2016 Prospect Watch: Top 10 right-handed pitchers

Giolito remains atop list, while Glasnow moves up to No. 2

January 19th, 2016

MLBPipeline.com will unveil its 2016 Top 100 Prospects list on Friday, Jan. 29, on MLB.com. The Top 50 will be revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

The endless search for pitching means that most of baseball's top 10 right-handed pitching prospects were in high demand as amateurs. Five of the 10 hurlers were first-round picks and seven of them received a seven-figure bonus, with Jose De Leon (who signed for $35,000 as a 24th-rounder out of Southern University) the only one of the who emerged from obscurity.

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Top 10 Prospects by Position

Lucas Giolito repeats as the No. 1 righty from a year ago, while Tyler Glasnow moves up from No. 3 to No. 2. The first four right-handers on our list, a group that also includes Alex Reyes and Jose Berrios, have been developed carefully and patiently by their clubs to this point. That could change in 2016, when all of them could make their big league debut.

1. Lucas Giolito, Nationals

Giolito could have been the first high school righty drafted No. 1 overall, but he injured his right elbow as a senior in 2012 and required Tommy John surgery. That didn't deter Washington from spending a first-round pick and $2,925,000 on Giolito, and the payoff has been an almost-certain ace with no discernible flaw. Giolito has a fastball that can reach 100 mph, a wipeout curveball and a promising changeup, not to mention command, size and smarts.

2. Tyler Glasnow, Pirates

Hitters never seem to square up Glasnow's fastball, which sits in the mid-90s with life and arrives on a steep downhill plane because he's 6-foot-8. It has taken Glasnow some time to grown into his large frame, but he has continued to improve his curveball, changeup and control each year, and he eventually should slot in behind Gerrit Cole as Pittsburgh's No. 2 starter.

3. Alex Reyes, Cardinals

Reyes gained little exposure as a New Jersey high schooler, so he moved to the Dominican Republic before his senior year and saw his stock skyrocket when he became a full-time pitcher. Reyes is still a bit raw, but he can hit 100 mph with his fastball and back it up with a hammer curveball. He was clearly the best prospect in the Arizona Fall League this offseason, though he also got suspended for 50 games after a second positive test for a drug of abuse that he says was marijuana.

4. Jose Berrios, Twins

Despite contending until season's end and needing rotation help, Minnesota curiously didn't promote Berrios, who led the Minors with 175 strikeouts and started his second consecutive SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. The highest-drafted (32nd overall) Puerto Rican pitcher of all-time, he has the potential for three plus pitches and throws them all for strikes.

5. Jose De Leon, Dodgers

De Leon has skyrocketed from his lowly Draft status and a 6.96 ERA in his pro debut to leading the Minors with 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings and reaching Double-A in 2015, just two years later. De Leon's stuff and command have gotten a lot better since he improved his conditioning and mechanics, giving him a riding 92-96 mph fastball, a plus changeup and an effective if inconsistent slider.

6. Jon Gray, Rockies

The lone member of this list to have reached the Majors, Gray may have the best pure stuff in franchise history, with a heavy fastball that has been clocked at 102 mph, a nasty slider and a sinking changeup. Also the highest-drafted righty in the Top 10 (No. 3 overall in 2013), he'll need to refine his command to become a front-line starter and survive Coors Field.

7. Robert Stephenson, Reds

Cincinnati went with an all-rookie rotation in the second half of the 2015 season, and its most promising arm has yet to arrive but is on the verge. Stephenson has knockout stuff -- with a mid-90s fastball, a curveball that's devastating at times and a much-improved changeup -- though he doesn't dominate as much as he should because he's still figuring out command.

8. Dillon Tate, Rangers

The highest-drafted player to have come through MLB's Urban Youth Academy, Tate progressed from pitching just three innings as a UC Santa Barbara freshman in 2013 to the No. 4 overall pick last June. With his live 92-98 mph fastball, sharp upper-80s slider and athleticism, he could advance very quickly.

9. Carson Fulmer, White Sox

The ace of Vanderbilt teams that won the 2014 College World Series and finished runner-up in '15, he topped NCAA Division I with 14 victories and ranked second with 167 strikeouts last season. The No. 8 overall choice in last year's Draft, Fulmer has a mid-90s fastball, a power curveball and off-the-charts makeup, so he's on the fast track to Chicago, like Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon were.

10. Anderson Espinoza, Red Sox

The consensus best pitcher on the 2014-15 international amateur market already looks better than expected. Signed for $1.8 million -- doubling the Venezuelan bonus record set by Francisco Rodriguez 16 years earlier -- Espinoza advanced to low Class A at age 17 in his pro debut, hitting triple digits with his fastball and showing advanced secondary pitches and command.

Next up

A Rookie-ball unknown when the Astros got him thrown into their Jarred Cosart trade with the Marlins in July 2014, Francis Martes rocketed to Double-A at age 19 a year later. With his fastball jumping to 93-98 mph and his curveball becoming a true weapon, he became the best pitching prospect in the system and enabled Houston to deal Vincent Velazquez and former No. 1 overall choice Mark Appel to Philadelphia for Ken Giles in December.

In the mix to go No. 1 overall in the 2014 Draft before he blew out his elbow, Jeff Hoffman went No. 9 to the Blue Jays despite having Tommy John surgery, and he quickly reached Double-A in his pro debut last year. Traded to the Rockies in the Troy Tulowitzki deal in July, he has a chance to have three plus pitches (mid-90s sinker, big-breaking curveball, changeup) and throws strikes, but he needs to miss more bats.