MLB Pro 2019 Top 20 Right Handed Pitching Prospects
Talk about a loaded list. Considering most teams have at least 4 right handed starters, the minors are full of them, and these are all the guys who will last as a starter. But this list isn’t just starters, but future aces. The guys given the ball in a winner-takes-all game. The Opening Day starter, the Cy Young winner, the strikeout king.
Some RHP prospects that just missed our top 20 list are the Orioles’ Dwight Hanson, the Twins’ Paul Hale and Hunter Greene and the Astros’ Anthony Richardson.
Going from the back end of the list, we begin with #20.
#20 | Ben Richardson | Bowling Green Hot Rods (TBR, A) | Age: 19 | Acquired via: Draft (2018, Rd 1, Pk 14)
A 19-year-old who hits 99 MPH on the gun, and shows elite stuff with 4 pitches. There’s nothing else you can ask for. Richardson does need to work on commanding his pitches more, but he could be a really quick riser through the Rays’ system, especially if his splitter and slider are as deadly as they looked in Rookie ball last season.
#19 | John Butler | Tacoma Rainiers (SEA, AAA) | Age: 23 | Acquired via Trade with BOS
Butler is quite close to big league ready, but doesn’t have the star potential all the other players on this list does. He relies heavily on his slider, and without overwhelming velocity or any wipeout pitches, he needs elite control to continue his success. If his sinker becomes a pitch he can rely on more, then he will see greater success. Either way, we may see him in the Majors this league.
#18 | Jim Helms | Chattanooga Lookouts (MIN, AA) | Age: 22 | Acquired via: Draft (2016, Rd 1, Pk 14)
Helms has elite velocity and a banger of a curveball, which makes up for his current lack of a third pitch and poor control. He throws a 2-seam that helps in his creation of weak contact, but when he gets ahead in counts, he can still go for strikeouts. He’s also shown the ability to last deep into games and throughout the season, which will be vital throughout his career. He needs to prove himself more in AA to show he could become an ace, but his electrifying stuff gives you plenty to be excited about.
#17 | Jorge Fernández | Charlotte Knights (CHW, AAA) | Age: 23 | Acquired via: Trade with SD
Fernández is likely going to be in the White Sox rotation within a month. He is ready, and has proven himself. He currently has a repertoire of 5 pitches, all plus offerings, although his changeup is his bread & butter. He relies on changing speeds and painting corners, but he also knows how to last late into a game, retaining his velocity and even having another gear when he needs some giddy-up on his fastball. He’ll be exciting to watch in Chicago this season.
#16 | Alex Watts | Miami Marlins | Age: 23 | Acquired via: Trade with LAD
Watts has the chance to be dominant, we just haven’t gotten to see it in the minors over a whole season. He was out for close to 6 months last season, limited to just 13 starts. He looks to be slated as the #5 in the Marlins staff, which could make them one of the best rotations in the league. He has 4 plus-plus pitches, including a beautiful cutter that he controls with precision. He pairs it with a slurve and a changeup that are among the best of any starting pitcher in the big leagues currently. If he stays healthy, he will be in the running for NL Rookie of the Year.
#15 | Shawn Stephens | Cleveland Indians | Age: 24 | Acquired via: Trade with PIT
Stephens made his ML debut last season, going 3.2 innings with 4 home runs allowed. He then spent his whole offseason at Driveline, working on pitch design for his slider and splitter, which have become his two favorite secondary pitches. Which is scary because he’s said he plans to go back next offseason to work on his curveball and changeup, giving him many pitches that he can sequence and tunnel. He’ll be fun to watch this season, as he uses these secondary offerings and his plus control to handle the AL Central.
#14 | Kyle Cartwright | Modesto Nuts (COL, A+) | Age: 22 | Acquired via: Draft (2018, Rd 1, Pk 10)
If Cartwright stays healthy, he will be another elite pitcher that is stuck in the confines of Coors. It’s a big if though, as he’s had injury problems through college, and already a major injury in pro ball. He chucks a cool 98 MPH, which he pairs with a splitter with a spin rate well below 1000 RPM. For shits and giggles, he decided he’d try his hand at a cutter, which has shown success in limited offerings. Then he has a curveball and slider which both have big movement, but need refinement before they become elite secondary pitches. He’ll need to prove himself in full season, but he should be fun to watch as he dominates in the California League.
#13 | Tracy Mass | Oakland Athletics | Age: 24 | Acquired via: Trade with TBR
Mass has some late movement on his pitches, and throws everything going different ways. His 2-seam pairs with his cutter, while his curveball is more like a small depth slide piece, which he pairs with his changeup to keep hitters always guessing. He’s likely in the bigs this season, which makes sense after a solid season in AAA last season. He’ll never be the star people want, but he’s going to have great success by being a pitcher, not a thrower.
#12 | Ben Landoni | Nashville Sounds (OAK, AAA) | Age: 23 | Acquired via: Trade with TOR
Bold prediction: Oakland will be good, and soon. Add Landoni to the list of guys who will simply produce when they gets to the Majors. He has a simple 3-pitch offering, without overpowering velocity, but everything works so well together, and he never misses his spots. He’s not going to be an ace for them, but he’s just going to get results, with very few bad outings, if any.
#11 | Pedro Jiménez | West Virginia Black Bears (PIT, A-) | Age: 19 | Acquired via: INT Scouting Discovery
If I had to put money on who on this list would win a Cy Young award, I would take whatever odds they give Jiménez. He’s 19 years, throwing 98 MPH with late life. He’s got a cutter, a big curveball and a tight slider. He needs to harness it all in, but he’s pitched just 85.2 innings of regular season ball, and hasn’t even sniffed full season yet. He’s going to be scary as he continues his development, especially if he adds a changeup.
#10 | Júlio Rosado | Akron Rubberducks (CLE, AA) | Age: 21 | Acquired via: Draft (2016, Rd 2, Pk 50)
Want the write-up on Rosado? 100 MPH. There you go. That’s all you need to know. But while you’re here, he also throws a nasty splitter and a sweet little slider to throw off the timing of hitters. His fastball also has late drive towards the ground, like a turbo-sinker, which makes it nearly impossible to piece up.
#9 | Casey Mize | Lansing Lugnuts (TOR, A) | Age: 21 | Acquired via: Draft (2018, Rd 1, Pk 16)
Likelihood that Mize gets to play in Toronto? High, but with another team. He will be traded, which makes it scary to think what the Blue Jays may get in return for such an elite pitching prospect. He has the ability to induce weak contact, get strikeouts and avoid walks, all while going late into games. He may never be the ace that gets the stardom and pitches in must-win games, but he will be a #2 that you can count on to be steady.
#8 | Sidney English | Pawtucket Red Sox (BOS, AAA) | Age: 23 | Acquired via: Trade with ATL
English throws a turbo sinker with a changeup that’s a pairing very few professional hitters can hit. He still needs to add something with break to his repertoire, and they may never come, which could limit him to relief, but he’s be a superstar there if that’s the case.
#7 | Luis Espinosa | Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU, A) | Age: 21 | Acquired via: Draft (2017, Rd 1, Pk 7)
With huge movement and elite velocity, Espinosa has the makings of a very fine starter. He does not give up extra base hits, and does not walk hitters, which helps him keep runs off the board. He has been working on refining his breaking balls, as they almost have too much movement currently. He’ll be in full season for the entire year, which is where he has to prove himself.
#6 | Hunter Johnson | Stockton Ports (OAK, A+) | Age: 20 | Acquired via: Draft (2017, Rd 1, Pk 5)
Hunter relies on his pitchability to be elite, with a delivery that creates lots of deception. He has a big curveball and a splitter that’s developing still, but he pairs it well with a fastball with good arm side run, and he controls all of his pitches with solid precision.
#5 | Dane Grier | New Orleans Baby Cakes (MIA, AAA) | Age: 22 | Acquired via: Draft (2018, Rd 1, Pk 5)
Grier was a high draft pick due to his big arm and 4 pitch repertoire. His cutter and slider are similar, which allows him to pair them together to generate swings & misses. He also gets lots of love for his elite control, which will help him jump the ranks in the Marlins system quickly.
#4 | Will Rainey | Houston Astros | Age: 25 | Acquired via: Trade with ATL
Rainey has some elite velocity, 6 pitches and great control. While he was only okay in his debut last season, he’s seen by many as a future ace who relies on a cutter-slider-forkball repertoire, which gives him a look most hitters haven’t seen. He also has a quicky delivery, with big shoulder tilt, drops his throwing hand straight down when he breaks for his drive to the plate, and keeps his whole leg straight when kicking. It creates incredible deception that makes his stuff play up more than it should by just watching him pitch.
#3 | Michael Brooks | Tri-City Dust Devils (SD, A-) | Age: 20 | Acquired via: Draft (2018, Rd 1, Pk 19)
Ace. Ace. Ace. Ace. Ace. 5 plus-plus offerings, including one of the best curveballs we’ve seen in years. A cutter and a sinker with solid control over both, and a changeup that buckles hitters’ knees. He only gets groundballs and strikeouts it seems, and he adds to it all, a body that projects added velocity.
#2 | Pedro Magana | Philadelphia Phillies | Age: 25 | Acquired via: Draft (2015, Rd 1, Pk 8)
Magana is ready to win the NL Cy Young. Like this season. He got his feet wet last year, and had the offseason to improve. He has elite velocity, great command, and several offspeed pitches that keep hitters’ timing off. His fastball also has late life, making him a groundball machine.
#1 | Rod Swift | Cleveland Indians | Age: 23 | Acquired via: Trade with CIN
Rod has crazy movement on his sinker, throwing a heavy ball that pairs well with his slider and he also has a great 12-6 curveball. He doesn’t have elite velocity, but his movement and his ability to command his pitches to all parts of the plate make him even better, especially if he learns to add velocity to his already large frame.