Today’s feature is my ranking of the Top 25 Pitching Prospects for the 2017 season. The list is comprised of starting and relief pitchers whom I believe will make an impact in fantasy this season. Since the ranking is only for 2017, injured players, i.e. Alex Reyes, or players in the low levels aren’t under consideration. The list includes some pitchers that surprised in 2016, Robert Gsellman and Jharel Cotton, but also includes a number of top arms that should be up this year. Pitchers that wouldn’t likely be on a fantasy team for more than a stream here or there were left off the list. I only wanted to include players that would have some sort of impact on teams, even if they are called up later in the year. Lets get to it.
1. Robert Gsellman, SP, New York Mets, 23 Years Old, ETA: Early 2017
Robert Gsellman made his Major League Debut on August 23rd against St.Louis, he pitched 3.2 inning while holding the Cardinals to no runs. He made 7 starts in 2016 and ended the year with 44.2 IP, 2.42 ERA. Gsellman is penciled in as the 5th starter for now, however he could lose that spot to Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo with a rough Spring Training. I think Gsellman is going to be a decent late round draftee who could hold a sub 3.50 ERA on a winning ball club.
2. Jharel Cotton, SP, Oakland Athletics, 25 Years Old, ETA: Early 2017
Jharel Cotton was quite the surprise in September in his 5 starts with a stat line of 29.1 IP, 2-0, 2.15 ERA, and 23 Strikeouts. Cotton only has two major league pitches in his Fastball and Change up but he was able to make batter whiff 13% of the time. The Colosseum should help him, but he really needs to develop a third pitch. The reason Cotton is #2 is because he should be over 150 IPs for 2017, which I believe only Robert Gsellman and Jeff Hoffman will accomplish on this list.
3. Jeff Hoffman, SP, Colorado Rockies, 24 Years Old, ETA: Early 2017
Jeff Hoffman suffers from the Coors bias. It’s a legit reason to avoid him but his four pitch repertoire are all above average and his fastball consistently hit 96-97mph. He wasn’t particularly good in his brief stint in the Majors but this could be attributed to Coors, or the fact that he pitched 50 more innings in 2016 than he did in 2015. Hoffman should be a late round draftee who could end the year surprising everyone.
4. Lucas Giolito, SP, Chicago White Sox, 22 Years Old, ETA: Mid 2017
The prize of the Adam Eaton deal with Washington, Lucas Giolito has the best stuff on this list. He reached the majors last year but struggled. His 80 Grade fastball looked flat and he had a hard time locating it, as a result MLB.com changed the grade to a 65. He has some control issues but that is expected for a 22-year-old. Giolito should be the future Ace in Chicago but his ETA is the biggest question mark on this list. The White Sox could easily keep him down to work on reestablishing his pitches, or they could call him up after the Super Two Deadline. They do not seem to be in a rush to win ball games.
5. Jose De Leon, SP, Tampa Bay Rays, 24 Years Old, ETA: Mid 2017
Jose De Leon is another player that falls into the category of unimpressive debuts. The great control he showed in the minors disappeared in his 4 game stint. He had trouble locating his pitches and gave up a 5 home runs in only 17 IP. The Rays have a full rotation with Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Jake Odorizzi, Blake Snell and Matt Andriese. De Leon should start the year in AAA but could be one of the first called up if an Injury occurs.
6. Joe Jimenez, RP, Detroit Tigers, 22 Years Old, ETA: Early 2017
Joe Jimenez could make the Tigers roster out of Spring Training and could take over the Closer Role sometime around the Trade deadline if the Tigers deal K-rod. He could be this year’s Edwin Diaz, which would bring plenty of value for teams in the second half.
7. Josh Hader, SP, Milwaukee Brewers, 22 Years Old, ETA: Mid 2017
I wouldn’t look too closely at Hader’s AAA numbers last year. Sure he was bad but his arm is among the best on this list. He should start the year in AAA and could make the Majors at the Super Two Deadline but could stay longer should he repeat his AAA numbers in April. Watch him closely.
8. Francis Martes, SP, Houston Astros, 21 Years Old, ETA: Mid 2017
Martes has an elite fastball, can repeat his delivery and was one of the best arms in the Arizona Fall League. He has a similar timeline as Hader, except that his team should actually be competitive. Charlie Morton is the 5th starter for Houston but Martes could take that spot if he falters. The Astros could go with one of Joe Musgrove, Brad Peacock, or David Paulino before him but Martes could force Luhnow’s hand and call him up first.
9. Tyler Glasnow, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates, 23 Years Old, ETA: Mid 2017
Scouts love him but because he is a big body, who throws hard and has a lot of movement in his pitches. The thing I don’t like about him is he cant locate those pitches. An overall prospect list would have him higher than some of the pitchers ahead of him but looking at 2017 he might not get the innings pitched to be higher on this list. He has more refining to do in AAA and if he gets the call, it could be in relief. Editor’s note: This is not taking into account his impressive Spring Training debut as a two inning appearance in February is not a strong enough sample.
10. Reynaldo Lopez, SP, Chicago White Sox, 23 Years Old, ETA: Mid 2017
Like Giolito, Lopez is already on the 40 man roster for the White Sox. He could be called up around the Super Two deadline or he could remain in the minors since the Sox aren’t competing this year. His stuff is filthy though and if he gets the call, should be an immediate add in all league formats.
11. Luke Weaver, SP, St. Louis Cardinals, 23 Years Old, ETA: Early 2017
Weaver, a former first round pick, has excelled in the minors and has the best command on this list. His fastball sits in the low ninties although he can hit 96/97 mph if he needs to. Weaver is the odd man out of the Cardinal’s rotation and will start the year in AAA, however he should be the first to get the call if the Cardinals need to make a move.
Note: Luke Weaver was removed from Wednesday’s Spring Training game with back spasms.
12. Matt Strahm, RP, Kansas City Royals, 25 Years Old, ETA: Early 2017
Strahm made some starts in the minors but I believe he’s too reliant on his fastball and will be a great major league relief pitcher. He could be in a similar role as David Phelps in Miami that allows him to pitch nearly 100 innings. His fastball sits comfortably in the 94-96mph range and generates plenty of spin. He can be an elite relief pitcher, but probably not a closer in 2017. Read more about him in Nick’s GIF Breakdown.
13. German Marquez, SP, Colorado Rockies, 22 Years Old, ETA: Early 2017
German Marquez is a better Major League pitcher than fantasy. He pitched nearly 190 innings last year between the minors and majors as a 21 year old. Marquez reminds me of a Mark Buerhle type pitcher, 200 + IP, but a low K rate. He has good command of his pitches but all of his offerings are average to above average. If he was pitching in another park I would like him a lot more, but as is he’s a 3.80-4.20 ERA guy with 200 IP and 150 Strikeouts in his prime.
14. Chad Green, SP, New York Yankees, 25 Years Old, ETA: Early 2017
I really like Chad Green. His talent isn’t up there with the top pitching prospects but he is a true pitcher. His fastball sits in the mid nineties and he did an excellent job of getting himself out of jams. He could have a 8.5+ K/9 on a winning ball club. He wont have an exceptional ERA but wins and strikeouts will make him valuable. Right now he is the 5th starter going into Spring Training. If this holds true, I would move him into the top 10, possibly all the way up to #6.
15. Amir Garrett, SP, Cincinnati Reds, 24 Years Old, ETA: Mid 2017
Garrett, a former college basketball player, has a three pitch mix that all grade above average. He needs to work on controlling the strike zone better but he can be an effective fantasy starting pitcher in the future. He isn’t a guy I would run out and add immediately after he gets the call because he doesn’t have an elite K/9 and will be losing plenty of games with the Reds.
16. Drew Steckenrider, RP, Miami Marlins, 26 Years Old, ETA: Early 2017
Steckenrider is one of the older players on this list, but he could be one of the most impact in 2017. The Marlins bullpen as a whole had trouble with the free passes in 2016. Steckenrider has had his own issues in the control department, but he has worked on cleaning up his delivery and improved his command in 2016. Steckenrider could be in the talk for the closer spot by the end of the year if Ramos struggles.
17. Yohander Mendez, SP, Texas Rangers, 22 Years Old, ETA: Mid 2017
Mendez made his debut in 2016. He pitched 3 innings, striking out none, and giving up 5 hits. He doesn’t have the pitching arsenal as the guys above but he does mix his pitches well. The Rangers have a history of injuries and have plenty of starting pitchers who missed significant time last year. Mendez should be up sometime this summer if AJ Griffin doesn’t cut it.
18. Tyler Beede, SP, San Francisco Giants, 23 Years Old, ETA: Mid 2017
Tyler Beede should be the #5 pitcher in the Giants rotation out of camp, but Matt Cain’s 21M/year contract means he will likely get it. Tyler Beede is similar to Yohander Mendez in he doesn’t have any elite pitches but does very well with what he had. Giants will look to compete again this year and will quickly replace Cain if he struggles.
19. Robert Stephenson, SP/RP, Cincinnati Reds, 24 Years Old, ETA: Early 2017
Robert Stephenson has been on Baseball America’s Top 100 list since 2013. He has all the pitches to make him a major league success but he has trouble finding the strike zone. He is currently the 5th starter in Cincinnati, but I think his future is in the Pen. The Reds aren’t going to compete this year and could be patient with him as a starter but time is running out on him. I wouldn’t draft him but maybe add him if he strings together a couple good starts.
20. JT Chargois, RP, Minnesota Twins, 26 Years Old, ETA: Early 2017
JT Chargois has a cannon for an arm consistently hitting 97/98 mph with his fastball and he also has a nice slider. The Twins have a great future bullpen with JT, Nick Burdi, and possibly Tyler Jay. JT Chargois is the first one up and with the uncertainty of the closer spot in Minnesota, he could possibly end up with the gig by season end.
21. Brock Stewart, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers, 25 Years Old, ETA: Late 2017
Brock Stewart has moved up quickly making the majors in his 2nd full season of pro ball. He has good control of his pitches and has No.4 stuff on a good ball club that should win games for years to come. Brock will start the year in AAA for a team that had a plethora of injuries last year. He could get the call mid summer.
22. Brent Honeywell, SP, Tampa Bay Rays, 21 Years Old, ETA: Late 2017
Half of the Rays rotation were rumored to be in trade talks this year but only Smyly was dealt. They still have a number of pitching options for their rotation which makes Jose De Leon and Brent Honeywell the odd men out. Honeywell should be a good No.2/3 for the Rays for years to come, but he might not be up until September unless the Rays do make a deal.
23. Carson Fulmer, SP/RP, Chicago White Sox, 23 Years Old, ETA: Mid 2017
Carson Fulmer was the best starter for the 2014 College World Series Champions, Vanderbilt, and was taken 8th overall in the 2015 Draft. His numbers weren’t impressive in his first full pro season but did make it to the Majors. He needs to work on his control more and to build up his arm strength if he stays a starter. White Sox could make him a relief pitcher in 2017 and could close by the end of the year if they do.
24. Sean Newcomb, SP, Atlanta Braves, 23 Years Old, ETA: Mid 2017
Sean Newcomb has a 70 grade fastball that he mixes with an above average change-up and curveball. He has control issues but has made some improvements in that area. He could be a very good #2/3 for the Braves in the future but he still has refining to do and might not reach the majors till the later half of the year. If he has a hot first half and gets him BB/9 under 4, he could be called up when the Braves start trading away starters.
25. David Paulino, SP, Houston Astros, 23 Years Old, ETA: Late 2017
Paulino has a good fastball and his minor league stats are among the best on this list. He has No.3 stuff but he has a number of players ahead of him if someone gets hurt. He needs to build up his innings, as he has yet to hit 100 IP in the minors. He could be up in the last half of the season.