Written By: Michael Richards
Follow Him on Twitter: @MPRichards1981
Follow Prospects Worldwide on Twitter: @ProspectsWorldW
Evaluating the top Dynasty Pitching Prospects can often be difficult and frustrating for fantasy managers. Even though pitching usually accounts for half of the scoring in the typical league, it’s become common practice to “wait on pitching” in a draft.
Although plenty of managers have won their respective leagues because of a dominant pitching staff. More often than not, the champion will have a top-notch offense, with a pitching staff that stayed relatively healthy. As well as likely a couple of breakout players or veterans having career years. Each year the preseason rankings come out for pitchers, and each year the results at seasons end look vastly different.
Factor in the slew of injuries that pitching causes. The ever-looming threat of getting Tommy John surgery. The inconsistent production from year to year. It becomes clear why managers prefer hitters.
With the way teams are using their pitching staff these days, the idea of an old-school workhorse you can count on to rack up innings and strikeouts, with good ratios, are becoming rarer and rarer.
Today I will be discussing the Top Dynasty Pitching Prospects. Ones I believe have the best chance of becoming valuable Dynasty Pitching assets. There’s no doubt some players on this list will not reach their full potential. Some will end up becoming mid-rotation starters or dominate late-inning relievers. There are plenty of pitchers here who have recently made their debut and have impressed, while others are off to a slow start.
Most of the players I discuss are going to be good pitchers long-term. Determining how good, and how fast, and for how long, will be the key to staying ahead of your competition. This list is not an end-all-be-all. There were at least a dozen other pitchers that I could make a case for being on this list. By all means, if you strongly believe in someone that isn’t listed here, go with your gut.
**These Rankings are focused for Dynasty Leagues only. And specifically leagues that focus on OBP over AVG as a statistic.**
Top 20 Pitching Prospects
1. MacKenzie Gore, Padres | Age : 21 | Level : AAA
Height : 6’3” | Weight : 195 | Bats : L | Throws : L
Selected 3rd overall as a prep pitcher in 2017, Gore is considered by most to be the top pitching prospect currently in the Minor Leagues. The 21-year old is well ahead of schedule for the typical high school pitching prospect, having dominated older players throughout his career. Gore utilizes four plus pitches, to go along with plus command, which is a combination that doesn’t come around every day.
The left-hander has prototypical size for a frontline starter and should be a mainstay in the Padres rotation for years to come. Some scouts have called him the best pitching prospect they’ve ever seen. So clearly, the upside is there for a fantasy ace that anchors your rotation for years to come.
Gore is an extremely desirable dynasty pitching prospects that any team, regardless of the current status of their team, would be wise to invest in before he reaches his mid-20’s.
2. Matt Manning, Tigers | Age : 22 | Level : AAA
Height : 6’6” | Weight : 185 | Bats : R | Throws : R
The tall, athletic pitcher was drafted out of the prep ranks with the 9th selection in 2016. A two-sport star in high school and son of a former NBA player, Manning didn’t start pitching until his junior year in high school. The righty possesses three plus or better pitches and excellent command, particularly for his age and size.
Last season, Manning dominated Double-A as a 21-year old, finishing the season with a 2.56 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, while posting a 148:38 K:BB rate in 133.2 innings. The Tigers prized pitching prospect was recently shut down for the season with a right forearm strain. Assuming the injury doesn’t become more serious, Manning is lined up to make his Major League debut next season.
While risk applies with all pitching prospects, Manning has the size, command, control, and pedigree to become a workhorse type with ace upside. In an era where that’s becoming less and less prevalent, Manning has that upside.
3. Sixto Sanchez, Marlins | Age : 22 | Level : MLB
Height : 6’0” | Weight : 235 | Bats : R | Throws : R
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. An undersized arm that many scouts expected would end up in the bullpen. However, Sanchez has been able to make it through the Minor Leagues excelling as a starter despite the undersized label. In February of 2019, he was part of a package the Marlins landed when they dealt J.T. Realmuto to the Phillies.
The flame-throwing righty possesses a 70-grade fastball that regularly touches the upper 90’s. Backed by a 70-grade changeup, that keeps hitters off-balance. He’s been working on an improving slider as a third pitch, which will help him remain a starter long-term. When you factor in the plus command, which is extremely rare for a 21-year old capable of touching triple digits, it’s easy to see why he’s so coveted in dynasty leagues.
The upside is immense if Sanchez can remain healthy due to his ability to pitch. This is a rare pitching prospect, that some have compared to a young Pedro Martinez.
4. Forrest Whitley, Astros | Age : 22 | Level : AAA
Height : 6’7” | Weight : 240 | Bats : R | Throws : R
Originally selected 17th in the 2016 draft after dominating prep hitters in Texas. When healthy and pitching his best, you would be hard-pressed to find a more complete pitching prospect in the Minors. Possessing a 70-grade fastball, curveball, and changeup, all of which could become strikeout pitches. The right-hander would have frontline potential on that alone.
Incredibly, Whitley also adds a plus slider and cutter to his deep, five-pitch mix. To prevent injuries and develop more command, Whitley altered his delivery and went through some expected growing pains. With his premium five-pitch mix, elite size, and pedigree, it seems only injuries and bad luck can prevent Whitley from developing into a fantasy ace for years to come.
Although it may not click immediately, don’t be surprised if he takes a similar career path as Tyler Glasnow. A player with elite skills who struggle becomes almost an afterthought, then a couple of years later becomes everything people dreamed of.
5. Nate Pearson, Blue Jays | Age : 24 | Level : MLB
Height : 6’6” | Weight : 250 | Bats : R | Throws : R
The 28th pick in the 2017 draft out of a small junior college in Florida, the flame-thrower took a less conventional track to be a top prospect. Pearson’s calling card is his elite fastball. Which touches touch triple-digits and should be among the top fastballs in the Major Leagues. He combines that with a plus slider and a developing changeup. Which he will need to reach his ceiling of a frontline starter.
Pearson moved through three levels last season, ending the season in Triple-A and posting a 2.30 ERA and a shiny 0.89 WHIP in 101.2 innings. Already carrying a workhorse type frame in his early 20’s, he must keep his weight in check and it doesn’t become a liability. Even if Pearson isn’t able to develop a quality third pitch, he should be able to succeed as a starting pitcher due to his command. Pitching half his games in Toronto isn’t ideal for any pitcher, but Pearson has the upside to make it work.
6. Casey Mize, Tigers | Age : 23 | Level : MLB
Height : 6’3” | Weight : 220 | Bats : R | Throws : R
The first-overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Auburn, Mize was selected by the Tigers for his polish and ability to throw strikes. To go along with his workhorse frame and deep and complex arsenal. Some scouts believe his splitter has a chance to be plus-plus and likely will lead to many strikeouts.
The righty is praised for the good command of his fastball, cutter, and slider. All of which could become plus pitches in his prime. Mize has shown the ability to dominate at each level he’s pitched. Although he hasn’t been able to put together for a full season yet, without some struggle or getting banged up.
A strike-thrower, with the potential for plus command, and multiple plus pitches to choose from, give Mize the ceiling of an ace and the floor of a solid SP3. If and when it all comes together, Mize should have a nice run among the top 20 pitchers.
7. Spencer Howard, Phillies | Age : 24 | Level : MLB
Height : 6’3” | Weight : 210 | Bats : R | Throws : R
A second-round selection of the Phillies, at 45th overall in the 2017 draft out of Cal Poly. Howard possesses an impressive four-pitch mix, with a plus-plus fastball that regularly sits between 95-98 mph, and touches triple digits on occasion. Howard compliments that with a nasty slider that some scouts have said could be 70-grade and become a wicked strikeout pitch. His changeup is a work in progress but some expect it to become a third plus pitch soon. His curveball is below average at present.
In his time spent between High-A, Double-A, and the Arizona Fall League, Howard put together an outstanding 1.99 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, with 133:28 K:BB in 99.1 innings. There will be the risk every hard-throwing pitcher has of injury. Assuming Howard can stay on track, he should be a quality dynasty pitching prospects, with similar upside and situation as Nate Pearson.
8. Asa Lacy, Royals | Age : 21 | Level : Rookie
Height : 6’4” | Weight : 215 | Bats : L | Throws : L
The Royals selected Lacy with the 4th pick in the 2020 draft out of Texas A&M after he dominated at the college level in his shortened junior season. A big left-handed pitcher, he possesses an intriguing four-pitch mix. Which should lead to him keep hitters off balance at the highest level.
He has a mid-90’s fastball that plays up thanks to deception and a slider that has developed into a potential out pitch. He also has a plus-change up and usable curveball which gives him the deepest, most intriguing pitch arsenal to work with from the draft.
The lefty has multiple plus pitches, a track record of success in college, prototypical starter size and a good pitchers park to work out of.
The Royals have been aggressively promoting a lot of their top pitching prospects. Lacy’s upside is higher than any pitcher in the organization. Lacy should be given a shot in 2021 and makes for an excellent dynasty league target.
9. George Kirby, Mariners | Age : 22 | Level : AA
Height : 6’4” | Weight : 215 | Bats : R | Throws : R
Nabbed with the 20th pick in 2019 from Elon, Kirby already appears to be a steal. With the prototypical size and a clean, picture-perfect delivery that leads to plus command and control. He shows many of the qualities needed to become a top of the rotation starter. Between college and his brief pro debut, he has issued a total of 6 walks in 111.1 IP, which is borderline unheard of.
Upon being drafted he had four average or better pitches, with his low-90’s fastball playing up due to his command. Recent reports from the Mariners alternate training site suggest Kirby has been hitting the upper 90’s with his fastball, which makes him an elite pitching prospect. If a couple of the secondary offerings become plus, the ingredients are present for Kirby to become an ace.
Dare I say, the closest thing we have to Shane Bieber currently in the Minor Leagues. Dynasty managers should invest now because this is a rare breed.
10. Josiah Gray, Dodgers | Age : 22 | Level : AAA
Height : 6’1” | Weight : 190 | Bats : R | Throws : R
A two-way player out of Division II Le Moyne, Gray was selected 72nd overall in the 2018 draft by the Reds. Only a few months later he was traded alongside Jeter Downs to the Dodgers for Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood. He is an athletic player who has only been working as a starter for a couple of years, and some thought would eventually end up in a bullpen role long-term. After showing noticeable improvement to his slider and changeup, to go along with his plus fastball, there is a reason for optimism that Gray can remain a starter.
The right-hander shows the upside for plus command and control as well and looked extremely impressive dominating his way through three levels last season. With how quickly the right-hander has improved in a short time, his upside is inching closer to a frontline starter. Expect the Dodgers to get the most out of him.
Gray is an excellent pitching prospect, in a favorable situation, on the verge of making his debut. He may cost less than other well-known players, making him an excellent target in dynasty leagues.
11. Luis Patino, Padres | Age : 20 | Level : MLB
Height : 5’11” | Weight : 195 | Bats : R | Throws : R
An example of what good scouting and player development can do for an organization. Patino received a modest $120,000 signing bonus out of the Dominican Republic as a 2016 J2 signee. Since that point, he has been the youngest pitcher at his level at each professional stop and has impressed scouts throughout with his three-pitch mix. Highlighted by his mid-90s fastball that should be a 70-grade pitch.
Patino compliments his heat with a hard slider, that some scouts believe will end up as plus pitch. The changeup is a work in progress, and could ultimately determine his fate as a top-of-rotation starter or late-inning reliever. The tag of short pitcher who throws hard, and the injury concerns that come with that profile, will follow Patino until he can prove it won’t be an issue.
Overall, Patino is a high-upside pitcher, who currently projects to pitch in a good park for pitchers, on a team that appears set up for a long run of success.
12. Emerson Hancock, Mariners | Age : 21 | Level : A+
Height : 6’4” | Weight : 215 | Bats : R | Throws : R
A front runner for the top selection in the draft a year ago, Hancock’s stock dropped slightly in his shortened junior season (four starts). Although it leaves open the question of whether it was an overreaction to small sample size. The Mariners ended up selecting him with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft.
Hancock works with a four-pitch mix to keep hitters off balance; A mid-90’s fastball, a plus changeup (which is his best pitch), an above-average slider, and an average curveball. He uses plus control and command, registering an elite 4.8 BB% over his final two seasons at Georgia. Hancock possesses prototypical size, a track record of success, and a nice home park for pitchers.
The totality of the package is a prospect who is close to the Major Leagues, has a high-floor, and has enough upside to become a No.2 starter long-term if all the elements come together. The righty makes for a rock-solid Dynasty Pitching Prospects for anyone looking to bolster their pitching.
13. Triston McKenzie, Indians | Age : 23 | Level : MLB
Height : 6’5” | Weight : 175 | Bats : R | Throws : R
The Indians selected McKenzie with the 42nd pick in the 2015 draft out of high school as an extremely thin, but projectable pitcher. After dominating the lower levels and becoming a top prospect, a slew of injuries has set him back. Most notably missing the entire 2019 season.
With only 90.2 innings pitched over the last two seasons, his stock has plummeted. Until reemerging on the scene this season and showing early flashes of the immense upside.
With a plus fastball, that he combines with a plus curveball, as well as good command, McKenzie is back on track to becoming a mainstay in the potent Indians rotation. While he has only added 15 pounds to his thin frame since being drafted, he is still young enough to put more good weight on.
Considering his pedigree, track record in the Minor Leagues, and organization, McKenzie makes for one of the more intriguing Dynasty Pitching Prospects in baseball.
14. Max Meyer, Marlins | Age : 21 | Level : AAA
Height : 6’0” | Weight : 185 | Bats : L | Throws : R
In a bit of a surprise, the Marlins drafted Meyer with the 3rd overall pick in 2020, showing the belief the organization has in him. Possessing a 70-grade slider that has late movement out of the zone, some scouts think it is the best individual pitch from the 2020 draft and should become an excellent strikeout pitch. His upper-90’s fastball is considered plus and should help his secondary pitches be more effective.
With a low walk rate and minimal mileage on his arm due to beginning his collegiate career out of the bullpen, the Marlins fully intend on developing him as a starter and he seems to possesses the necessary ingredients to become a Sonny Gray type player down the line. That said, there are the usual detractors due to his undersized frame and the typical concerns about whether he will hold up long-term as a starting pitcher. Although the Marlins, and wise dynasty managers who invest in him, would beg to differ.
15. Grayson Rodriguez, Orioles | Age : 20 | Level : A+
Height : 6’5” | Weight : 220 | Bats : L | Throws : R
The 11th pick in the 2018 draft, the prep from Texas emerged as one of the starters with frontline potential from this class. In his full-season pro debut, Rodriguez dominated the competition as the third-youngest player in the league. The right-hander uses an impressive four-pitch mix, highlighted by his mid-90s fastball (that touches the upper 90s). Which is described as heavy with late life. He compliments that with a curveball and slider, both of which have a chance to become plus pitches.
The work Rodriguez has done on his changeup makes it a viable fourth pitch, which should be useful as it develops more. A little more improvement of his command would put Rodriguez on track to become among the very best pitching prospects in baseball.
16. Clarke Schmidt, Yankees | Age : 24 | Level : AAA
Height : 6’1” | Weight : 200 | Bats : R | Throws : R
Drafted by the Yankees in 2017 with the 16th pick despite undergoing Tommy John surgery a few months earlier, if last season is any indication, the gamble has paid off. While pitching in college for South Carolina before the injury, Schmidt showed a good feel for four pitches. Most notably a fastball with a heavy sink to it.
The right-hander uses his mid-90s fastball to go along with a slider and changeup that both have a chance to become 60-grade pitches. The righty has also been praised for his character, which is often an underrated aspect of prospect evaluation. The Yankees limited Schmidt to 67.2 innings last season, but he responded with a 3.06 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 79:19 K:BB. Which is extremely promising since it often takes pitchers a couple of years to get their command back after TJS.
A potential No.2 starter long-term, Schmidt should be in the running for a rotation spot next season. And he makes for a quality dynasty pitching prospects option who shouldn’t take long to start paying dividends.
17. Edward Cabrera, Marlins | Age : 22 | Level : AAA
Height : 6’4” | Weight : 175 | Bats : R | Throws : R
An international prospect signed in 2015 by the Marlins, Cabrera has taken the slow a steady approach to become a top pitching prospect. Always blessed with a plus fastball that touches triple-digits, the development of his slider and changeup, which both now project as plus pitches, have put Cabrera on the verge of his Major League debut. His sinking fastball is consistently in the mid-90s and projects to be a 70-grade pitch.
Having kept his walk rate below 10% at each level of full-season ball, the projectable righty shows the potential for good control and he should continue to show improvements as a strike-thrower. A minor arm-issue late in summer kept likely will prevent Cabrera from debuting this season, but the Marlins don’t expect it to be a long-term issue, and he’s already begun throwing again. Expect Cabrera to be in the Marlins rotation at some point in 2021, and he has the upside of a No.2 starter long-term.
18. Michael Kopech, White Sox | Age : 24 | Level : MLB
Height : 6’3” | Weight : 225 | Bats : R | Throws : R
It’s been a long road to the Majors for the 33rd pick of the 2014 draft by the Red Sox. After showing promise in the lower levels of the Minors, Kopech was part of the package that sent Chris Sale to the Red Sox in December of 2016. After a couple more seasons, highlighted by a Future’s Game appearance and trips to the DL, Kopech eventually went under the knife and had Tommy John surgery.
Blessed with an 80-grade fastball that projects as plus-plus, and a potential plus slider and changeup. Kopech certainly has the arm needed to be an effective starter who racks up strikeouts. The biggest knock on Kopech has always been his command and control, which will ultimately determine whether or not he becomes a frontline starter or a dominant late-inning reliever. The upside is massive. There is still time for it to come to fruition, although the risk is just as prevalent.
The tools and upside garner him a spot on this list, but the question marks keep him from being near the top.
19. A.J. Puk, Athletics | Age : 25 | Level : MLB
Height : 6’7” | Weight : 250 | Bats : L | Throws : L
Selected 6th overall in the 2016 draft out of the University of Florida, Puk was considered a projectable pitcher whose stuff was ahead of his command/control, which is not uncommon for tall pitchers. Once drafted he was put on the fast track and was in contention for a rotation spot when he had Tommy John surgery in April 2018. Since recovering from the injury, the left-hander has flashed the dominating stuff, but also the control issues that are typical of pitchers returning from that injury.
When healthy, Puk uses a plus fastball that reaches the upper-90’s, a plus slider that should miss plenty of bats, and a developing changeup that is expected to become a third plus pitch. There is a lot of risk with this profile. But if Puk can maintain health, and improve upon his control, he has the potential to be among the best left-handed pitchers in the Major Leagues.
20. Mick Abel, Phillies | Age : 19 | Level : Rookie
Height : 6’5” | Weight : 190 | Bats : R | Throws : R
Selected with the 15th pick in the 2020 draft, Abel is a prep pitcher who already throws in the mid-90s and is projected to add even more velocity as a matures. He uses a plus fastball, a plus mid-80’s slider, and his changeup and curveball both show promise as well. The righty combines his four-pitch mix with plus command, which is rare for someone his age. With the ideal height and frame to add good muscle, Abel looks the part of a future ace.
Since right-handed prep pitchers are the most difficult to project, there is still a wide range of outcomes long-term. While there are undoubtedly numerous pitching prospects who will break into the Major Leagues more quickly, not many of them have been compared to the likes of Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, in terms of upside, work ethic, and intensity. If you are the type who likes to speculate on young pitching prospects with huge upside. It will be difficult to find someone who fits the profile better than Abel.
Top Dynasty Pitching Prospects Rank Breakdown
- MacKenzie Gore, Padres
- Matt Manning, Tigers
- Sixto Sanchez, Marlins
- Forrest Whitley, Astros
- Nate Pearson, Blue Jays
- Casey Mize, Tigers
- Spencer Howard, Phillies
- Asa Lacy, Royals
- George Kirby, Mariners
- Josiah Gray, Dodgers
- Luis Patino, Padres
- Emerson Hancock, Mariners
- Triston McKenzie, Indians
- Max Meyer, Marlins
- Grayson Rodriguez, Orioles
- Clarke Schmidt, Yankees
- Edward Cabrera, Marlins
- Michael Kopech, White Sox
- A.J. Puk, Athletics
- Mick Abel, Phillies
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