Hottest pitching prospects in each system

August 5th, 2022

If you've been following our monthly updates of each farm system's hottest pitchers all season, then you were prepared for some of the biggest moves at the Trade Deadline.

In the Frankie Montas/Lou Trivino trade with the Yankees, the Athletics acquired both Ken Waldichuk (who made this list in both May and June) and Luis Medina (July). As part of the Josh Hader deal with the Padres, the Brewers landed Robert Gasser (May, July).

Our latest edition includes three pitchers who changed addresses recently: T.J. Sikkema went to the Royals in the Andrew Benintendi trade with the Yankees, the Cubs grabbed Ben Brown from the Phillies straight up for David Robertson and Nick Frasso became a Dodger via the Mitch White deal with the Blue Jays. Additionally, Jarlin Susara was slated to be our Padres selection before going to the Nationals in the Juan Soto blockbuster.

Three of the pitchers below have received recognition three times in the first four months of the season: Kyle Harrison (Giants), Andrew Painter (Phillies) and Cole Ragans (Rangers). Harrison and Painter are Top 100 Prospects, while Ragans is slated to make his big league debut Thursday night.


Blue Jays: Chad Dallas, RHP (No. 22)
The 2021 fourth-rounder hit his stride at the end of July, turning in back-to-back six-inning, eight-strikeout gems for High-A Vancouver. The eight punchouts in both outings tied a career high, first set in his season debut back on April 13. Dallas, who is known best for a plus cutter, put up a 1.59 ERA with 18 strikeouts and five walks over 17 innings in July, easily his most successful month yet as a pro.

Orioles: Mike Baumann, RHP (No. 13)
While Baumann’s time in the big leagues -- all as a reliever -- has been a bit uneven over the past two seasons, he’s been working in a bit of a hybrid role in Triple-A. In the last month, he’s had two multiinning relief outings and two starts, posting a 3.00 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over 15 innings total. He’s thrown more strikes and missed more bats (20 K/7 BB) during this time span as well.

Rays: JJ Goss, RHP (No. 15)
The 36th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft entered July with a 5.98 ERA through 14 starts -- not great numbers for a pitcher who has been limited by the pandemic and a shoulder injury in his first three Minor League seasons. Goss came on strong in the last month, however, posting a 1.73 ERA and 0.69 WHIP and striking out 30 over five starts (26 innings). A strong ending to '22 would go a long way toward bringing optimism back that the 21-year-old right-hander could be a mid-rotation starter in time.

Red Sox: Thad Ward, RHP (No. 14)
Ward has returned from Tommy John surgery last June by posting a 2.00 ERA, .179 opponents' average and a 25/5 K/BB ratio in his first six starts back, working short stints at the three lowest levels of Boston's system. The 2018 5th-rounder from Central Florida had one of the best sliders among Red Sox farmhands, as well as a 92-96 mph sinker before his elbow gave out.

Yankees: Sean Hermann, RHP (No. 27)
A revelation since signing for a slightly over-slot $135,000 as a 14th-rounder in last year's Draft, Hermann has a 1.95 ERA, .194 opponents' average and a 28/7 K/BB ratio in his last 27 2/3 innings. The Florida prep product possesses a low-90s fastball with good carry, advanced feel for a sinking mid-80s changeup and a promising low-80s slider.


Guardians: Tanner Bibee, RHP (No. 29)
Bibee pounded the strike zone at Cal State Fullerton, and the Guardians have helped him upgrade his stuff since signing him as a fifth-rounder in 2021. He's now dealing at 93-96 mph and touching 99 with his fastball, getting swings and misses with his fading changeup and having success with a high-spin slider and curveball. He has logged a 1.75 ERA, .207 opponents' average and 26/3 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings since getting promoted to Double-A in early July.

Royals: T.J. Sikkema, LHP (No. 22)
Sikkema was already hot when he moved from the Yankees to the Royals in the Benintendi deal, having fanned 29 batters and walked only two in his final three starts (14 2/3 innings) with High-A Hudson Valley. Kansas City promoted the 24-year-old southpaw to Double-A Northwest Arkansas soon after the deal, and he handled himself well in his Naturals debut (4 1/3 innings, three hits, two runs, one walk, four strikeouts). The 38th overall pick in the 2019 Draft is making up for lost time after shoulder and lat issues, and he has the three-pitch mix to fuel more success in his new organization and level.

Tigers: Brant Hurter, LHP (No. 28)
The 2021 seventh-rounder dominated Single-A Lakeland with a three-pitch mix and solid control to open the season and earned a promotion to High-A West Michigan, where he’s yet to surrender more than three earned runs in any of his eight starts. In July alone, Hurter posted a 1.01 ERA to go with 31 strikeouts and five walks in 26 2/3 innings. He has a 2.64 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 32.8 percent K rate in 81 2/3 innings across both levels.

Twins: Marco Raya, RHP (No. 19)
After being drafted in the pandemic-ruined 2020 season and not pitching in a real game in '21 because of a shoulder strain, the Twins were thrilled simply to get Raya on a mound this year. They’ve been stretching him out cautiously (56 total innings this year), but he’s been solid (2.73 ERA, .193 BAA, 1.02 WHIP and 10.1 K/9). This past month has been on par with that, with a 2.65 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over 17 innings. He’s struck out a batter per inning, and Single-A hitters have managed just a .203 BAA over the past 30 days.

White Sox: Norge Vera, RHP (No. 5)
The White Sox signed Vera for $1.5 million in February 2021 and handled him carefully when he came down with a lat strain this spring. He's on a roll in Single-A, allowing a run in just one of his last four starts, while recording a 1.29 ERA, .177 opponents' average and 25 strikeouts in 14 innings. The Cuban's mid-90s fastball can touch 100 mph and his curveball has the potential to become a plus pitch.


Angels: Landon Marceaux, RHP (No. 16)
Marceaux has been lights out over the last month, allowing just two earned runs over 28 innings (0.64 ERA). He allowed just two walks and 16 hits for a 0.64 WHIP, while striking out 21, as High-A hitters hit just .160 against him in that span. He was so dominant, the Angels promoted him to Double-A, leaving the Northwest League atop its leaderboard in ERA (2.65) and WHIP (0.92).

Astros: Peter Solomon, RHP (No. 6)
After winning Triple-A West Pitcher of the Year honors in 2021, Solomon is thriving again at that level with a 2.53 ERA, .141 opponents' average and 19 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings over his last four starts. A 2017 fourth-rounder from Notre Dame, he has a 92-96 mph fastball and his upper-70s curveball can be a hammer at its best.

A’s: Garrett Acton, RHP (No. 30)
This is the reliever’s second straight appearance on our “hot pitchers” list and this past month, he posted a 1.42 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over nine appearances. In 12 2/3 innings, he struck out 15 and walked just three, allowing 10 hits -- all while playing his home games in hitter-friendly Las Vegas. For the year, the right-hander now has a 2.87 ERA and a 12.6 K/9 rate, while racking up eight saves and five holds.

Mariners: Emerson Hancock, RHP (No. 2)
The Hancock renaissance continues, as the 2020 first-rounder is finally showing what he can do when healthy. He tossed 22 2/3 innings over the last month, posting a 2.78 ERA in the process. That doesn’t include his spotless inning at the Futures Game, of course, and while the walk rate ticked up a bit (10 walks), it’s still encouraging to see him pitching deeper into games. He has a 2.64 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and a .206 BAA for the season.

Rangers: Cole Ragans, LHP (No. 29)
A first-round pick out of a Florida high school in 2016, Ragans has overcome not one but two Tommy John surgeries to reach the big leagues. He earned his callup by compiling a 2.38 ERA, .139 opponents' average and 26/8 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings over his last four Triple-A starts. His low-80s changeup with fade is his best pitch, and he sets it up with a low-90s fastball with riding action.


Braves: Jared Shuster, LHP (No. 6)
Shuster's month included a stop at the All-Star Futures Game, as well as a promotion to Triple-A. He also made five starts spanning 30 innings in that time, posting a 2.10 ERA and 0.83 WHIP, striking out 31 while walking only five and allowing 20 hits. The 2020 first-rounder is now over 100 innings for the year, with a 3.01 ERA, .208 BAA and 0.99 WHIP, striking out 10 per nine and walking just 2.1 per nine.

Marlins: Zach McCambley, RHP (No. 15)
After getting rocked for a 6.12 ERA in his first 12 Double-A starts, McCambley has rallied to post a 2.86 mark, along with a .169 opponents' average and 29 strikeouts in 22 innings in his last four outings. A 2020 third-rounder from Coastal Carolina, he's known for a high-spin power curveball and also owns a 92-94 mph fastball that reaches 96.

Mets: Dominic Hamel, RHP (No. 9)
The 2021 third-rounder out of Dallas Baptist debuted with High-A Brooklyn on July 9 and hasn’t looked back since. Hamel has a 2.25 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 10 walks in 20 innings during his four-start stint with the Cyclones. There’s a solid case that the 23-year-old should have been in the South Atlantic League from the jump in his first full season, but it’s certainly encouraging to see him hit the ground running. Hamel sits around 92-94 mph with his fastball and gets a decent amount of whiffs on his slider and changeup.

Nationals: Cade Cavalli, RHP (No. 2/MLB No. 44)
A season of ups and downs is pointed skyward once again for the Nats’ second-ranked prospect. Cavalli enjoyed a three-start stretch without allowing a run for Triple-A Rochester, striking out 16 and walking only three over 15 2/3 innings to begin July. He was pulled from his July 12 outing due to a bothersome piece of skin on his hand that was deemed not quite a blister, and the issue caused him to miss out on the Futures Game. But he returned 15 days later with another scoreless start. Commanding his four-pitch mix has been a battle for Cavalli throughout 2022, but it seems like he’s at last reining in those issues and closing in on a debut in the nation's capital.

Phillies: Andrew Painter, RHP (No. 2/MLB No. 51)
Painter’s made this list three times now, and for good reason. Just 19 years old, the 2021 first-rounder is making it look pretty easy in High-A, with a 0.51 ERA and 0.79 WHIP over his last four starts. In 17 2/3 innings, he’s allowed just 12 hits and two walks, while striking out 23. For the season -- across two levels of A ball -- the 6-foot-7 righty has put up ridiculous numbers: 1.47 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, .166 BAA, 14.4 K/9.


Brewers: Nick Bennett, LHP
The 2019 sixth-rounder out of Louisville isn’t one of the bigger names in the Milwaukee system, but he was perhaps its most reliable starter in the month of the July. Bennett leads Brewers full-season Minor Leaguers with a 2.17 ERA and 29 innings pitched over the last 30 days with Double-A Biloxi, while his 34 strikeouts rank second in that span. The 6-foot-4 left-hander relies on his secondary pitches to rack up strikeouts, and he can make for a fun watch when he plays with his delivery to mess with hitters’ timing.

Cardinals: Tink Hence, RHP (No. 9)
If Hence threw more innings per start, he would be a lock for the Top 100 Prospects list. He hasn’t allowed more than one earned run in any of his last five outings for Single-A Palm Beach, striking out 31 of the 62 batters he’s faced in that span. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s walked only three of those batters, too. Hence gets a lot of whiffs on his mid-90s fastball and low-80s curve, and they’re pitches that have dominated the Florida State League. After his most recent gem, Hence owns a 1.03 ERA through 11 Palm Beach starts, though he’s yet to pitch more than four frames in any outing.

Cubs: Ben Brown, RHP (No. 11)
Brown permitted just one run and 10 baserunners, while striking out 25 in his final 16 innings as a member of the Phillies' organization. Acquired by the Cubs at the Trade Deadline, he has a mid-90s fastball that peaks at 98 mph, a hard slider and a power curveball.

Pirates: Quinn Priester, RHP (No. 4/MLB No. 32)
This is the Priester the Pirates were hoping to see in 2022 after he finished so strongly a year ago, even though he didn't get to Double-A until mid-June because of an oblique injury and the rehab needed. Over the last month, though, he’s been lights out, with a 0.79 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in his last four starts, yielding just 16 hits and five walks, while striking out 21 over 22 2/3 innings. He has a 1.87 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in seven starts with Altoona.

Reds: Christian Roa, RHP (No. 20)
Roa missed April due to injury, then had trouble getting himself going with High-A Dayton. But he might be getting on track now, with a 2.42 ERA over his last five starts, spanning 22 1/3 innings. He allowed just 13 hits and struck out 23 during the period. He’s walking too many, but for the year, he’s been very tough to hit, with a .224 BAA and 10.8 K/9 rate.


D-backs: Brandon Pfaadt, RHP (No. 4/MLB No. 99)
Anyone who pitches their home games at Double-A Amarillo’s hitter-friendly HODGETOWN is going to put up some rough-looking ERAs, as Pfaadt’s 5.33 mark in July can attest. But looking at his other numbers, there’s a lot to like about where the 23-year-old right-hander is headed. Pfaadt struck out 39 and walked only five in 27 innings last month, leading all Double-A pitchers in K’s in that span. His fastball and changeup are the 6-foot-4 right-hander’s bread and butter, and he throws enough strikes to project a mid-rotation starter by the time he reaches Arizona.

Dodgers: Nick Frasso, RHP (No. 26)
Coming back from Tommy John surgery last June, Frasso yielded only one earned run and five baserunners while striking out 15 in 11 innings over three High-A starts, before going to the Dodgers in a Trade Deadline deal. Frasso has intriguing stuff, including a fastball that tops out at 100 mph and a slider and changeup that could become solid or better offerings.

Giants: Kyle Harrison, LHP (No. 2/MLB No. 23)
Baseball's best left-handed pitching prospect, Harrison continues to dominate and hasn't allowed a run in his last three starts, covering 12 innings, during which he has struck out 17 and limited opponents to a .132 average. He works with a lively mid-90s fastball, a sharp 82-85 mph slider and a fading changeup.

Padres: Jackson Wolf, LHP (No. 25)
Wolf was added to the San Diego Top 30 following the club’s bevy of Trade Deadline moves, but he was trending toward a mid-season addition anyways. The 23-year-old left-hander has a 2.95 ERA with 23 strikeouts and six walks over his last four starts (21 1/3 innings) with High-A Fort Wayne. Wolf’s slider and curveball give the Midwest League fits and help him overcome an otherwise lack of velo.

Rockies: Gavin Hollowell, RHP (No. 25)
Hallowell continues to have a very strong year as Double-A Hartford’s closer. In eight games spanning 10 1/3 innings over the past 30 days, he picked up three saves to go along with his 1.74 ERA and 0.58 WHIP. He allowed just five hits and one walk, while striking out 15. For the year, Hallowell now has 13 saves, a .153 BAA, 0.80 WHIP and 11.6 K/9 rate in 38 2/3 innings.