Ranking The Top MLB Righthanded Pitching Prospects For 2019

Image credit: Forrest Whitley (Tom DiPace)

Pitching is a risky business. Just look at the righthanded pitching prospect crop of 2019. The top six pitchers all have had an upper body (arm, shoulder, oblique) injury at some point, and eight of the top 10 have significant injuries in their history.

In such a world where almost every pitcher gets hurt, it’s best to judge on the talent—with the understanding injuries will waylay many of these careers. On talent alone, the righthanded pitching prospect crop is strong, with a mix of flamethrowers in the upper levels (Alex ReyesMichael KopechDylan Cease), kids with electric stuff in the low minors (Sixto SanchezHunter Greene, Brusdar Graterol), top draft picks (Casey MizeKyle Wright), fast-movers (Mike SorokaGriffin Canning) and breakouts (Josh JamesLuis Patino). You can find more than two dozen arms who can project as legitimate front-of-the-rotation starters, and the depth beyond them stretches a long way.

On the talent alone, the righthanded pitching prospect crop is one of the best of any position group in the minors this year, and has a case to be the best. But with the sordid injury history at the top, it’s wise to proceed with caution.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

  1. Forrest Whitley, Astros
  2. Sixto Sanchez, Phillies
  3. Casey Mize, Tigers
  4. Alex Reyes, Cardinals
  5. Michael Kopech, White Sox
  6. Brent Honeywell, Rays
  7. Ian Anderson, Braves
  8. Mike Soroka, Braves
  9. Mitch Keller, Pirates
  10. Dylan Cease, White Sox
  11. Kyle Wright, Braves
  12. Triston McKenzie, Indians
  13. Corbin Burnes, Brewers
  14. Matt Manning, Tigers
  15. Touki Toussaint, Braves
  16. Brusdar Graterol, Twins
  17. Hunter Greene, Reds
  18. Griffin Canning, Angels
  19. Chris Paddack, Padres
  20. Luis Patino, Padres
  21. Tony Santillan, Reds
  22. Nate Pearson, Blue Jays
  23. Brady Singer, Royals
  24. Hans Crouse, Rangers
  25. Dakota Hudson, Cardinals
  26. Josh James, Astros
  27. Corbin Martin, Astros
  28. Bryse Wilson, Braves
  29. Dustin May, Dodgers
  30. Eric Pardinho, Blue Jays
  31. Jon Duplantier, D-backs
  32. J.B. Bukauskas, Astros
  33. Adonis Medina, Phillies
  34. Jonathan Loaisiga, Yankees
  35. Peter Lambert, Rockies
  36. Franklin Perez, Tigers
  37. Sandy Alcantara, Marlins
  38. Dane Dunning, White Sox
  39. Cole Winn, Rangers
  40. Deivi Garcia, Yankees
  41. Cal Quantrill, Padres
  42. Justin Dunn, Mariners
  43. Jonathan Hernandez, Rangers
  44. Michel Baez, Padres
  45. Dennis Santana, Dodgers
  46. Enyel De Los Santos, Phillies
  47. Sean Reid-Foley, Blue Jays
  48. Logan Gilbert, Mariners
  49. Spencer Howard, Phillies
  50. Jackson Kowar, Royals
  51. Nick Neidert, Marlins
  52. Mason Denaburg, Nationals
  53. Grayson Rodriguez, Orioles
  54. Alex Faedo, Tigers
  55. Shane Baz, Rays
  56. Tony Gonsolin, Dodgers
  57. Wil Crowe, Nationals
  58. Michael King, Yankees
  59. Zack Brown, Brewers
  60. Beau Burrows, Tigers
  61. Taylor Widener, D-backs
  62. Jhoan Duran, Twins
  63. Shaun Anderson, Giants
  64. Luis Oviedo, Indians
  65. Anderson Espinoza, Padres
  66. Mitchell White, Dodgers
  67. Jorge Guzman, Marlins
  68. Ethan Hankins, Indians
  69. Jacob Nix, Padres
  70. Hunter Harvey, Orioles
  71. Luis Escobar, Pirates
  72. Yefry Del Rosario, Royals
  73. Edward Cabrera, Marlins
  74. Erik Swanson, Mariners
  75. Dean Kremer, Orioles

As part of our 2019 position rankings, BA staffers are picking one breakout prospect and one prospect they are concerned about at each position. Here are the selections for righthanded pitchers.


Breakout: Deivi Garcia, Yankees

Look at what Garcia did last year. He pitched at three levels, finished the year in Double-A as a 19-year-old and missed a ton of bats along the way. He’s no smoke-and-mirrors guy either. He has a low-90s fastball that can reach 95 mph, wicked snap on a plus curveball and a changeup that made significant strides last year. He struck out 35 percent of the batters he faced last year and filled the strike zone, walking just 2.4 per nine innings. There are a lot of arrows pointing up here.

Red Flag: Dakota Hudson, Cardinals

There’s a disconnect between the way Hudson’s stuff looks and how it plays in games. He works off a lively mid-90s fastball, and he throws a power slider that reaches the low 90s and earns plus grades from scouts. But that’s never produced anything beyond a modest strikeout rate, and Hudson’s command still needs sharpening. There’s more potential in there for Hudson to unlock, but there’s significant reliever risk here, and my expectations are more reserved than where he’s ranked in the Top 100.


Breakout: Jon Duplantier, D-backs

There are lots of reservations about Duplantier given his injury history. That’s completely understandable and defensible. But at the same time, there’s no denying his been absolutely dominant every time he’s been on the mound. He pitched a full allotment of 136 innings in 2017 and posted the lowest ERA of any minor leaguer since Justin Verlander in 2005. He still took the mound for 14 starts in Double-A this year and posted a 2.69 ERA with better than a strikeout per inning. And what he showed in the Arizona Fall League—a 94-96 mph fastball and two plus breaking balls—is that of a front-of-the-rotation pitcher. At his best, Duplantier is more talented than a lot of the pitchers ranked above him, and one of the top 10 righthanded pitching prospects in baseball.

Red Flag: Kyle Wright, Braves

Wright is a very good pitcher. He raced to the majors one year after being drafted. He will be a solid contributor to Atlanta’s staff for a long time. But at the same time, it probably will be as more of a back-of-the-rotation pitcher than a front-of-the-rotation one. His fastball as a starter is closer to average than plus in the low-90s, he relies heavily on his breaking stuff and his control has played average to a tick below since his junior year of college. That package can succeed in the major leagues, but more as a No. 4 starter than a frontline one.


Breakout: Spencer Howard, Phillies

Though his numbers didn’t sparkle the same as the rest of his rotation-mates at low Class A Lakewood, Howard’s stuff was far and away the best. He works with a complement of all four pitches, all of which flash plus or better. He was especially deadly in the second half, when he trimmed his ERA by roughly half and whiffed 81 hitters in 64 innings. He put a nice cherry on his season by hitting 100 mph with his fastball during the course of a nine-inning no-hitter in the first round of the South Atlantic League playoffs. 

Red Flag: Anderson Espinoza, Padres

Espinoza has not pitched in—wait for it— 889 days. Put another way, he hasn’t pitched since the Obama administration. There is talent to get excited about, but at the end of the day he’s never pitched above low Class A and his repeated setbacks aren’t exactly a good indicator for his future reliability.

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