Before every pitcher reaches the big leagues, they have to show their true colors in the minor leagues. For some, the road to the major leagues is longer than others. The future of pitching is certainly bright and these five electric and notable arms are soon to make their impact on the game.
Breaking down and analyzing Major League Baseball’s top pitching prospects:
1. Casey Mize, Detroit Tigers
Analysis: The unanimous number one overall pitching prospect in all of baseball is the first overall pick in the 2018 draft, Casey Mize. The former Auburn Tiger has shot up the minor league ranks, making it all the way to Double-A in just under two seasons. The abysmal domination by Mize is rarely seen by a minor league pitcher.
Having a career 2.71 ERA with an opposing batting average of .209, Mize is portrayed to have large success in the major leagues. The Detroit Tigers’ number one overall prospect lights up the radar gun with his electric upper-90s fastball. To throw the timing off of opposing hitters, Mize utilizes a strong and breaking spitter. Many compare his fierce splitter to Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka’s. When slamming the door on a strikeout, the right-hander could dazzle with a slider or even a cutter. Mize possesses extreme confidence while utilizing these big league pitches and isn’t afraid to show them off in big scenarios.
If Casey Mize can keep up his strong domination against hitters, he’ll have smooth sailing in the big leagues. Many predict the right-hander to end up with one or even multiple Cy Young awards. The Detroit Tigers certainly have a franchise ace in the works.
2. Jesus Luzardo, Oakland Athletics
Analysis: The Oakland Athletics have a perennial ace as their number one overall pitching prospect in Jesus Luzardo. In just a small appearance in the big leagues, the left-hander showed what he can do on the main stage. With 6 games under his belt, Luzardo caught the attention of fans with 2 saves, 16 strikeouts and an opposing batting average of .119.
The top prospect’s fastball has reached upwards of 97 MPH and is still improving. Since Luzardo’s Tommy John surgery, he’s added more power to his strong, momentum-filled windup. The left-hander has the ability to sit any hitter down with his hooking curveball. Many describe Luzardo’s curve as a 11-5 break, rather than the common 12-6 break. Besides the curveball, the A’s prospect tosses in an effective changeup. Because of Luzardo’s unique arm slot and arm speed, hitters tend to have a difficult time reading and hitting this pitch. With plus command in his skill set, Jesus Luzardo has a lethal breed of pitches in his bag.
In the foreseeable future, many see Jesus Luzardo as a dominant closer in Oakland. If the left-hander keeps up his strong performance, he could potentially lead the league in saves for a long time to come. If you are an Oakland A’s fan, this is the guy to watch for years to come.
3. Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox
Analysis: Many project Michael Kopech to lead the White Sox’s franchise in the next few seasons. With other heavily anticipated surrounding him, Kopech could be the face of the South Side of Chicago’s pitching staff for a while. Racing up the farm system ranks, Kopech and his plus repitoure seem to be more than big league ready.
The White Sox’s top prospect has one of the best two-pitch combinations in the minor leagues. The 6-foot-3 right-hander features a fastball that scores 80 on a 20-80 grading scale. Kopech can carry his zone-pounding fastball’s velocity late into games, which sets him ahead from the rest. To couple the fastball, the right-hander tosses a changeup that reaches the mid-80s with plenty of break to fool hitters. This elite two-pitch combination that Kopech can utilize will allow him to total up strikeouts and stay a dominant force in the big leagues.
Although, some questions surround Kopech’s control as it scores a 45 out of the 20-80 grading scale. If the right-hander could patch his issue up as soon as possible, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the American League for a long time to come.
4. Mackenzie Gore, San Diego Padres
Analysis: The face of the San Diego Padres farm system, Mackenzie Gore, is expected to make a splash at the big league level sooner rather than later. The unorthodox windup of Gore deceives hitters and will easily translate to the major leagues.
The number one overall prospect in the Padres farm system throws a four-pitch mix featuring a strong fastball, slider, curveball and a breaking changeup. Many consider this elite pitch mix at the top of the minor league ranks. This boosts Gore’s overall ranking and should be a threat towards all big league hitters in the future. Many classify the third overall pick in the 2018 draft to lead San Diego’s starting pitching staff when he arrives.
More likely than not, the funky left-hander will be the number one starter on an up-and-coming San Diego Padres roster. Gore has a strong shot at winning more than one Cy Young wards in his heavily awaited career. San Diego, you’ve got yourself an ace for a long time to come.
5. Nate Pearson, Toronto Blue Jays
Analysis: Standing 6-foot-6, Blue Jays top prospect Nate Pearson is certainly a man amongst boys. Expected to be used as an arm in this year’s summer season, Pearson will show fans who he really is. With an overpowering fastball that dismantles hitters, Pearson is commonly known for strikeouts as he could total upwards of 13 in a game.
Besides chucking the high 90’s heater, Pearson could throw a wrench in the mix with his cutting slider. Many classify Pearson’s slider at the top of the elite pitches in the minor leagues. If the Blue Jays arm is able to translate these pitches to the big leagues, he’ll have no problem facing tough competition.
Pearson’s plus arsenal mixed with his plus command, places him a top prospect in all of baseball. When Pearson sticks in the big leagues, he’ll certainly be a strong and live arm to watch for in the future years. Mixed with offensive talents such as Bichette, Biggio and Guerrero Jr., Pearson and co. are set up to a have a strong dynasty in Toronto.
Honorable Mentions: Brendan McKay (TB), Forrest Whitley (HOU), Sixto Sanchez (MIA), Matt Manning (DET), Clarke Schmidt (NYY)
Photo: CBS Sports