Newman’s Own: Best RH Starters of 2012

Seeing prospects in person is my passion. In 2012, I was fortunate enough to visit parks in five different leagues — collecting information and video on 200 legitimate prospects or more. The lists released over the next few weeks will highlight the best prospects I’ve seen in person at each position during the 2012 season. The rankings will be adjusted based on projected position at the major league level, not present position (in italics if ranking includes position shift). After writing the first three lists, I realized there’s really no way to keep statistical information out of the equation completely and focus on scouting/projection alone. This has caused me to hedge my bets a bit on high ceiling talents and focus more on the complete player. Additionally, understand this is not meant to be a complete list of the best prospects at each position across all of Minor League Baseball, but the best of what I’ve seen.

Previous Rankings:
The Catchers
The First Basemen
The Second Basemen
The Third Basemen
The Shortstops
The Corner Outfielders
The Center Fielders
The Relief Pitchers

1. Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles

The best pitching prospect in the game, Dylan Bundy capped off a meteoric rise to Baltimore with 1 2/3 September innings out of the Orioles bullpen. Having seen his professional debut, I was blown away by his ability to bump 98 MPH without much effort. Add to this secondary offerings which sharpened by the inning and the result was the most dominant pitching performance I’ve ever seen in person. After receiving flack over the years for not being overwhelmed by other top flight arms, seeing Bundy really validated for me what a dominant pitching prospect should be. An extreme nitpick would cause one to question his muscular frame and room for growth physically, but that development has helped him advance so quickly to this point.

Read my previous piece on Dylan Bundy

2. Taijuan Walker, Seattle Mariners

“Did Taijuan Walker under perform his stuff?” It’s a question I receive at least weekly now that prospect followers have had a chance to reflect on his underwhelming surface numbers in 2012. Fact is, a 4.04 FIP at 19 in Double-A when legitimate hitting prospects are three years Walker’s senior is extremely impressive. Having seen his final start of the 2012 season, I was pleased to see his stuff was even better than my first look in early June. Walker’s velocity was 94-96 MPH and his mid-70’s curveball continued to be a “fall off the table” breaking pitch. Add to this a changeup which continues to develop and what’s left is the second best pitching prospect in baseball behind the aforementioned Dylan Bundy.

Read my previous piece on Taijuan Walker

Read my previous piece comparing Dylan Bundy and Taijuan Walker

3. Trevor Bauer, Arizona Diamondbacks

In 2012, Bauer posted gaudy Double-A numbers before late season struggles in Triple-A and at the big league level dinged his value in the eyes of prospect followers. My favorite quote of 2012 was a quote regarding Bauer in which a scout commented, “Bauer will have outings where he looks like a young Kerry Wood and strikes out 15, but he’ll also be chased in the second on occasion as well. He just kind of throws the fastball up there. It also makes me wonder how he’ll fare a second time through the league.” I’m not sure what there is to add other than this particular scout deserves a raise. And while one can’t help but be impressed by a prospect like Bauer due to a deep arsenal, his fastball had little movement which is a bit concerning considering his propensity to pitch up in the zone.

Read my previous piece on Trevor Bauer

4. Kyle Crick, San Francisco Giants

My look at Kyle Crick was admittedly a bad one. In a late season start, he sat 92-95 throughout with both an inconsistent slider and changeup. At his worst, I saw a mid-rotation workhorse with the potential to throw 200+ innings per season. At his best, contacts have seen “electric stuff” from the young right-hander including an upper-90’s fastball and upper-80’s wipe out slider. In his second full season, Crick is positioned to shoot up prospect rankings as he continues to develop consistency. I can think of no better prospect in the Giants system at this point.

5. Taylor Guerrieri, Tampa Bay Rays

Another pitcher I did not see at his best due to a minor injury, Taylor Guerrieri still presented as a talented prospect. At 91-93 MPH with an above average curveball, the stuff was solid overall — Especially his impressive fastball command. However, fellow prospect brethren JD Sussman saw Guerrieri as a special pitcher with more velocity and better secondary offerings than I witnessed in person. A scout in attendance also mentioned seeing Guerrieri up to 98 previously as well. Due to this additional information, I’m willing to give Guerrieri the benefit of the doubt resulting in the aggressive ranking. Plus, my gut tells me he has a slightly better chance to remain a starter long term than the 6th-9th ranked prospects on this list who have similarly lethal stuff when going well.

Read my previous piece on Taylor Guerrieri

6. Allen Webster, Boston Red Sox

Capable of competing with any pitching prospect in baseball for four innings, Webster’s stuff has fallen off a cliff the two times I’ve scouted him forcing me to question whether or not he’s a starter in the end. Early in games, Webster presents with four usable pitches including a fastball with sink. 2012 saw him add velocity as well working full innings at 94-96 MPH, touching 98, albeit with a bit too much effort for comfort. It’s difficult to not become enamored with his ground ball heavy arsenal and envision Webster as a rotation stalwart. However, Webster is going to have to add size to a frame which is more video game wizard than pitching prospect. And with his slim frame, I’m just not sure how much he will be able to add.

Read my previous piece on Allen Webster

7. Nathan Eovaldi, Florida Marlins

The fact Eovaldi is a personal favorite of mine goes to show just how deep this list of pitchers actually is. At his best, I’ve witnessed Eovaldi work full innings at 95-97 MPH, touching 98 with a touch of sink down in the zone. His slider is a quality pitch at times, but little feel for a changeup really clouds his projection. The fact his career FIP stands at 4.18 through 150+ innings gives me hope for a bright future as a quality third starter, but a third pitch sure would help the upside projection. Fortunately for Eovaldi, his new home in Florida will afford him on-the-job training without having to be concerned about playing the up-and-down prospect yo-yo game.

Read my previous piece on Nathan Eovaldi

8. Alex Meyer, Washington Nationals

When I first watched Alex Meyer on television as a pitcher for the University of Kentucky, I was blown away by what appeared to be a dominant fastball/slider combination. Seeing him take the mound for Hagerstown was a must — Especially after lucking into the start due to a rain out. Unfortunately, Meyer disappointed showing less velocity (93-96 MPH, touching 97) and inconsistent slider. However, the change was a pleasant surprise. I left the park thinking Meyer had a late inning reliever projection, but he spent the rest of the season dominating minor league hitters. Having finished 2012 with a 139/45 K/BB ratio in 129 innings pitched, I’m willing to take a wait and see approach…for now.

Read my previous piece on Alex Meyer

9. Lance McCullers Jr., Houston Astros

Watching Lance McCullers Jr. in person served as a reminder of why seeing prospects in person is so important for me. For whatever reason, I learned more about McCullers Jr. than other prospects in the 2012 draft — Especially the knocks on him as a prospect. Big fastball. One secondary offering. Reliever projection. In person, the Astros pitcher worked his fastball at 92-94 MPH, touching 96. He mixed in a so-so slider and changeup which was much better than I was expecting. I worry the stuff plays a little flat at this point, but he obviously has plenty of time to work out the kinks.

10. Matt Magill, Los Angeles Dodgers

I saw Magill while sitting with a veteran scout who said, “Magill has more stuff than Kevin Slowey.” And while I can hear the whistling of thousands of index fingers twirling in the air in unison, that’s a pretty impressive feat considering Magill was a 31st round pick. With an 89-92 MPH fastball and slider which flashed plus, Magill has the ceiling of a number four starter with the floor of an excellent ROOGY. Prospect followers will want to point to the lofty strikeout totals as an indicator he has more in the tank, but his slider is a real out pitch against minor league hitters and just won’t be as effective against big league hitters.

11. Brad Peacock, Oakland Athletics

One of the biggest misses of my 2012 season in scouting was not being out front on Peacock’s struggles. In Arizona, I saw a “blah” pitching prospect with a flat, 88-92 MPH fastball and average-ish secondary offerings. At the time, I was overly concerned about brief looks and held back a few more incendiary observations and this was one of them. The pitcher I saw in Arizona was a middle reliever/swing man in the mold of Reds J.J. Hoover — Maybe even with less stuff. Readers who have been with me for awhile might remember my using the “Hoover Line” at one time to identify the perfectly average pitching prospect.

12. Kevin Comer, Houston Astros

When seeing Comer in person, I was shocked at how pedestrian his stuff was considering his being a high pick of the Blue Jays and later being involved in a trade to the Astros. At 88-90 MPH, Comer spotted a fringe fastball relatively well. Additionally, he threw a loopy curve for strikes, but the pitch lacked any real downward bite. In three innings, he wound up being hit pretty hard including a long home run to Alex Hudak, a 2012 NDFA. Comer’s arsenal is one I’ve seen many times before. Only those pitchers are generally not generally first round picks or highly touted guys.




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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.


36 Responses to “Newman’s Own: Best RH Starters of 2012”

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  1. Jonathan says:

    Webster as the fourth best RH starter? Must be a good system!

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  2. binqasim says:

    Any projections for Alex Meyer? I mean, comparable major leaguer or estimated arrival year?

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  3. Yikes, Kevin Comer made your list. Then again, formulating a list in my head, he would probably still make the top 12 to 14 as well. Just such a drop off from Magill to Comer. More than what 2 spots would indicate.

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    • Phil says:

      You realise this is only guys seen in person right? If Comer is 12th, that suggests there are basically no other legitimate prospects below on the list.

      These lists are interesting because of the difference in seeing what somebody thought in person to a scouting report, but as a fan of a team with no affiliates near Mike (the Jays) its a shame Fangraphs doesn’t have other writers doing the same in other regions

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      • Big Jgke says:

        Yeah, I’m not sure why every time there’s a new one of these pieces I excitedly scan through it hoping to see Jays prospects, knowing full well that Newman has said many times he didn’t make it to any Jays affiliates this year.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Big jgke,

        Have you checked in on Kiley’s work? He’s posting Jays instructs notes now. I also had a few blurbs on Jays prospect I’ve spoken to contacts about in Marc Hulet’s top-15 prospects.

        I’d love to be able to schedule a trip to the west coast of FL at some point to check in on Sanchez/Syndergaard next year. If I can talk the family into a week on the beach, maybe I can hit games in the evening. I’ll see what I can do.

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      • This guy says:

        Yeah, I’m pretty sure Chris knows.

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      • Phil, my reading comprehension skills are pretty spot on. I’ve actually been with Mike when he’s saw Taijuan Walker, Allen Webster (Last Season), Nathan Eovaldi, Lance McCullers & Kevin Comer pitch. Mike got me my start writing about prospects, helped use his contacts to get me a writing gig somewhere and has promoted my work whenever he has a chance.

        Truthfully, I was surprised that Comer made Mike’s list.

        I totally agree with you about Fangraphs not having other writers watching guys in person. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike, both professionally and personally. I think FanGraphs is missing a big opportunity by not having Mike run their scouting content. Just the contributions that he, along with JD Sussman, have contributed to Hulet’s top prospect lists has added legitimacy that was previously non-existent on those lists.

        When you’re seeing these guys in person, talking to other writers who are seeing guys in person and making scouting contacts, you start to realize quickly which writers are primarily relying on second hand, third hand, milb.tv (poor scouting camera angles) or search engine info. You realize that these guys are full of it.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Comer was a 1st round draft pick so there’s some interest there. He made the list because of that.

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  4. Bookbook says:

    I was going to ask if you’d seen Hultzen and Paxton, but I suppose you’d tell me they aren’t such great RH prospects, after all.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Hultzen will be included at or near the top of the LHP list next week as I wind things down.

      I haven’t spoken to a contact yet who didn’t say Paxton wasn’t quite as good as he was hyped to be. He’s the biggest risk of their big 3 to wind up in the pen.

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  5. Bren says:

    Great stuff as always Mike!

    Did you see Michael Fulmer this year? If so how close was he to making this list? Kid had a pretty good year as a teen in full-season ball and from what I’ve read improved throughout….

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  6. Timothy says:

    Do you not see JR Graham panning out as a starter?

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    • Mike Newman says:

      He ranked #2 on my RP list. From that piece…

      “Graham may very well wind up in a big league rotation. However, his so-so strikeout totals in 2012 and my not seeing a third offering forces me to err on the side of caution.”

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  7. Ryan says:

    Did you get a chance to see Brandon Maurer? If so, what did you think?

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  8. JT Grace says:

    Is Teheran completely off of the prospect radar now or did you just not see him last year?

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    • Mike Newman says:

      I didn’t see Teheran in 2012. I probably should have, but battling rush hour traffic for 2 hours to work my way across Atlanta is miserable. I’d much rather drive 99 miles to Chattanooga than 56 to East Atlanta any day of the week. Plus, catching good Triple-A prospects is a rarity and I’ve already seen Teheran 3x.

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  9. Fiscal Cliff Lee Majors says:

    Wow. So T. Walker is definitively “the second best pitching prospect in baseball” by your lights, Mike. But a scouting acquaintance of yours prefers Trevor Rosenthal to Walker (even before Rosenthal had his terrific MLB cameo), and Marc Hulet has Rosenthal only *fourth* among pitching prospects in his *own* organization.

    That’s nuckin’ futs. It seems that either somebody is way, way off in their appraisal of Rosenthal, or St. Louis has the best quartet of farm arms in recent memory.

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    • kremer says:

      He only ranks pitchers eh has seen…Hence no Cards pitcher…..Would have loved to see where they ranked, but not eligible on this list

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    • Atari says:

      For me I took it as Taijuan Walker is the consensus second best pitching prospect in the industry and Newman sees no reason to disagree with the industry. It is more an affirmation of the general thought. Mike also shared what one individual scout contact believed and then Hulet has his own interpretation. As we all know scouting is so subjective. I believe if you see the way the Cardinals organization has handled the various pitching prospects, the Cardinals hold Rosenthal in just as high regard as Miller, if not more. He was more aggressively promoted and called up. In the playoffs, it was Rosenthal in a higher leverage role and with greater usage. Public statements seem to indicate a real battle for a starting position with Miller and Kelly.

      All of these guys (Hulet, Newman, the scouting contacts) obviously have much more legitimacy than I , a random Fangraphs and scouting junkie, but my own assessment would be much different. Wacha was a very aggresive ranking for me and Carlos Martinez I really feel will end up in the bullpen long term. It is why I like and respect Hulet’s work as well. Hulet shows a willingness to go against the grain. To me, Rosenthal and Miller are on the same level in the organization’s eyes and Rosenthal’s ceiling is just as high as Miller’s ceiling. I think they both have top of the rotation stuff.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Check Atari’s reply. I would have posted the exact same thing. I have no real influence over Marc’s rankings. I just supply blurbs to provide additional information.

      As for the scout’s opinion.. I shared it because I found it particularly interesting. This doesn’t mean I agree with it. It was more to share just how good Rosenthal is given the lack of hype surrounding him.

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  10. Bob Reed says:

    Hmmm.

    Like FCLM, I read it as “Walker is the second best pitching prospect, period” rather than “second best I’ve seen in person.”

    Could you clarify for us, Mike? And thanks for the write-ups. Fine work as usual, sir.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      I haven’t seen all pitching prospects, but Walker is the 2nd best pitching prospect I’ve seen in the 4 years doing this behind Bundy. I can’t envision another pitching prospect alive that would convince me Walker is definitely NOT the 2nd best pitching prospect in baseball. You could argue a few other guys, but he’s my number 2. I honestly don’t pay much attention to industry consensus.

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  11. CubsFan5 says:

    Hey Mike,

    Did you see Matt Barnes at all this year? I’m curious as to how he compares to Alex Meyer, besides being 5 inches shorter. From what I’ve seen and read Barnes fastball seems comparable to Alex Meyers. (Although Alex says he throws a modified no seam fastball). Both are big right handers, similar in age, both drafted (same year) out of college, and both have big time fastballs. This being said, if you’ve seen him of course, are they fairly comparable?

    Thanks!

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