Farm system rankings: Pitchers (30-21)

Fedde ushers in new Nats class; Pint puts Rockies on right path

Erick Fedde ended last season on the disabled list but returned to the mound during Spring Training. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | March 5, 2018 10:00 AM

With Spring Training underway and the 2018 season almost upon us, MiLB.com will look at the state of all 30 farm systems over the next couple weeks and rank them, according to certain changing criterion with each edition. After looking at position player prospects (30-21, 20-11, 10-1), this edition focuses on pitching prospects and considers the quality and quantity of top talent in each system in its current state. Here are the rankings, 30-21:

 30. Seattle Mariners

King Felix probably won't have a successor anytime soon. After selecting him in the second round of last year's Draft, the Mariners got a limited view of Sam Carlson. Before turning 19 in December, the club's top pitching prospect allowed one run over three innings in the Rookie-level Arizona League and was shut down for precautionary reasons. Seattle has a slew of right-handed relievers, including Art Warren, who has a plus fastball, Matthew Festa and Wyatt Mills. Max Povse spent time in the bullpen -- and even made it to the late innings at Safeco last season -- but entered camp as a starter. The 24-year-old will need to control the running game better before returning to the bigs.

 29. Kansas City Royals

While the Royals signed a flamethrower in Carlos Hernandez in 2016, most of their best pitching prospects were drafted in 2014. Third-round pick Eric Skoglund reached the Majors last year, but first-rounder Foster Griffin has made slower strides and second-rounder Scott Blewett has not produced quality numbers. Kansas City snagged another 2014 pick in Trevor Oaks, who had to deal with an oblique injury last season before coming over from the Dodgers in August. Miguel Almonte, who will be 25 in April, reached the Majors after putting up dominant numbers, but a strained rotator cuff ended his campaign in July. Josh Staumont's above-average fastball delivers some hope, but walk count is his biggest obstacle.

 28. Baltimore Orioles

Hunter Harvey has been one of the most exciting names in the system since he was selected in the first round of the 2013 Draft. But the injury bug has been especially cruel to the righty. Harvey's pitched 144 1/3 innings over five years, missing all of 2015 due to an elbow injury and undergoing Tommy John surgery five starts into 2016. Back on the mound last season, the 23-year-old is looking like he can finally live up to expectations. DL Hall, Keegan Akin and Cody Sedlock will look to bounce back from tough seasons, while Tanner Scott and Alex Wells will try to build on recent momentum.

Video: Aberdeen's Harvey gets out of jam

 27. San Francisco Giants

It's no secret that Tyler Beede isn't as touted as he was to start his career. Last season, his toughest to date, was cut short by a groin injury. But just like the big league club, the 24-year-old tends to do better in even years, so there's hope for a rebound. The Giants have glimmers of hope at the lower levels with Shaun Anderson and Garrett Williams both doing well at Class A Advanced San Jose in their first full seasons. San Francisco got a taste of arguably its most exciting relief prospect in Reyes Moronta, who showed off his above-average fastball as a September callup.

 26. Texas Rangers

The Rangers have a lot of strong arms in the pipeline, it's just going to take a few years for them to get to Arlington. Cole Ragans, a 2016 first-rounder, led the Class A Short Season Northwest League in strikeouts, while 2017 second-rounder Hans Crouse shoved in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Kyle Cody developed a slider, while Jonathan Hernandez added velocity as they both reached Class A Advanced Down East. Of the pitchers among the Rangers' top 15 prospects, though, Yohander Mendez is the only one to toe the rubber at a higher level. The 23-year-old utilized his standout changeup to advance from Double-A to the Majors last September.

Offseason MiLB include

 25. Toronto Blue Jays

This season should provide Blue Jays fans with the first real look at most of their top pitching prospects. Nate Pearson, last year's first-round pick, was stingy over 20 innings following the Draft, while 2016 first-rounder T.J. Zeuch was limited in his full-season debut by a back injury and Eric Pardinho did not pitch after signing in July. This year also will be big for Ryan Borucki, who'll look to repeat after shaking off injuries and breaking out in his fifth pro season. If Sean Reid-Foley, the club's top pitching prospect in 2016, can rebound from his roughest season statistically, he could reach the Majors come September.

 24. Chicago Cubs

In the bigs, it's a pretty exciting time for the Cubs pitching staff with the addition of Yu Darvish. In the Minors, it's still a work in progress, but the depth is there. At the lower levels, Jose Albertos, Alex Lange and Brendon Little commanded in limited time with Class A Short Season Eugene, while Adbert Alzolay, Oscar De La Cruz and Thomas Hatch matured with Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. Jen-Ho Tseng added a deceptive cutter and Dillon Maples employed a 75-grade fastball as they both made it to the North Side for September callups.

Video: Pelicans' Alzolay gets Collins looking

 23. New York Mets

It seems like every farm system has at least one player recovering from Tommy John surgery. That's especially true for the Mets. Marcos Molina missed 2016, while Anthony Kay hasn't pitched since being selected in the first round of the 2016 Draft, although he's set to return this year. Thomas Szapucki underwent the procedure in July and Jordan Humphreys followed in August. But, hey, top pitching prospect David Peterson did well in a very brief (3 2/3 IP) pro debut and Chris Flexen advanced from Class A Advanced to the Majors in 2017, so they have some bright spots.

 22. Colorado Rockies

With an ERA on the wrong side of 5.00 and a 1.34 K/BB ratio, Riley Pint saw a precipitous fall in the rankings, going from MLB.com's No. 55 overall prospect last year to No. 100 this spring. But with a fastball that grades at 75 and three other strong pitches to round out his arsenal, the 20-year-old still has a lot of promise. Peter Lambert developed a slider as a 20-year-old in the California League, while Ryan Castellani was among the youngest starting pitchers in the Eastern League at 21 as the Rockies prospects continue to mature. Yency Almonte is the likely the closest Minor League pitcher to Coors Field, but early success this year at Triple-A Albuquerque will be key.

 21. Washington Nationals

The Nationals rankings look a lot different than a year ago, with Austin Voth and Koda Glover falling off the top 30 and A.J. Cole losing his rookie status. In the 2017 Draft, however, the club picked up three dominant arms in Seth Romero, Wil Crowe and Jackson Tetreault, all of whom contributed immediately. Of course, with all the change, Erick Fedde remains the Nationals' brightest star. The 2014 first-round pick bounced between the rotation and the bullpen, all while making three starts in the Majors. Fedde ended the year on the disabled list with a forearm flexor strain, but he's already returned to action at big league camp.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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