MLB Pipeline will reveal its 2022 Top 100 Prospects list on Friday, with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday at 11 a.m. ET. Leading up to the release of the Top 100, we'll examine baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
Little can illustrate just how fickle a list of pitching prospects can be better than a comparison of this year’s ranking of the Top 10 left-handers with last year’s version.
The 2021 No. 1, MacKenzie Gore, has dropped five places following a rough and inconsistent season. New No. 1 Reid Detmers wasn’t even on last year’s list before he climbed to the Majors in his first full season, showing an impressive four-pitch mix and good control along the way. Kyle Harrison, Blake Walston, Aaron Ashby and Jake Eder are also new additions. Tarik Skubal, Daniel Lynch and Garrett Crochet graduated, while injury concerns for Brailyn Marquez and Brendan McKay caused them to drop off the list.
Six of the new 10 -- Detmers, Nick Lodolo, Matthew Liberatore, Gore, DL Hall and Ashby -- are expected to see the Majors in some capacity in 2022. Detmers and Ashby, in particular, are candidates to open the season in The Show following their 2021 contributions.
The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Reid Detmers, Angels (2022)
2. Nick Lodolo, Reds (2022)
3. Matthew Liberatore, Cardinals (2022)
4. Asa Lacy, Royals (2023)
5. Kyle Harrison, Giants (2023)
6. MacKenzie Gore, Padres (2022)
7. DL Hall, Orioles (2022)
8. Blake Walston, D-backs (2023)
9. Aaron Ashby, Brewers (2022)
10. Jake Eder, Marlins (2024)
Complete list »
Fastball: Hall (65)
The good news: Hall throws in the upper 90s with good life and can touch 101 mph at times on the radar gun. It’s a killer fastball from his 6-foot-2 frame. The bad news: An elbow issue ended his 2021 after only 31 2/3 innings. Hall got back on the rubber in January, and the Orioles are optimistic the heat will return from there. The velocity alone gives him a considerable ceiling.
Curveball: Detmers (65)
The deuce was a big reason behind Detmers’ climb from Double-A to the Majors in his first full season. He averaged 73.5 mph on the breaker in the big leagues, and it drops significantly off the table, making hitters look foolish if they swing and miss or watch it plop in for a strike. Major Leaguers whiffed on it 33.3 percent of the time and only batted .150 against it in a small early sample.
Slider: Ashby (65)
The Milwaukee southpaw backed up reports that the slider is his best pitch by throwing it 38.5 percent of the time in the Majors, making it his most-used offering. The low-80s offering breaks hard and typically nips the lower, gloveside part of the zone. It got whiffs 42 percent of the time in the Majors and should play if Ashby moves to the Brewers rotation or sticks as a reliever.
Changeup: Lacy, Gore (60)
These grades correlate to potential. It’s important to remember that in these two cases since both Lacy and Gore had off 2021 seasons. The Royals left-hander’s changeup dives late away from hitters from both sides, and there were times when Kansas City officials thought it was his best secondary offering. Gore’s low-80s, sinking changeup has drawn praise back to his prep days, but he needs to find ways to consistently command all of his pitches following mechanical changes. If everything else lines up, these changes will be keys to Major League success for both Lacy and Gore.
Control: Lodolo (60)
A shoulder strain limited Lodolo to 50 2/3 innings last season. Otherwise, his ability to hit the zone would have certainly made him a Major Leaguer in 2021. The 2019 seventh overall pick has walked only 11 batters in 69 career Minor League innings and has yet to post a K/9 above 2.7 with any affiliate.
Highest ceiling: Gore
The difference between Gore’s ceiling and floor seemed to grow two stories in 2021, but the former remains as high as it gets. On pure stuff, Gore boasts four above-average to plus pitches -- ones that helped him post a 1.69 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 101 innings just two years ago. He just needs to iron out the delivery adjustments that get him into better sync and allow those pitches to play. We could know early in 2022 where he is in that process after another offseason to take things in.
Highest floor: Detmers
Detmers has already cracked the Angels’ Major League rotation, and while the results weren’t ideal, he did show enough promise to return there early in 2022, if not right out of the gate. His above-average strike-throwing ability, which showed itself much more in the Minors than the Majors, should keep him in a starting role. Whether that’s as a No. 5 or perhaps even a No. 2 is yet to be seen, but at least his range of outcomes doesn’t seem likely to include a trip to the bullpen.
Rookie of the Year candidate: Detmers
The Angels’ biggest issue of the Mike Trout era has been getting consistent starting pitching, that is from a hurler who doesn’t also put up MVP numbers with a bat in his hands. Detmers gives the Halos a real shot at a homegrown impact starter, and the fact that he’s likely to get a full season (or close to a full season) in Anaheim boosts his AL ROY case. Lodolo, Liberatore and Ashby could be contenders in the NL, depending on roles, health and MLB arrival dates.
Highest riser: Eder
Eder was a reliever his first two years at Vanderbilt and made only four starts in 2020 before the pandemic cut his junior year short. He fell to the Marlins in the fifth round that summer but immediately became one of Miami’s best pitching prospects in 2021, thanks to a mid-90s fastball, tight slider and much-improved changeup. Tommy John surgery has put that progress on hold for now, but Eder remains a much bigger name now than he did on Draft Day.
Humblest beginning: Eder
Coincidentally, all 10 of the top left-handed pitching prospects entered pro ball as Draft picks. Seven of those 10 were first-round picks. Eder came in the bottom of the totem pole as a fifth-rounder with Ashby (2018 fourth) and Harrison (2020 third) coming in just above him.
Most to prove: Gore
It’s been a fall from grace for the 2017 third overall pick. He was easily the Minors’ most effective pitcher in 2019, was inconsistent with his delivery behind closed doors in 2020 and bounced around four affiliates, the Arizona complex and the Arizona Fall League in search of regaining that magic. There’s a case to be made that he isn’t a Top 100 prospect anymore. By spotting him at No. 86, we’re holding out hope that he can return to past glories. Another summer of stumbles, however, will be what moves him off.
Keep an eye on: Brandon Williamson, Mariners
A 2019 second-rounder out of TCU, Williamson commanded evaluators’ attention when he finally got a full Minor League season under his belt last summer. He finished with a 3.39 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and an astounding 153 strikeouts in 98 1/3 innings, most of which came at Double-A Arkansas. The 6-foot-6 left-hander is a commanding presence with a fastball that touches 96-97 and a plus curveball that features plenty of depth. A slider and changeup give him two more offerings, though neither is above-average right now. If either pitch ticks up -- or even if Williamson reproduces his 2021 results in the upper Minors again this year -- he would be a Top 10 shoo-in.