Reviewing The Pre-Season Top 25 Pitching Prospects Rankings – Part 2

Here is a continuation of the review of the Top 25 pitching prospects list. The last 8 prospects here are the honorable mention from that list and then, the Top...

Here is a continuation of the review of the Top 25 pitching prospects list. The last 8 prospects here are the honorable mention from that list and then, the Top 5 minor league sleepers, the sleepers honorable mention, and the sleepers “Just Missed”. Yeah I know the total number of prospects on the list came out different than the hitters list… whatevs, man. Let’s do this.

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

– Apparently you flim-flam the Zim-zam. I warned that he might pitch in relief to limit his injury risk, yet he still had shoulder issues midseason that shut him down. He performed well, although not as well as past campaigns in the minors, but even as a reliever, his injury risk will remain sky-high entering 2016.

– I said that he will likely post a high ERA and WHIP, and that 2015 probably isn’t the year he reins in his control problems enough to reach [ace] upside. Yeah, you could say that again. He didn’t even reach back-of-rotation upside with his 5.80 K/9, 5.55 BB/9 and 5.80 ERA, though I suppose it’s impressive that he kept all 3 in the 5s. He was far better in the minors, so one of these years he’ll probably put it all together, but it may take awhile.

– At last, another success story. I said that he has better ERA and WHIP potential than others on this list, but due to injury history and inconsistency, he might marinate in the minors. While he did indeed wait for a midseason promotion, he was great upon his call-up before getting hurt, and returning in September. His 4-0 record and 1.80 ERA is great but a 98.6% LOB seems just a BIT fluky… His 7.80 K/9 and 3.00 BB/9 see him as a 4.00 ERA guy. But that’s still pretty good.

– May has had a great campaign that you may not have noticed, since a lot of it has been spent in the bullpen due to an undeserved demotion. He cut down his walk rate by more than half while maintaining his K rate, to post a 4.10 ERA with a an 8.44 K/9 and a 2.01 BB/9 over 112 Innings. His peripherals indicate his ERA should be lower, but it’s uncertain if he’ll get another chance to start next year with Berrios waiting in the wings.

– Yet another high injury risk pitcher did the whole injury thing. While he appeared close to a rehab assignment a few times, he kept finding new ways to get hurt and didn’t throw a single inning. Just goes to show that Tommy John pitchews are vewy whisky.

– I said that Severino had been severely underrated considering the typical Yankees hype for a good prospect. He has a tantalizing combination of very strong strikeout stuff and a low walk rate, and that the Yankees rotation, as well as the backup options, are bound to succumb to injury and provide Severino with his chance if the brass feel that he’s ready. He did indeed make a late splash to the majors and has had a strong campaign, with a 3.10 ERA and a 8.76 K/9 and a 3.83 BB/9 over 49 1/3 IP. There was some concern in Triple-A that he lost his strikeout stuff but he quelled those concerns in the majors. While he benefitted from good batted ball luck, the 21-year-old still had a great campaign and his future is extremely bright.

– Berrios put up great numbers in the minors, leading for many to clamor for his call-up… Since, y’know, they had in their rotation. But these clamors fell on deaf ears and the Twins may have missed a shot at a pennant as a result. He should be great next year.

– I said that he might get hurt in the wins department on a rebuilding Rays club, and I think his future may be as a versatile spot-starter and multi-inning reliever. And that’s exactly what happened. He provided value with a 6-5 record, 3.99 ERA, and 7.05 K/9 and 2.63 BB/9 over 106 Innings, but his innings were split between the rotation and the pen. In leagues where reliever-eligible starters or starter-eligible relievers are valuable, he may have helped you out, but in most leagues his situation was too unpredictable to capitalize on his slightly above-average production.

– I put Urias here because while his upside was sky-high, I thought his odds of reaching the majors were very slim. And yeah, that didn’t happen. I think even though some will blame it on his cosmetic eye surgery, I’m guessing he learned he wasn’t a candidate for a call-up prior to making that decision. He’ll be one of the top guys for 2016, though.

– The honorable mention of this list, I predicted he could see the majors with his maturity and excellent command. He seemed to be lacking in punch-out stuff in Double-A but had a sudden surge (not the soda) upon his long-deservedTriple-A promotion, which mostly carried over to the majors. He was a boon to fantasy owners over the last few months, going 6-2 with a 3.84 ERA, a 7.80 K/9 and a 2.35 BB/9 over 72 1/3 Innings. It was as refreshing as an ice-cold cola, Na-na na-na Nola.

Lively seemed half-dead with his a sharp decline in his Strikeout rate compared to his 2014 campaign. Last year he was known for deception than pure stuff, so maybe at higher levels he couldn’t deceive as well. He did have some shoulder issues mixed in, and never got past Double-A.

Nolin had the inside track for a rotation spot with the Athletics before an early-season injury took his spot. He had a solid minor league campaign but it didn’t translate so well in a short stint. He posted a 4.57 ERA but with a 4.98 K/9 and 4.15 BB/9 in 21.2 Innings. While he should be better than that, he still only has back-of-rotation upside and his home ballpark is the only reason he’s even remotely interesting.

At one point Barnes was considered a good pitching prospect, and he did seem to make some strides with his control last year. Strangely, he regressed to lousy control in the minors, but upon his major-league promotion, actually posted solid peripherals, with a 8.59 K.9 and 2.95 ERA…but it came with an unsightly 6.14 ERA over 36 2/3 Innings. While some of that his due to a .371 BABIP, it’s not all just bad luck as he also allowed nearly 2 homers per 9 innings. Now a bullpen arm, his fantasy upside is basically kaput.

On the one hand, I’m sad that one of the best rookie pitchers is on the end of my list. On the other hand, he wasn’t on most other lists to begin with. While he was recently shut down, he went 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA, 8.88 K/9 and 3.43 BB/9 over 147 Innings. He improved his control enough to let his strikeouts do the talking, and while he was a bit lucky with the ERA, he should remain a mid-rotation stalwart who helps in Ks.

Farmer didn’t rake in the big bucks this year, since although he was excellent early on the farm, he wilted as the year wore on, and then got hosed in the majors. Splitting as a starter and reliever, he posted a 7.51 ERA, a 5.40 K.9 and a 3.76 BB/9 over 38 1/3 Innings. He’s struck out more in the past and I wonder if he was hiding an injury… I’m not giving up on him yet.

DeSclafani had a bit of a rollercoaster year with a torrid start and a good amount of streakiness. But I highlighted that behind his awful-no-good 2014 ERA (6.27) were solid peripherals (3.80 xFIP), and this year he posted a 3.79 ERA to show his love of sabermetrics. His walk rate went up but it was made up for with an improved groundball rate. All in all, he went 9-11 with a 3.79 ERA supported by his 7.27 K/9 and 2.75 BB/9 over 173 1/3 Innings. I said he “reminds me of Ricky Nolasco” (the good version) and that wasn’t too far off *high fives self* *realizes that’s just clapping*

I wanted to include him so badly on my sleepers list in the preseason, so I added a “Just Missed” category for him. If only my arms were more flexible, I’d totally be patting my back right now. While he was a laughingstock after his abysmal 28 innings in Detroit last year, he certainly redeemed himself despite a tougher pitcher environment in Arizona. Although he did go 5-12, it was with a 3.53 ERA, 8.28 K/9 and 3.53 BB/9 over 117 1/3 Innings. He’s ended the season strong and had the Tigers continued to trust their gut and not lose faith so quick, they wouldn’t have looked so dumb in valuing him so highly when they had acquired him from the Nationals. Tigers just can’t catch a break, can they?

I don’t really know if I can say I was better with my pitcher predictions than my hitter predictions, as I was intentionally more vague due to pitchers being more volatile. What I will say, however, is that my list for pitchers represented a greater amount of impact rookie talent than my hitters list did. It’s true that I overlooked Lance McCullers, Tyler Duffey, Taylor Jungmann, and Raisel Iglesias, but they weren’t on most lists as their performance this year was surprising to most, so I won’t beat myself up over it. But Syndergaard was a big win and my high ranking of Rodon and Heaney, along with inclusion of Ray, DeSclafani, Karns, Eduardo, Nola, and Graveman make it look better. I’m pretty darn happy with how this list turned out, though in the future I’d be more wary of arms with injury histories, and expect more walk rate regression from the majors to the minors. Thanks to all you readers for giving me an audience and supporting me so I don’t have to write about baseball to myself, like I usually do. Until next year, peace out, prospect scouts.

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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