While hitting might win most fantasy championships, pitching is pretty damn important too. That’s my motto that I live and sometimes die by each season. Listen, I know acquiring pitching can be a pain, especially when it’s top line talent. No one wants to pay top dollar for pitching. It’s just how it is. I’m one of the biggest “don’t pay a ton for pitching” guys around. Whether it’s re-draft, keeper, dynasty, it doesn’t matter. I want quality pitching but don’t want to pay much to get it. Is that so wrong? I want to grab breakout pitching prospects before they become elite. That’s how I roll.
Well, that’s where an article like this comes in handy. These pitchers aren’t going to be names you’ve never heard of. The same theme applies here as it did with the hitters we went over last Tuesday. These guys are all thought of as good pitching prospects right now. However, I’m here to tell you that in a year’s time, they could be elite. Consider them the potential next batch of Chris Paddacks and Jesus Luzardos. The time is now to grab these guys in dynasty before their value skyrockets to a price you’re not going to want to pull the wallet out for. Here are my breakout pitching prospects for 2019. You can grab them cheap now or fight over them next season.
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Breakout Pitching Prospects to Target
Brady Singer (RHP – KC)
When it comes to pitching from the 2018 draft, it’s Casey Mize and then everyone else. But if any pitcher is to emerge from this “everyone else” group and be one of next season’s breakout pitching prospects, it’s Brady Singer. The former Florida Gator possesses a devastating fastball/slider combination, good enough to have him pitching out of a Major League bullpen by next season. But of course, the Royals are going to give Singer every chance to stick in the rotation, especially since they lack frontline starters anywhere in the organization outside of Singer.
Once Singer gets going here in the minor leagues, the focus will have to be on the development of his changeup. As it stands, it’s a fringy offering, but has flashed promise at times. The problem is that Singer didn’t use the pitch much in college and has yet to get a feel for it like he has with his plus slider. If he can turn that change-up into a third plus offering, Singer has the chance to lead the Royals rotation within the next few years.
Shane Baz (RHP – PIT)
While Mitch Keller might be the current crown jewel of the Pittsburgh pitching prospects, it’s quite possible that five years down the road, Shane Baz is the more highly regarded of the two. Why? Because Baz just oozes upside.
Still just 19, Baz already has an arsenal that most Major League veterans would kill for. He throws his fastball in the low to mid-90s and can touch as high as 99 when needed. To keep hitters off his four-seamer, Baz also throws a hard cutter that he can also turn into a sharp upper-80’s slider that is already a strikeout weapon for him. That’s not all either. Baz also brings an above average hammer curve that flashes plus potential and a changeup that should be at least an average offering for him.
#Pittsburgh @Pirates prospect, @BriBucs RHP Shane Baz @thewizardofbaz twirled 5 scoreless innings in the former first-round pick’s 2018 debut. Fastball up to 9️⃣6️⃣, worked low 90s after first 2 frames. #Pirates No. 3 talent in system w/both @BaseballAmerica & @MLBPipeline. pic.twitter.com/3RAPJvo9lh
— Danny Parker (@TheDannyParker) June 21, 2018
Man, talk about an arsenal. If you differentiate his slider and cutter, that would give him five pitches with three already being plus or having plus potential. What is going to determine if Baz leapfrogs Keller down the road is command and the repeatability of his delivery. But remember, he’s still a teenager. These things can be worked on in the low minors.
Logan Allen (LHP – SD)
Remember how we referenced Luzardo in the opening? Well, here’s my pick for the 2019 version of Luzardo. It’s fitting too, as there are some similarities between the two southpaws. Like Luzardo, Allen isn’t overpowering with his fastball, which usually sits in the 91-94 mph range with arm side run. However, that late life, plus above-average command of the pitch, makes Allen’s fastball just as good or even better than pitchers with higher velocity.
In addition to his fastball, Allen features a plus changeup and above average curveball with plus potential. The curveball currently lacks consistency but has improved since the start of this season. Allen can command all of his pitches well and has shown above-average control throughout his minor league career.
And what a minor league career it’s been. In 322.2 innings across parts of four seasons, Allen has a 2.79 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9 and 9.6 K/9. With further development of his curveball, that strikeout rate should rise above 10.
Nate Pearson (RHP – TOR)
This system might be loaded with offensive talent, but let’s not overlook some of the high upside pitchers here, especially Nate Pearson. The big 6’6 right-hander has been plagued by injuries this season, which has limited him to just one start and 1.1 innings. His season debut was delayed due to an oblique injury and then a comebacker fractured his forearm in just the 2nd inning of his debut. Talk about crappy luck, huh? We’re now close to 14 months since the 2017 draft where Pearson was taken 28th overall and we’ve only gotten 21.1 innings out of him.
As impressive as those innings have been, it’s too small of a sample size to draw conclusions from. Instead, lets focus of Pearson’s arsenal and what he brings on the mound. In case you missed it, Pearson is 6’6 and uses that frame to generate a good downward plane on his 95-98 mph fastball that he can ramp up into the triple-digits when he needs to. As good as that heater is, his slider is equally as effective and a plus-pitch for him. Thrown in the upper-80’s, Pearson’s slider has strong two-plane break that causes fits for batters, no matter what side of the plate they stand on.
That combination alone is enough to rack up strikeouts with the best of them. However, to vault into the elite pitching prospect ranks, Pearson will need to continue to develop his change-up. Which is currently a below-average offering, though has flashed above-average at times. All the ingredients are here for an elite frontline starting pitcher.
While you’re digging on Eric’s breakout pitching prospects, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04. Also, make sure to check out Eric’s waiver wire recommendations every Friday, here on FantraxHQ.