2019 MLB Pro Top 15 Left Handed Pitching Prospects
LHP prospects who can remain as starters are few and far between. There are some very solid ones in our league, but they are much more rare than RHP prospects. Even after this list, there are very few others who even look like future rotation members.
Some LHP prospects that just missed our top 15 list are the Red Sox’s Tsuramatsu Iguchi, the Astros’ Cody Chapman and Mariners’ Tommy Lewis.
Going from the back end of the list, we begin with #15.
#15 | Mackenzie Gore | Kannapolis Intimidators (CHW, A) | Age: 20 | Acquired via: Trade with CIN
Anytime a teenager is available in the draft who: is lefty, throws 98 MPH and has a plus breaking pitch, that player is highly coveted and seen as a top prospect. Gore checks every box, in terms of future potential. Now, he just needs to prove himself as he continues to develop, and show that he’s taking the step to fulfilling his potential.
#14 | Carter Parker | Glendale White Sox (CHW, R) | Age: 20 | Acquired via: Trade with BOS
Parker is very different from Gore, relying heavily on a sinker and a slurve paired with plus control. His ability to get groundball outs makes him a very attractive prospect, especially as he improves his changeup and gets a reputable third offering. Gore and him should be mainstays in the Windy City within a few summers.
#13 | John Bauer | Gwinnett Braves (ATL, AAA) | Age: 23 | Acquired via: Trade with LAD
Bauer has 5 plus offerings, including two you don’t see every day, especially from a low 3-quarter lefty. He has a forkball and a knucklecurve, but he also has a very rotational delivery, and he steps across his body. It makes for very funky movement with all of his pitches, but also leads to poor control. To truly tap into his potential, he’ll need to limit the walks, but he’ll have time in AAA this season as the Braves have a stacked rotation.
#12 | Lawrence Laffe | Helena Brewers (MIL, R) | Age: 19 | Acquired via: Trade with KC
Laffe is the highest ceiling player, perhaps in all of the minors. The problem is his floor is also very low, as he has no consistency right now. He’s also struggled a fair bit from outing to outing, which makes it hard to tell if he’s truly made any progress. Regardless, the teenager has what looks like an elite curveball and circle change, both of which need refinement and control. He pairs it with a 95 MPH fastball, which is impressive for his age and size.
#11 | Jeffrey Stone | Mobile BayBears (ARI, AA) | Age: 21 | Acquired via: Trade with MIA
Stone looks quite ready for the Majors, and may make the jump from AA to the show this season. He has 3 solid pitches, with a cutter that he uses effectively as well. His curveball is his best pitch, one of the best breaking pitches you’ll see from a lefty starter, and he also has a circle changeup that he tunnels well with his fastball. His stamina is a question, but if he can hold the fort down for 5 innings every 5 days, that will be enough.
#10 | Nathan Kirby | Minnesota Twins | Age: 25 | Acquired via: Draft (2015, Rd 2, Pk 25)
Kirby is barely even a prospect anymore, as he’s 25 years old. He’s also going to be in the Twins’ rotation this season, since he has proven himself more than ready for 2 whole seasons at AAA. He relies on late movement and good command, never really overpowering hitters. He’s a sinkerballer, which is why he gets tons of ground ball outs, and why many people believe he’ll have success at the next level. He doesn’t scream ace though, which combined with his age, is why he’s lower on this list.
#9 | Pedro Cuevas | New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR, AA) | Age: 20 | Acquired via: Draft (2016, Rd 1, Pk 18)
Cuevas has great command and elite late movement for a lefty, throwing low in the zone with his fastball, and he has one of the best splitters in baseball. He also has an elite changeup, and very solid curveball. He doesn’t look like a future ace, but definitely has a place in a rotation, and someone you can trust in playoff situations. He won’t give up big hits or walks, and can last deep into games, so not much more you can ask for.
#8 | Josh Garrett | Eugene Emeralds (CHC, A-) | Age: 22 | Acquired via: Draft (2018, Rd 1, Pk 13)
Garrett was a top pick this last year, but could progress through the system quickly. He has solid command of all four pitches, albeit he doesn’t throw a breaking ball. He is very over the top, and has a weird hitch in his windup, which makes his barrage of different offspeeds even tougher to deal with when he then blows 96 MPH past you. He needs to prove himself in full season ball, but has the makings of a future top of the rotation starter.
#7 | Dave Groves | Fresno Grizzlies (HOU, AAA) | Age: 25 | Acquired via: Trade with SEA
Groves has better control than anyone in baseball. Period. He commands all four of his pitches with elite precision, and does so as a lefty hitting 97 MPH. He also has a cutter and curveball that he tunnels beautifully with his fastball, which is what keeps hitters guessing. He does have a penchant for giving up home runs, but he limits his walks and other extra base hits well, so it hasn’t been a glaring issue. Expect to see him near the top of the Astros rotation by the end of this season.
#6 | Drew Lock | Portland Sea Dogs (BOS, AA) | Age: 21 | Acquired via: Draft (2018, Rd 1, Pk 7)
This is where we get into the future aces. Lock has 4 plus-plus pitches in his arsenal, and throws them all with late life and great command. He is another pitcher without a breaking ball, but he throws a 4-seam with cut action, a 2-seam, a changeup with cut action and a splitter. He just sits there and tunnels all 4 pitches, with changing speeds and laughs as he cruises through the game.
#5 | Matthew Liberatore | West Michigan Whitecaps (DET, A) | Age: 19 | Acquired via: Draft (2018, Rd 4, Pk 126)
Liberatore fell through the cracks last draft, but has really impressed with his raw stuff in the pro ranks. He tops out at 98 MPH, with one of the best curveballs of any lefty. He’s shown really great movement on his slider and changeup as well, and has very repeatable mechanics which makes most scouts believe he can have great command as well. He needs a lot of refinement, but he’s young, so he has time.
#4 | Tim James | Fresno Grizzlies (HOU, AAA) | Age: 24 | Acquired via: Trade with TEX
James doesn’t impress you with his elite velocity or nasty offspeeds. He simply goes out and gets his job done. He’s quiet when on the mound, always pitching from the stretch, but the 6’6″ lefty has a deep 6-pitch repertoire and great command. He lives low in the zone, getting lots of quick outs on groundballs, which is why he’s been so effective in the Minors.
#3 | Dave Smith | St. Louis Cardinals | Age: 23 | Acquired via: Draft (2015, Rd 1, Pk 16)
Mr. X has 4 plus-plus pitches, with his best being a Johan Santana type changeup. He fared well in his 4 big league starts last season, but will need to prove himself more if he plans on being the ace that the Cardinals expect him to be. His control is not where you’d want it to be for an ace, but his pitches are so nasty, he’ll still be good.
#2 | Cody McCutc | Buffalo Bisons (TOR, AAA) | Age: 23 | Acquired via: Trade with CHW
McCutc has the makings of an ace among aces. He is a lefty with elite stuff, great command and great stamina. His changeup is right there with Dave Smith’s, but he has much better command and has a forkball that leaves hitters baffled. His curveball still needs to improve for him to be ready to dominate in the bigs, but he will likely be in the Majors next season, or maybe September this season.
#1 | Justin Hooper | Seattle Mariners | Age: 22 | Acquired via: Trade with SF
Hooper will start the first game of the playoffs for the Mariners this season. Not that bold of a prediction, as he’s a lefty he hits 101 MPH as a starter, throws a knee-buckling splitter and a banger of a curveball. His two starts in the Majors were very successful, and there’s no reason to expect any differently over a whole season. He does everything right, and the 6’7″ giant is ready to be an ace now.