Right-handed pitching is one of the strengths of the prospect landscape right now; featuring multiple handfuls of high-end pitching prospects that have the potential to become front of the rotation arms. Unlike some years, there is a group of four pitchers in the upper minor leagues that all have the potential to front rotations and become legitimate number one starters. If that weren’t unusual enough, that group of four pitchers exists in just two franchises. That leads to some exciting times for fans of those clubs, but fans of other clubs should be excited as well. Of the ten players ranked here, seven of them have a legitimate chance to pitch in the big leagues this season and another one could be there sometime next summer. That’s an impressive crop of pitching prospects and something baseball fans should be prepared to embrace and cherish.
1. Gerrit Cole – Pittsburgh Pirates
2. Dylan Bundy – Baltimore Orioles
3. Kevin Gausman – Baltimore Orioles
4. Jameson Taillon – Pittsburgh Pirates
There seems to be a discussion out there that Dylan Bundy sits alone atop the list of pitching prospects in the minor leagues. I don’t share that belief. In fact, I don’t believe he’s the best pitching prospect in the game. While it is close, give me Gerrit Cole and his potential for three ‘7’ pitches at the front of my rotation. Both Bundy and Cole are exceptional talents that can develop into number one starters. My beef with the conversation of Bundy alone at the top doesn’t end there. I think the Orioles and Pirates both have another prospect that is right there with Bundy and Cole. Kevin Gausman and Jameson Taillon are also exceptional talents that have the potential to front rotations at the big league level. They’re all potential number one starters and they all deserve recognition at the top of this list.
5. Zack Wheeler – New York Mets
6. Jose Fernandez – Miami Marlins
7. Shelby Miller – St. Louis Cardinals
8. Taijuan Walker – Seattle Mariners
Just a half tick behind the first four on this list, the collection of Wheeler, Fernandez, Miller and Walker are almost equally as impressive. I don’t believe these four grade out as potential number one starters down the line, but they could all be really, really good number two starters at their peak. If one player had the potential to vault himself into the upper group, it would be Taijuan Walker, who while still the rawest of the group, could also be the most supremely talented of this four.
9. Lucas Giolito – Washington Nationals
10. Archie Bradley – Arizona Diamondbacks
I broke Lucas Giolito and Archie Bradley into their own tier because they are much further away than any of the other prospects in the Top 10. Giolito will miss much of this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year and Bradley struggled enough with his control and command in Low-A, that his path through the minor leagues is expected to be pretty lengthy. Both players are fantastic talents that could be high number two starters and possibly even number one starters down the line.
Just Missed: Matt Barnes – Boston Red Sox, JR Graham – Atlanta Braves, Carlos Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals, Trevor Rosenthal – St. Louis Cardinals, Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves