Written by: Paul Auber
In this article I’m going to give you 9 potential starting pitcher prospects. I’ll give you three players who have a very good shot of making the opening day roster and three more who will more than likely contribute this year. I’ll also give you three sleepers who you might want to grab in the minor league portion of your draft (if you have one ) or just grab and stash on your reserves for next year.
THREE POSSIBILITIES FOR OPENING DAY
Luiz Gohara, Braves: I have a MAN CRUSH on this guy. I already own him on my fantasy team and I plan on riding this power lefty for a long time. Gohara climbed 4 levels of baseball last year starting out in the Florida State league ( Advanced A-ball) and finished the year with the Braves making 5 starts. In his three levels in minor league ball he made 24 starts resulting in a 7-4 record a 2.62 ERA and 147 strikeouts over 123 innings pitched. Gohara throws consistently in the 94 – 96 MPH range with an advanced fastball and compliments that with an above average slider. He’s my MUST HAVE pitcher from this group.
Shohei Ohtani, Angels: You may be able to grab Ohtani in the minor league portion of your draft, but know that as soon as 25 man rosters are submitted, Ohtani will be on it and be in the Angels starting rotation. Shohei is a right-hander who throws 5 different pitches highlighted by a top grade fastball and his 4 other pitches all grade as MLB ready or better. Ohtani also has received plus grades in all the hitting categories as well. Depending how your league administrator handles the situation, you may be drafting Ohtani the pitcher, Ohtani the hitter or you may be able to go back and fourth between the two daily. However it plays out in your league – GRAB HIM
Walker Buehler, Dodgers: Buehler is the Dodgers number one prospect. Many believe he’s next in the long line of great Dodger pitchers. Buehler got a call up last year after 19 starts at 3 minor league levels combining for 125 strikeouts in 88 innings pitched. All of his pitches grade out as above average. His numbers don’t excite me, but if he comes anywhere close to the hype, Buehler could become a front-line starter in the near future.
THREE PROBABLE MIDSEASON CALL UPS
Alex Reyes, Cardinals: Reyes is coming off Tommy John surgery (last February), but all indications are that he’s good to go for 2018. The Cardinals will probably start him in AAA to make sure he’s healthy. When he is, he will feature an upper 90’s fastball along with two other above average pitches. His only weakness is a slight lack of control that should be cleaned up with experience. The hard throwing righty will contribute this year, but there is a chance it will only be out of the bullpen with just a few spots starts.
Brett Honeywell, Rays: Honeywell’s claim to fame is his screwball which is his best pitch – his other pitches grade out as MLB average or better. The 6’2″ righty has outstanding control and can throw any of his pitches for strikes. He also was named the MVP of the 2017 Futures Game. With all the speculation in Tampa about trading Chris Archer or Jake Odorizzi and the weakness in the bottom of their rotation, Honeywell will probably see a call up in late May or early June.
MacKenzie Gore, Padres: The Padres drafted the high school senior with the number three pick in the 2017 draft. Gore’s high school numbers were off the charts going 23-1 over his last 2 years with 332 strikeouts over 158 innings. He was named the 2017 Gatorade National Player of the Year. The lefty got 7 starts in rookie ball, striking out 34 batters in 21 innings. Gore will probably see a September call up, but he could rise up the ranks quickly. This is my MUST HAVE player from this group.
Looking to 2019
Justice Sheffield, Yankees: Sheffield was the must have player that the Pirates wanted in the proposed Gerrit Cole trade. The Bronx Bombers wisely said no thank you. Sheffield was a first round pick of the Indians in 2014 and was part of the package the Yankees acquired in the Andrew Miller trade. He pitched at two levels last year going 7-7 with a 3.12 ERA. He also pitched well in the Arizona Fall League. The 21-year-old is a little small in size as starting pitchers go, yet the athletic left-hander has a smooth and controllable delivery which should enable him to handle increased workloads as he moves to more advanced levels. My MUST HAVE from this group.
Jay Groome, Red Sox: Groome is a 6’6″ lefty that the Red Sox took in the first round of 2016. He’s a work in progress as his numbers from Rookie Ball and Low A will show. He throws in the mid 90’s and with some refinement he can use his height to his advantage. He’s walking way too many batters now as you will often see with pitchers his size (Think Tyler Glasnow). With more experience, he should be able to harness all his tools.
Hunter Greene, Reds: Greene was the number two player taken in this years draft. I’m going to come right out and say I’ll never draft or trade for him. I just don’t like a guy who pitches half his games in Great American Ballpark. I call it “COORS EAST”. Anyway, despite my prejudice, Greene throws in the high 90’s consistently. He was a two-way player in high school and once he begins to concentrate exclusively on pitching, his potential as a top of the rotation starter is easily within his reach. If he was on any OTHER team, He would be my MUST HAVE pick from this group over Sheffield.
Visit Fantasy Rundown for all your fantasy sports needs.