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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. Tyler Jay, LHP, Minnesota Twins


Jay was drafted as a starter by the Twins with the sixth pick in 2015, but he’s made the move to the bullpen. It’s the right call. The 23-year-old reliever can miss bats with two plus pitches in his fastball and slider, and he also can change hitters point of reference with a solid curve and average change. His command is much better in relief as well, which is always nice. Jay could be a part of the Twins’ bullpen in 2018, and he could be closing games by 2019.


Impact stats: ERA, WHIP, SO, SV


2. Zack Burdi, Chicago White Sox


Burdi won’t get a chance to pitch for the White Sox in 2018, as he’s recovering from Tommy John surgery in July. Even still, he ranks this high because when healthy, he has the best stuff of any member of a bullpen. The fastball gets into the high 90s with ease and often touches triple-digits, and his slider is just a notch below. Add in decent command along with an above-average change, and you have a pitcher who has the stuff to be a special reliever. He just has to stay healthy.


Impact stats: ERA, SO, SV


3. Art Warren, Seattle Mariners


Warren was an unheralded reliever out of Ashland college that went in the 23rd round of the 2015 draft. Things have escalated quickly for the 25-year-old right-hander, and many scouts think he has the best pure stuff of any reliever sans Burdi. The fastball gets up to 98 mph, and there’s loads of movement on the pitch to make it plus-plus. He complements that heater with a plus slider, and he’ll mix in a change at times for good measure. The control needs to get better, but he should throw enough strikes to pitch in high-leverage situations. He should help the Mariner bullpen in 2018.


Impact stats: ERA, WHIP, SO


4. Jimmie Sherfy, Arizona Diamondbacks


Sherfy likely would have started the year as a high-leverage reliever for the Diamondbacks, but shoulder issues will have him start the year in Reno. He shouldn’t spend much time there, as he has a 70-grade fastball and plus curveball that both can get swings-and-miss from hitters on both sides of the plate. He also pounds the strike zone with those pitches, and rarely has self-inflicted damage. He may not be a closer, but he should be a very solid set-up man starting with this summer.


Impact stats: ERA, WHIP, SO


5. Cody Carroll, New York Yankees


Carroll went just a round ahead of Warren -- 22nd in 2015 -- but like Warren, there’s a very bright future despite being the 663rd pick of that draft. He’s touched 100 mph with his fastball, and that plus-plus pitch sets up his well above-average slider and a so-so change. He needs to improve his command if he’s going to end up pitching in the 9th inning for the Yankees, but it’s not too far away. Carroll could be a dominant part of the Yankees bullpen and has a chance to reach the bigs in 2018.


Impact stats: ERA, SO, SV


6. Dillon Maples, Chicago Cubs


Maples struggled in his first big league experience, but that sample size was very small, and he was still able to show his bat-missing ability with 11 strikeouts in just 5 ⅓ innings. There are three pitches that Maples can miss bats with; a high 90s fastball, a wipeout slider and a solid curveball for good measure. The issue is the control, and Maples is tough to trust in late innings until that gets better. If it just can be average -- or close to that -- Maples could be a future closer.


Impact stats: ERA, SO


7.Jimmy Herget, Cincinnati Reds


Herget doesn’t have the elite stuff of the relievers above him -- or below him, really -- but he might have the best chance of becoming a closer because of his ability to locate what he does have. And it’s not like the 24-year-old is lacking stuff; he has a plus fastball/slider combination and will mix in a so-so change. It’s his ability to locate those pitches that make Herget one of the better relief prospects in baseball, however. He’ll be in Cincinnati this summer.


Impact stats: ERA, WHIP, SV


8. AJ Minter, Atlanta Braves


In the loaded Atlanta pitching system, Minter sometimes gets forgotten about. He shouldn’t. He’s a reliever with a plus-plus fastball that has loads of movement in its cutting action, and he has an above-average slider that gives left-handers fits. The stuff is good enough to get right-handers outs, too, and while you don’t see a great amount of left-handed closers, Minter might have the stuff to be one of the select few.


Impact stats: ERA, WHIP, SO


9. J.D. Hammer, Philadelphia Phillies


Hammer was dominant in his first full professional season, posting a 1.87 ERA and 85 strikeouts in just 57 ⅔ innings. HE does it with an upper 90s fastball that moves like a breaking ball, and his slider -- while inconsistent -- often flashes plus. He also pounds the strike zone with both pitches, so he might be trustable in the late innings. Hammer needs to show he can do it at the highest level, but the upside is palpable.


Impact stats: ERA, SO, SV, WHIP


10. Bryan Garcia, Detroit Tigers


Garcia is the second pitcher on this list who will miss time with Tommy John surgery, and unfortunately for the 22-year-old right-hander, it will completely wipe out his 2018 season. While it obviously takes away his value for this campaign, it doesn’t erase his value. There are two plus pitches in his fastball/slider combination, and his change gives him a third average offering. He also locates his pitches well, which allows them to play up. He’s now a long-term play, but he could be in the mix to close for Detroit by the end of 2019.


Impact stats: ERA, SO, SV, WHIP


The Next 10 (Alphabetical Order):


Miguel Almonte, Kansas City Royals

Garrett Cave, San Francisco Giants

Riley Ferrell, Houston Astros

Matthew Festa, Seattle Mariners

Tony Gonsolin, Los Angeles Dodgers

Ian Hamilton, Chicago White Sox

Stephen Nogosek, New York Mets

Glen Otto, New York Yankees

Tanner Rainey, Cincinnati Reds

Trey Wingenter, San Diego Padres

Christopher Crawford

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