This is one of those posts where I feel like I’m writing as much for guys researching their minors draft in early January, as I am the few hardcores still checking out prospect blogs in the throws of Fantasy Football season. Hardcores, excuse me if you will, while I direct a few questions at the January readers. January readers, here are my questions:
- Did the Cubs win the World Series?
- Did the Red Sox win the World Series?
- Has Strasburg had TJ yet? How about Salazar?
- Is Trump President?
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk a little about why we’re gathered here today. Dearly beloved….Wait, sorry! I was about to read the notes from the last wedding I did. BTW Prospector Ralph is a fully licensed Justice of the Peace. Imagine hiring me to do your next wedding! I could talk specs, oogle at your wife’s cans, and the best part is you can pay me in scotch! Sounds like a win-win-win. Right? Anyway, I’m actually here today to finish off my 2016 All-Prospect team, and with the help of our very own bullpen specialist Smokey. Who just so happened to be nice enough to throw me three bullpen specs he’s excited about. So I’ll give you my top 10 minor league pitchers of the year, and Smokey will give you his 7th, 8th, and 9th inning guys for our imaginary farm team. Do Smokey a solid, and go read some of his stuff over on Razzball Soccer. Do me a solid while you’re at it and subscribe to the Razzball Prospect Podcast.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP Pittsburgh Pirates | 8-3 116.2 IP 1.93 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 11.1 K/9, 5.2 Bb/9: Okay, so sue me. This is next level lazy, just throwing Tyler Glasnow at the top. You should already know him from his staring role as “The Overhyped Rookie Pitcher You Most Regret Wasting a Wavier Priority On”. So forget all that, he was overhyped for a reason, he has an 11.1 K/9 and led AAA in ERA. Should retain his prospect status entering next season, with a shot at a rotation spot out of camp.
Jose De Leon, RHP Los Angeles Dodgers | 7-2 86.1 IP 2.61 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 11.57 K/9, 2.08 Bb/9: Another graduated pitching prospect who made a ton of noise in AAA this year. Upon returning from a string of early season injuries De Leon dominated the PCL going 7-1 with a .194 batting average against. Should break camp with the Dodgers next year.
Yohander Mendez, LHP Texas Rangers | 12-3 111.1 IP 2.19 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, 3.3 Bb/9: Started the year in hi-A and made his way to the big league by the beginning of September. The lefty showed well in stints at AA and AAA, though his k rate dropped upon promotion through each level.
Francis Martes, RHP Houston Astros | 9-6 125.1 IP 3.30 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 9.41 K/9, 3.3.8 Bb/9: It wouldn’t shock me to see Martes rated as the top pitching prospect behind Glasnow and De Leon in the offseason. Following an awful April, Martes was excellent. In fact if your remove April from his season total, his ERA drops to 2.74 with a BAA during that period of .224. Keep in mind this was done entirely at AA in Martes age 20 season. Won’t break camp with the Astros, but should see promotion at some point next summer.
Josh Hader, LHP Milwaukee Brewers | 3-8 126.0 3.50 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 11.5 K/9, 3.9 Bb/9: If you’ve followed my posts and podcast this year, then you know I’m a huge fan of Hader. He’s on here if only for his 11 excellent starts in AA. Upon promotion to AAA Colorado Springs, Hader struggled at times, but his overall performance was better than the numbers suggest.
Brandon Woodruff, RHP Milwaukee Brewers | 14-9 158.0 IP 2.68 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, 2.3 Bb/9: A huge breakout year from the 2014 11th round pick. Started the season strong with 8 starts in hi-A, but upon promotion to AA Biloxi of the Southern League, he really took off. Going 10-8 with an ERA of 3.01, and a K/9 of 9.8. The big jump in Woodruff’s game this year has been his increasing K numbers. He also generates a ton of ground balls (50% GB) and weak contact. Meaning even if the K rate dips to the low 8’s once he graduates to the Brewers rotation, he’ll still be able to get outs.
Thomas Szapucki, LHP New York Mets | 4-3 52 IP 1.38 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 14.9 K/9, 3.5 Bb/9: He’s a young lower minors guy, so a large part of evaluating guys like Szapucki is a leap of faith, as it is with all low minors arms. The thing is, Szapucki shows elite swing and miss stuff and groundball tendencies. Could develop into the next great Mets homegrown arm. Was shut down in mid-August, but he’s young and only a year into his professional career, so I wouldn’t get worried yet Mets fans. Ha! I just told Mets fans not to worry about injured pitchers. I just got so much over the interwebs side eye.
Mitch Keller, RHP Pittsburgh Pirates | 9-5 130.1 IP 2.35 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 1.3 Bb/9: A combination of the last two pitchers discussed, a young low minors guy coming off a huge breakout season. Made 23 starts with class A West Virginia of the South Atlantic League before being promoted to hi-A Bradenton for his final start of the season. Keller, while not overpowering, posses good swing and miss stuff and pinpoint control. I wouldn’t be shocked if he sees promotion to AA by June of 2017.
Brock Stewart, RHP Los Angeles Dodgers | 9-4 121.0 IP 1.79 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 1.4 Bb/9: I wrote my Brock Stewart spotlight back in late June, and get this, I don’t think I mention Andrew Benintendi once! Stewart is neck and neck with Woodruff for “most out of nowhere breakout”, and another example of the Dodgers playing draft chess, while everyone else is playing draft checkers. BTW draft chess replaces pawns with prep pitching prospects. Why? Because if they make it to the other end of the board, and get their 8th rank, they become the most desirable specs in your farm. Don’t believe me, look at Kershaw and Syndergaard.
Chance Adams, RHP New York Yankees | 13-1 127.1 IP 2.33 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 2.8 Bb/9: Just because the hitters of the 2015 draft get all the headlines doesn’t mean there haven’t been some stud pitchers. Adams is one such arm. One who’s had a meteoric rise through the Yankees farm system in 2016. So much so, that many prognosticators have pegged him for a potential September promotion. I don’t see that happening, but while we’re on the topic, is it any coincidence that prognosticators, and proctologist look somewhat similar? As for Adams, he split his season between hi-A Tampa and AA Trenton, and the results were equally impressive. It wouldn’t shock me to see Adams in the Yankees rotation as early as May of 2017. Still trying to confirm if Chance is Patch Adams son. No leads thus far.
The Pen (By Our Very Own Pen Expert Smokey!!!)
That’s right I brought along our very own LOOGY out the Pen, Smokey:
Joe Jimenez, RHP Detroit Tigers | 3-3 53.2 IP 1.51 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 13.1 K/9, 2.9 Bb/9: If we listed prospect relievers and made it a complete thing Joe would be first by a country mile. The Tigers spec lit up three separate levels this year with a 13 plus K rate and 30 saves. He keeps walks to a minimum which is completely not like players his age (21). With K-Rod under a team option contract next year he could be closing or be in high leverage situations sooner rather than later.
James Hoyt, RHP Houston Astros | 4-3 55 IP 1.64 ERA, 0.87, 15.22 K/9, Bb/9 3.1: He is writing the book “The Old Man and the Save”, technically he is old for a prospect but I don’t care. The saying goes Saves ain’t got no face, and I don’t care that he has an AARP card, stats are stats. Has the highest K rate in the minors amongst pitchers with 55 innings. At 29 he is most likely destined for a set-up role, but that might not be so bad as he is behind Giles with the Astros.
Jimmie Sherfy, Arizona Diamondbacks | 3-4 55.1 IP 2.77 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 12.8 K/9, 3.9 Bb/9: Three straight years of greatness and yet we are stuck with futility in the big league club. The D-Backs have a slew of bullpen only specs that are awesome; McCurry, Gann, Keele to name some. But next year when we are deciding between retreads like Bracho, Sherfy should be the guy.