2012 Preseason Position Rankings: Lefthanders
See also: RHP Position Rankings
Ranking players is one of the bedrocks of what we do here at Baseball America. With the Top 100 Prospects
list now in the books, we're not putting the offseason rankings away
just yet. Over the next couple of weeks, we're ranking prospects by
position, continuing today with lefthanded starters.
The lefthanded pitching prospect group gets a huge boost by having Matt Moore atop the list. By ranking No. 2 on our Top 100, Moore became just the fifth lefthander to be ranked that high, joining David Price (2009), Rick Ankiel (1999 & 2000), Brien Taylor (1992 & 1993) and Steve Avery (1990).
Moore could be the best of all of them. Over the past three years, he led the minor leagues with 594 strikeouts, 109 more than the pitcher with the second-most over that span, Phillies righthander Trevor May.
The next seven pitchers on the list have either pitched in the big leagues already or will be knocking on the door in 2012. The list has a solid mix of hard throwers—the guys ranked 3-10 all touch 95 mph or higher—and command specialists like Skaggs, Erlin, Nicolino and Gilmartin.
2012 Impact Rookie: Matt Moore, Rays.
Could there be any other choice?
2012 Breakout Prospect: Enny Romero, Rays.
Not that the Rays need another pitching prospect right now, as their big league rotation goes seven or eight deep, but Romero has the stuff to become another potential ace. The Rays' track record of developing pitchers doesn't hurt.
1. Matt Moore, Rays:
Makes everything look easy: 98 mph gas, striking out 594 batters over the last three years and beating the Rangers in the playoffs.
2. Tyler Skaggs, Diamondbacks:
Tyler Skaggs (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
Finished fourth in the minors last year with 198 strikeouts.
3. Danny Hultzen, Mariners:
Second-overall pick last year is polished and could pitch in the majors in 2012.
4. Mike Montgomery, Royals:
Got hit around in Triple-A last year, but all the ingredients are there for him to shine.
5. Manny Banuelos, Yankees:
With a fastball that touches 96 and a hard curveball, Banuelos has the upside to be the Yankees' best homegrown pitcher since Andy Pettitte.
6. Drew Pomeranz, Rockies:
Opposing batters hit just .189 against him in the minors last year.
7. Martin Perez, Rangers:
Has never dominated (4.22 career ERA) but still has youth on his side.
8. James Paxton, Mariners:
Dominated the Midwest League with his mid-90s fastball, but also walked 11 percent of the batters he faced.
9. Jed Bradley, Brewers:
Has a great pitcher's build to go along with his plus fastball, plus slider and solid changeup.
10. Daniel Norris, Blue Jays:
Above-average athlete has touched 96 mph with his fastball and shows a very good slider.
11. Robbie Erlin, Padres:
Averages nine strikeouts for every walk and, as an extreme flyball pitcher, he'll love Petco Park.
12. Justin Nicolino, Blue Jays:
Instead of joining Hultzen at Virginia, Nicolino dominated in his pro debut, ranking as the Northwest League's top prospect.
13. David Holmberg, Diamondbacks:
Took his fastball up a notch last year while maintaining his above-average command.
14. John Lamb, Royals:
Will miss at least half the season as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery.
15. Matt Purke, Nationals:
Entered 2011 as a top draft prospect, but fell to the third round due to a shoulder injury.
16. Drew Smyly, Tigers:
Of all pitchers with more than 100 innings last year, Smyly was one of just three to allow two home runs.
17. Alex Torres, Rays:
His 462 strikeouts over the last three years rank fifth in the minors during that span.
18. Jesse Biddle, Phillies:
Philly native is one of the few bright spots in a depleted Phillies farm system.
19. Wade Miley, Diamondbacks:
Went 4-2 in the big leagues after getting called up, helping Arizona overtake the Giants for the NL West title.
20. Sean Gilmartin, Braves:
Former Florida State ace should be used to seeing the Tomahawk Chop
21. Chris Reed, Dodgers
22. Enny Romero, Rays
23. Casey Crosby, Tigers
24. Chad James, Marlins
25. Brett Oberholtzer, Astros
26. Eric Surkamp, Giants
27. Tyler Anderson, Rockies
28. Tom Milone, Athletics
29. Andy Oliver, Tigers
30. Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks
31. Chris Dwyer, Royals
32. Jeff Locke, Pirates
33. Sammy Solis, Nationals
34. Felix Doubront, Red Sox
35. Henry Owens, Red Sox
36. Tony Cingrani, Reds
37. Rob Rasmussen, Marlins
38. Tyler Matzek, Rockies
39. Christian Friedrich, Rockies
40. Amir Garrett, Reds