Farm Futures: Pitcher Predictions

Farm Futures: Pitcher Predictions

This article is part of our Farm Futures series.

Last season marked the third year of preseason prospect predictions here at RotoWire, and as with most prediction pieces, there were many that looked quite prophetic, and some that I would like to permanently remove from the internet.

Let's take a look at some notable hits and misses from last year's piece.

The Good

Alex Reyes, whose NFBC ADP is 264, records less than four saves and starts less than four games.

Verdict: You'll be right more than you're wrong if you bet against injured pitchers. As we know, Reyes logged just four innings last year before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.

Chris Paddack only logs around 70 innings, but he climbs from High-A to Double-A, posting absurd strikeout rates north of 30 percent with an ERA under 3.00 and a WHIP below 1.10. He enters 2019 as a top-100 prospect.

Verdict: This was almost perfect. He logged 80 innings (I was off by 10), posted absurd statistics and finished at Double-A. I should have been even more bullish on where he would rank on lists, but if you bought this prediction you had no problem getting Paddack for cheap last year.

Jesus Luzardo, who has yet to pitch in a full-season league, cruises through the minors, finishing the year at Double-A. He enters 2019 as a top-30 prospect.

Verdict: He actually reached Triple-A and entered 2019 as a top-20 prospect, but yeah, this was a hit.

Jordan Hicks joins the big-league bullpen in

Last season marked the third year of preseason prospect predictions here at RotoWire, and as with most prediction pieces, there were many that looked quite prophetic, and some that I would like to permanently remove from the internet.

Let's take a look at some notable hits and misses from last year's piece.

The Good

Alex Reyes, whose NFBC ADP is 264, records less than four saves and starts less than four games.

Verdict: You'll be right more than you're wrong if you bet against injured pitchers. As we know, Reyes logged just four innings last year before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.

Chris Paddack only logs around 70 innings, but he climbs from High-A to Double-A, posting absurd strikeout rates north of 30 percent with an ERA under 3.00 and a WHIP below 1.10. He enters 2019 as a top-100 prospect.

Verdict: This was almost perfect. He logged 80 innings (I was off by 10), posted absurd statistics and finished at Double-A. I should have been even more bullish on where he would rank on lists, but if you bought this prediction you had no problem getting Paddack for cheap last year.

Jesus Luzardo, who has yet to pitch in a full-season league, cruises through the minors, finishing the year at Double-A. He enters 2019 as a top-30 prospect.

Verdict: He actually reached Triple-A and entered 2019 as a top-20 prospect, but yeah, this was a hit.

Jordan Hicks joins the big-league bullpen in the second half and emerges as the Cardinals reliever with the highest ADP for 2019.

Verdict: I need to get more aggressive on these, apparently. Hicks was up all season despite not having pitched above High-A in 2017.

Kyle Wright takes (Mike) Soroka's place in the Triple-A rotation in early June, and gets a promotion to the majors in September. He doesn't exhaust his prospect status, but impresses enough that his ADP for 2019 redraft leagues is inside the top 350.

Verdict: His ADP wasn't in the top 350 all draft season, but in the seven NFBC Main Event drafts since it was announced he made the rotation, his ADP has been 327.

Mitch Keller does not pitch an inning in the big leagues in 2018, despite rampant calls from fantasy owners for his promotion in the second half.

Verdict: The calls for his promotion weren't necessarily rampant, but not rostering Keller was clearly the right move last year.

Joe Palumbo returns from Tommy John surgery before the All-Star break. He proceeds to strike out over 28 percent of batters at High-A, and enters 2019 as a top 125 prospect.

Verdict: Palumbo returned June 24, struck out over 28 percent of batters faced at High-A and Double-A and ranks 114 on the top 400.

Luis Oviedo, who turns 19 in May, opens the year in the New York-Penn League, but earns a cup of coffee in the Midwest League, striking out over a batter per inning across both stops. He enters 2019 as a top-150 prospect.

Verdict: He didn't quite strike out over a batter per inning in his cup of coffee in the Midwest League, but the rest of this is right.

Chance Adams, who posted a 2.89 ERA in 115.1 innings at Triple-A last year, makes more appearances out of the big-league bullpen than in the rotation. His ERA as a starter is north of 4.50.

Verdict: Adams made one start and two appearances out of the bullpen last year. His ERA as a starter was 5.40.

Stephen Gonsalves, who has a career 2.39 ERA in the minors, makes a handful of starts for the Twins this summer, but after posting an MLB ERA over 5.00, he is sent back to Triple-A for the rest of the season.

Verdict: He did indeed make four starts for the Twins last year and logged a 6.57 ERA in 24.2 total MLB innings.

The Bad

A.J. Minter will finish as a top-10 reliever, earning over $11 in 15-team mixed leagues.

Verdict: He earned just $1 last year and obviously didn't finish as a top-10 reliever. I'd like him to finish as a top-15 reliever this year if he were healthy.

Adrian Morejon posts an ERA over 4.10 and a WHIP over 1.30 across stops at Low-A and High-A. He is already outside my top 100, but he will be outside everyone's top 100 this time next year.

Verdict: His FIP was 4.11, but I was dead wrong about Morejon. He's good, he just needs to stay healthy and show he can handle a starter's workload.

Francisco Morales generates more hype than any other pitching prospect this season, with evaluators unanimously declaring that he has legitimate top-of-the-rotation upside. He will begin his age-19 season at Double-A and inside everyone's top-50.

Verdict: I still like Morales a lot, but he is going to take a little longer than I originally anticipated. Fortunately, the acquisition cost on him a year ago was next to nothing, so taking that dive shouldn't have been too painful.

Tobias Myers, who has never pitched above short-season ball, eclipses 100 innings at Low-A, logging an ERA under 3.40 and a strikeout rate above 27 percent, establishing himself as a top-100 prospect.

Verdict: Myers was fine last year, but he didn't blow up to the extent I predicted.

Melvin Jimenez posts a strikeout rate over 28 percent with and ERA below 3.50 across stops at Low-A and High-A, establishing himself as a top-100 prospect by season's end.

Verdict: This was a huge whiff. Jimenez now looks like a reliever, if he even makes the majors.

20 Pitcher Predictions for 2019

  1. I don't know when Forrest Whitley will be up or how many MLB innings he will log, but his xFIP will rank in the top-15 of all pitchers who make double-digit starts in 2019.
  2. Matt Manning strikes out over 30 percent of the batters he faces at Double-A and Triple-A. He has success during a cup of coffee in the majors at the end of the year but does not exhaust his prospect status, entering 2020 as the game's top pitching prospect.
  3. DL Hall faces very little resistance at High-A and finishes his age-20 season with an impressive run at Double-A. He enters 2020 as a top-five pitching prospect.
  4. Sixto Sanchez and Hunter Greene each fail to log 50 innings and both end up needing Tommy John surgery before the end of the season.
  5. Luis Patino gets a taste of Double-A at the end of his age-19 season and enters 2020 as a top-seven pitching prospect.
  6. Now that he has scrapped the two-way player experiment, Brendan McKay eclipses 100 innings, split between Double-A and Triple-A, and appears poised to enter the MLB rotation in April of 2020. He will have an ADP inside the top 300.
  7. Bryse Wilson returns more fantasy value than any other Braves starting pitcher.
  8. J.B. Bukauskas is successfully deployed as a spot starter and reliever in the big leagues in the second half and has a 2020 ADP inside the top 300.
  9. Dustin May takes on a Josh Hader-esque role for the Dodgers down the stretch and has a 2020 ADP inside the top 300.
  10. Matthew Liberatore has success across stops at Low-A and High-A and finishes the year as a top-50 prospect.
  11. Mitch Keller joins the big-league rotation in June and logs an ERA north of 4.50 with a WHIP north of 1.30.
  12. Clarke Schmidt opens the year at High-A and finishes the year at Triple-A. In the process, he establishes himself as a top-60 prospect with a 2020 ADP inside the top 400.
  13. Andres Munoz joins the big-league bullpen in June and has the highest 2020 ADP of any Padres reliever.
  14. Jon Duplantier logs under 80 innings and fails to reach the big leagues.
  15. The top-three pitching prospects the Mariners traded for this offseason (Justin Dunn, Justus Sheffield and Erik Swanson) all reach the big leagues and all provide negative fantasy value in 15-team leagues.
  16. This is the year that Francisco Morales blows up. He pitches at Low-A all season, but is a monster in the second half and enters 2020 as a top-100 prospect.
  17. Jordan Balazovic opens the year at High-A, finishes the season at Double-A and is viewed as the Twins' top pitching prospect (ahead of Brusdar Graterol) next offseason.
  18. Zack Brown has success out of the Brewers' bullpen in the second half (and in the playoffs) and makes the Opening Day rotation in 2020.
  19. David Peterson, who is 23 and logged a 19.3 percent K-rate at High-A last year, posts K-rates north of 21 percent at Double-A and Triple-A and has a 2020 ADP inside the top 500.
  20. Adam Kloffenstein and Osiel Rodriguez, both of whom have barely pitched in pro ball, turn heads in rookie leagues and enter 2020 as top-130 prospects.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Anderson
James Anderson is RotoWire's Lead Prospect Analyst, Assistant Baseball Editor, and co-host of Farm Fridays on Sirius/XM radio and the RotoWire Prospect Podcast.
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