Before your Memorial Day weekend got under way, we broke down the teams in the most desperate need of pitching prospects. It's part of our ongoing 2016 MLB Draft coverage; getting you ready for the draft that begins on June 9th -- that's just over one week from now!
Of all the possible baseball acronyms, TINSTAAPP is my personal favorite. It stands for There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect, and you've probably seen it on Baseball Prospectus. Of course, pitching prospects do exist -- BP themselves rank the Top 101 prospects in all of baseball and you can be assured that pitchers are a part of that list. What TINSTAAPP gets at though is that pitching prospects are much more difficult to project future success. That sentiment is especially true of high school pitchers.
What follows then, are the five teams with farm systems that boast the best pitching prospects. Perhaps these teams will veer away from pitching prospects in the upcoming draft -- one that looks deep in pitching. Alternatively, it could mean that these teams are better at drafting and developing talented pitchers. So, while TINSTAAPP, there are a variety of ways this could play out come draft day.
One name above all else leaps off of the page among pitching prospects: Lucas Giolito. What the Washington Nationals' pitching prospects boast in star power though, they lack in depth.
Erick Fedde is the only other pitching prospect in their system that ranks in the top 100 according to MLB.com and he sits at 72nd overall. According to Baseball Prospectus on the other hand, Reynaldo Lopez is their second-best pitching prospect. In their Top 101, Craig Goldstein et al. have Lopez 75th overall.
All three of Giolito, Fedde, and Lopez are right-handers. The Nationals' farm system will likely lose Giolito shortly via a much-anticipated promotion. Fedde and Lopez are decidedly further from their big league promotions. Fedde is 23 years old and currently pitching at High-A Potomac. The 22-year old Lopez has progressed quicker meanwhile, sitting at Double-A and managing the competition with some varied success.
5. Minnesota Twins
Does Jose Berrios still count? The most confounding thing in major league baseball this year has been how the Twins have managed their prospects with promotions and demotions. To hold that against Berrios would be foolhardy though.
The 22-year old 6-footer has been knocked for his stature mostly. In Berrios' first taste of the big leagues, he did struggle, allowing 17 earned runs over 15 innings pitched. With Triple-A Rochester however, Berrios has been near-brilliant. He's still the 15th-best and 17th-best prospect according to MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus respectively.
Bolstering the Twins' farm system is their 2015 first overall pick, Tyler Jay. Going sixth-overall in last year's draft, Jay ranks fourth among left-handed pitching prospects in all of baseball according to MLB.com. At 22 years old and still in High-A, Jay is still a distance from the majors. However, he has impressed and could earn a shot at Double-A shortly within the year.
4. Atlanta Braves
The Braves' farm system is the envy of baseball, and their pitching prospects are certainly not exempt. Sitting atop their ranks are Sean Newcomb, Aaron Blair, and Kolby Allard. Newcomb and Allard -- the two lefties of the group -- rank third and ninth among MLB.com Top 10 left-handed pitching prospects.
Since being acquired in the Andrelton Simmons deal, Newcomb has had middling success with Double-A Mississippi. Striking out exactly one batter per inning over 51 innings pitched, Newcomb has allowed 23 runs -- 21 earned -- on 43 hits and 30 walks. Newcomb's true skill seems to be with keeping the ball in the yard though, as he has only allowed two homers over 87 total innings at the Double-A level.
Blair has already earned his promotion and will likely cease being a prospect barring a Berrios-like demotion. Over six starts, Blair has pitched 27 innings and is 0-3. Don't let that fool you though. At least two of those starts have been quite good and his best game so far -- a six inning affair in which he allowed one run on two hits and three walks -- came against the hottest team in baseball: the Chicago Cubs.
Allard is the newest recruit, getting selected 14th overall in the 2015 MLB Draft. He is still only 18 years old and is a very distant prospect.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates are a bit like the Twins in that they lack much depth in pitching prospects, but have a star. It's just that, it's hard to tell which pitching prospect with the Pirates will end up being the star.
Tyler Glasnow is the easy pick. He's 22 years old, already at Triple-A and is showing that he probably doesn't belong there anymore. In 56 innings this season, he has struck out 69 batters. While his walk rate is a bit high, Glasnow's BABIP seems unsustainably high as well. Glasnow is somewhat known for his lack of major league-level command. However, scouts believe his fastball is already major league ready.
Glasnow's co-star is Jameson Taillon. The 24-year old has been nothing short of stellar so far this season in Triple-A. Despite ranking beneath Glasnow in preseason prospect rankings, he has outshone his teammate. In 55.1 innings, Taillon has only allowed 11 earned runs on 39 hits and just five walks. While Glasnow has struck out more batters, Taillon's nearly strikeout-per-inning mark is nothing to shrug at. Both could find themselves in the majors by season's end.
2. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds quietly boast three top 100 pitching prospects according to both MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus. Furthermore, their depth beyond those top three is substantial.
Robert Stephenson leads the pack. At 30th overall in both lists, he certainly doesn't appear as destined for stardom as some of the guys on this list. However, at 23 years old, he has already earned his call-up. Partly because the Reds desperately need starters, but certainly mostly on merit.
Cody Reed and Amir Garrett round out the Reds' contingent of top 100 prospects. At sixth and eighth on the list of top left-handed pitching prospects, both have been extremely impressive at their respective levels so far this season. At Triple-A, Reed has struck out 47 batters over 46.2 innings and allowed 14 earned runs on 37 hits and 11 walks. The 24-year old Garrett is still at Double-A. While his walk rate is worse than Reed's, his strikeout rate is essentially the same.
What makes the Reds pitching prospect depth really intriguing is just how deep it is though. On top of the aforementioned three, the Reds have Keury Mella, Nick Travieso, Tyler Mahle, and Rookie Davis who all boast favourable profiles.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
With Julio Urias already getting a taste of the big leagues, you'd think the Dodgers prospects would diminish. In short, no. Skipping Urias -- who should be back up by season's end -- the Dodgers still have Jose De Leon, Grant Holmes, and Frankie Montas in the top 100 by MLB.com. Baseball Prospectus adds Yadier Alvarez but omits Montas.
Urias and De Leon are known as the best righty-lefty combo of prospects in all of baseball. Like Urias, De Leon could make it to the majors this year. Montas could be in that boat too, though the Dodgers would have to find a spot. Perhaps as a reliever when roster expand in September.
As for Holmes, Montas, and Alvarez, those three are the longer-view prospects for the team. At 23 years old, Montas is the most senior of the three, but he could be held back a bit longer due to some injury issues.
Regardless of each pitcher's current status, the Dodgers' pitching prospects are way ahead of the competition.