10 pitchers with huge Spring Training hype

February 14th, 2024

Pitchers have started reporting to Spring Training, and there are so many arms we're excited to see take the mound when games begin.

There'll be aces with a new team for the first time, stars returning from injury, up-and-coming young pitchers with exciting stuff, top pitching prospects at their first big league camp and more.

These are the 10 pitchers we can't wait to watch in Spring Training 2024.

1) , Dodgers

There won't be a spring debut more hyped than Yamamoto's. This is the guy everyone wants to see. We have an idea of what the Japanese ace's stuff will look like in the Majors Leagues thanks to the World Baseball Classic, but it's going to hit different when Yamamoto takes the mound for the first time in a Dodgers uniform. He could be the best pitcher to jump to MLB in a long time. Maybe ever. We can picture the rainbow curveballs and wipeout splitters already.

2) , Pirates

The most heralded pitcher drafted since Stephen Strasburg is headed to his first big league camp, and Skenes might be one of the most electric pitchers across all of Spring Training. The 21-year-old is the top pitching prospect in baseball for a reason -- Skenes' triple-digit fastball and upper-80s slider are both elite pitches and will make him a must-watch this spring. Skenes has a chance to make the big leagues in 2024, just a year after he was the No. 1 overall Draft pick, and Spring Training will be the first taste we get of a future ace.

3) , Orioles

The Orioles' blockbuster trade for Burnes was one of the biggest moves of the offseason, and everyone will want to see how the 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner will look for the reigning AL East champs. Burnes might be the best starter to pitch for the O's since Mike Mussina -- and he'll be the first pitcher with a Cy Young under his belt to pitch for Baltimore since Pat Hentgen in 2003. He's the X-factor in the Orioles' division title defense.

4) , Braves

The biggest difference for the juggernaut Braves in 2024 -- with all due respect to Jarred Kelenic -- is that they've added Sale. At least, it will be the biggest difference if the veteran left-hander stays healthy all season. Sale might not be the 300-strikeout pitcher he once was, but he was a lot closer to his old self than you might have realized in 2023, when he racked up 125 K's in 102 2/3 innings over his 20 starts for the Red Sox, an 11.0 K/9. As it stands, Sale is being projected for about 25 starts and 160 strikeouts this season, but in the most optimistic scenario, he pushes for 30 starts and 200 K's and gives the Braves four aces with Spencer Strider, Max Fried and Charlie Morton.

5) , Mets

Nothing will be more important for the Mets' pitching staff entering 2024 than getting their elite closer back. After Díaz's fluke injury in the World Baseball Classic cost him the entire 2023 season, the wait is finally over for one of the most overpowering pitchers in baseball to return to the mound. The last we saw of Díaz, he was striking out over half the batters he faced in one of the most dominant closer seasons in history. And just from a baseball fan's perspective, we've been missing those trumpets for a full year.

6) , Rays

With Tyler Glasnow traded to the Dodgers and Shane McClanahan out for the year with Tommy John surgery, the return of Baz could be the jolt the Rays' rotation needs in 2024. The 24-year-old right-hander, who's coming back from his own Tommy John surgery, has especially tantalizing potential. Baz has 48 strikeouts in his 40 1/3 big league innings (10.7 K/9), and he features high-end power stuff with a fastball that sat 96-97 mph before his injury, plus multiple swing-and-miss secondary pitches in his high-80s slider and sharp vertical-breaking curveball.

7) , Brewers

Like Baz on the Rays, Hall is a young pitcher who could emerge as a future star for a team that just dealt their ace. The Brewers traded Corbin Burnes to the Orioles, but they got the promising 25-year-old southpaw back in his place. Hall worked out of the bullpen with the O's in 2022 and '23, but he should compete for a spot in Milwaukee's starting rotation, and he has the stuff to do it. In particular, we want to see Hall's explosive fastball in action. He sat at 96 mph with the Orioles -- already on the high end for a lefty -- and his elite release extension makes his fastball play up even more. Hall is 6-foot-2 but releases the ball a full 7 feet in front of the rubber, putting him in the 92nd percentile of MLB pitchers in extension.

8) , Reds

Lowder was the second pitcher taken in the 2023 Draft after Skenes (No. 7 overall), and he'll also be one of the most interesting prospects to watch in his first big league Spring Training. The 21-year-old doesn't throw 100 mph but he is one of the smartest young pitchers out there, thanks to the time he spent at the state-of-the-art Wake Forest Pitching Lab in college. The Reds are known for their pitching development, so it seems like a match made in heaven with the No. 34 prospect in MLB entering the 2024 season.

9) , Tigers

Jobe was drafted No. 3 overall in 2021 but this will be his first Major League Spring Training. So we'll definitely be paying attention to the 21-year-old right-hander, who's ranked MLB's No. 25 prospect overall and the third-best pitching prospect. Jobe's slider is his best pitch, with extremely high spin and sweeping horizontal movement. That's the pitch we want to see the most, but really, we just want to get a first look at a top prospect testing his stuff against big league hitters.

10) , Cubs

Yamamoto wasn't the only Japanese star pitcher to come to the Majors this offseason. Imanaga is more of a wild card than his fellow NPB ace, but that just makes us want to watch his spring debut even more. And if we can trust one of Imanaga's rotation-mates in Chicago, we should be excited to see what the 30-year-old left-hander can do.

There's a lot to like about Imanaga. He was good enough to beat Team USA in the 2023 World Baseball Classic championship game. And he's got intriguing stuff, with a mid-90s fastball that plays up as a "rising" fastball and a lefty splitter that will give MLB hitters a look they don't often see.