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3 Top Pitching Prospects In A+

With the major league season moving right along and already the injuries have been mounting it’s important to have your finger on the pulse of the minor leagues to see who is coming next. This is a small look into the arms that are currently standing out in A+ and could be pushing for a promotion to AA or better by year’s end.

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3 Pitching Prospects to Grab And Stash

Luinder Avila, KCR

Currently second in the Midwest League in strikeouts, Luinder Avila has been very impressive in his first four outings. The 21-year-old has started in two games this season so far and came in relief twice for A+ Quad Cities. In his combined 17.1 innings pitched, Avila has struck out 29 batters, good for a 15.06 K/9 while holding batters to a .180 average and securing a 1.56 ERA. Avila was a workhorse in 2022 at A- Columbia logging 115 innings over 26 starts but the results were nothing like what we are seeing to start this season.

Avila struck out 97 batters, good for a 7.59 K/9 with a .230 average and 4.54 ERA by the season’s end. Definitely a small sample size but the early results are good so far for Luinder Avila, whose age is right for the level and could continue to build his value this season. For dynasty purposes, he’s a deep-league-only add at this time.

Josh Stephan, TEX

One of, if not the most, impressive arms in A+ currently is Josh Stephan of the Texas Rangers. Stephan is currently in A+ Hickory and has been showing great strikeout numbers so far. The 21-year-old has 22 strikeouts in 18 innings pitched while holding batters to a .119 average and sitting on a 0.50 ERA in three starts. No doubt these numbers stand out but what’s even more impressive is the fact that Stephan sits ninth in strikeouts for the South Atlantic League. Now how is ninth impressive? He has one to two starts LESS than the rest of the league leaders.

Stephan is fun to watch on the mound as he has shown to be a bulldog on the mound and is building on the solid season he had in 2022. Last season Stephan ascended two levels striking out 115 batters in 104.1 innings pitched keeping batters to a .198 average against and holding a solid 2.44 ERA in 21 appearances and 19 starts. Josh Stephan is a high-priority target in deep dynasty leagues of 15 teams and up because he is showing solid incremental gains that could see him rise into organizational top-10 status in short order.

Dylan Ray, ARI

Coming from the Northwest League, Dylan Ray has shown impressive strikeout numbers so far in 2023. Ray was a redshirt freshman out of Alabama primarily being used as a relief pitcher. During his time in Alabama, Ray struck out 49 batters in 31.1 innings pitched while saving eight games for the Crimson Tide. The Diamondbacks’ 21-year-old fourth-round pick in the 2022 draft started the season in A+ Hillsboro, striking out 28 batters in 19 innings pitched good for a 13.26 K/9 in his first four starts. The right-hander has shown a solid 1.42 BB/9 and has held batters to a .186 average and locking in a 3.79 ERA.

Now, no doubt the Northwest League can be a hitter-friendly league, so inflated ERAs are common for pitchers. Ray has shown solid gains over last season, lowering the walk rate and limiting the home run to fly ball rate to 16.7% down from 35.7% in 11.2 innings at A- in 2022. Once again small sample size, but the results are encouraging for Ray to start the 2023 season. If Ray can continue to keep his walk rate low he could continue to be an interesting lower-level pitching prospect in the Diamondbacks organization.

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