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Top 100 Prospect Pitcher Rankings 2022: #66-#44

Our 3rd installment contains big-time talent and big-time questions.

Click here for the introduction/rules to PPL&R and pitchers #108 – #91.

Click here for pitchers #90 – #67.

The majority of pitchers #66 – #44 are a clump of untamed exceptional talents, mixed in with a few safer bets. There’s some muddy trains at this station, liable to go far in any direction.

 

#66 RHP – Justin Martinez – D’Backs – Low A Visalia – 6’3″ – 20
Execution: An injury cut Martinez’s season short, and he logged only 23 low A innings and three broadcast starts, but it was enough to see some surprisingly good strike-throwing (68% strikes), and enough “whoa” pitches to get me excited.
Development: Martinez is an unpolished electric arm with an arsenal oozing upside; exceptional arm talent with a wide range of outcomes. With no news about the injury to be found, it’s unclear when he will take the mound again.
Stuff: Martinez gets a lively immature fastball up to 98/99 mph, pairing it with a “slutter”-type breaking ball, and a  traditional curveball teasing promise. There is also a splitter showing itself, but the few times spotted, it was liable to land anywhere. The fastball has a chance to grow into a real monster.
Fantasy Thoughts: Any sort of paid investment should be pennies, but the natural arm talent has me eagerly awaiting his return. If his value takes a jump, it could come large and fast.
2018 International Signee – Dominican Republic – 50K


(vs. Zac Veen on 6/3)

 

#65 RHP – Luis Medina – Yankees – Double A Somerset – 6’1″ – 22
Execution: When Medina can locate, he’s one of the most devastating pitchers in double-A, but the ball seems far more in control of Medina than vice-versa. A 60% strike rate isn’t cutting it.
Development: Medina is still pushing as a future starter, but the bullpen might not be a bad fallback plan. Medina cannot sustain the rate of free passes he currently allows and expect to be given a starter’s role for the pinstripes.
Stuff: The triple-digit fastball with some arm-side run/killer 12-6 curveball/low-90s changeup combo flashes some of the prettiest strikeouts, but it can get feral at any turn. The fastball and curveball are two of the most impressive pitches in all of the minors when spotted.
Fantasy Thoughts: Medina is classic stuff over pitching prospect, liable to drive dynasty owners nuts drooling over the “what if”. But what’s more likely? Medina finding consistency or a Drew Rom finding a 98 mph fastball? I’ll give Medina a little more value here because the upside could be monstrous fantasy-wise, but anything other than a long shot, wish upon a star cheap speculation feels warranted.
2015 International Signee – Dominican Republic – 280K       40 man



(101 mph fastball for a walk to Bruce Maxwell, followed by a K featuring curveball and changeup during Somerset debut, 6/16)

 

#64 LHP – D.L. Hall – Orioles – Double A Bowie – 6’2″ – 23
Execution: Simply put: inconsistent in our small 2021 sample. Hall can go through real struggles of not finding a feel for secondaries, but he’s able to limit damage while finding it via the big fastball. Near the end of his 2021 run there seemed to be more emphasis on the changeup, which may be the least advanced of his pitches. Strikes came in at 63%.
Development: Hall’s season was cut short after just 31.2 innings, and he is yet to throw more than 94 innings in a pro season. He has workload questions, command concerns, and big strikeout stuff, but we shall see if the trajectory since 2019 holds shape in 2022 and if innings can stack up. Hall just got back on the mound a few days ago.
Stuff: Hall’s fastball can sit mid to high 90s and create plenty of misses over bats. The slider is inconsistent; garnering late break at times, loopy at times, or plain old not breaking at all. The slower curveball can really fool and get bad swings whether spotted well or not.  The hard changeup, in a vacuum, is probably pretty poor, yet played off his fastball, it can get by, but you can see for yourself below.  (A slider mixed in.)
Fantasy Thoughts: Hall is a real wildcard. Can’t deny the strikeout upside, yet more than plenty of tests to come. He fits the mold of hold prospect, as he has too much name recognition to just drop, but with too many recent concerns to get worthwhile value via trade. I’d personally jump on a shot to flip this volatile prospect first thing upon a return flashing that 10 strikeout upside.
2017 Draft – GA Prep – 3.0M       40 man

(A look at some changeups and a slider. HR off changeup via Jameson Hannah on 6/5)

 

#63 RHP – Spencer Strider – Braves – MLB – 6′ – 23
Execution: For the most part, Strider’s command was impressive, especially considering the big velocity. He also has less to wrangle as it’s a basic fastball/slider attack. The command felt better than most 65% strike guys.
Development: Strider was one of two players on our list to jump from low-A to MLB debut in 2021 and the third player from the 2020 draft to make an MLB appearance. Strider had stretches he dominated with video game-like strikeouts. The dilemma is with the secondaries, and how their development may be imperative to his chances of getting out of the pen.
Stuff: Strider throws a hard four-seam fastball sitting 98, paired with a mediocre slider. One that took Brandon Nimmo two looks to hit a well-placed one out (below). Reports said the changeup was starting to come back, but I don’t think I saw any.
Fantasy Thoughts: In terms of general pitching prospects, Strider is more valuable than this spot suggests. If I had to make a guess, Strider is going to be vying for a back end ace role. Even if the arsenal gets to being able to hold for a few turns, it isn’t really my style of starting pitching investment. Nevertheless, I’m still watching.
2020 Draft – Clemson – 449K       40 man

(After first-pitch slider/fastball/fastball, HR allowed to Brandon Nimmo via slider, MLB debut on 10/1)

 

#62 RHP – Randy Vasquez – Yankees – Double A Somerset – 6′ – 23
Execution: For a young pitcher with exceptionally lively stuff, Vasquez can be quite a strike-thrower. His fair share of misses came but compared to some similar types, like Brayan Bello, the execution was tighter. The well-mixed four-pitch attack has plenty of strikeout upside along with plenty of weak ground ball endings.
Development: Vasquez really came out of the proverbial nowhere in 2021, jumping two levels. The tools are more than ample, highlighted by one of the better pitches reviewed. This version of Vasquez could probably find some success in an MLB bullpen right now. How much the command comes along will determine the MLB starter question. Vasquez’ ascension lost a little steam when he hit Somerset, but to be fair, poor defense played into runs scored. The ground balls induced took a jump at Somerset as well, perhaps giving a glimpse into how the stuff plays at higher levels.
Stuff: There’s plenty of it. Vasquez’ breaking ball is one of my favorite pitches of the 2021 minor league season. When a really good one comes out, it seemingly has two gears, a horizontal tailing off taking place after plenty of vertical drop (below). There are also live four-seam and two-seam fastballs sitting mid-90s with a changeup to keep hitters honest.
Fantasy Thoughts: If you have a share, it was cheap or free and I wouldn’t be shy about cashing it in if someone is inquiring. I have a hunch Vasquez ends up relieving for the Yankees, dishing out breaking balls to dead-in-the-water hitters. He CAN start, but a high leverage reliever isn’t a knock on the skill, just a gut call given the Yankees current crop.
2018 International Signee – Dominican Republic – 10K


(Breaking ball vs. Justin Connell on 7/29)

(Breaking ball vs. Isreal Pineda on 7/29)

(K vs. Max George on 9/11)

 

#61 RHP – Andry Lara – Nationals – Low A Frederricksburg – 6’5″ – 19
Execution: With less than nine innings of archives to review, Lara displayed his cool, easy mound presence and delivery. The fastball command was all over the place the first start, and a few breaking balls in the dirt resulted in runs. Lara attempted to mix up his three offerings and the stuff proved tough on hitters. Plenty of positive moments though, particularly for an 18-year-old getting a taste of full-season ball.
Development: The big-bodied easy motion offers up stuff with plenty of projectability. Lara will likely be one of the youngest pitchers starting off in full-season ball 2022. Tuning in to check on the pitch execution will be a priority.
Stuff: The low to mid-90s four-seamer, changeup, and curveball all proved hard for hitters to handle, but they also all proved untamed and inconsistent in shape. The fastball command in particular is most concerning, but it doesn’t feel overthrown, which feels better.
Fantasy Thoughts: Lara has worked himself into a shot at becoming the next big young name. There’s still so much growth to be had, but a speculative share in a league with larger minor lists is a great play. I don’t condone going shopping here yet.
2019 International Signee – Venezuela – 1.25M

(K during Low-A debut vs. Donta’ Williams on 9/9)

 

#60 RHP – Luis Gil – Yankees – MLB – 6’2″ – 23
Execution: If you don’t make your pitches against major league hitters at a high clip, you’re going to eventually have a bad time. While I’m skeptical Gil can maintain the same level of results with similar pitch execution, you can’t deny the effectiveness the mainly two-pitch offering had over 29 MLB innings…well, at least his first three-game showing. A 62% strike-thrower in the minors, and 61% during his two brief MLB stints doesn’t wow.
Development: Gil ascended from double-A to the majors in 2021, doing something he’d never done before; three straight scoreless outings. As Nick Pollack has shown us, the slider is a good major league pitch, but it’s not executed particularly well. There aren’t any signs this is turning into more than a two-pitch guy with loose command, and more skill showing up. This isn’t a profile feeling worthy of betting on long-term starting success.
Stuff: Gil’s fastball averaged 96 mph. The slider contains the real juice and a lackluster changeup showed itself occasionally.
Fantasy Thoughts: In dynasty, I’m taking advantage of Gil’s 2021 and cashing in. Throw in a minor league arm with a similar profile on top of whatever the main return is, and I’m double happy. In redraft, I’d be concerned about the sophomore try, keeping my expectations tampered, and not taken aback if it collapses. A couple of laps on this ride feels fine, but I’m not in it for any long haul.
2014 International Signee – Dominican Republic – $90K       40 man

 

#59 RHP – Kyle Bradish – Orioles – Triple A Norfolk – 6’4″ – 25
Execution: Bradish deploys a four-pitch attack with a riding fastball and 12-6 hook leading the way. Bradish changes the hitter’s eye level well.  The pitch execution feels alright and strikes came in at 63%. The strike zone felt mighty shrunk and inconsistent for Bradish at times, particularly during the early Norfolk stint.
Development: The headliner in the Dylan Bundy deal was ridiculous early on in double-A, quickly earning promotion. There are more walks than you’d like, but it’s hard to think he can’t improve in this department as most of his misses look mighty close. Bradish has some swing and miss tools he could be trying out on the big stage soon.
Stuff: Bradish’s fastball sits mid to low 90s. The 12-6 curveball with late bite can be a real killer and there is a firmer slider he shows the knack to know when to play off the curveball effectively. Catching hitters unaware with the slider was a thing (below). You can spot an unremarkable changeup from time to time as well.
Fantasy Thoughts: With the curveball being a potential plus MLB weapon, Bradish offers some low-key fantasy excitement. With major league innings lurking, I’m intrigued by the chance at more than streamer value. Bradish may only need to tighten things up a smidge and he could be on his way to a successful 2022 MLB try.
2018 Draft – New Mexico State – 398K       40 man

(K via slider we didn’t get to really see vs. Wander Franco on 6/6)

 

#58 RHP – Jackson Kowar – Royals – MLB – 6’5″ – 25
Execution: Tuning in to a few starts during the season, the execution looked alright (strikeout below from 7/23). Reviewing more, the poor 62% minor league strike percentage and 58% MLB rate spoke well to the command or lack thereof. It wasn’t very good at all. To boot, the weapon with big dreams got knocked around by the big boys (below).
Development: Initially, the big league struggles felt like a case of the big lights coming on, but Kowar’s not commanding pitches well enough for big league success. Not really close. The Royals are going to see if it can come together, but with other options around, the Royals’ patience will be tested.
Stuff: The changeup still has all the nasty it’s ever had, but changeups don’t offer the same sort of mercy as some poorly placed breaking balls. The hard four-seam fastball sat 96 and the slider is proving to be major league good too. Stuff isn’t the problem, but the skill required to make it work is.
Fantasy Thoughts: Do 25-year-olds with a long track record of inefficiency suddenly master command? Of any secondary pitch, a changeup has the hardest time being effectively wild. I don’t blame anyone for cashing in a share. It can surely come together but it’s the kind of bet you lose more times than not. Kowar gets one last 2022 chance from me.
2018 Draft – Florida – 2.15M       40 man

(K vs. Jose Miranda on 7/23)
(Three HRs via changeup; Bobby Dalbec/DJ Stewart/Amed Rosario)

 

#57 LHP – Asa Lacy – Royals – High A Quad Cities – 6’4″ – 22
Execution: Simply put; not very good. Lacy, particularly early in the season, ran into bouts of missing arm-side repeatedly. Perhaps a consolation is the misses were consistent, but ultimately, he offered up far too many non-competitive pitches. 58% strikes is a problem.
Development: Lacy didn’t look comfortable and there were some peculiar moments (below: what’s up with the wrinkled jersey straight out of the gym bag?). There’s plenty to work on, from command, to not letting runners take free bases. It sure seems at times Lacy comes at the plate with a noticeably different pace throwing off-speed and breaking balls (below#2). 2021 may have also contained experimentation leading to some bad results. All in all, it felt like a transitional pro debut. Learning to be a professional is the first step here.
Stuff: Arsenal and tools aren’t a problem. The fastballs, slider, curveball, and changeup can all miss bats. Nothing has changed in this regard. Starter stuff with strikeout upside is there.
Fantasy Asset Evaluation: If you invested in Lacy at his high FYPD price, you have to stay patient. It’s too early to sell for a fraction of your cost. On the flipside, Lacy could be a good buy-low from an owner prematurely pulling the plug, but you’re betting Lacy puts in the work and takes his job seriously. There are some rumors out there casting doubt on Lacy’s commitment and when paired with some views of a guy looking unprepared, it creates a “thing” hard to not consider. Differences in talent can be razor-thin, whereas the will to be great can be oceans apart.
2020 Draft – Texas A&M – 6.67M


(Uniform fail, but at least the glove was looking pro on 5/30)


(Some warm-up tosses looking at his pace toward the plate for different offerings. Something I couldn’t help but notice in games.)
#56 RHP – Cole Henry – Nationals – Low A Wilmington – 6’4″ – 22
Execution: Albeit a small viewable sample size of 10 late-season innings, Henry’s fastball and breaking ball execution were really impressive. The changeup, not so much. Despite a head whack capable of knocking his hat off his head (see below, it happened a lot), Henry looked quite in control of where the baseball was going and what it was doing.
Development: Henry’s command and stuff may be good enough to find success as a two-pitch MLB starter, but if that changeup shows up and can have any sort of effectiveness, look out.
Stuff: Henry’s fastball can touch high-90s, sits mid-90s.  Henry has a more classic 12-6 curveball that is attractive.  There is also a changeup with a good velocity differential, but he lacked any feel at all the few times I’ve seen it.
Fantasy Thoughts: I don’t trust head-whackers’ long-term command, but I’m kind of making an exception for Henry. See rule #11. There’s just too much control and good stuff not to, and despite the awful habit, he seems to make it work. That being said, I’m also hesitant to make any kind of spendy investment until a third pitch gets honed in. But if I am going to hitch myself to a heavy two-pitch guy, this is what I’d want it to look like, minus the whack.
2020 Draft – LSU – 2.0M


(9/4)

#55 RHP – Brayan Bello – Red Sox – Double A Portland – 6’1″ – 22
Execution: The number of free passes doesn’t tell the command story well. Bello’s stuff is lively, and although he missed more than his fair share in three-ball counts, he also seemed victim to more than his fair share of bad calls. Bello may not understand how good his stuff is, trying to induce too much chase when he can probably live in the zone more.
Development: Bello needs to continue learning how to use his good stuff in an efficient manner, while building starter’s stamina. There is more than enough at his disposal to work hitters multiple times through a lineup with strikeout upside. If things can’t get tighter, Bello could make for a nice back-end guy too.
Stuff: Bello features four pitches, three of which exude nasty movement; a mid to upper-90s four-seam fastball, a similarly hard two-seamer reportedly “new” with plenty of late arm-side run, a breaking ball with late downward break, and a disappearing changeup.
Fantasy Thoughts: Bello falls in the category of having really attractive fantasy tools but needs refinement to gain MLB starter success. The lack of size doesn’t concern me. Bello will sit in my “starter’s gate” ready for a big jump in value when/if things tighten up. Depending on the format, Bello could be an exciting stash, but don’t count chickens yet.
2017 International Signee – Dominican Republic – 28K       40 man

 

#54 LHP – D.J. Herz – Cubs – High A South Bend – 6’2″ – 21
Execution: Herz’ success comes more from his stuff being exceptional, rather than an execution artist. Herz threw strikes at a sub 60% rate for the season, but was improving down the stretch. Herz is the type of pitcher who will strike out two in a row on six or seven pitches, then walk two hitters on eight pitches.
Development: With three wipeout pitches, it’s so hard to not get excited, but Herz has plenty of refinement to work on with pitch efficiency leading the way. There is strikeout upside here in spades if the command can get better. Given his age and 2021 trajectory, Herz has a chance to really put himself on the map in 2022.
Stuff: Herz throws a mid-90s fastball from a wide angle with life that hitters struggle to square up. The changeup gets all sorts of arm-side life (see the pitch ending Rodriguez’ AB below). The curveball was plenty hard for hitters to handle as well. There is plenty of raw arsenal here, that is not a problem.
Fantasy Thoughts: Herz is making gains. Just how far he comes along remains to be seen, and being mindful of carrots like this dangled before us in the past may be wise. Command as the lagging skill isn’t the profile to bet on for us anymore. A sweetener in a trade situation feels about as far as I’d go in a large league but the helium tanks are standing by.
2019 Draft – NC Prep – 500K

(K vs. Nerio Rodriguez on 8/21)
#53 RHP – Peyton Battenfield – Guardians – Double A Akron – 6’4″ – 24
Execution: Battenfield’s 67.5% strike rate impressed while showing a knack for the “good miss”. Battenfield might have a handful of pitches, but for all intents and purposes, it’s a two-pitch attack.
Development: Battenfield might be the #1 pitching spec on a “grinder” list. In what feels like the birth of a true major league innings eater, Battenfield finding MLB success wouldn’t surprise, yet he could be around 26-years-old when debuting, if that matters to you. The strikeout upside feels very debatable.
Stuff: Battenfield’s fastball can hit mid-90s, and although it looks fairly flat to the eye, it’s not, and it’s getting swings and misses at this level consistently. Battenfield’s traditionally shaped curveball that he can land for strikes when he wants is no slouch either.  There is also an unremarkable changeup from time to time and Battenfield might be playing with some cut on his fastball.
Fantasy Thoughts: Sometimes the excitement just doesn’t hit you. If there was a bit more in the tool belt, I’d be more excited, but cashing in a share might be the play. Battenfield is the type my newfound take should push up, but I just can’t bring myself to fall too much for the whole package. Out of all the young Cleveland arms, I’m not sold Battenfield is the guy winning out, but he’s too good to write off. In other organizations, I’d give him more fantasy value.
2019 Draft -Oklahoma St. – 148K

(K. vs Jhailyn Ortiz on 8/14)

 

#52 RHP – Quinn Priester – Pirates – High A Greensboro – 6’3″ – 21
Execution: Priester was sporadic start to start and within them per the few looks available he remains a bit mysterious, as his best stat lines weren’t broadcast. When things tightened up, the intent of the attack seemed well-sequenced and is and capable of swings and misses like the example below. Priester doesn’t reek of balance on the mound.
Development: With a barely 60% strike efficiency and plenty of egregious miss, control is probably the tallest hurdle at this point. The stuff is definitely that of a high school arm paid millions, the ingredients look nice, but until they start coming together more, you got diced onions. Priester is still very young, with the possibility of being a very young pitcher in double-A.
Stuff: Priester throws a hard four-seam fastball sitting mid-90s, hinting at more velocity to come, but it might be more on the flat side. The sinker showed the ability to induce weak ground ball contact, particularly his 7/16 start. The curveball shows some real bite, and the changeup can really make lefties look bad. There’s also a second, more firm breaking ball. Priester has an ample set of tools.
Fantasy Thoughts: The good-looking stats may not be here yet, but they may come. You’re not going to get his worth selling at this point because of bad control numbers while the sexy fantasy strikeout potential exists, at least I don’t think. Priester just has too many raw tools to give up yet. 2022 could be a big jump year.
2019 MLB Draft – IL Prep – 3.4M


(Nice changeup for the K on 7/6)

 

#51 LHP – Angel Zerpa – Royals – MLB – 6′ – 22
Execution: Strike throwing was all over the map, anywhere from 76% to 57% any given outing, settling at 66% for the season. A minor injury had a role in 2021’s story, but during his good stretches, the command of a deceptively layered arsenal led the way. Zerpa was a close watch all season, and still remains a mysterious prospect. Despite having more command and deception than overwhelming stuff, there are times the stuff makes headlines and makes you reconsider, like when his fastball took a jump during his debut…maybe adrenaline, maybe not, as it wasn’t the first time that happened. Zerpa had as much swing and miss on pitches that didn’t look like swing and miss pitches as anyone reviewed here. There’s some black magic going on.
Development: Not many prospects ascend four levels in one season like Zerpa did in 2021, culminating in an MLB debut on 9/30, one in which he went five scoreless. Categorizing Zerpa is a tricky proposition at this juncture, with a murky present and future profile, yet there’s undeniable intrigue to the whole thing. There seems to be a pitcher more than willing to aggressively attack hitters with an arsenal that might be subtly really good. Zerpa quietly exploded onto the scene and we may need the dust to settle before getting a better grasp.
Stuff: The fastball can ride, sink, cut, and who knows what else. During his MLB start the four-seamer sat at 94. There were outings where it was more lower 90s. The slower sweeping slider from his arm slot might be the real devil in all this. There is a changeup sometimes looking more devastating than the slider, but it was inconsistent. Strikeout upside is debatable, in part to the varying versions of him and his stuff you could get at times, but if it’s the better version that holds, there could be enough there to warrant fantasy excitement.
Fantasy Thoughts: This is a tough one. In all likelihood, Zerpa probably settles into some bullpen role, but I don’t wanna take away the possibilities of more. A watchlist guy? A streamer to be? At the least, given his proximity to the bigs, he’s worth a speculative minor spot in most formats, at least short-term.
2016 International Signee – Venezuela – 100K       40 man

(K with the slider vs. Bligh Madris on 9/26)
(Three strike K during first MLB inning going right at Jose Ramirez on 9/30)

 

#50 RHP – Drey Jameson – D’Backs – Double A Amarillo – 6′ – 24
Execution: Jameson is consistently around the plate with all four pitches. For a guy giving max effort 1000% of the time, his strike-throwing is remarkable (66%). Yet, he does have the propensity to leave pitches over the plate, which may lead to worse results as he moves up the ladder.
Development: Jameson averaged 5.75 innings per appearance in 2021 and proved he can push the pitch count to triple digits start-in, start-out. Despite skepticism, he’s proving to handle a starter’s workload. The max effort begs the question of long-term sustainability as a starter.
Stuff: Pound for pound, Jameson may be the best power pitcher in baseball. His fastball sits mid-90s with triple-digit possibilities, yet it may be a fairly hittable power fastball. Jameson also deploys a more power slider and curveball, which both garner chase. Jameson’s lesser-used changeup can get nasty arm-side run and might be moving up his arsenal hierarchy.
Fantasy Thoughts: There is a pitcher here with high strikeout upside with plenty of fair questions concerning role and effectiveness long-term. In truth, Jameson should have a wide array of opinions concerning value assessment. On one end, the high K% and swing and miss stuff can get folks excited, and on the other, there are folks who don’t believe a pitcher this size, with this delivery, can run an MLB gauntlet. If I had a share, I bet I’d find an owner with a higher evaluation after Jameson started getting inside top 100s, and find a return I couldn’t turn down.
2019 Draft – Ball St. – 1.4M

(K vs. Johnny Santos on 8/17)

 

#49 RHP – Landon Knack – Dodgers – Double A Tulsa – 6’2″ – 24
Execution: Knack has it in him to be extremely efficient (69% strikes), taking advantage of the pressure his big fastball puts on hitters (below). The fastball’s lively arm-side action has the propensity to get a little loose. Knack’s fastball was also suspect to the long ball. 8/11, four home runs surrendered on what looked like a bit flatter and slower fastball. A pitch like this not getting the usual movement can be a feast for fastball hunters. Strike throwing wasn’t a problem.
Development: There might not be much more for Knack to do in way of shaping his attack or repertoire. This heavy fastball attack might have enough juice to offer hitters multiple times. The keystone of the attack is power and Knack might scuffle to find a way if the velocity ever waivers.
Stuff: The mid-90s fastball and a sneaky late-breaking slider are the main attractions. There is also a more traditional curveball and changeup involved. The tools allow him to attack hitters up in the zone well, which more than plays in today’s game. Knack showed the propensity to fix things quickly as some of his best outings of the year came after his roughest.
Fantasy Thoughts: The fantasy value has a double edge sword; he’s a Dodgers’ pitching prospect, and he’s a Dodgers’ pitching prospect…carving out a role isn’t easy. He can start, but maybe not in LA. Knack is already on the older side for a 2020 draftee, but the upside is too much to ignore. A chip worth rostering, but perhaps not clinging too tightly to.
2020 Draft – East Tennessee St. – 713K

(5th inning on 8/17, strikes out the side; Freddy Fermin/Brewer Hicklan/Blake Perkins)

 

#48 RHP – Tommy Romero – Rays – Triple A Durham – 6’2″ – 24
Execution: Welcome to the Upside Down. Romero has a semi-violent whack in his delivery, doesn’t scream control, and throws strikes at a 70% clip. The main attraction is a four-seam fastball pumping out wild metrics under the hood because it induces an insane amount of swings and misses from an over-the-top slot. Three and four-pitch swinging strikeouts with nothing but fastballs up and out of the zone are commonplace. Romero can go five and strike out one batter if the fastball isn’t as lively, or go five and strike out eleven when it is. He’s also shown the ability to go late in games, varying the attack with the far inferior secondaries.
Development: What might end up being the win of the Alex Colome trade, Romero has ascended to triple-A starter in a Rays’ system whereupon such accomplishment is often followed by some form of fantasy relevance. This current version might be capable of getting major league outs at a high clip, but the long-term sustainability as a starter with such a heavy lean on one pitch begs questions. If a secondary starts to show more capability, Romero could very well become a fantasy “out of nowhere” piece.
Stuff: The very lively high 80s/low 90s four-seam fastball from a well-extended over-the-top delivery may be the most productive fastball in all the minors. There are two (or one inconsistent) breaking balls with subtle break playing up due to deception. There is also a fairly unremarkable changeup. The secondaries are lackluster on their own. The fastball velocity isn’t what you’d expect from a big strikeout pitch, but that’s what it is.
Fantasy Thoughts: Romero is a different stroke. Once you get past the unique velocity of the fastball, Romero is more cheat code-type. There are bets being laid on pitchers near the top of this list leaning on one big offering too, but it’s a tricky assessment. Romero’s range of outcomes might be broader than anyone on this list. The only sure bet might be an opportunity for major-league innings on the horizon.
2017 Draft – Eastern Florida St. JC – 125K       40 man


(Three pitch K vs. Adley Rutschman on 9/10)

(K vs. Zach Jarrett on 9/10)

(All fastball K/F8/K vs. Adam Engel on 9/15)

 

#47 RHP – Alec Marsh – Royals – Double A NW Arkansas – 6’2″ – 23
Execution: Marsh’s first three starts of the season were loaded with swing and miss stuff generated by several offerings. There were also different combinations and attacks being employed. Marsh left a few pitches over the middle causing damage, but really didn’t get hit hard until the fourth start, when he may have been physically off. It’s hard to take away a solid opinion due to sample size, as the show was canceled by injury. New tools, the season just getting underway, not great angles…there’s plenty of mystery. Strikes weren’t a problem at 66%.
Development: Marsh made the largest jump of any prospect kicking off 2021, ascending from rookie ball in 2019 after a brief visit at the alternate camp in 2020, to double-A. Having already exuded gains in the control department, Marsh added more velocity to his fastballs and was off to an impressive full-season debut just like many of his more high-profile teammates.  The injury ended the campaign in June, but he did show up in the Arizona Fall League to get a game appearance in. We only got a 25 inning glimpse of this version of Marsh, but the way things have gone with him, big gains show up. We’ll see what 2022 brings, with health being a priority.
Stuff: Marsh’s four-seam and two-seam fastballs can hit high 90s. There is a slutter and a firm downward breaking curveball, along with a more than good-looking changeup to play off the heat. Marsh basically has the arsenal I’d give my create-a-player in a video game. We just haven’t been able to see a lot of it yet.
Fantasy Thoughts: I’ve got my finger over the Marsh helium button if he comes out in 2022 with the same look exuding he can handle the workload. I can’t justify baking in more value, assuming he will answer the big question (as much as I want to), but the skill and tools to be a highly effective starter have shown themselves. Great toss-in to sweeten up a trade.
2019 Draft – Arizona St. – 904K

(A great changeup and good curveball get Nolan Gorman out on 5/21)

 

#46 RHP – Jonathan Bowlan – Royals – Double A NW Arkansas – 6’6″ – 25
Execution: With only 17 2021 innings to view, it’s hard to take away too much, but from what we did see, Bowlan looked pretty in control of things, able to overmatch hitters with a good-looking three-pitch attack. He threw strikes at a great 67% clip.
Development: We will have to wait to resume this exciting story after Bowlan recovers from Tommy John surgery, hopefully in 2022. Bowlan has a combination of repertoire and execution to start, but given his age and career path, there may be more juice for the Royals to squeeze out of him as a reliever. 2021 was heartbreaking.
Stuff: Bowlan has a big fastball, a sharp breaking ball and a changeup all capable of swings and misses at a nice clip. Bowlan has shown the ability to spot all of them well while being an intimidating, in-control presence on the mound.
Fantasy Thoughts: Bowlan could’ve very well been another chapter in the Royals’ farm’s success story of 2021. Again in great physical shape, with whatever may have been gained at the alternative site, Tommy John ruined all the fun after just three very impressive starts.  If things go as well as they possibly can, we’re looking at Bowlan hitting the bigs at 26 or 27 years old. Far from an ideal dynasty situation, but until Bowlan stops showing up being as good as he is, I can’t quit him.
2018 Draft – Memphis – 698K       40 man

(vs. Ryan Noda on 5/12)

 

#45 RHP – Ryan Murphy – Giants – High A Eugene – 6’1″ – 22
Execution: Murphy’s pitch execution felt streaky to me. His 66% strike rate was helped by some aggressive hitters in his league, but there were also a handful of outings he didn’t seem to miss a spot for a few innings. The attack is fastball/breaking ball, but Murphy has a few of each to pick from.
Development: Starting in the low-A West this season, Murphy kept cruising through high-A, creating even higher expectations by the season’s end. With only one Eugene outing to view, the high A attack felt less mixed with a heavy early dose of fastballs, playing the secondaries off it later. A few runs were allowed early, but the pitch efficiency and effectiveness the rest of the way were excellent. Murphy put up the numbers to garner justified attention, and there’s an interesting mix of tools to his disposal. Perhaps 2022 brings another step and Murphy starts separating himself more with his capable stuff and command he’s beginning to learn how to use optimally.
Stuff: Murphy offers a harder four-seamer capable of touching mid-90s, a two-seamer with arm side life, and maybe a cutter.  The slider and curveball distinguish themselves well, and although the slider may get more use, there are outings where the curveball steals the show. There is also an unremarkable changeup to be found if you watch closely.
Fantasy Thoughts: The three starting pitching prospects selected in the 2020 draft provide a fun fantasy debate; Nick Swiney, Kyle Harrison, and Murphy. Of the three, I felt Murphy improved the most over the course of 2021 leaving me wanting to be more aggressive with him than the other two.
2020 Draft – Le Moyne College – 23K

(K vs. Justin Lavey on 7/15)
(K vs. A.J. Vukovich on 8/14)

 

#44 LHP – Jordan Wicks – Cubs – High A South Bend – 6’3″ – 22
Execution: Wicks only pitched seven pro innings, with only one being broadcast from behind him, so there’s barely anything to take from archives. The reputation is that of a fairly well-polished college arm that racked up plenty of strikeouts in the Big 12 using a four-pitch mix headlined by a good changeup.
Development: Wicks’ profile of good command with secondaries projecting for pro success fits a mold capable of profitable fantasy prowess. Looking forward to catching more in 2022.
Stuff: Wicks offers up low to mid-90s four-seam and two-seam fastballs, a slider and curveball, with the changeup his best swing and miss pitch.
Fantasy Thoughts: Having seen a few college starts, the placement here is very loose until more pro looks are available. The FYPD prognostication for profiles like Wicks’ is one I tend to feel gets undervalued. Reid Detmers might be a recent example of such an early under-valuing in the dynasty world. Not to say Wicks jumps in value as quickly as Detmers did, but it’s not out of the question. I’m labeling Wicks as a guy I’ll consider taking earlier than the masses in this year’s FYPDs and be aggressive about here.
2021 Draft – Kansas State – 3.1M

(First pro batter faced, K via the touted changeup vs. Christian Cairo on 9/5)

 

(Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire) Adapted by Shawn Palmer (@Palmerguyboston on twitter)

Nate Handy

Nate is an advocate of drafting more pitchers. Originally from the planet Eternia, he aspires to become the Master of the Prospect Universe....or just watch baseball, share observations, and have an enjoyable dialogue about this great game, particularly the young players trying to make the major leagues.

  • Jeff says:

    Nate – this was some amazing analysis. Love the use of video. Keep up the great work.

    • Nate Handy says:

      Appreciate that Jeff. We are at that part I don’t feel real great about sharing those numbers next to the names. Not my favorite thing to do. At the very least I hope the parts about sharing what I saw are useful. The other parts are the unsettle my nerves :) Thanks for reading.

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