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Prospect Positional: RP

by Christopher Crawford
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

The rankings are broken into two parts: the top 10 prospects in order and the next 10 prospects in alphabetical order. As always, these rankings are done from a scouting perspective but with fantasy baseball in mind, generally focusing on standard 5x5 league categories – though other statistics (e.g., OBP) are considered – and long-term, dynasty-league value.

 

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The Top 10:

 

1. Zach Burdi, Chicago White Sox
2017 Stats: 29 G, 33.1 IP, 4.05 ERA, 30 H, 0 HR, 17 BB, 51 SO, 7 SV

It really looked like Burdi was on his way to pitching in high-leverage situations for the White Sox this year. Unfortunately, he will miss the rest of the season instead, and is likely to have Tommy John surgery soon. Like his brother Nick (more on him in a little bit), Burdi can touch triple-digits, and he complements that heater with a wipeout slider. What makes him a potentially special reliever, however, is the fact that he also has an above-average changeup. The control needs work, but if it can even be average, he has a chance to be a dominant closer for a long time. We’ll have to see how he recovers, however.

Impact stats: ERA, K, SV

2. Tanner Houck, Boston Red Sox
2017 Stats: 10 G, 3.63 ERA, 22.1 IP, 21 H, 2 HR, 8 BB, 25 SO, 0 SV

Houck was the Red Sox’ first pick of this year’s draft, and he has a real chance to be the first player to make his debut next season. He has a fastball that will touch the high 90s, and there’s good movement on the offering. He also shows an above-average change, and a competent slider at times. He throws strikes with all three pitches, and the command isn’t far behind the control. The Red Sox could give him a chance to start, but he profiles best as a high-leverage reliever.

Impact stats: ERA, SV, K

3. Nate Pearson, Toronto Blue Jays
2017 stats: 8 G, 0.90 ERA, 20 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 HR, 5 BB, 26 SO, 0 SV

Pearson is the second 2017 draft pick on this list, and he might just have more upside than Houck. His fastball has gotten up to 101 miles per hour, and he gets downhill well with his 6-foot-6 frame. Neither of his secondary pitches are close to the level of his fastball, but he does have an average slider and a fringe-average change. He needs to work on repeating his delivery, but if he can even have close to average control, he can save games.

Impact stats: ERA, SV, K

4. Jimmy Herget, Cincinnati Reds
2017 Stats: 52 G, 2.90 ERA, 62 IP, 2.90 ERA, 52 H, 5 HR, 21 BB, 72 SO, 25 SV
    
Herget doesn’t have anywhere close to the same stuff as the relievers above -- or even a few below him -- but he deserves a spot in this list because of his ability to locate an above-average arsenal. He’ll change his arm slots, and it makes his 92-95 miles per hour fastball play up because it’s so difficult to pick up. He also has a solid slider, and occasionally he’ll sprinkle in a change to keep hitters honest. He’s not going to pile up the strikeouts, but he gets people out, and he’s already had success pitching in high-leverage situations.

Impact stats: SV

5. Garrett Cave, Tampa Bay Rays
2017 Stats: 14 G, 20 IP, 19 H, 0 HR, 12 BB, 29 SO, 3 SV

It’s another 2017 draft pick, and it’s another potential high-leverage reliever. Cave hits the high 90s with his fastball out of the bullpen, and he has two above-average breaking-balls that can get swings and misses. He’ll also throw a change, but that pitch won’t be necessary going forward, it’s basically a “show-me” pitch. The command needs a lot of work, but Cave has the kind of stuff you see from closers.

Impact stats: K, SV

6. Nick Burdi, Minnesota Twins
2017 Stats: 14 G, 17 IP, 0.53 ERA, 9 H, 1 HR, 4 BB, 20 SO, 1 SV
    
Burdi underwent Tommy John surgery this spring, and it’s disappointing because he was having his best professional season.  Nevertheless, there’s good reason for optimism. The brother of the aforementioned Zach, this Burdi can get his fastball into the triple digits as well, and he has one of the best sliders of any pitcher -- reliever or not -- in minor-league baseball. He’s really struggled to locate pitches, and because of his effort in the delivery it’s not going to get much better. Still, when you have two pitches like this, you have a chance to be a closer. He just has to stay healthy and throw strikes.

Impact stats: K SV

7. Seth Elledge, Seattle Mariners
2017 Stats: 19 G, 3.24 ERA, 25 IP, 16 H, 1 HR, 8 BB, 42 SO, 5 SV

Hey, it’s another member of the 2017 draft class. Elledge was outstanding at Dallas Baptist University, and he’s been very good since joining the Mariners as a fourth-round selection. You can’t sink a baseball much more than he can, and his fastball touches 96 miles per hour. When a pitcher’s sinker is complemented by an above-average slider and even a change along with above-average control, you have a very good reliever. Maybe not a closer, but he should miss enough bats to be fantasy-relevant either way.

Impact stats: K, SV

8. J.T. Chargois, Minnesota Twins
2017 stats: 2 G, 0.00 ERA, 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 HR, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1 SV

Hey, it’s another injured reliever. Those 2017 numbers can’t tell you much in such a small sample size, but he was extremely impressive in 2016. He has a true 80 fastball; hitting 100 miles per hour on a routine basis with good life. His curveball and change are inconsistent, but both pitches flash above-average, and keep hitters honest. He struggled to throw strikes with the Twins, but it shouldn’t keep him from being a high-leverage reliever.

Impact stats: K, SV

8. Jared Miller, Arizona Diamondbacks
2017 Stats: 53 G, 2.93, 70.2 IP, 49 H, 4 HR, 28 BB, 94 SO, 3 SV

If you’re a left-handed hitter and you have to face Miller, you’re probably going to have a bad time. His arm-slot gives lefties trouble, and his 93-96 miles per hour fastball and plus slider just make it all the more difficult. That stuff is good enough to get righties out, too, so Miller should be trusted in the late innings against either type of hitter, if his command improves enough for him to get the chance.

Impact stats: K, ERA

10. Zach Jackson, Toronto Blue Jays
2017 Stats: 42 G, 51 IP, 2.47 ERA, 32 H, 26 BB, 68 SO, 5 SV

Jackson was a third-round pick out of Arkansas last June, and he’s done nothing but impress scouts and the Blue Jays since that time. There are two pitches that can miss bats; a 93-95 miles per hour fastball that touches 97, and a plus curveball that he can locate for strikes. He also has a fringe-average change, but it’s really just for keeping hitters honest. He’s old for the league, but those numbers are quality, and he should move quickly through the Toronto system.

Impact stats: K, SV, ERA

Next 10 (alphabetical order):

Cody Carroll, New York Yankees
Jake Cosart, Boston Red Sox
James Farris, Colorado Rockies
Rodolfo Martinez, San Francisco Giants
Akeel Morris, Atlanta Braves
Stephen Nogosek, New York Mets
Tanner Rainey, Cincinnati Reds
Jake Reed, Minnesota Twins
Jaime Schultz, Tampa Bay Rays
Kyle Zimmer, Kansas City Royals

Christopher Crawford

Christopher Crawford is a baseball and college football writer for NBC Sports Edge. Follow him on Twitter @Crawford_MILB.