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Inbox: The best combos of pitching prospects are ...

@JonathanMayo
November 20, 2019

With 40-man rosters being set on Wednesday, talk in the prospect world will soon turn to the Rule 5 Draft. But this week’s Inbox actually has more of a June Draft (Rule 4, in case you didn’t know) feel to it. Two of the three questions ask about later-round picks,

With 40-man rosters being set on Wednesday, talk in the prospect world will soon turn to the Rule 5 Draft. But this week’s Inbox actually has more of a June Draft (Rule 4, in case you didn’t know) feel to it.

Two of the three questions ask about later-round picks, both from last June and overall over the past few years. Add in a fun question about pitching prospect tandems, and there’s more than enough to keep you going until the Rule 5 buzz really kicks in.

The two duos you mention are definitely on the list. Casey Mize and Matt Manning of the Tigers are both on the Top 10 RHP list and come in at Nos. 7 and 27 on the overall Top 100. The A’s Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk are both on the Top 10 LHP list and land on the Top 100 at Nos. 18 and 42.

Another tandem to consider would be Brendan McKay and Matthew Liberatore from the Rays. They are Nos. 2 and 4 on that Top 10 LHP list, Nos. 12 and 41 on the Top 100. But my money might be on LHP MacKenzie Gore and RHP Luis Patino of the Padres, who come in at Nos. 4 and No. 30 overall, with Gore leading the Top 10 LHP list and Patino landing No. 8 on the right-handers list. Here’s a list of the top organizational pitching 1-2 punches on the Top 100, ranked by average spot on the list:

MacKenzie Gore (No. 4) and Luis Patino (No. 30), Padres -- Average: 17
Casey Mize (No. 7) and Matt Manning (No. 27), Tigers -- Avg: 17
Brendan McKay (No. 12) and Matthew Liberatore (No. 41), Rays -- Avg: 26.5
Jesus Luzardo (No. 18) and A.J. Puk (No. 42), A’s -- Avg: 30
Ian Anderson (No. 31) and Kyle Wright (No. 35), Braves -- Avg: 33
Grayson Rodriguez (No. 44) and DL Hall (No. 60), Orioles -- Avg: 52
Hunter Greene (No. 49) and Nick Lodolo (No. 56), Reds -- Avg: 52.5
Dustin May (No. 32) and Josiah Gray (No. 75), Dodgers -- Avg: 53.5
Logan Gilbert (No. 48) and Justin Dunn (No. 70), Mariners -- Avg: 59
Sixto Sanchez (No. 22) and Edward Cabrera (No. 99), Marlins -- Avg: 60.5
Brady Singer (No. 52) and Daniel Lynch (No. 69), Royals -- Avg: 60.5
Brusdar Graterol (No. 53) and Jordan Balazovic (No. 76) -- Avg: 64.5
Brent Honeywell (No. 68) and Shane Baz (No. 94), Rays -- Avg: 81

We don’t have a single player taken after the 10th round or higher in our current top 100, but not too far off. Tarik Skubal of the Tigers was a ninth-round pick in 2018 because Tommy John surgery never really let him show what he could do at the University of Seattle. He signed for $350,000 and made it to Double-A in his first full season, looking like one of the better left-handed pitching prospects in the game. He comes in at No. 75 on the Top 100 and one spot in front of him is Rangers catcher Sam Huff, who was a seventh-round pick out of the Arizona high school ranks in 2016 and broke out in 2019 with 28 homers across two levels of A ball.

But you asked specifically for post 10th-round names only. If I were to pick just one hitter and one pitcher, it’d be Mauricio Dubon of the Giants and Dean Kremer of the Orioles. Dubon, who became the first Honduran native to make it to the big leagues in 2019, came to the United States as part of a Christian mission at age 15 so he could improve his baseball skills while going to high school. The Red Sox drafted him in the 26th round of the 2013 Draft and signed him for $75,000. He’s been traded twice since, to the Brewers and, this past year, to the Giants, where he’s now San Francisco’s No. 8 prospect.

Kremer, a right-hander who came to the Orioles in the Manny Machado deal, is Baltimore’s No. 8 prospect and was just added to the team’s 40-man roster. The first Israeli citizen to sign with a team, Kremer was a late bloomer who went first to junior college and then to UNLV before the Dodgers took him in the 14th round of the 2016 Draft.

A quick shout out to Sam Hilliard of the Rockies (15th round, 2015), Joe Palumbo of the Rangers (30th round, 2013) and the Angels’ Jared Walsh (39th round, 2015), all of whom made it to the big leagues in 2019.

I’m going to lean heavily on a story I did back in August on 2019 draftees who got off to good starts, where I had lists of non-first round hitters and pitchers. So taking from that group to only include third round and up, there are some good options.

Marlins third-rounder Peyton Burdick finished second among all 2019 draftees with 141 total bases during his debut and had a combined .308/.407/.542 line. That he did most of that in full-season ball puts him ahead of most draftees who were in rookie or short-season ball and a big reason why he’s currently No. 28 on the Marlins’ Top 30.

Austin Shenton is on the Mariners’ Top 30, coming in at No. 29. Like Burdick, he reached full-season ball, though he didn’t hit quite as well there. Still, I’m bullish on his offensive upside and his .298/.376/.510 combined line was impressive.

One more bat to keep an eye on: Braves third-rounder Michael Harris. The Braves stayed in their own backyard to take the Georgia high schooler. He promptly dominated the Gulf Coast League (.349/.403/.514) over 31 games to earn a jump all the way up to full-season ball. He did scuffle with Rome, but the 18-year-old outfielder is way ahead of the curve now.

Pitching is a bit tougher, since many arms (especially the college crop) didn’t throw a ton last summer. But I like Phillies’ fourth-rounder Erik Miller, the lefty out of Stanford who is No. 9 on their Top 30 currently. Cardinals fourth-rounder Andre Pallante, a right-hander from UC-Irvine who is No. 22 on their list, is also intriguing.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.