WTNYSeptember 10, 2003
No Sheehan, TISTAPP! Here's my 50...
By Bryan Smith

Baseball Prospectus, namely Joe Sheehan, are staunch believers that there is no such thing as a pitching prospect. I disagree with this whole heartedly, maybe because I'm more of a prospect-fanatic than the normal (and sane) male. But while I agree that there are a number of factors preventing these players from making out, I'm not about to miss the next Dontrelle, the next Prior, the next Pedro.

My goal, is that through reading this site that you won't either. After plugging some numbers and using some odd thought, I have compiled my top 50 pitching prospects.

Dayn Perry wrote a series of articles on Prospectus writing what the current group of elite pitchers did in their minor league seasons. The consensus was that the upmost echelon of Major League pitchers dominate just average hurlers in H/9 in the minors. This was the most deciding factor in my ranking of pitchers, although age, level, scouting reports (from Baseball America) and what arm a pitcher uses were also important.

Here's the top 50 with periodical breaks so that I can semi-defend myself (stars by name indicate pitcher is left-handed):
1.Greg Miller (LA) *
2. Zack Greinke (KC)
3. Cole Hamels (PHI) *
4. John Maine (BAL)
5. Clint Nageotte (SEA)
6. Edwin Jackson (LA)
7. Scott Kazmir (NYM) *
8. Gavin Floyd (PHI)
9. Merkin Valdez (SF)
10. John VanBenschoten (PIT)
11. Adam Wainwright (ATL)
12. Ervin Santana (ANA)
13. Angel Guzman (CHC)
14. Joe Blanton (OAK)

This is where the top group of pitchers end. Miller got the nod over Greinke for a couple of reasons:
- He's younger (Miller-18; Greinke-19)
- He did more at AA (Miller 1-1 1.01; Greinke 4-3 3.23)
- He's a leftie
- He'll pitch in Dodger Stadium
That's about it. Miller will likely make his debut as a 19-year-old, which Edwin Jackson (#6) missed out on by a day. Jackson now has a rotation spot, and shouldn't yield that for a career.

To the second tier:

15. Fausto Carmona (CLE)
16. Bryan Bullington (PIT)
17. Bobby Jenks (ANA)
18. Travis Blackley (SEA) *
19. Jeff Francis (COL) *
20. Andy Sisco (CHC) *
21. Vince Perkins (TOR)
22. Chadd Blasko (CHC)
23. David Bush (TOR)
24. Felix Hernandez (SEA) *
25. Dan Meyer (ATL) *

Break. A couple of names will probably jump off the page that other sources don't agree with. Chadd Blasko is higher on my lists than many, but he did go 10-5 with a 1.98 ERA in 136.1 Florida State League innings. And while putting a 17-year-old in the 24th spot sounds insane, he truly was the dominant player in the Northwest League. Jeff Francis and Bobby Jenks finished the year as the two hottest pitchers, and definitly got recognition from me.

Moving on:

26. Joel Zumaya (DET)
27. Mike Jones (MIL)
28. Manny Parra (MIL) *
29. Bobby Brownlie (CHC)
30. Juan Dominguez (TEX)
31. Dustin McGowan (TOR)
32. Justin Jones (CHC) *
33. Denny Bautista (BAL)
34. Adam Loewen (BAL) *

Another pause. Milwaukee dominated yesterday's positional rankings, and do really have two top-30 caliber pitchers. Bobby Brownlie may not have thrown a lot, but he did great in the FSL with limited arm strength. Adam Loewen is also hard to judge, but he has top-10 potential. Zumaya, a Tiger, was put on the list for striking out 126 in 90.1 innings, but he may be a candidate for an arm injury.

Nearing the end...

35. Matt Peterson (NYM)
36. Kris Honel (CHW)
37. Mike Hinckley (MON)
38. Joel Hanrahan (LA)
39. Jorge De La Rosa (BOS) *
40. Matt Riley (BAL) *
41. Francisco Cruceta (CLE)
42. Macay McBride (ATL) *
43. Jon Connolly (DET) *

This is a group of misfits. We have a former college star in Peterson, a high-school first rounder in Honel, a former top-prospect in Riley, and a soft-throwing leftie in Connolly. The latter may have had the most remarkable season in the minors (16-3, 1.41), but his K numbers (104/166) don't get him love from scouts.

Rounding out the 50...

44. Luis Martinez (MIL) *
45. Sean Burnett (PIT) *
46. J.D. Durbin (MIN)
47. Brandon Claussen (CIN) *
48. Bubba Nelson (ATL)
49. Rett Johnson (SEA)
50. Seung Song (MON)

Mostly AA players who have solid hit rates but below average strikeout numbers. Claussen is a sensational story, and may turn out to be the 2004 Reds' ace. Luis Martinez is already pitching in the Majors, and most of these players aren't far behind.

OK, to recap, here's the top teams:
1. Chicago Cubs- 5
2. Three teams with 4
- Baltimore Orioles
- Atlanta Braves
- Seattle Mariners
3. Four teams with 3
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Milwaukee Brewers

The Cubs and Braves are no surprise, they've been breeding arms for years. Baltimore has welcomed all four, in one way or another, to the franchise in about one season. The Blue Jays need for pitching will be replenished soon, and this list doesn't even include players like Brandon League and Francisco Rosario.

I should also mention that I didn't include any of the recent drafted players. I think Kyle Sleeth, Tim Stauffer, and Jeff Allison are all top-50 worthy, but they should prove it in professional baseball first.

Tomorrow I will try to make the organizational rankings, which is always a difficult task.

Before I go, I want to mention a new blog you should read, entitled "West 116th St.". Irina Paley has the makings of a good blog, and I won't discredit her too much for being a New Yorker.

Come back tomorrow...