Image credit: Jimmy Lewis (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
Noah Syndergaard was a 17-year-old with a 90-94 mph fastball when the Blue Jays drafted with the No. 38 overall pick in 2010.
When Tyler Glasnow was in high school, his fastball often sat in the mid-to-upper 80s, but it rose to the low-90s during his senior year, when the Pirates drafted him in the fifth round, and it trended up again that summer when he hit 96 mph in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Since those teenage years, both pitchers kicked into another gear, with frontline starter stuff and fastballs that reach 100 mph.
When trying to identify young pitchers with the potential for their stuff to spike down the road, scouts typically look for players with a series of projection indicators. They look for pitchers who have space on their frame to fill out—not necessarily extra-large builds like Syndergaard and Glasnow—but long-limbed pitchers who have room to add weight and strength with added physical maturity. Arm speed is a big one. They look for pitchers with good arm action and deliveries, though in some cases it’s a mechanical adjustment that can lead a pitcher to unlock more velocity.
These are 11 young pitching prospects outside our Top 100 who have the projection arrows that suggest their stuff and prospect status could jump in the future. Pitchers like Pirates righthander Roelmy Garcia and Giants righthander Manuel Mercedes both look like they could throw 100 mph one day, though with heightened reliever risk due to control issues, so the focus with this group is on pitchers who also have starter traits as well.
Jimmy Lewis, RHP, Dodgers: The Dodgers drafted Lewis, 19, in the supplemental second round (No. 78 overall) last year after his velocity ticked up during his senior year to sit in the low-90s and touch 95 mph. At 6-foot-6, 200 pounds with easy arm action, Lewis has room on his frame to add strength and potentially kick his fastball into another gear. Lewis has starter traits, with good body control for a big man to throw frequent strikes, a curveball that flashes above-average and feel for a changeup.
Brayan Medina, RHP, Padres: The top-ranked 16-year-old international signing in the 2019 class, Medina is 6-foot-1, 195 pounds and has already reached 95 mph, with the arm speed and physical projection there for him to eventually throw 100 mph. His slider has sharp bite when it’s on and has above-average potential, rounding out his three-pitch mix with feel for a changeup with fading action. He can lose the strike zone at times when he overthrows, but he has the athleticism that should help him make adjustments and repeat his delivery with more reps.
Kendall Williams, RHP, Blue Jays: Williams, a second-round pick last year, is a 19-year-old with projectable qualities to his full arsenal of pitches. He has a huge frame (6-foot-6, 200 pounds) with room to grow a low-90s fastball that can hit 95 mph and impressive ability to manipulate his secondary pitches stands out, with nothing consistently plus now but feel for his curveball, slider and changeup to go with solid strike-throwing ability.
Chris Mokma, RHP, Marlins: A 12th-round pick in 2019, Mokma passed on a Michigan State commitment to sign with the Marlins for $557,000. The Michigan native has a lot of space to fill out his athletic 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame, with bigger velocity gains possible from a fastball that registers in the low-90s. With good spin on his curveball and a good delivery, Mokma has starter attributes to remain in the rotation.
Raul Rangel, RHP, Orioles: The Orioles added a promising mix of arms in their 2019 international signing class, including Rangel, a 6-foot-4, 155-pound righthander from Venezuela. It’s a tall, extremely thin frame that should hold another 50 or more pounds and allow him to add significant velocity once that happens. He already throws relatively hard for 17, reaching 93 mph with the potential to throw in the mid-to-upper 90s eventually. He shows feel for a curveball and changeup as well, giving him the building blocks to be a starting pitcher.
Adam Kloffenstein, RHP, Blue Jays: Kloffenstein was 17 when the Blue Jays drafted him in the third round of the 2018 draft, then spent nearly all of 2019 as an 18-year-old carving up a short-season Northwest League heavy on college draft picks. Now 19, Kloffenstein has an extra-large, power pitcher’s build (6-foot-5, 245 pounds), though he stands out more for his touch and feel on the mound rather than overpowering present stuff. There may be room for Kloffenstein to squeeze out a little more from a fastball that sits 90-93 mph and reaches 95, with a knack for imparting spin on both his curveball and slider that are average or better pitches and could both be plus in the future, along with good control.
Jerming Rosario, RHP, Dodgers: Rosario was trending up before July 2, 2018, when he signed with the Dodgers for $650,000. The helium kept coming for Rosario, who was throwing 91 mph when he signed, touched 93 mph later in the year and then reached 95 mph during the 2019 season in the Dominican Summer League. With his lean build and quick arm, there could be more velocity coming for Rosario, who held an ERA of 0.79 with a 43-15 K-BB mark in 43.1 innings in his pro debut. An athletic pitcher who repeats his delivery well and throws strikes, Rosario projects to stick as a starter, with his changeup his go-to secondary pitch.
Joseph Yabbour, RHP, Twins: A 2019 international signing from Venezuela, Yabbour’s velocity has trended up since his amateur days. He touched 91 mph before signing, but by the end of Dominican instructional league in November, he reached 94 mph. With his arm speed, physical projection and youth—Yabbour is still 16—he should be able to more consistently throw in the mid-90s or better within the next few years.
Junior Santos, RHP, Mets: Santos is 18, 6-foot-8 and reaches the mid-90s. He’s athletic and flexible for his size, with room on his frame to add weight and potentially throw harder when that happens. He struggled last season in an aggressive assignment to the Rookie-level Appalachian League, where he had a 5.09 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 25 walks in 40.2 innings. But while Santos needs to improve his command, he has surprising body coordination for an 18-year-old with his size. If he has to move to the bullpen down the road, there’s a greater chance for his stuff to kick into another gear in short bursts, as it did with fellow 6-foot-8 righthander Dellin Betances.
Elvis Garcia, RHP, Astros: Garcia has been trending up since the Astros signed him last year out of Venezuela, with a fastball that reached 91 mph as an amateur and has since hit 94 mph and the movement that helps him miss bats when he attacks hitters up in the zone. Garcia isn’t that big (6 feet, 165 pounds), but he has the arm speed, fluid arm action and mechanics for him to throw harder with more strength gains. His sharp-breaking curveball is a potential plus pitch and he’s shown feel for a changeup as well to project as a starter.
Eury Perez, RHP, Marlins: Perez signed for $200,000 out of the Dominican Republic last year on July 2 as a 16-year-old with a fastball that was mostly in the mid-80s. At the time, he was 6-foot-5, 155 pounds, but he put on 30 pounds by the end of Dominican instructional league, started a long toss program and his fastball crept up to 92 mph. There’s still ample space on his frame to add more weight and eventually throw in the mid-to-upper 90s, with unusual body coordination for someone with his build to be able to throw strikes well for his age.