Reviewing The Pre-Season Top 25 Pitching Prospects Rankings – Part 1

Now is a good time to remember the expressions TINSTAAPP, the acronym “There is no such thing as a pitching prospect”. Remember it, and then forget it, because when you...

Now is a good time to remember the expressions TINSTAAPP, the acronym “There is no such thing as a pitching prospect”. Remember it, and then forget it, because when you take injuries out of the picture, some of these guys were pretty darn good. Then again, if you take injuries out of the picture, you take, like, half these guys out of the picture as well. Most of these names on my preseason list at least did something in the majors, and here is where you can get the rundown on what they did.

These rankings are the original rankings from preseason 2015. The rankings have not been adjusted based on players’ 2015 performance.

– I predicted he could be a strong #2 starter as soon as this year in my argument to make him my #1 prospect. Thor lived up to his Viking legacy and did just that. While he didn’t open the year in the rotation, he fought his way aboard the ship and established himself as an achor with his 3.39 ERA, which is legit and backed by a 9.64 K/9, 2.00 BB/9 over 135 1/3 Innings. With his arsenal and command, he’ll make a great fantasy captain for years to come.

– He didn’t quite live up to expectations, but he was still better than former teammate Aaron Sanchez in many respects (not getting moved to the bullpen and better rate stats are two of them). He got off to a rough start and got demoted (where he actually did worse) but all in all has a 3.88 ERA with a 7.09 K/9 and a 2.87 BB/9 over 53 1/3 major league innings. While the lack of Ks is surprising since he struck out DOUBLE that rate in the minors last year, it’s encouraging that he appears to be reining in his historically spotty control. Now in a better pitcher’s park, he could have his true breakout next year.

– Yet again, I was off on my prediction of an opening day rotation spot, but my ranking looks solid in retrospect, as Heaney has provided lots of value since his call-up. I predicted he’d be very good, just not great, and though his 6-3 ERA and 3.30 ERA may lead you to believe he was indeed great, remember it comes with a more pedestrian 6.80 K/9. He should have a long career as an above average mid-rotation workhorse.

– The one guy I predicted to not start the year in the rotation is the one guy that did. Rodon struggled for most of the year with his control while still providing a strong K rate. But Rodon has rallied over the past few months (though mostly due to regression of previous bad luck). He’s gone 8-6 with a 3.78 ERA that’s supported by his high 9.11 K/9, though his 4.46 BB/9 took a hit on his WHIP. He’s still an unfinished product but has obvious ace upside and the control should improve in time.

– He earned a spot start and some relief work early in the year, and promptly get hurt. He spent most of the remainder of the year being hurt, hurting, and doing other hurt-people-things. In his 10 major-league innings, he showed promise with a 11.70 K/9 and a 4.50 BB/9. With the Mets’ stacked rotation combined with his hurt-ness, he may be more of a bullpen guy, although potentially a very good bullpen guy.

– He’s the only Finnegan in major-league history aside from pitcher Happy Finnegan (born 1890). But Brandon’s campaign was not so Happy. He struggled out of the gate with his control, yet still was promoted, demoted, traded, and promoted again. In the majors he’s pitched mostly in relief, with a 3.65 ERA, but with a 8.76 K/9 and 4.14 BB/9. His control was very good last year, and he still might be a mid-rotation guy in the future, but I think I also overrated him, and after riding stormy seas with him all season, I got knocked down by Finnegan’s wake.

– I was more pessimistic than most on the young hurler, I had warned of the risk of starting a good reliever and hoped he didn’t become “Daniel Bard Part Two: Electric Boogaloo.” While he wasn’t quite THAT bad, he certainly wasn’t good, with as many strikeouts as walks as a starter. He did much better once returned to his happy place in the bullpen, and worked his way into a set-up role before losing it in late-season struggles. While I hate to close the book on a young starter, he seems to be one of those guys who’s just better in relief, whether he realizes it or not.

– I was very optimistic on Wisler’s chances to post a solid ERA pitching half his games in Petco Park. As you know, he was traded to a less pitcher-friendly park on a rebuilding Atlanta squad, where his fantasy upside took a big hit. He didn’t help his cause by posting a lower K rate at Triple-A. He was promoted in June and got off to a hot start but worse control paired with a high home run rate did him in. He has a 5.40 that’s more or less supported by his mediocre 6.27 K/9 and 3.57 BB/9 in 93.1 major-league innings. Oops.

– Appel got the year off to a rotten start, and while trying to take the worms out, was surpassed by McCullers and Velasquez in the rotation despite them starting the year in High-A ball. He got a promotion from Double-A to Triple-A that he didn’t really deserve, but he did strike out more batters after the promotion. Still, he was inconsitent all year with a mid-4s ERA in the minors, and never saw the majors. Now 24, his future is certainly uncertain.

– This was the second straight year in which he got promoted from High-A to Double-A, to Triple-A to the majors, but his results were very different. He was decidedly worse at Triple-A this year than last, and year-long injury woes were to blame. He got shelled in a September spot start and sent back to the minors. I wouldn’t put much stock in the results and just hope he’s healthy next year and can start over.

– He’s a good example why you shouldn’t jump ship on talent too early into a bad season. For the first half of the year he was a mess, with a walk rate as high as his K rate, both around 7. But those who kept the faith were rewarded when a string of strong starts got him a promotion, and he was solid… not good, but solid. In 9 starts he’s gone 3-3 with a 4.41 ERA and a 7.24 K/9 to go with a 3.35 BB/9. Based on how his year started, it’s a pretty good outcome.

– Meyer was quite the weiner this year. He regressed in every meaningful way… He was demoted to the bullpen, and still walked more and struck out less. Yet he still got a taste of the majors, where he provided a taste of hot manure over 2.2 innings. At this point he’s a bullpen arm and at 25, time is running out to even establish himself as someone who can do that effectively. If ever healthy, there’s at least a chance he could pull a Dellin Betances-lite and redeem himself, someday.

– Much like Owens, he was having a year rife with struggles, until he finally showed some different shades of Gray and put together a dominant stretch mid-season. He earned a late promotion for the rotation and posted a 5.53 ERA over 9 starts (40 2/3 Innings). While that sounds bad, his 8.85 K/9 and 3.10 BB/9 tell a different story. Such is life for a pitcher in Colorado. Yet still he was unlucky and should be a great high-upside bargain for 2016.

– I warned that despite his obvious upside, he’s also a high risk for re-injury and no sure thing to have a healthy return from Tommy John. Yeah, that happened. He pitched 22 excellent innings at Double-A before going down so the upside remains, but there’s a fair chance his career will bear resemblance to Kerry Wood.

– One of the few prospects I made a prediction for, I expected a low 4s ERA (aided by the Coloseum’s spacious ballpark) and one of the best WHIPs of all the prospects with Graveman’s plus control, But the lack of strikeouts putting a damper on his fantasy value. Two of the three of those were true. ERA? 4.05. Lack of strikeouts? 5.99 K/9 says yes. Excellent WHIP due to great control? Not so much. The 2.96 BB/9 is acceptable for high-strikeout pitchers but not for a guy with his hittability/hittable-ness and thus gave him an ugly 1.42 WHIP. But he did accrue more value than many pitchers on this list (thanks injuries) so I was still mostly correct… Right? RIGHT??!!!

– He had a strong campaign in the minors, and got a lot of Boston hype upon his hot start, followed by a rather tumultuous season of ups and downs. In the end he established himself as the mid-rotation workhorse we all knew he could be, with a 3.97 ERA backed by his 7.24 K/9 and 2.80 BB/9. That certainly qualifies as a successful season for a pitching prospect, and he should remain a mid-rotation mainstay. At only 22 years of age, there is certainly plenty of time for him improve to more of a #2 starter, so keep a close eye on his 2016 fastball velocity.

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Creator of CSW, The List, and SP Roundup. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

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