1. RHP Casey Mize, Detroit Tigers
Casey Mize is certainly living up to his status as the No. 1 overall pick (2018), having pitched to a sub-one ERA between A+ (four starts and 26 innings) and AA (two starts and 14 innings). In fact, he’s yet to concede a run at AA and in his first career start as an Erie SeaWolf, he remarkably pitched a no-hitter. The Tigers have made it clear that they are in no hurry to bring him up to the majors, but if Mize continues to dominate the minor leagues, there’s always a chance he could force their hand.
2. RHP Dustin May, Los Angeles Dodgers
Dustin May, a former 3rd round pick back in 2016 out of Northwest (TX) HS, is also dominating AA. He has put a 3.25 ERA through six starts (27.2 IP), and he is striking out nearly 11 batters per nine innings. His walk rate is above average (2.93) as well. Something else that stands out with May is the fact that he generates ground balls at such a high rate (53.0%).
“He knows what to do to big-league hitters,” Roberts said. “He can strike with secondary pitches. He has weapons to attack guys, left and right. He’s a … guy with a lot of stuff.”JORGE CASTILLO of the Los Angeles Times
Roberts said May isn’t a finished product, but he wouldn’t be surprised if he breaks into the major leagues this season. He said the same about Tony Gonsolin, another highly regarded pitching prospect who has impressed this spring.
To take that next step, May said he’s striving to become less dependent on his fastball and rely more on his cutter, curveball and change-up. The formula has worked in the minors, but he knows the chances are significantly lower in the majors.
3. LHP MacKenzie Gore, San Diego Padres
MacKenzie Gore, who was picked 3rd overall in the 2017 draft, is finally pitching to his lofty capabilities. Last year, he was limited to just 60.2 innings due to blister and fingernail issues. He recorded a 4.45 ERA at A in that time. This year, however, Gore has stepped up his game big-time. In five starts (26.1 IP), he’s given up only 4 earned runs and 15 hits. He is striking out a whopping 12.99 batters per nine innings, and his walk rate is spectacular (1.37 BB/9). It’s worthing noting that he has also been pitching much deeper into games (2019: 5.1 IP per start; 2018: 3.2 IP per start), making his improved performance all the more impressive.
4. RHP Nate Pearson, Toronto Blue Jays
Flame-throwing hurler Nate Pearson, after missing practically all of the 2018 season due to injury (arm and oblique), has pitched exceptionally well in the early goings of the 2019 campaign. In his first six starts this season (21.0 IP), he has put up a sterling 0.86 ERA, allowing just ten hits. He is striking out 15 batters per nine innings and is walking merely 1.29 batters per nine innings.
In some ways, now that Vladimir Guerrero Jr., is up in the majors, no Blue Jays prospect is as important as Nate Pearson, who was promoted Thursday to New Hampshire after a month of dominance at high-A Dunedin. Coming off what was essentially a lost season due to a broken forearm, Pearson is on an alternating five-inning/two-inning outing program “in an effort to monitor his innings, intensity and recovery in what is really his first full season of pitching,” says farm director Gil Kim. “We will continuously assess where he is at from a physical and developmental perspective, and make adjustments as needed.” Given Pearson’s triple-digit velocity, he’s expected to move up the ladder quickly, although for workload reasons he may not break through until next year.Shi Davidi of Sportsnet
5. RHP Spencer Howard, Philadelphia Phillies
Spencer Howard, a former 2nd round pick (out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo), is off to a great start to the 2019 season. Pitching at A+ for the first time in his career, he has put up a 2.25 ERA in four starts (20.0 IP). He’s whiffing over 13 batters per nine, and he is keeping walks at a minimum (1.80; previous 3.21 in 112.0 A innings). Additionally, his GB rate has skyrocketed (2018: 38.4% –> 2019: 54.8%).
“That’s something I personally need to get better with,” Howard said of extending his starts. “I need to try and get a few more three-pitch outs. As a starter, you want and need to go as deep into games as possible. I generally get into a groove as the game progresses. And at that point, getting strikeouts or the ball being put in play early [in the count] doesn’t matter as much.”Michael Avallone of MiLB.com