Who are the top minor league pitching prospects to watch in 2023? From Forrest Whitley’s Triple-A performances to Gavin Williams’ impressive Double-A league start, let’s take a look at which pitchers might be on the fast track to the major leagues.
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Top MLB Pitching Prospects to Watch for in 2023
1. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Houston Astros
Forrest Whitley, standing at 6-7 and weighing 238 lbs, was once one of the most highly-touted pitching prospects in baseball. His impressive physical stature and pitching mechanics made him a potential future ace for the Houston Astros. However, after years of setbacks and struggles, Whitley has yet to make a significant impact in the major leagues.
Recently, Whitley has been turning heads with his starts for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys (yes, that’s their real name) in Triple-A. In his latest outing, he pitched four innings, striking out seven batters while only allowing two walks. These performances have generated speculation about Whitley’s future, particularly with the recent demotion of Blake Taylor to the minors and the void it left on the Astros’ roster.
Only time will tell if Whitley is indeed on the path to making his major league debut, but there’s no denying that his recent performances have been turning heads in the baseball world.
2. Tanner Bibee, RHP, Cleveland Guardians
The Guardians seem to have a knack for producing high-velocity pitchers who can throw strikes with ease. Tanner Bibee, a 6’2″, 200 lb flamethrower, is no exception. In his latest outing against the Worcester Red Sox on April 13, Bibee impressed spectators by lighting up the radar gun with his four-seamer, reaching a max velocity of 99 miles per hour in the first inning and maintaining a consistent velocity of 98 miles per hour by the end of the game.
Bibee’s accuracy has been impressive as well, pounding the strike zone approximately 67% of the time while throwing around 80 pitches in each of his starts. With 15 strikeouts and only three walks in just 11 innings pitched, Bibee’s stuff was on full display. Though initially there were doubts about his selection over Gavin Williams for the AAA assignment, it’s clear why the Guardians have put their trust in him. The buzz around Bibee is growing, and his stock is on the rise.
3. Gavin Williams, RHP, Cleveland Guardians
Gavin Williams, the highly-touted pitching prospect for the Cleveland Guardians, kicked off his season in Double-A with the Akron Rubber Ducks. Prior to the season, many publications had him listed as the top pitcher in the Guardians’ system. Williams has already made two starts for Akron this year, and his performance has been nothing short of impressive. In his first start against the Erie Seawolves, Williams delivered a dominant performance, striking out nine of the 16 batters he faced in 4.1 innings. He followed up with another strong outing against the Bowie Baysox, allowing just one earned run and four hits in five innings.
With his fellow Guardian pitcher Bibee being assigned to Triple-A, there’s now a question mark hanging over whether Williams will follow suit or skip straight to the big leagues. But no matter what the Guardians’ plans may be, Williams’ incredible talent and potential make him a player to watch closely.
4. Matthew Liberatore, LHP St. Louis Cardinals
Matthew Liberatore, a 6’4″ left-handed pitcher, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays and later became part of the Randy Arozarena trade deal. Despite being only 23 years old, he has been a highly touted pitching prospect for quite some time. Although there were concerns in the past that he may have been rushed to the majors too quickly, let’s not hold that against him.
Liberatore has made two starts for Triple-A Memphis and he has been nothing short of sensational. In 11 innings, he has yet to give up a single run, striking out an impressive 15 batters and walking only three. His talent on the mound is undeniable, and he’s proving why he’s one of the most exciting prospects in baseball right now.
The Cardinals are known for their ability to develop pitchers, and Liberatore seems to fit the mold of many of his predecessors. He typically throws for five or six innings per start, keeps the walks to a minimum, and allows his defense to do much of the heavy lifting.
Liberatore still has the potential for a breakout performance comparable to Blake Snell, and his floor is likely comparable to that of his future teammate Steven Matz. He is one of the most polished pitchers in the minor leagues, and when he makes his debut, he could potentially fill in for injured starters on your fantasy team.
5. Andrew Abbott, LHP Cincinnati Reds
Abbott has started the season on an extremely positive note, with his first two outings showcasing his remarkable strikeout potential. In the 10 innings he has pitched, he has impressively struck out an incredible 25 batters and it has certainly turned heads within the organization.
Last season, there were concerns regarding Abbott’s ability to command his pitches effectively. However, in these first two games, he has been consistently throwing strikes, dispelling any doubts that may have existed about his potential as a future rotation piece. Moreover, his mid-90s fastball and plus breaker have been as impressive as ever, making it difficult for opposing batters to make contact.
While it may be too early to make definitive statements about Abbott’s long-term potential, his early performances suggest that he could become one of the most promising young pitching prospects within the organization. If he continues to build upon this early success, it is not hard to imagine Abbott becoming a key contributor to the team’s pitching rotation in the near future.
6. Bryce Jarvis, RHP Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks have another promising young pitcher in Bryce Jarvis, who made his second start in the Texas League (AA) against Corpus Christi yesterday and showcased his potential on the mound. In his five innings of work, Jarvis threw 77 pitches, 51 of which were strikes, and struck out eight batters without issuing a single walk.
The 22-year-old right-hander’s sweeping slider is his go-to pitch and he throws it with conviction and accuracy. Jarvis honed his slider at the Driveline Baseball Academy, where he also added a few ticks to his fastball. Currently, his slider grades out as MLB plus, and when paired with his 95 MPH fastball, it makes him a prime candidate to work in the Arizona bullpen.
However, it remains to be seen how the Diamondbacks will handle their young pitcher. One possible clue comes from the recent development path of Drey Jameson, who started in the bullpen and quickly earned his way into the rotation after a handful of shutout relief performances. It’s a situation worth monitoring.
Though these pitching prospects may not be major league-ready just yet, their recent outings suggest that they’re on the fast track to success. Don’t expect them to be sticking around in the big leagues for the long haul this year, but paying attention to their performance now could give you a competitive edge. Get in on the ground floor before the waiver wire rush and stay tuned to see if they live up to the hype and become the next big thing in fantasy baseball