At a young age every kid dreams about becoming someone spectacular. Some people want to be a doctor and cure cancer, some want to become an astronaut and travel across space, while some want to be a police officer so they can protect those around them. For me, only one goal was on my mind: becoming a professional baseball player. Standing on the mound hurling fastballs at opponents was the only thing I wanted to do. A true you vs. the enemy sport. Mano a mano. Nothing came close to that type of glory.
Fast forward 18 years and well, that dream absolutely went down the shitter. I never became the ball player I one day hoped to be, throwing fastballs and sliders for the New York Yankees, while Jeter patted me on the back for being the ace (I’ve dreamt that moment many times actually). Instead, I went to university and got a degree in beer pong (and Kinesiology, I guess) while following my favorite mlb teams and players religiously.
As my views on the sport changed, I could never forget the feeling of being a kid and wanting to chase the MLB dream. I do believe this mentality lead me into following a smaller niche in baseball: Prospects. Looking at players who are coming up the MLB pipeline has become a daily routine for myself. I read stats, potential call-ups, and put this knowledge into my fantasy baseball pickups.
Players like Trea Turner, Corey Seager, Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Jose Berrios, Wilson Contreras and Aaron Judge all found themselves on my fantasy keeper roster due to my trust in the prospect process. I followed these guys while in the minors and knew what type of players they could be, so I stashed them away or picked them up in drafts before they made their MLB debuts, and baby has the youth movement been nice to me!
This year has been a perfect example of prospects being called up and making a splash in the big leagues. Guys like: Cody Bellinger, Amed Rosario, Yoan Moncada, Ozzie Albies, Lewis Brinson, Luke Weaver, Clint Frazier, Derek Fisher and Bradley Zimmer have all made impacts on their clubs right from the get go. Some of them will play the rest of the season in the show, while some will get sent back down to the minors, but those little flashes of greatness should not be overlooked.
Since I am true Canadian kid, I couldn’t let my fellow fantasy baseball lovers sit and wonder who could be the next big baseball prospect. I compiled a 2-part list based on pitchers and position players that could be making their debut this September or next season. Here are my prospect pitchers you should be keeping an eye on.
Brent Honeywell, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Standing 6’2 and weighing in at 180 pounds, the 22 year old Honeywell has become a premier prospect in the Rays system. Honeywell thrives with a 92-95 mph fastball and mixes in a filthy screwball and changeup. Brett has been fantastic in 2017’s AAA season, going 11-7 with a 3.74 ERA in 20 starts, compiling a 11.46 K/9 and 2.38 BB/9 (hello strikeout machine). His ground ball percentage is in the low 40s (41.5%), so he is great at limiting his fly balls and home runs. Over his last 10 games for the AAA Durham Bulls, Honeywell has gone 6-2 with a 2.75 ERA with 71 strikeouts and 17 walks (yes, he does need to cut down the walks a tiny bit). Did I mention he won MVP at the Futures game this year? First pitcher to ever walk away with the award. This kid is a machine; I believe he should have the goods right out of the gate for Tampa. I’m thinking he gets called up in late August or early September. If you have room to stash him, you may want to take a chance.
Lucas Giolito, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Once name the top pitching prospect in all of baseball, Lucas Giolito has had some serious ups and downs in his career. While pitching for the Nationals, Giolito made 4 big league starts which did not live up to the hype. He went 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP through just 21.2 innings. Not really number one type of numbers, if you ask me. Fast forward a year and Lucas has a whole new chapter in his baseball story. Getting traded over to the Chicago White Sox in the Adam Eaton deal, Lucas has been trying to get back into his elite prospect form. He owns an upper tier fastball and curveball, but must work on his command in order to be a big league starter. In 2017, he has gone 4-10 in 22 starts with a 4.73 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. He has struck out 121 batters and walked 56 in 116 innings pitched. Although these numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, there is plus side to the madness. His 9.39 K/9 is pretty decent, and if he is able to work on his command, those numbers should increase while his 4.34 BB/9 should (hopefully) go down. Giolito is still a top prospect and might be given a chance to pitch for the White Sox this season. I wouldn’t be jumping at the seams for this kid, but make sure to keep tabs on him and his eventual White Sox debut.
Chance Adams, RHP, New York Yankees
Adams is very, very close to making his big league debut. With the Yankees chasing a playoff spot and the team lacking depth in the rotation, Chase Adams is in line to bring his talents to the Bronx sooner rather than later. The Yankees held back the prospect in July when they lost Michael Pineda to Tommy John surgery, but might not be able to cage this animal for much longer. In 16 AAA starts for the RailRiders Adams has gone 8-3 with a 2.37 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He’s struck out 82 batters and walked 34 in 87.1 total innings so far. Yes, his command is a little off here and there (3.5 BB/9), but man, this kid can deal. In his past 10 starts he has gone 5-1 with a 2.26 ERA and 42 strikeouts. He allowed 13 earned runs over that time, but is able to work out of trouble and limit the damage for his team. I like Adams a lot (being a Yankees fan helps), and I think he should be making his debut in September some time. If he gets the call and is placed into the rotation, pick this kid up. If he is as good as advertised, you’ll be thanking me later.
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, Chicago White Sox
I was going to talk about yet another White Soxs pitching prospect in Michael Kopech here, but decided I’d go with Lopez because of his recent promotion to the majors. Lopez is a 6 foot 180 pound hurler who can pound the strike zone and generate a ton of swing and misses. In AAA Charlotte this year, the righty has gone 6-7 with a 3.79 ERA over 121 innings. He has struck out 131 hitter in contrast to 49 walks. His 3.64 BB/9 is admirable but will need to be worked on if he plans on having a future in the bigs though. Reynaldo Lopez is a great player, and that should be evident when he makes his first big league start on Friday August 11th against the Kansas City Royals. I’d wait and see what the kid can do in his first big league start before jumping on the wagon. If he deals, snag him up.
Walker Buehler, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Yes, we have another Dodgers prospect looking to make a splash in the big leagues! Are you really surprised though? Although Walker might not be close to making his big league debut, this kid has every tool to make him a force in the show. Buehler underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015, so the only true concern would be his durability (the injury capped with his small build cause doubts). Aside from that Walker has been unreal. At 23 years old, Walker Buehler has advanced his way up the Dodgers pipeline in 2017, going from A ball to AAA all in a few months. Collectively he has gone 3-3 in 19 starts with a 3.32 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. Through all 3 levels he’s collected 109 strikeouts with only 29 walks. The fact that the Dodgers have been advancing this kid at lighting speed make me believe that he may be getting called up for their post-season push. If he works out of the bullpen, he might not have great fantasy value. If he is able to join the starting rotation on the other hand, grab him off the wire immediately! The Dodgers potent offence mixed with Walker’s ability to miss bats is a lethal combination. Damn these Dodgers are ready to contend for years to come!
Although some of these guys might have a few seasons before they debut, I can’t help but get excited for the youth movement currently happening in baseball. These 5 guys are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pitching prospects. I could have spent hours naming other studs (De Leon, Hader, Reyes, Keller, and Banuleos to name a few), but these guys stood out most to me. Check back next week when we highlight position players who are poised to make a big impact in the show once they finally make their debut!