This is the last in my series of position prospects. I hope you got some additional insight on players to target for the future.
As I've mentioned before, the game is changing. If you look at the First-Year Player Drafts of recent years, the emphasis has been on pitching. I have tried to illustrate that corner infielders are scarce. This year, we saw some third basemen go in the first round. First base is still a fairly thin position.
Pitching, on the other hand, is plentiful. And it's getting bigger and bigger and better and better. The velocity is getting faster, the curves are getting sharper and the changeups are more refined.
Right-handed pitching prospects are so prolific I had to cut the number down for this article. As a result, no prospect currently playing at Low-A or below is included. That eliminates lots of former high draft choices and top prospects, but I'll discuss them in the future as they get closer to being able to help our fantasy teams.
Right-handed pitchers have to be able to pitch inside to be effective. That sounds easier than it is really is. Many, many pitchers are fearful of hitting a batter. Many pitchers try to pitch inside and miss, getting too much of the plate.
Deception is among the keys to pitching. Changing eye levels and balance. Mixing speeds by adding and subtracting from the "floor" or base pitch velocity is crucial.
As usual, I am prepared to read your "hey, what about..." Of course I'll forget someone. I do that so you can remind me.
Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal, two Cardinals aces are not included. They may be the best of all the pitchers listed and have had more major league exposure than those listed here - with the exception maybe of Julio Teheran.
IMPACT RIGHT-HANDED PITCHERS
Julio Teheran - Braves
Teheran will have an impact on the Braves. I don't see him as an ace, but as a very good No. 2 starter. He almost threw a no-hitter for the Braves last week. Teheran has an All-Star quality fastball and changeup. That combination can take him to tremendous heights. He pitches for a team that will likely get him runs in a competitive division. That means he will stay sharp and focused. You will have a chance to snatch wins and great numbers in strikeouts, WHIP and ERA with Teheran. The only hiccup could occur if he loses command. He has refined his aggressive mechanics and is on the upswing. Discount his 2012 trial with the Braves as a fluke. What we see this year is much more like the Teheran we should be getting.
Gerrit Cole - Pirates
There has always been a cold chill between Cole and Trevor Bauer of the Indians. It started at UCLA in their rotation, and I think it still exists. In my opinion, Cole is a better overall pitcher than Bauer. Much better. Both have command issues with their fastballs, but Cole has been chipping away at getting better. Cole will walk about 3.5 guys per nine, but his strikeouts have dropped dramatically. The odd part? He isn't giving up many hits. I think he might just dominate at the major league level. I also think he's stubborn and I don't like his attitude. I find him cocky and arrogant, but I don't have to like him. I just have to draft him and put him on my club. His mechanics are amazingly refined. He'll likely be the ace of the Pirates' staff. And I look for him to be pitching in Pittsburgh by the time you read this.
Zack Wheeler - Mets
People have asked me what the Giants were thinking when they traded Wheeler for Carlos Beltran. They were thinking they could win the World Series. It didn't happen that season, but it wasn't because of a lack of production from Beltran. The Giants gave up a top of the rotation starter. Remember, at the time the Giants had a great trio with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner hanging around the rotation. So why not take a flyer? Wheeler is a potential ace. Match him with Matt Harvey and the Mets become respectable. Noah Syndergaard waits in the wings. Will the Mets become the Giants? Not unless they add another bat or two and one more pitcher, but Wheeler can pitch. He has an outstanding fastball, a better than average slider and a major league average changeup. Take him if you can. He's pitching in pitcher's paradise upon arrival.
Jameson Taillon - Pirates
There's that team again, with another impact righty. The Pirates will be able to add some depth to their rotation with Taillon, an All-Star quality starter. He throws his fastball in the higher 90s with a slider and curveball to complement the heat. He has the command to throw strikes and keep himself in games. Taillon is huge at 6-foot-6 and he knows how to pitch downhill with that height. I don't look for him yet, but by the middle of next year, he could factor into the Pirates' rotation.
Kyle Zimmer - Royals
He's listed here, because he's already pitching in High-A. We'll find out with Zimmer if the Royals can develop pitching. I think of all the pitching they have drafted in the past that remains drifting throughout the minor leagues. It's a real tragedy. Do they, and we, over estimate their prospects because of their lofty draft positions? Maybe. Zimmer may be the real deal. His best two pitches are a way above average fastball and an above average curveball. He also throws a major league average changeup. I like his control and his strikeouts this season are up. Look for him next season. The Royals have to have him.
Jose Fernandez - Marlins
For me, he's the guy with the biggest upside. The biggest impact. The biggest arm, and a team that should improve. He's only 20 and he's an ace already pitching in Miami. Fernandez is 3-3 with a very fine 3.34 ERA. He's thrown 59.1 innings and has given up 47 hits with a 60:22 K:BB ratio and six home runs allowed. Outstanding. He hits 99 mph with his four-seamer and then induces groundballs with a two-seam fastball in the mid-90s. His curve and changeup are All-Star quality. So is his command and control. He's got huge legs and a big backside, and his power is generated from his trunk.
Michael Wacha - Cardinals
I'm a huge Michael Wacha fan. I won't go in to great detail here, other than to say his changeup is a top shelf, game-changing pitch. It's his fastball that concerns me. I haven't seen the life I once saw. He is fairly straight in the mid-90s. I can only imagine what Dave Duncan would have done with Wacha if he were still the pitching coach. Wacha will be battling it out with Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez and maybe even Trevor Rosenthal to see which of them is the ace of the Cardinals staff in 2015. How's that for depth? Draft any of them and smile. Wacha may turn out to be the weakest of the bunch.
Carlos Martinez - Cardinals
In three starts at Triple-A Memphis this season, Martinez had an ERA of 0.79. He had no record in 11.1 innings pitched. He had been promoted from Double-A Springfield, where he started six games and threw to a 2.31 ERA. in 11.2 innings. Martinez is just that good. He has outstanding command and control - especially for a guy that's only 21. Look for a huge career from him as another bright light in the Cardinals' system.
Carter Capps - Mariners
We have always talked about the Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, and James Paxton grouping of starting pitchers for the Mariners as their best arms for the future. They all could become very good. However, pitching already in a setup role for Seattle, Capps is enjoying fantastic success. He has a power arm. If anything should happen to Tom Wilhelmsen, Capps could be the go-to guy in the ninth inning. He has outstanding command of that electric fastball. Capps is only 22 and he flew through the Mariners' system going from Low-A Clinton in 2011 to the Seattle bullpen this season. Grab him if you can get him. He's special.
Sonny Gray - Athletics
I think Gray is an underrated player. He just doesn't get the same type of publicity other starters receive. Selected with their first pick in 2011, Gray was in contention to go higher than his eventual 18th overall slot. Gray has a nice combination of pitches and is doing very well so far this season at Triple-A Sacramento of the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Although Sacramento is more pitcher friendly, Gray still has to work in the road parks. He has a 6-3 record with an ERA of 2.43 and a WHIP of 1.280. He pitched some Triple-A last season, but this is his first big test. Look for him to get more attention from the parent club. He has walked 25 while striking out 71 in his 70.1 innings so far.
Archie Bradley - Arizona Diamondbacks
There's an awful lot of buzz around Archie Bradley. Bradley doesn't get as much love as Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin, or even Wade Miley. But make no mistake, Bradley is the real deal. He's another top-flight former first-round Diamondbacks starter. Bradley is currently pitching at Double-A Mobile and having a fantastic season. The D-Backs prefer to have their pitchers work there because of the fair and more challenging hitting environments than in California. Bradley is 5-1 in his seven starts. He has thrown 40 innings and given up only 25 hits while striking out 41 hitters and walking 21. His walks helped elevate his WHIP to 1.150 - still outstanding. I think he may shine in the near future - perhaps as early as late this season.
Dylan Bundy - Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles and their doctors have placed Bundy on a very strict rest regimen following an injection of platelet-rich plasma in his right forearm/elbow area. I am concerned about Bundy's arm strength as he moves forward. He must be watched carefully by his club and by us. I'm not buying any shares until I know the prognosis. If healthy, he may not be as good as some think, but he's pretty good. The team has a lot of money invested in Bundy, a former No. 1 pick. You can be sure they will do everything they can to get that arm working. He has a good fastball and curveball with a changeup that works fine as well. Bundy is a top of the rotation pitcher if he can get back on the mound in good shape.
Noah Syndergaard- New York Mets
Drafted by the Blue Jays and now with the Mets, Syndergaard has made it to High-A after spending two seasons in Low-A. He is pitching well, with an ERA of 3.11 in 63.2 innings. He has a WHIP of 1.209, having walked 16 while striking out 64. He's a nice starter for the Mets, but he's still a couple seasons away. Only 20, Syndergaard should join Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler in a fine rotation. Syndergaard is flying under the radar, and I think he has a chance to be an outstanding pitcher.
THE NEXT LEVEL - NOT QUITE IMPACT
Taijuan Walker - Mariners
There are some people that feel Walker is the best of the Big 3 - Walker, Hultzen and Paxton. I put him a tad behind Hultzen (when Hultzen is healthy.) I've watched Walker a great deal. He is very smooth, but he has to throw more strikes to be effective. He's walked 29 guys this season in 64 innings - and that isn't good. His strikeout rate is good. He's tough to hit because of the movement on the ball. Nothing is straight. To date, he has given up 46 hits in 64 innings pitched for Double-A Jackson.
Alex Colome - Rays
I saw Colome in one start, Odorizzi in one start and Archer in one start when I was in Durham. Of the three, I think Colome pitched the best by far. He has a power arm and has no difficulty whatsoever hitting the mid-90s with his fastball as his out pitch. He has to refine the slider and pick up a good third pitch, but from what I saw, he has the mound presence to shine. At Durham so far, he has a minuscule 2.89 ERA in 65.1 innings pitched. He's walked 27 while striking out 67. He's a solid starter and someone I hope the Rays look to in the near future. His one start for the parent club was really very good.
Kevin Gausman - Orioles
Gausman made his much-anticipated debut for the Orioles this season. He has struggled with command and is getting lots of the plate. I think he's much better than his record of 0-3 and his 8.84 ERA dictate. He's given up a whopping 28 hits in 19.1 innings pitched.
Yordano Ventura - Royals
Only 22, Ventura has been pitching in the Royals' system since he was 17. He's now at Triple-A at Omaha where he has landed after a recent promotion from the Double-A Northwest Arkansas club. He really threw well for them in the Texas League and had a 2.30 ERA. Now he's on a bigger stage, but he'll be just fine.
Daniel Corcino - Reds
At spring training in 2011, Corcino was on the lips of every Reds guy I spoke with. They loved his fastball and his command. So did I. He was supposed to be Johnny Cueto. Something happened. At Triple-A he has given up 80 hits in 52.2 innings. Yikes! Add to that 31 walks and we're looking at a WHIP of 2.108. He has to improve - his arm is too good. Maybe he's hurt. At any rate, if he were healthy, I wouldn't rule him out, but with an ERA of 7.69 something has to give.
Jarred Cosart - Astros
Cosart has a bit of a herky-jerky motion and unstable, inconsistent mechanics, but he also has a fantastic power arm. His high-90s fastball misses plenty of bats. He also has a big curveball to go along with it. Cosart should be up and pitching in the major leagues soon, as the Astros are holding weekly auditions to see what kind of talent they do and don't have. Currently at Triple-A, he's made 12 starts and has pitched to a 3.25 ERA. I like his chances, but the home park could be a factor.
Zach Lee - Dodgers
Lee is one of the few home-grown pitchers in the current mix of things for the Dodgers that may gain the attention of the parent club. He's currently at Double-A Chattanooga and pitching fairly well. He has given up 58 hits and 18 walks in 65.1 innings for a WHIP of 1.163, which is fairly promising. He has struck out 57 - giving him an excellent strikeout to walk ratio.
Others to Watch
Trevor Bauer - Indians
Cody Allen - Indians
Carlos Carrasco - Indians
Cory Kluber - Indians
Chris Archer - Rays
Jake Ordorizzi - Rays
Aaron Sanchez - Blue Jays
Roberto Osuna - Blue Jays
Marcus Stroman - Blue Jays
Erik Johnson - White Sox
Andre Rienzo - White Sox
Bruce Rondon - Tigers
Dan Straily - Athletics
Brandon Maurer - Mariners
Jonathan Pettibone - Phillies
Luke Jackson - Rangers
Justin Grimm - Rangers
Neil Ramirez - Rangers
J.R. Graham - Braves
Cody Martin - Braves
Jose Urena - Marlins
Rafael Montero - Mets
Luis Mateo - Mets
Domingo Tapia - Mets
Jake DeGrom - Mets
Hansel Robles - Mets
Cory Mazzoni - Mets
Kyle Lotzkar - Reds
J.J. Hoover - Reds
Allen Webster - Red Sox
Arodys Vizcaino - Cubs
Brandon Maurer - Mariners
Stephen Pryor - Mariners
Kyle McPherson - Pirates
Wily Peralta - Brewers
Tyler Thornburg - Brewers
Taylor Jungmann - Brewers
Johnny Helweg - Brewers
Jimmy Nelson - Brewers
Hiram Burgos -Brewers
Ariel Pena - Brewers
Kyle Heredia - Pirates
Nick Kingham - Pirates
Kyle Smith - Royals
Alex Meyer - Twins
Kyle Gibson - Twins
Mike Foltynewicz - Astros
Austin Wood - Angels
Victor Black - Pirates
Seth Blair - Cardinals
Jordan Swagerty - Cardinals
Zeke Spruill - Diamondbacks
Anthony Meo - Diamondbacks
Jake Barrett - Diamondbacks
Eddie Butler - Rockies
Joe Gardner - Rockies
Danny Winkler - Rockies
Chad Bettis - Rockies
Ross Stipling - Dodgers
Chris Withrow - Dodgers
Matt Magill - Dodgers
Casey Kelly - Padres
Adys Portillo - Padres
Joe Weiland - Padres
Brad Boxberger - Padres
Burch Smith - Padres
Kevin Quackenbush - Padres
Heath Hembree - Giants
Chris Marlowe - Giants
A.J. Cole - Nationals
Jose Ramirez - Yankees
Mark Montgomery - Yankees
Steve Johnson - Orioles
While Tyler Skaggs scuffled in his latest outing, I wouldn't base too much on that one outing. He still has the potential to pitch in the D-Backs' rotation going forward. He has to command his pitches better and bring the ball down in the zone.
I have seen every club play this year in either spring training or the regular season with the exceptions of Miami, Boston and Houston. I will see Miami later this month in San Francisco and in Phoenix. I will see Houston in Cleveland. So far, the best overall teams I've seen are the Cardinals and the Tigers - the two teams I picked for the World Series.
I see a couple major trade chips sitting on the Brewers' roster. They include Yovani Gallardo and Aramis Ramirez. If they can give Rickie Weeks away, they should do it. Sooner than later. He should heat up in the second half, just in time to trade him.
How do the Angels turn their franchise around going forward? They are totally blocked with the contracts they've signed. It's sad and it's amazing at the same time. I think the Dodgers' players may be easier to peddle.
I have heard lots of positive buzz about the Astros lately? Why? What's there to be excited about? Really. Maybe George Springer and Jonathan Singleton will add some life, but beyond that?
Why would any pitcher throw anything good to Paul Goldschmidt? Ever? Or at least not until the D-Backs have some protection for him in the lineup.
Why didn't the Yankees go and get John McDonald when the Pirates made him available? They are desperate for a shortstop. I'm glad the Indians grabbed him.
My jury remained out on both Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez when they were outstanding in April and early May. My jury - of which I am the foreman and have all the votes - says that neither one of them can be consistent through the entire season. Therefore, the Indians will fade like the Cleveland Plain Dealer when it's left out in the sun.
Candidate for unbelievable "stuff." Sam Deduno. That's right. Sam Deduno. Nothing remains straight. If he every commands those pitches, watch out.
Adam Dunn could be heating up. Just watch him against a pitch low in the strike zone. Yikes! That bat head drops in a heartbeat and whack - there she goes. The man has outstanding power - when bat meets ball. Hope it does more often in the second half.
Who has the best young talent in baseball? The Cardinals and the...Marlins. The Blue Jays helped make that club for years to come. Until, of course, they spin the players off just when they make the parent club.
Don't say I didn't warn you about Yasiel Puig during spring training. I did, but I don't know if you listened or not.
I wish I had you in any league: Hisashi Iwakuma
Next Week: Guys I Really Like
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