Top Pitching Prospects Make 2015 Debuts

The Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues are officially open and week one saw many of baseball’s top pitching prospects on display. Sure, it is just the beginning and not a strong indicator of what is necessarily to come. Yes, no pitchers have hurled more than two innings or faced more than 10 batters. But it is certainly exciting to see some of baseball’s youngest and brightest on display.

Carlos Rodon, Grading on the Curve’s No. 11 prospect, stepped in to the Chicago White Sox rotation for the injured Chris Sale this spring. While most don’t expect him to be with the team on Opening Day, a strong spring would certainly expedite his arrival this year. 

Rondon made his Cactus League debut Friday and it was sensational. The 22-year old lefty struck out his first two batters, sitting the San Diego Padres Cameron Maybin and Yonder Alonso down swinging. He did allow a single and hit a batter before striking out Jedd Gyorko looking. Again, it is spring training, but those five batters are all set for the Padres’ Opening Day lineup.

His second inning of work was mistake free. It took Rondon ten pitches in a three up and three down inning. He concluded the inning striking out Clint Barmes for his fourth strikeout on the day. The White Sox are on the brink of having a very formidable 1-2-3 punch with Sale, Rondon and Jeff Samardzija.

The Colorado Rockies’ Jon Gray, Grading on the Curve’s No. 20 prospect, also looked sharp in his 2015 debut. Although he walked his first batter of spring training, he quickly retired the next two batters. That brought perennial National League MVP Paul Goldschmidt to the plate with a runner on base. He would strike out against Gray. The 23-year old righty would throw two innings on the day, allowing one hit, walking one and striking out two while keeping the Arizona Diamondbacks scoreless.

The big news Friday was the return of New York Mets’ elite pitching prospect and future ace Matt Harvey. Most Mets’ fans didn’t care if he allowed 10 runs in his first inning, as long as his arm worked. Well, Mets’ fans can breath a sigh of relief, because Harvey’s arm looked just fine.

Harvey was excited to be back on the field for his first live batters in over a year. He was electric, striking out his first batter on a 98 mile per hour fastball and topping off at 99 mph. His curveball was working as well, as its break clearly had some bite to it. The 25-year old righty struck out three over two hitless innings and is back and on pace to be a big part of the Met’s rotation.

His counterpart, and Grading on the Curve’s No. 10 prospect, Noah Syndergaard came in in relief for Harvey against the Detroit Tigers. The 22-year old righty didn’t fare as well, allowing two runs on two hits in his two innings. Syndergaard struggled with his command, walking two, but did strike out two Tigers.

New York’s cross town rival also saw the debut of their No. 1 prospect Luis Severino this week. Severino appeared on the Grapefruit League’s opening day, and had a sharp first inning before getting dinged up in his second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies. His pitches looked sharp and his confidence was high facing Major League batters for the first time. You can see how he fared in Friday’s Baby Bomber recap.

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ 18-year old left handed sensation and Grading on the Curve’s No. 6 prospect, Julio Urias made his spring training debut on Friday as well. His performance impressed another former lefty who came out of Mexico to take Los Angeles by storm in the early 80s. MLBPipeline tweeted out that Fernando Valenzuela said:

Urias had some issues with his control, but left his debut unscathed and run-free. He lasted 1.2 innings and did not allow a hit. He was a bit erratic finding his comfort zone, walking three batters, but struck out two on the day as well.

Daniel Norris made his spring training debut this past Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles. The Toronto Blue Jays 21-year old lefty, and Grading on the Curve’s No. 17 prospect, started in his only outing thus far and went 1.2 innings of solid baseball. He allowed one hit and one walk while striking out two. The two he struck out, Delmon Young and Chris Davis, were on six consecutive pitches to end the first inning.

Aaron Sanchez, the Blue Jays’ 22-year old right handed prospect, didn’t fare as well. He took the loss in the Blue Jays’ spring training opener, but in fairness, only two of the runs he allowed were earned. He still looked a bit over hittable allowing 4 hits and walking one in his debut.

Lastly, Henry Owens, Grading on the Curve’s No. 18 prospect had a rough go in his 2015 debut. The 22-year old future Boston Red Sox ace went two innings allowing three hits, two runs and walking one while striking out two. You can read more in Grading on The Curve’s Red Sox prospect wrap up.

It’s an exciting time for baseball fans, especially those in tune with the top minor league prospects. This is the time of year we get to see how these young guns we have read about actually match up against the big leaguers. So far in 2015, it has been pretty good.