We have finished reviewing the leaderboards in prospect pitch grades, but prospects aren’t only graded on their pitch repertoire. They also received grades on their command, so let’s check out the leaders in CMD – Present (CMDP). Here are your top eight prospect pitchers in CMDP, as sorted by grade and then FV.
Jose Urquidy appeared in yesterday’s changeup leaderboard and now makes another appearance as one of just three prospects earning a 60 grade CMDP. That makes sense because Urquidy has posted fantastic walk rates throughout his minor league career. In fact, his walk rate has exceeded 5.5% just once during any stint and in seven of nine professional stops (which includes his MLB debut), his walk rate has been below 5.0%. That’s impressive.
Alex Wells is a new name on these leaderboards, because his pitches don’t grade out as anything special, and his fastball grades out at a poor 35. Luckily, he makes up for the lack of stuff with strong command, as his walk rates have never exceeded 5.8%. He actually finished with a minuscule 1.8% mark back at A ball in 2017. Sadly, he doesn’t do anything else well, as his strikeout rate and SwStk% marks have been weak, while he has been a fly ball pitcher. He actually sounds like the perfect Orioles pitcher! It’s doubtful there’s any fantasy value here.
Wow, who is this Bailey Ober guy?! Ranked just 40th among Twins prospects with a 35+ FV, he has posted spectacular strikeout and walk rates throughout his minor league career. It’s hard to just ignore the performance, but he sits in the mid-80s with his fastball, apparently peaking at just 88 MPH. He supposedly gets by with deception, which might not work in the Majors, if he made it there. But man, he struck out exactly 100 batters in 2019, while walking just nine in 78.2 innings! He seems like a rarity, so it’ll be interesting to see how he performs moving forward.
There’s Casey Mize again, who appeared on the slider leaderboard. While his walk rate has trended up at each successive level, his highest so far has still been below 6%. Hopefully he could push his strikeout rate higher to match his excellent SwStk%, as that would really solidify him as a top fantasy pitcher prospect.
While Brendan McKay is technically a two-way player, it’s pretty clear that his best future is as a pitcher. The results don’t show it, but he made a very respectable debut with the Rays in 2019, posting a solid strikeout and walk rate pairing, but an inflated BABIP and suppressed LOB% pushed his ERA above 5.00. McKay has generally posted strong walk rates in the minors, but that has been rising, so he’ll need to reverse that trend to avoid just being another league average walk guy. I worry about his fly ball tendency, and the fact that none of his pitches stood out (besides the fastball) from a SwStk% perspective during his debut. That said, his price is likely depressed due to his underwhelming debut, on the surface.
Mitch Keller also appeared on the slider leaderboard and should improve substantially from last season’s 7.13 ERA debut. I mean, how can he not?
If you’re going to be stuck in the American League, Kansas City is one of the better landing spots given their consistently strong defense and pitcher friendly home park. But Brady Singer is going to have to improve on that strikeout rate and SwStk% mark if he’s going to have any future fantasy value. Sure, the command and walk rate should be fine, but fantasy leaguers need their strikeouts.
We have just 23 innings to evaluate George Kirby on after being drafted in 2019, but hey, those 23 innings were superb! He struck out 25 batters, without walking a single one. He sits in the low-to-mid 90 range, while topping out at 97 MPH, but doesn’t throw a pitch that earned a Present grade higher than 50. Let’s see how he performs at the next level.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.