Baseball's Top 20 Starting Pitching Prospects

Finding a staff ace is the hardest thing in baseball. Teams give up plenty of talent each year trading for veterans. There is a new wave of starting prospects on the horizon – many that may end up leading a rotation. Find out if your team's top starting prospects made the list.

1. Stephen StrasburgWashington Nationals

The last pitcher to be hyped this much was Mark Prior. Strasburg will have an immediate impact on the Nationals with his triple-digit fastball and plus secondary offerings. He has all the makings of a superstar with the makeup to consistently succeed.

2. Brian MatuszBaltimore Orioles

The left-hander has a four-pitch repertoire that he uses to confound hitters. A low-to-mid-90s fastball is complimented by a smattering of pitches that he will throw in any count. He works inside and stretches the strike zone with a plus slider and changeup.

3. Neftali FelizTexas Rangers

A flamethrower that the Rangers are currently using in relief, Feliz routinely sits in the high-90s. His true value, however, will be realized when they bring him back into the starting role. He has had inconsistency with his curveball and changeup in the past but has made significant strides in improving both pitches.

4. Wade Davis – Tampa Bay Rays

A winning demeanor is backed up by a fantastic assortment of pitches. He has a presence on the hill and is not afraid to challenge hitters. Davis recognizes mistakes and learns from them. He also has the above-average fastball with tailing action and a 12-to-6 hammer that is a knee-buckler.

5. Julio TeheranAtlanta Braves

The 19-year-old has shown impressive improvement over the last year and has been compared to Felix Hernandez because of the talent he possesses. He has deception in a rather violent delivery, adding flavor to his mid-90s fastball and plus secondary pitches.

6. Jacob TurnerDetroit Tigers

One of the top prep right-handers in the 2009 draft, Turner raised some eyebrows during spring training when he whiffed three in an inning against some of the Yankees best hitters. He has the power fastball-curveball combination that could make him a top of the rotation stud.

7. Casey KellyBoston Red Sox

Finally focused solely on pitching, Kelly could be on the fast track to the big leagues. With an above-average fastball with outstanding sinking action, and outstanding feel and mound presence, Kelly could be a quality big league starter or a highly valued trade piece for the Red Sox.

8. Kyle DrabekToronto Blue Jays

The centerpiece of the deal that sent Roy Halladay from Toronto to Philadelphia, Drabek -- son of former big leaguer Doug Drabek -- works with a plus fastball, a devastating curveball, and a solid change-up. When his mechanics and control are right, he shows the ability to be a front line starter.

9. Aroldis ChapmanCincinnati Reds

Chapman was one of the most sought after free agents of the off-season once he was declared eligible by MLB after defecting from Cuba, and for good reason. The rare lefty that can reach triple digits with some regularity, Chapman also features a potential plus slider that could make him the Reds ace of the future.

10: Matthew Moore – Tampa Bay Rays

As impressive as last year's breakout performance was for Moore, the reviews out of spring training were even more glowing this year. Moore has plus velocity from the left side, along with an excellent curveball and a change-up that flashes well above average. If he can harness command of his arsenal, he could be the next in a long line of Tampa Bay pitchers to be highly though of.

11. Martin Perez – Texas Rangers

Just 19 and left-handed, Perez has been inconsistent with the command of his plus fastball. In his first start this year, he tossed first-pitch strikes to 14 of the 19 batters he faced, showing marked improvement. His changeup has become an impressive pitch that nets ground balls and gets hitters chasing. Once he proves he can throw the curveball for strikes, he will be able to expand the zone with it.

12. Simon CastroSan Diego Padres

Coaches have routinely stated that they have not seen any pitcher made the kind of progress that Castro has over the last three years. A plus fastball and slider with an improving changeup give him a nice combination to work with. He challenges hitters and himself and has taken three no-hitters into the sixth inning in his last 10 starts, completing one.

13. Jarrod ParkerArizona Diamondbacks

Tommy John surgery has likely cost Parker the 2010 season, but that doesn't diminish the outstanding talent he has shown in the past. A potential ace in the making, Parker offers a mid-90s fastball and a filthy slider as his two primary pitches, while also mixing in a solid curveball and change-up as well.

14. Tyler MatzekColorado Rockies

A first-rounder out of high school in 2009, Matzek is an athletic specimen that hits the upper-90s from the left side. He didn't throw a changeup much in high school and will need to improve on that pitch but has shown a feel. The only thing holding him back at this moment is experience.

15. Christian Friedrich – Colorado Rockies

More of a command and control lefty, the polished college product has moved quickly through the Rockies system with little resistance, aided in part by the added velocity he has shown; now sitting in the low-90s consistently. His curveball and slider could both be out pitches for him, and he is very close to being big league ready.

16. Jeremy Hellickson – Tampa Bay Rays

Blessed with command of a sinking fastball that hits 95 mph, Hellickson is waiting to catch his break into a stacked Tampa Bay rotation. He has worked hard to refine the location of his heater, and with a plus changeup from the same angle, the right-hander is tough to hit. He should be in Tampa by the end of the year. His presence could pave the way for a trade of a veteran off the Tampa staff.

17. Mike MontgomeryKansas City Royals

Still only 20-years old, Montgomery is getting dangerously close to helping the Royals starting rotation. He features three plus or potential plus pitches with his low-90s, varying curveballs, and a promising change-up. If he can polish his arsenal and refine his command, he could be working near the front of Kansas City's rotation in short order.

18. Aaron Crow – Kansas City Royals

An advanced pitcher that has a pair of plus pitches, Crow should end up in Kansas City soon. His slider is a wipeout pitch that gets tons of swings over top, and he pairs it with a fastball that hits 95 mph.

19. Casey Crosby – Detroit Tigers

A mid-90s fastball from the left side will always draw attention, and when combined with a promising breaking ball and a dominating second half performance as a 20-year old in A-ball, Crosby is making a lot of noise. He has to overcome some questions about his durability, but he has the chance to become a solid number two starter down the line.

20. Shelby MillerSt. Louis Cardinals

In the mold of many other big Texas right-handers, Miller relishes being a power pitcher, and he could shoot through the Cardinals system. His fastball touches 97 mph and sits consistently in the 93-94 range, while his downer curve could be a true swing-and-miss offering.

2010 Watch List

Jenrry MejiaNew York Mets

Mejia was all the buzz in New York this spring and made the club out of camp. There are many, however, who blast the club for not properly breeding him as a starter. He has a terrific cutter that is in the mid-90s and gets comparisons to Mariano Rivera because of its natural downward movement that breaks bats and keeps balls on the ground with a plus changeup.

Madison BumgarnerSan Francisco Giants

After his velocity dipped last year in Double-A, Bumgarner's prospect stock has started going in the same direction. Once the owner of a serious low-90s fastball, and often talked about as a future ace, Bumgarner now sits in the upper-80s on most nights, and unless he drastically improves his command and secondary stuff, his stock could fall further.

Zach Wheeler – San Francisco Giants

Without the hype of some other 2009 prep arms, Wheeler still has the potential to be a top of the rotation big league starter. His fastball can top out at 95 mph, and his breaking ball and change-up both show potential. He may not come quickly, but once Wheeler's body and stuff come together, he could take off.

Nick HagadoneCleveland Indians

Possibly the gem of the deal that sent Victor Martinez from the Indians to the Red Sox, Hagadone showed last year that he was back to full strength following Tommy John surgery. His plus-plus fastball-slider combination gives him two legitimate pitches, and if he can improve the command of both, it may not take him long to reach Cleveland.

Tanner Scheppers – Texas Rangers

A renewed approach to pitching inside with a mid-90s fastball has helped him make the transition to professional ball. Armed with a dominant curveball that hitters flail at, there has been talk of moving Scheppers to the bullpen where he can become a top-notch closer. Still, every effort will be given to breeding him as a starter; the changeup must progress for him to realize that goal.

Join Scout.com Senior Minor League Baseball Analyst Mark Anderson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TigsTownMark

Join Scout.com MiLB Senior Editor Denis Savage on Twitter at http://twitter.com/madfriars


Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories