Top 50 Prospects: The best of the rest -- The Starting Pitchers

The final two installments of the Top "50" Prospect Series will be some of the best remaining pitchers, but like always, there are some pitchers with a shot who won't be on this list.  Today we'll do the starters and tomorrow you'll see a lot of good relievers.   I think between the lists and the guys we talked about in the comments sections, we approached mentioning 100 prospects.  Wow.  Thanks as always for the input and knowledge you guys always bring.

Starting Pitchers

  1. Tyler Skulina, 22, Kane County:  An overslot 4th rounder ($700K), Skulina looks like a frontline starter.  He's got excellent size and he's a good athlete.  He can also reach 96 mph though he more often pitches at 92-94 mph and his curve has a chance to be an above average to plus pitch too. His issue is command and he did well with it at Boise, but got into some trouble with walks in Kane County.  Lots to work with here.
  2. Ben Wells, 21, Daytona: Wells peripherals aren't impressive (5.23 Ks/3.2 BBs per 9 IP).  He doesn't miss a lot of bats but what he does do is throw an 88-91 mph two seam fastball with good plane.  It's what some refer to as a "heavy" fastball and it induces a ton of ground balls (2.33 GO/AO).  He also throws a solid slider and change with average command.   His game is about keeping the ball in the park and on the ground, so it's no surprise his ERA (3.28) is better than his FIP (3.98).  Hitters are going to put the ball in play, but it often won't be solid contact -- at least at this level.
  3. Daury Torrez, 20, Kane County:  There is a lot to like about Torrez and I think he was the best pitching prospect at the Cubs AZ Rookie complex.  He throws a 91-93 mph with very good command to go with an improving slider and change-up.  Torrez started missing bats this season (9Ks per 9 IP) while allowing less than a walk per 9 IP (0.92).  Good combination of stuff and command gives him a #3 ceiling for now, but there is still some projection left in his 6'3", 170 lbs. frame.  He had a 3.31 ERA but an even better 2.04 FIP.  He needs to gain a little strength and stamina as most of the damage was done as he reached the 4th and 5th innings.
  4. Dallas Beeler, 24, Tennessee: A pitcher similar to Ben Wells.  Beeler is 6'5" and has the advantage of throwing his two-seamer (89-93) with good plane.  He's the kind of pitcher the Cubs like as he fits their philosophy of keeping the ball down and in the park (0.49 HRs per 9 IP) and inducing ground balls (an incredible 3.67 GO/AO ratio in a smaller 54.2 inning sample size).  Like Wells, Beeler is the kind of pitcher that can probably consistently out pitch his peripherals (posting a 3.13 ERA despite a 3.90 FIP) because he can induce weak contact in the infield.  Like Loosen, Beeler has the potential to surprise and be a #4 starter, but Beeler needs to stay healthy.  He has stalled at AA for now but needs better command, which he will work on this fall in the AZL
  5. Matt Loosen, 24, Tennessee:  Loosen is a guy with solid stuff, including a 91-94 mph FB, a good, but inconsistent curve, a slider, and a change.  When he commands them, he can be dominant (he also threw a no-hitter when he was at Daytona) and looks like a potential #4 starter.  When he doesn't, he can't get to the 5th inning.  He's a guy who could surprise and be a solid starter or be a perennial tease who rides the Iowa-Chicago shuttle.  It all depends on becoming more consistent with his command.  Like Beeler, he'll work on that in the AZ Fall League.
  6. Eric Jokisch, 24, Tennessee: The lone lefty on this list, Jokisch is a guy I get a lot of questions and I've always responded that he's a Chris Rusin/Brooks Raley type, which tends to draw some disappointment, but hey -- those guys are MLB'ers who show some promise, even if it's back of the rotation/lefty specialist potential.  Recently Jason McLeod echoed this comparison.  Like his fellow lefties, Jokisch is a good athlete with a good feel for pitching.  His best pitch is his change but he may have a bit more giddy-up on his FB, which is in the 89-92 range.  Jokisch threw a no-hitter this season.
  7. Tayler Scott, 21, Kane County:  Scott gets a lot of love in this organization because of his athleticism and potential for plus command.  His fastball is average (87-89 mph FB, touches 92) and his thin frame doesn't project for a whole lot more.  He flashes a very good curve at times that has out pitch potential and a change.  The peripherals aren't impressive, but refining his curve and better command can improve that.
  8. Eric Leal, 18, AZ Rookie: Leal put up numbers very similar to Torrez and he's younger, but the stuff isn't as good.  He does have good command and an advanced feel for pitching, however, and he used that to play up his stuff.  He struck out 9.62 batters per 9 IP and walked 1.48, finishing with a 2.77 ERA (2.28 FIP).  His FB is a a couple ticks slower (88-90) but it has good sink.  He mixes in a good breaking ball, which is his best pitch and shows plus potential.
  9. James Pugliese, 21, Kane County: Another pitcher who throws a good two seamer,  His GO/AO ratio is a solid 1.73.  Pugliese has a full assortment of pitches (slider, curve, change) and showed excellent control at Boise (1.74 BBs per 9 IP).  Fastball velocity is solid (low 90s).  He can be as good as some of the pitchers higher on this list, he's just not as far along right now.
  10. Jen Ho Tseng, 18, AZIL: Tseng was one of three pitching prospects signed and the most advanced.  He gets raves for his maturity and poise on the mound as well as his advanced feel for pitching.   As for his stuff, that's pretty good too: Fastball 90-94, slider, plus curveball and a plus change.  He has a shot to move quickly and probably has the profile to start at Kane County, but the bet here is the Cubs take their time with a young arm and he starts at extended spring training and then goes to Boise first.


Jesus Castillo came over with Eric Leal and has the better raw stuff and more projectabilty, but he is not nearly as advanced right now.  Erling Moreno and Jefferson Mejia were the other two high profile IFA signings.  Mejia is more advanced and will start at either Arizona or Boise but Moreno is considered the better long term prospect.  There is still hope for Dae-Eun Rhee who, like Tseng, was an advanced pitcher at a young age.  He started his career in the MWL but hurt his arm early (which is one reason why I think they'll take it slow with Tseng).  Rhee's calling card is a good change.  Yao-Lin Wang also has a good change and plays up a high 80s to low 90s fastball.  Jose Arias has great size and a good low 90s two seamer and a solid curve, but doesn't sell his change-up well.  The Cubs drafted quite a few arms the past two years.  The pitcher with the best chance to start who hasn't been mentioned yet is Ryan McNeil, who projects to be a sinker/slider type with good velo and good plane.  He missed the entire season with an injury.  Trevor Clifton was an overslot this year with a very good fastball, arm strength, and pitchability, but a delivery that needs some work.

Filed under: Top Prospects Lists


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  • Can we assume that Derek Johnson will be giving his AZ instructs his personal attention? If so, next year could see some nice surprise to the upside (I hope).

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    Yes. DJ will be there. Lots to work with!

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    Overall, I really like what this FO is doing. But I don't think our IFA signings have been very good so far. I understand it's early to evaluate kids signed at 16 or 17, but typically by 18 or 19 you at least start to see a trajectory. This FO has signed several big $ IFAs, including Paniagua, Delarosa, Malave, Penalver, and I'm sure I'm missing some, and we haven't see much in projection yet.

    I could be wrong; please convince me I am, but so far I'm not seeing it. Is that just me?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Quick note: Last regime signed Malave and Penalver -- and I'm actually higher on them right now than the rest of your list.

    It is early. I think DeLaRosa was overmatched but we'll see what happens this year. Paniagua is still a stud, but i think he's been derailed by things other than talent.

  • Jokisch, Rusin, and Raley have similar styles, but are three different individuals. Consistency, mental toughness, and durability will separate the success of their careers. I like Jokisch' s chances of long major league career.

  • Pence to sign for 5/$90M. As you start looking at comps for Choo and Ellsbury, it's not looking good.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I'm fading on those guys quickly. I agree.

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    No mention of Josh Conway? Was consistently throwing mid-90s with good looking secondaries before his freak injury. AZphil even said he top TOR potential at times?

    Great article. Even our lower caliber and not as advanced guys are still solid. When you have pitchers down in the depths of a system who possibly project as #3s already your doing good.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Saw on his Twitter that he started throwing again on Sept. 18. that is good news.

  • In reply to Zakh:

    Also saw Ryan McNeil is starting to throw too.

  • In reply to Zakh:

    And I assume there is still no word on the whereabouts of Michael Jensen. Someone should call Unsolved Mysteries.

  • Duane Underwood? Or was he on one of your earlier lists?

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    John has him at #17 overall.

  • "Torrez started missing bats this season (9Ks per 9 IP) while allowing less than a walk per 9 IP (0.92)."

    A 20 year-old with command and missing bats, too? That excites me.

    Up and down the list, we see all kinds of potential, and though (as has been noted over and over) most won't likely turn out to their respective potentials, but some likely will. The wave is coming to fruition.

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