We finish up our positional prospect rankings this week with a look at starting pitchers. If you hadn’t noticed, we’ve changed things up this year by giving you more of the players that matter (30 shortstops, outfielders, and now 35 starting pitchers) and less of those that don’t (20 catchers).
Watch next week for our Top 100 Prospects for 2017.
Joining me again for this year’s rankings is our very own Andy Germani. Our rankings will be consolidated to give you our final site rankings, but you can see where Andy and I ranked them in the table as well.
These are fantasy rankings, and I remind you that Andy and I are not scouts, just simply heavy followers of baseball prospects. We hope you enjoy the rankings!
|1||Michael Kopech||White Sox||20||2018||3||1|
|T2||Lucas Giolito||White Sox||22||2016||2||4|
|T5||Jose De Leon||Rays||24||2016||6||6|
|T10||Jason Groome||Red Sox||18||2020||10||12|
|21||Sean Reid-Foley||Blue Jays||21||2018||24||23|
|34||Reynaldo Lopez||White Sox||23||2016||N/A||28|
Who is your favorite prospect to break out in 2017?
Andy: Kolby Allard is a favorite of mine. He threw 87 2/3 innings with a 2.98 ERA, 27% K rate and 1% walk rate. This will be the first real year Allard will get a chance to run wild and get over 100 innings. There are three really good pitches coming from the left side. If he starts at Rome this season I wouldn’t expect it to take long before he dominates there and gets moved to AA. There is a lot of future potential here as a top of the rotation type player and I think 2017 is the start of the breakout.
Paul: Walker Buehler was drafted in the first round in 2015 but needed Tommy John surgery, and now has only 5 pro innings at 22 years of age. The stuff is there, with a fastball that hits the mid-high 90’s along with a plus curve and plus slider to go with it. Things can go many ways for Buehler in 2017, but he has the potential to really move up the rankings as well as the minor league levels for the Dodgers. Triston McKenzie might even be a better candidate after throwing 83 pro innings last year with a 32% K rate. He’s ready to step it up a fair bit while Buehler may be on a tight leash in his first pro season.
What prospect could make a surprising contribution
to fantasy teams in 2017?
Andy: The Alex Reyes injury opened up an opportunity for Luke Weaver to get some innings. Because of his option status and the other available pitchers I don’t see Weaver making the rotation out of spring training. Weaver struggled in limited time last year in the majors, but owns a 1.78 ERA across 197 2/3 minor league innings. Weaver isn’t a high upside big strikeout type pitcher that people will usually flock to upon a major league promotion. He should be able to be a nice ERA and WHIP stabilizer, for what you would expect to get off the waiver wire midseason. He has never been a walker (that is always a plus) as shown by his 1.6 BB/9 through his minor league career. While his strikeouts won’t blow anyone away, it’s not like he is striking out four per game.
Paul: The Nationals have an embarrassment of riches in the rotation, but the trades of Giolito and Lopez moved Erick Fedde up in the pecking order. Fedde has a nice three-pitch mix to go with excellent control. While he may never be a huge strikeout guy, the groundballs will keep his ratios solid while providing at least average K’s. Max Scherzer may not be ready for the season opener, Strasburg is always an injury risk, and Joe Ross is going to have an innings limit. All this adds up to an opportunity for someone. Why not Fedde.
What lesser-known prospect should fantasy owners
put on their radars now?
Andy: He probably isn’t completely off the radar anymore, but Sandy Alcantara can hit triple digits pretty consistently and had a sub 4.00 ERA last season with a 28.7% K rate. The issue, as with any fireballer, will come down to the control. He walked more than 11% of the batters he faced last season and had a WHIP of 1.32. In the long run he might be an elite bullpen arm throwing 100 plus over and over again in one inning stints. I think the Cardinals will give him a pretty long leash to become a starter, as starting pitchers with his fastball are few and far between.
Paul: I don’t know that any of these arms are lesser-known at all, but I think the big high school arms from the 2016 draft are worth watching. I ranked them all between 12 and 32, expecting more than a few to make a lot of noise this year. Jason Groome leads the pack, but Matt Manning, Forrest Whitley, Ian Anderson, Riley Pint or Braxton Garrett could join him in the Top 10 next season. Everyone is in on Adrian Morejan, but it’s worth remembering the young June draftees as well.
What prospect would it not surprise you
if he fell significantly in the next year?
Andy: I really fear for Riley Pint as a young kid throwing as hard as he does going through the Colorado farm system. It isn’t just the major league park that has a rough pitching environment. His numbers could take a hit in the minors as well. I fear he goes the route of Tyler Kolek and gets Tommy John Surgery, delaying his clock by two seasons, just to make the majors and get obliterated in Colorado’s thin air. I like Pint as a pitcher overall, assuming he can stay healthy, but my fear for his arm and future ballpark make him a potential bust.
Paul: I like all of these guys, but have some concerns with Reynaldo Lopez. The move to Chicago wasn’t a great one for him from a fantasy point of view. It’s more than just the ballpark and DH that will hurt him and his flyball ways. Part of the ranking is his proximity to the show, but the White Sox have no need to push him right away. The Nationals, I believe, would have been quicker to throw him in the bullpen where his fastball played up and he could help them win games in 2017. If the move to the pen proves inevitable, his ranking becomes moot here and we’ve lost a year waiting for something that may never happen. I hedged my bets with a fairly low ranking of the power right-hander, but there will be no hedging next year. He’ll either make it as a starter, or he won’t.
Come back next Friday when we will publish our Top 100 Prospects.