from Tommy John, we’ll know more in 2015.

18) Trevor Bauer, RHP, Cleveland Indians, Grade B+:
Went 5-8, 4.18 with 143/60 K/BB in 153 innings for the Indians, 151 hits. Some brilliant outings, some poor ones. I think he puts it together in the end.

19) Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox, Grade B+:
Strong season, 17-5, 2.94 with 170/59 K/BB in 159 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 121 hits. Ready for a trial soon.

20) Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers, Grade B+:
At the age of 17/18, posted 2.36 ERA with 109/37 K/BB in 88 innings, 60 hits, in the California League of all places. Unique talent, stock continues to rise.

Julio Urias

Julio Urias, photo by Mark Cunningham, Getty Images

21) C.J. Edwards, RHP, Chicago Cubs, Grade B+:
Arm trouble but effective when healthy, 2.44 ERA with 46/21 K/BB in 48 innings in Double-A, 30 hits. No question about talent, just need to see how durable.

22) Mark Appel, RHP, Houston Astros, Grade B+:
Weird season, horrible in Cal League (9.74 ERA, 40/11 K/BB but 74 hits in 44 innings) then turned things around immediately after moving up to Double-A (3.69 ERA, 38/13 K/BB in 39 innings, 35 hits). Reports on stuff improved with the results.

23) Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins, Grade B+
: 7-7, 3.52 ERA with 153/64 K/BB in 130 innings in Triple-A, 116 hits. Ready for a major league trial, no question about stuff, command still wobbly at times.

24) Sean Manaea, LHP, Kansas City Royals, Grade B+:
Some rough outings early when mechanics failed but finished very strong, 3.11 ERA with 146/54 K/BB in 122 innings in High-A, 102 hits. Again, no question about the stuff here.

25) Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays, Grade B+:
Excellent rookie season, 11-6, 3.65 with 111/28 K/BB in 131 innings, 125 hits. Nobody cares that he’s 5-9.

Marcus Stroman

Marcus Stroman, photo by Jim McIsaac, Getty Images

26) Rafael Montero, RHP, New York Mets, Grade B+:
Reasonable season, 3.60 ERA with 80/34 K/BB in 80 innings for Las Vegas, just 69 hits, then 4.06 ERA with 42/23 K/BB in 44 major league innings, 44 hits. Ready for extended trial.

27) Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres, Grade B+:
Went 10-5, 4.42 with 136/42 K/BB in 147 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 157 hits. Some rough outings for El Paso but maintained good control, still a fine prospect.

28) Lance McCullers, Jr, RHP, Houston Astros, Grade B+:
5.47 ERA with 115/56 K/BB in 97 innings in High-A, 95 hits, not that bad for Lancaster given the league/park context, but needs to sharpen command. Role?

29) Miguel Almonte, RHP, Kansas City Royals, Grade B+:
Non-dominant season in High-A, 4.49 ERA with 101/32 K/BB in 110 innings, 107 hits. Still quite young at 21 but I was hoping for more progress.

30) Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates, Grade B+:
This one made progress: 12-5, 1.74 ERA with 157/57 K/BB in 124 innings in High-A, just 74 hits. Tremendous dominance ratios, now among the elite in the game.

tyler glasnow

Tyler Glasnow, photo by Tom Hagerty

31) Braden Shipley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks, Grade B+:
Pitched decently at three levels, combined for 3.86 ERA, 127/42 K/BB in 126 innings, 117 hits, finishing in Double-A. Future number three starter?

32) Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros, Grade B+:
7-7, 5.08 ERA with 102/52 K/BB in 103 innings in Triple-A, 98 hits. 5.30 ERA with 14/7 K/BB in 19 innings in the majors, 23 hits. Another one with plenty of stuff, but have to see about command and role.

33) A.J. Cole, RHP, Washington Nationals, Grade B+:
Very good season, 13-3, 3.16 with 111/32 K/BB in 134 innings, 148 hits between Double-A and Triple-A. I like his command, can be hittable but has many strengths.

34) Kohl Stewart, RHP, Minnesota Twins, Grade B+:
2.59 ERA with 62/24 K/BB in 87 innings in Low-A, 75 hits. Finished with shoulder trouble and reduced velocity and in general didn’t dominate like he did in high school.

35) Max Fried, LHP, San Diego Padres, Grade B+:
Pitched just 11 innings due to elbow problems that eventually required Tommy John surgery.

36) Erik Johnson, RHP, Chicago White Sox, Grade B+:
Opened in majors but got knocked out fast, hammered both there and in Triple-A (6.73 ERA, 63/54 K/BB in 106 innings, 136 hits), went backwards in both stuff and command. Something was seriously amiss here.

37) Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays, Grade B+:
Made 31 starts for Rays, 11-13, 4.13 with 174/59 K/BB in 168 innings, 156 hits. Pitched outstanding baseball for several weeks, I’m glad I stuck to my guns with the B+.

Jake Odorizzi

Jake Odorizzi, photo by Kim Klement, USA Today

38) Lucas Sims, RHP, Atlanta Braves, Grade B+:
Went 8-11, 4.19 with 107/57 K/BB in 157 innings in High-A, 146 hits. Struggled at times but finished well despite a heavy workload.

39) Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies, Grade B+:
5.03 ERA with 80/44 K/BB in 82 innings in Double-A, 78 hits. Struggled with command issues following a concussion caused by being hit in the head with a hailstone. Lost season. I sympathize.

40) Edwin Escobar, LHP, San Francisco Giants, Grade B+:
Traded to Boston Red Sox, combined for 4.94 ERA with 116/45 K/BB in 138 innings, 161 hits in Triple-A, but was more effective for Pawtucket after the trade. Stock down a bit but still promising, though more likely as a reliever.

41) Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles, Grade B:
Was moving quickly up prospect lists into top 20 consideration until hurting his elbow. 3.18 ERA with 106/33 K/BB in 88 innings, 66 hits in Low-A. Waiting on health reports at this stage.

42) Alex Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals, Grade B:
Some command issues but impressive overall, 3.62 ERA with 137/61 K/BB in 109 innings in Low-A, 82 hits, finished very strong. Love his ceiling.

43) Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers, Grade B:
Outstanding in Triple-A, 10-2, 1.46 with 114/32 K/BB in 111 innings, just 70 hits, excellent for PCL especially. 4.93 ERA in 69 major league innings, 57/19 K/BB, 82 hits, but I think he can improve on that.

Jimmy Nelson

Jimmy Nelson, photo by Mike McGinnis, Getty Images

44) Vince Velasquez, RHP, Houston Astros, Grade B:
7-4, 3.74 ERA with 72/23 K/BB in 55 innings in High-A, 45 hits. Dominant at his best, main issues remains durability.

45) Aaron Blair, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks, Grade B:
Like teammate Shipley, sound at three levels with 3.56 ERA,171/51 K/BB in 154 innings, 125 hits. More dominant than Shipley and has likely moved ahead on the lists.

46) Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers, Grade B:
Went 7-13, 5.38 with 97/54 K/BB in 151 innings, 177 hits for Albuquerque. Tough environment for his style of pitcher, could actually put up better raw numbers in the majors as fifth starter or relief option.

47) Clayton Blackburn, RHP, San Francisco Giants, Grade B:
Posted 3.31 ERA with 94/20 K/BB in 98 innings, 98 hits, all but five innings in Double-A. I still like him better than most and expect that he’ll continue to pitch well as long as health holds. Gave up only one homer all year.

48) Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays, Grade B:
Dominant season establishing Norris as one of the elite prospects in the pitching ranks, 12-2, 2.53 ERA with 163/43 K/BB in 125 innings, 96 hits at three levels, ended year in the majors.

49) Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates, Grade B:
Tommy John surgery.

50) Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates, Grade B:
Fine campaign between Double-A and Triple-A, 3.34 ERA with 119/52 K/BB in 159 innings, 141 hits. Can be solid inning-eating type.


Nick Kingham, photo by Bill Gentry, Indianapolis Indians