Prospect Watch: Top 10 right-handed pitchers
Nats' Giolito leads list, followed by Mets' Syndergaard, Pirates' Glasnow
MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday, Jan. 30, on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.
There are always a ton of right-handed pitchers on our Top 100 list. The 2015 version is no different. All 10 on the list below are in the Top 100, and then some.
Some of the names are familiar. Five right-handers -- the Mets' Noah Syndergaard, the Rockies' Jon Gray, Archie Bradley of the D-backs, the Orioles' Dylan Bundy, Robert Stephenson of the Reds -- were on this list a year ago. Bradley and Bundy have made the list four years running, while this marks the third straight Top 10 for Syndergaard.
1. Lucas Giolito, Nationals
It's looking like the risk in taking Giolito in the first round of the 2012 Draft when he was headed toward Tommy John surgery was well worth it. The 6-foot-6 right-hander made it through 2014 completely healthy, and while he was on a tight leash in terms of innings, he was dominant in the South Atlantic League and pitched in the Futures Game. The gloves could start coming off in 2015 for Giolito, who has as exciting a three-pitch mix as any pitching prospect in baseball.
2. Noah Syndergaard, Mets
Even though he was pitching at home in hitting-friendly Las Vegas, Syndergaard still managed to lead the organization in strikeouts in 2014. The two-time Futures Gamer is knocking on the door with his combination of stuff and command, a fastball that can get up to 98 mph, a curve and a changeup, all of which are above-average offerings. Syndergaard's 3.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his career thus far speaks volumes about what he's capable of.
3. Tyler Glasnow, Pirates
Glasnow just missed this list a year ago, but after backing up his 2013 breakout with a strong 2014, the 6-foot-7 flamethrower belongs on any short list of pitching prospects. He misses a ton of bats with a fastball that hits the upper-90s with regularity, a curve that flashes plus and an improving changeup. Glasnow will need to keep working on his command as he moves to Double-A, but he has the makings of a front-line starter.
4. Archie Bradley, D-backs
Yes, this is his fourth appearance on the list, but the Oklahoman taken No. 7 overall in the 2011 Draft is still only 22 years old. Bradley dealt with adversity in 2014 in the form of a right elbow flexor strain and a subsequent drop in quality of pure stuff. He threw better in the Arizona Fall League and even added a pitch (a slider). Bradley still needs to throw more strikes, but if he puts 2014 in his rearview mirror, he should be ready to graduate off of this list.
5. Jon Gray, Rockies
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 Draft, Gray wasn't consistently hitting triple digits like he did during his junior year at Oklahoma, but Colorado was never concerned. Gray spent the year in Double-A and finished third in the organization in batting average against and fourth in both strikeouts and WHIP. The stuff -- fastball, slider and changeup -- is still very much there, and the Rockies could see it at Coors Field at some point this season.
6. Dylan Bundy, Orioles
Maybe it's something about being from the Oklahoma high school ranks that ensures placement on this list for multiple years. Bundy was taken four spots ahead of Bradley in that 2011 Draft, and he was in the big leagues a year later. He's making his way back from Tommy John surgery, though he did return to the mound for 41 1/3 Minor League innings in 2014. Bundy's stuff was starting to come back, and there's no reason to think he won't be back with three above-average to plus pitches and outstanding command as he gets farther removed from surgery.
7. Luis Severino, Yankees
A newcomer to this list, Severino wasn't on the Top 100 at all a year ago. But after his initial breakout in 2013, he pitched across three full-season levels in 2014, finishing the year in Double-A. The Futures Gamer isn't the biggest guy in the world, but Severino has a quick arm that fires upper-90s fastballs deep into starts. His changeup is his best secondary pitch and his slider is improving. Severino's ability to throw strikes and keep the ball down in the zone should help him remain in a rotation.
8. Robert Stephenson, Reds
Taken in the first round of the same 2011 Draft that saw Bundy and Bradley go in the top 10, Stephenson was selected No. 27 overall from the California high school ranks. He had an up-and-down year in Double-A in 2014, but his raw stuff is still as exciting as ever. There's work to be done to become more pitcher than thrower, and that will help Stephenson rediscover his command. That would allow him to fulfill his potential as a future front-of-the-rotation starter.
9. Tyler Kolek, Marlins
Guys throwing 100 mph in high school don't exactly grow on trees, and that's why Kolek was being considered to become the first prep right-hander to be taken No. 1 overall in the Draft. He went one spot later, much to Miami's delight. The Texas flamethrower is big and strong, with as much fastball as anyone on this list. He has two breaking balls, with the slider ahead of the curve. Kolek needs to keep improving his changeup and his command to become a complete top-of-the-rotation type.
10. Alex Meyer, Twins
Coming to Minnesota in the Denard Span trade, Meyer's first season with the Twins was limited because of a shoulder problem. He put that behind him in 2014, pitching all year and sending many Triple-A batters back to the dugout. Meyer does it with an outstanding slider and a solid changeup. It's all about command and control. If he has that, he'll be in the rotation soon.
With 36 right-handed pitchers in the soon-to-be released Top 100 list, there is plenty of talent just outside of this Top 10. Two were on last year's list, in fact, and could wind up back on the list in the future.
Mark Appel, the 2013 No. 1 pick overall, may have struggled some during his first full season, but he ended the year well in Double-A. Then he threw very well in the Arizona Fall League, putting him on a path to contribute in Houston at some point this season. Pirates fans will have to wait a bit longer to see Jameson Taillon in Pittsburgh. He had Tommy John surgery last April. Taillon should return to the mound this season, with a landing at PNC Park more realistic in 2016.