Welcome back, baseball fans! So we made it to the last installation of the 2019 Pitching Prospect Rankings. We have assigned a numerical value to the first 45 pitchers that we looked at over the last few weeks. I really prefer prospect ranking in tiers but relented the past few weeks. It seems that the number assigned became more a topic of discussion than the actual players. In light of this, rather than review the next 15 talented prospects that are likely three years away from the Majors, I want to use this last week to highlight lesser known guys that will make an impact in 2019. Half are starters, half are relievers, all should be considered in late rounds of leagues deeper leagues. You won’t see any numbers assigned, but I will give a few sentences on these fifteen pitchers that should hopefully spark some interesting discussion on whether anyone is buying these guys.
Sean Reid-Foley (23) – TOR
2018 Minor Stats (AA-AAA) 129.2 INN, 3.26 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 10.14 K/9, 3.47 BB/9, 0.56 HR/9
2019 MLB Stats 33.1 INN, 5.13 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 11.34 K/9, 5.67 BB/9, 1.62 HR/9
Toronto has a couple of young pitchers I like better than Reid-Foley (Pardinho/Kloffenstein), but they likely will not be a factor for a few years. Sean was the favorite to win the 5th rotation spot for the Jays out of camp until they signed veteran Clay Buchholz last week. His late season call up did not go well, but it was a great experience for a pitcher that has nothing left to prove in the minors. He does sport a four-pitch mix featuring a plus fastball and slider. Unfortunately, his command was inconsistent which exposed him in the Bigs. The sinking action on his fastball and his slider not only miss bats but keep the ball in the yard (again call up notwithstanding). I would expect Reid-Foley to be up early in the season as soon as one of their new vet back-end of the rotation gets hurt or prove to be ineffective. With a team that isn’t likely to compete this season, running out Buchholz, Clayton Richard and Matt Shoemaker don’t seem like a strategy that will last very long. I’m buying Sean as a WTF flyer at the end of drafts in deep leagues due to his potential for high strikeouts and low HRs allowed.
Luis Gohara (22) – ATL
2018 Minors Stats (AA, AAA) 58.0 INN, 4.81 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 9.16 K/9, 2.79 BB/9, 1.40 HR/9
2018 MLB Stats 19.2 INN, 5.95 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 8.24 K/9, 3.66 BB/9, 1.37 HR/9
Gohara was in my Top 20 last year as a Lefty with electric stuff and now he barely makes the Top 10 in his organization. Unfortunately, he had a rough go last season after some off the field tragedy and ankle and shoulder injuries derailed him. He let himself go and put on significant weight. His tools are a plus-plus fastball and a plus slider. Unfortunately, his 3rd pitch (changeup) is considerably below average. He spent all his time in the minors last year as a starter, but when he was called up to Atlanta, he worked exclusively out of the bullpen. As tempting as it would be to develop him into a starter, the Braves would be best served to convert him to a high leverage reliever. His one-two combo would be deadly and his lack of consistent command could be overcome in short appearances. For now, he is listed as a SP but due to the depth of prospects in their system that project as a better SP and the need for quality arms in the bullpen, I’m keeping him on my waiver wire radar for a mid-season call up where he could at least rack up strikeouts for your fantasy team.
Merrill Kelly (30) – ARI
2018 Stats — Did Not Pitch
Drafted by the Rays in 2010, Kelly pitched five years in the minors. He was decent but unspectacular. He ended up in the Korean Baseball Organization in 2015 and proved to be very durable over three consecutive years of productive pitching overseas. He showed good command but never developed the ability to miss bats. He does have a wide assortment of offerings including two fastballs, cutter, slider, curveball and changeup. He throws them all and gets outs but nothing flashy. Arizona signed him out of Korea to be part of their rotation. He likely takes the 5th spot out of camp as it’s really his spot to lose. If you need an innings eater, take a long look at Kelly late in drafts. Don’t expect much in peripherals, but he can help you meet eatings limits and he won’t hurt you in negative ratios. He is mostly waiver wire fodder that could fill in for injured pitchers on your fantasy teams.
Yoan Lopez (26) – ARI
2018 Minor Stats (AA) 61.2 INN, 2.92 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 12.7 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9
2018 MLB Stats 9 INN, 3.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 11.0 K/9, 1.0 BB/9, 2.0 HR/9
Coming out of the Cuban professional league in 2015, Lopez finally started to put it together when he converted to a full-time reliever in 2017. His killer rising fastball and devastating slider played well out of the bullpen and became the closer at AA Jackson until he was called up late in 2018. After a rough debut, he was nearly flawless in Arizona to finish the season. I expect him to easily earn a spot in the bullpen coming out of camp and work his way up to high leverage appearances by mid-season. I will be targeting him later in drafts to fill out my bullpen. He could be the Arizona closer by 2020.
Ty Buttrey (25) – LAA
2018 Minor Stats (AAA) 49.0 INN, 3.12 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 13.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9
2018 MLB Stats 16.1 INN, 3.31 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 11.0 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.0 HR/9
Former Boston farmhand exploded on the scene once he moved to the West Coast. The large lefty features a 70-grade fastball that can touch 100 mph with a changeup that flashes plus. His developing slider and improved command allowed him to quickly get promoted to Anaheim and show he belonged. He was being considered as the closer this year before they signed Cody Allen. I expect him to pitch the 7th or 8th inning and vulture a few saves as the 30-year-old Allen will need some rest and likely deal with some injury during the season. I already acquired him in a deep dynasty league and look forward to his production this season.
Colin Poche (25) – TB
2018 Stats (AA-AAA) 66.0 INN, 0.89 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 15.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9. 0.3 HR/9
Poche is another big lefty that had arguably the best season of minor league reliever at any level. His numbers were video game worthy over large sample size. He is flexible and can pitch in any innings as his fastball doesn’t have the most velocity, rather a high spin rate and unique mechanics have it play up. He mixes in a decent slider and commands both pitches. He likely starts in AAA, but won’t stay their long and should be pitching significant innings in Tampa by mid-season.
Sandy Alcantara (23) & Jordan Yamamoto(22) – MIA
After a run of relievers, we get a pair of starters on the hapless Miami Marlins. Both prospects are already on the 40-man roster and could be called up at any time. Alcantara has already made his debut and his three plus pitches should be in Miami most of the season. He still lacks command and may turn into a reliever down the road. Once Miami can get another year of control out of him, he’ll likely be called up and immediately have the best stuff in the rotation. Yamamoto likely won’t be seen until later in the season as he finished 2018 in AA. The “throw-in” of the Yelich trade last year, he has three Major League-ready pitches with advanced command. He could be an under-the-radar pick up late in the season.
Framber Valdez (25) & Cionel Perez (22) – HOU
Valdez had a successful debut last season as a starter and will likely get the first crack at the 5th spot in the rotation so long as Keuchel doesn’t resign in Houston. He features a plus fastball and slider but his shit changeup and poor command lead many to believe he winds up in the bullpen at some point this season. Perez is on the opposite track than Valdez. He debuted last season successfully as a reliever and likely earns a spot in the bullpen coming out of camp. He does have four decent pitches and more consistent command and could be stretched out to move into the rotation later in the season. Both guys are worthy of a late flyer since they will likely make the opening day 25-man roster.
Ian Hamilton (23) & Caleb Frare (25) – CWS
Hamilton has a plus fastball/slider combo that many believe will emerge as the White Sox Closer perhaps as early as the end of this season. He definitely earns a low leverage spot in the rotation out of camp. Frare is the left-handed version of Hamilton with a power fastball/slider combo that also is borderline plus pitches. Hamilton has a brighter future but both should get strikeouts and could gain holds and standard inherited runners right away if your league counts those categories.
Trey Wingenter (24) – SD
Trey had a 22 game debut season in 2018 with a high strikeout rate but poor command lead to balls leaving the park. He will look to harness his 70-grade fastball and command his respectable secondary offerings (slider/changeup). Trey could easily work up the ranks if he discovers the strike zone as his stuff is better than everyone else in the Padres bullpen except for Kirby Yates.
Ray Black (28) – SF
Black had a terrible debut in 2018 sporting over a 6 ERA and showing little command. I don’t expect him to take long before getting another chance has been clocked at 104 mph and could work in the high 90 with a 15-20 mph drop with his slider. If he can hit the broad side of a barn, he will get you strikeouts. Keep an eye on him for bullpen depth if he breaks camp with the Giants. His competition isn’t that fierce.
Daniel Zamora (25) – NYM
With the last prospect on this list, we go to Queens for the first time over these four weeks to promote a junk ball pitcher. There are at least 12 pitchers in the Mets’ system that are better than Zamora. He is here as Mr. Irrevelant because he will make the Opening Day roster and he is a unique case due to his pitch mix. He has a poor fastball and only has one other pitch, a borderline plus slider. He throws it over 75% of his pitches but no one can hit it. He struck out 16 of the 36 batters he faced with New York last Summer. I expect him to hold a low-leverage spot but can rack up the strikeouts. If he shows command, he could add some holds and pitch in higher leverage spots as the season goes on. He is a waiver-wire add if you get some injuries out of the gate.
Thank you for reading and look forward to seeing more discussion of these guys online.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday March 3rd, 2019 from 8-9:45pm EST for episode #142 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Our topic this week is middle infield (2B/SS).
Our guest this week is Joel Gullo. Joel hosts a podcast at lennymelnickfantasysports.com.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore on Thursday March 7th, 2019 from 8pm – 9:30pm EST for the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. Call in number is 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. This week we will discuss Starting Pitching for fantasy purposes.
Be sure to check out our Sunday night show March 10th from 8pm to 9:30pm EST. They will cover the Outfield.