While just four left-handed pitchers cracked our soon-to-be-unveiled 2023 Top 100, the lowest number since we began doing prospect lists in 2004, the position is far from bereft in talent. Several southpaws stand out for their ability to miss bats.
Kyle Harrison (Giants) led the Minors in strikeout percentage (39.8) in 2022, and Ricky Tiedemann (Blue Jays) would have ranked right behind him (38.9) if he had enough innings to qualify. Harrison also topped the Minors in whiffs per nine innings (14.8), with DL Hall (Orioles) posting a similar rate (14.6) as a non-qualifier.
The 2022 Draft was deep in lefties with Top 100 upside. Brandon Barriera (Blue Jays) and Noah Schultz (White Sox) both went in the first round as high schoolers, while fellow prepsters Robby Snelling (Padres) and Jackson Ferris (Cubs) commanded $3 million bonuses as later picks. Cooper Hjerpe (Cardinals) was the best healthy and active college southpaw in a crop affected by injuries to Connor Prielipp (Twins), Hunter Barco (Pirates) and Reggie Crawford (Giants) and a suspension for Carson Whisenhunt (Giants).
The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Kyle Harrison, Giants (2023)
2. Ricky Tiedemann, Blue Jays (2024)
3. Ken Waldichuk, Athletics (2023)
4. DL Hall, Orioles (2023)
5. Dax Fulton, Marlins (2024)
6. Jordan Wicks, Cubs (2023)
7. Matthew Liberatore, Cardinals (2023)
8. Jake Eder, Marlins (2024)
9. Brandon Barriera, Blue Jays (2026)
10. Blake Walston, D-backs (2023)
Complete list »
Fastball: Harrison, Tiedemann, Waldichuk, Hall (65)
All four of these lefties have well above-average fastballs that stand out in different ways. Harrison had a crazy 41 percent swing-and-miss rate with his heater in Double-A, working from 92-97 mph with riding action and a flat approach angle from a low three-quarters arm slot. Tiedemann has the best sink of the group, Waldichuk has the best carry up in the strike zone and Hall has the most consistent velocity (averaging 96.6 mph and topping out at 100).
Curveball: Fulton, Liberatore (60)
Both Fulton and Liberatore rely heavily on their curveballs, the lone plus pitch in each of their arsenals. Fulton's bender has more power in the upper 70s and his feel for spin extends to a tighter low-80s slider that he focused on at the end of last season.
Slider: Harrison, Eder (60)
If hitters concentrate on dealing with Harrison's fastball, he can make them look bad with a sweeping slider in the low 80s. Eder owns a similar slide piece that helped him dominate while making his 2021 pro debut in Double-A, though he blew out his elbow that August and required Tommy John surgery.
Changeup: Tiedemann, Wicks (70)
Tiedemann was a revelation in his 2022 pro debut, thanks in large part to his mid-80s changeup that tumbles and fades. Wicks has similar action and a little less velocity on his cambio, which scouts regarded as the best in the 2021 Draft.
Control: Wicks, Barriera (55)
Wicks has a low-effort delivery and repeats it well, averaging 2.7 walks per nine innings while reaching Double-A in his first full pro season last year. The 23rd overall selection in the 2022 Draft, Barriera likes to attack hitters with three solid pitchers and is more advanced than most high schoolers.
Highest Ceiling: Harrison
Harrison projects as a frontline starter thanks to his three-pitch repertoire that also includes an improving mid-80s changeup with fade and sink. He can dodge bats in the strike zone with all three of his offerings.
Highest Floor: Tiedemann
Tiedemann has less track record than Harrison but a similarly devastating arsenal with better control and command at this point. The Blue Jays handled him extremely carefully in his first full pro season, so it remains to be seen how his stuff will hold up with a full workload.
Rookie of the Year Candidate: Harrison
The Giants don't have a slot available in their Opening Day rotation, but Harrison's stuff and performance (2.71 ERA, .196 opponent average, 186 strikeouts in 113 innings, mostly in Double-A at age 20) will be difficult to deny. He continues to refine his control and command, though the quality of his pitches means that he doesn't have to be precise.
Highest Riser: Tiedemann
Heading into 2022, Tiedemann was a third-round pick out of Golden West (Calif.) JC who had yet to pitch in pro ball. Now he's challenging Harrison for the title of baseball's best left-handed pitching prospect after logging a 2.17 ERA, .149 opponent average and 117 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings while rising from Single-A to Double-A.
Humblest Beginning: Waldichuk
Waldichuk's performance and stock slipped when he tried to throw harder as a junior at Saint Mary's in 2019, which caused him to drop to the Yankees in the fifth round. New York helped him upgrade his fastball, slider and changeup before sending him to the Athletics in the Frankie Montas trade last August.
Most To Prove: Liberatore
The best prep pitching prospect in the 2018 Draft, Liberatore went 16th overall to the Rays and joined the Cardinals in the January 2020 Randy Arozarena deal. His 5.17 ERA in Triple-A and 5.97 ERA in his big league debut last year underscored his need for a second better-than-average pitch to pair with his curveball.
Keep An Eye On: Hjerpe
Hjerpe creates a ton of deception with a low arm slot and flat approach angle on a 91-95 mph fastball that college hitters couldn't touch. The 22nd overall pick in the 2022 Draft, he topped NCAA Division I with 161 strikeouts while recording a 2.53 ERA, .180 opponent average and 23 walks in 103 1/3 innings at Oregon State last spring. His slider and changeup show the potential to become solid pitches.