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Starting Pitcher Prospects Rankings for 2023 Fantasy Baseball Redraft Leagues

Hunter Brown - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

Draft season is upon us, and I am getting incredibly hyped for this upcoming MLB season. We have a ton of young talent in the league at every position, but I can't remember the last time we had so many exciting young arms either set to debut or waiting in the wings at Triple-A.

Today I give you my top 10 starting pitcher fantasy baseball prospects for re-draft leagues. My rankings take into account the overall talent of the pitcher but also have to factor in the odds of each pitcher actually seeing meaningful time with the big-league club because a really good pitcher who doesn't pitch much this season doesn't do anything for us in redraft leagues. We are not talking dynasty leagues here, people.

There's a pretty strong consensus around the top 2-3 spots, but the rest of my rankings might vary compared to others. And remember, the opportunity to produce this season is being factored in here, and not just the potential of each pitcher!

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Top 10 Starting Pitcher Prospects For Fantasy Baseball

10. Drey Jameson and Ryne Nelson, Arizona Diamondbacks

I'm cheating here by not picking just one guy and saving myself a spot for another high-upside rookie in the process.

Jameson was an impressive 3-0 in four starts for the Snakes last season, though his 1.48 ERA was likely a mirage based on his other ERA indicators and a 95% strand rate. Still, the 25-year-old showed some nice velocity (96 MPH) on his fastball and had a solid 56% GB rate. It depends on which reports you to read coming out of Arizona camp, but he could end up winning the last rotation spot out of camp and start the season in the rotation.

His minor league stats aren't all that impressive, however, especially the 6.95 ERA he was sporting at AAA last year before being called up. Of the three young Arizona arms, I like him the least, but there's certainly a path to productivity here for fantasy if he can remain in the rotation and keep the ball on the ground.

If it's not Jameson as the fifth starter to open the season, then Nelson is another possibility, and FanGraphs' Roster Resource has him penciled in there for now. Like Jameson, Nelson is already 25 years old, and Arizona likely wants to know what they have with their young pitchers this season, so the fact that they're being blocked by has-beens like Madison Bumgarner and Zach Davies doesn't mean all that much. We are very likely to see all three of these guys in the big leagues at various points this season.

Nelson also pitched well at the end of last season in a very small sample (18 innings), going 1-1 with a 1.47 ERA in three starts. He showed more consistency in the minors than Jameson but doesn't bring quite the same strikeout upside. He was too dependent on his fastball last year, throwing it nearly 70% of the time, and even at an average velocity of 95 MPH, he's asking for trouble.


9. Kyle Muller, Oakland Athletics

Muller isn't a lock to make the opening-day rotation in Oakland, but he should definitely get a shot to debut with his new team, likely early in the year. Muller came over in an off-season trade that sean catcher Sean Murphy to Atlanta, and personally, I like his stuff more than his fellow lefty teammate Ken Waldichuk's.

The breakdown by my buddy Eric Samulski is over a year old but does a great job of highlighting Muller's arsenal of pitches. He flashed some nice upside in 2021 and pitched well at Triple-A last season before struggling at the big league level to the tune of an 8.03 ERA over 12 innings (3 starts).

The walks are my biggest concern and something he needs to reign in quickly. He throws four pitches and has a plus slider, and has shown that he can strike out major-league hitters. I'm intrigued.


8. Gavin Stone, Los Angeles Dodgers

Stone's path to the majors is a little trickier than some of the guys further up my list, but his talent is indisputable, and he would likely be in the starting rotation for a lesser organization. He and fellow 24-year-old righty Bobby Miller are both turning some heads this Spring with their swing-and-miss stuff.

Miller is the former first-round pick who's throwing serious heat, but you could argue that Stone is the guy who is more polished at this stage of their careers, and everyone is raving about his changeup.

Stone had a 1.60 ERA across 73 innings in Double-A and then finished with a 1.16 ERA across his six starts at Triple-A last season. He had a 35% K rate at both levels and walked only 8-9% of batters. The Dodgers are well-known for resting their starters and managing innings, so it's plausible that they get these young bucks some experience sooner than later and could even employ a six-man rotation at some point.


7. Brandon Pfaadt, Arizona Diamondbacks

This is the guy that SHOULD be in the rotation right off the bat for Arizona, and I have him pretty far ahead of teammates Jameson, Nelson, and Tommy Henry. Pfaadt was the minor league leader in strikeouts last season and, upon arriving at Triple-A midway through the season, put up some eye-popping numbers.

In 10 starts at Triple-A: 5-1, 2.63 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 30.6% K%, 5.8% BB%, OPP AVG .209

That's nothing to sneeze at, and that type of strikeout potential paired with superb control simply isn't easy to find among young hurlers.

As you can see, he's looked good this Spring, too. Even if Arizona opts to send him down to AAA and go with Jameson or Nelson, it's probably only a matter of time before he's back up with the club at some point. The K/BB ratio is just super impressive.


6. Kyle Harrison, San Francisco Giants 

He's being hailed as the top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball by many, and his 36% strikeout rate at Double-A last year is something to behold. He's still only 21 years old, but Harrison feels like he's on the fast track to the majors with a flame-thrower for a left arm.

He's being blocked by a bunch of veterans in this Giants rotation, and it would make sense for them to send him to Triple-A to start the season and continue to work on his secondary pitches and his control, as his walk rate is still a bit higher than you'd like to see.

But if we are talking pure talent, Harrison has it in spades, and if he can dominate at Triple-A the same way that he's mowed down hitters at every other level, then the Giants would be foolish not to call him up and give him his shot later this year.


5. Andrew Painter, Philadelphia Phillies

Painter had a legit shot at competing for the fifth and final spot in the Phillies rotation but is now injured, and that could end up really delaying his debut.

The massive 6'7" righty is still only 19 years old and has been so lights-out in the low minors that Philly had no choice but to consider jumping him right from Double-A to the bigs. But now he's likely to start the year at AAA once he's healthy, and that might not be all that bad of a thing considering he only threw 28 innings at Double-A last season.

Make no mistake about it, though, this kid is as talented as any young pitcher in baseball, and if he comes back and pitches as well at Triple-A, then he could easily push to get back up with the big league club. And since Philly has their eyes set on a title this season, they'd be wise to consider what he could offer this year as they are in "win-now" mode.


4. Jared Shuster, Atlanta Braves

Our only other lefty, Shuster, looks ready to make an impact for the Bravos right out of the gate and has a beat on the fifth spot in the rotation. He dominated in the low minors, but his strikeouts disappeared last year once he got to Triple-A with only a 19% K rate. His control is excellent, however, and he has command of all his pitches which is not something we can say for most young pitchers.

He doesn't throw overly hard, topping out around 94 MPH on his fastball, but his changeup and slider are plus pitches, especially his changeup, which has been his main out pitch. Spring Training results should always be taken with a grain of salt, but it is certainly better to see him pitching well than getting hit around.

He might not be the most talented pitcher on this list, but if he's going to get the ball every fifth day backed by a dominant offense, I'd expect him to pick up his fair share of wins.


3. Hunter Brown, Houston Astros

Brown is penciled in as the fifth starter for Houston right now, but some still feel he could be moved to a relief role at some point. Either way, the kid has electric stuff with a high 90s fastball and a big breaking ball that he uses to get whiffs. He had an ERA under one last season in 20 innings with the Astros and looks poised for a huge rookie year.

Walks are a bit of a concern, but the strikeouts should be there, and he will be backed by a solid defense and a really good offense. There's no reason to think that if he can stick in the rotation, he won't put up some very useable stats, especially some wins, and strikeouts.


2. Hayden Wesneski, Chicago Cubs

I have Wesneski pretty high on my list, and I have been actively trying to draft him when I can. The former Yankee prospect looked every bit the part in his late-season audition with the Cubs last fall, compiling a 2.18 ERA across 33 innings. Everything checks out with Wesneski as he gets a good amount of groundballs and keeps his walks down.

The strikeouts have been largely just average across his minor league career, but you're trading some of that big-time strikeout upside here for a guy who looks polished and can throw all of his pitches for strikes. This is a 25-year-old with a lot of experience and who could end up being one of the most productive pitchers the Cubs have by season's end.

I'm all in on him, and I think he's probably one of the least risky rookie starters you can draft in redraft formats. You can grab him around pick 400 well after Brown and Rodriguez are off the board.


1. Grayson Rodriguez, Baltimore Orioles

You were waiting for this one, admit it. To no one's surprise, Rodriguez is atop my list and just about everyone else's, too. He's being drafted around pick 210, and I'm comfortable reaching for him a bit because I like to be aggressive in going after pitchers I like. I would expect other managers in your league to be salivating at the chance of having him on their rosters, too.

Rodriguez was on pace to make his debut last season before getting injured, as he dominated at Triple-A to the tune of a 35% K rate with only a 7% BB rate. He throws hard, has a solid slider, and a 70-grade changeup that really sets him apart from most other young hard-throwers.

Baltimore needs pitching in the worst way, and I won't be surprised if Rodriguez isn't their ace by the end of the season. Don't hesitate to snag him ahead of his ADP, the only thing that may end up slowing him down would be Baltimore limiting his innings late in the season as a precaution.

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