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Top 5 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings: Pitcher (2024)

Top 5 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings: Pitcher (2024)

That’s right! It is time to prepare for fantasy baseball season once again. The fantasy football season is in the rearview mirror, the Super Bowl is right around the corner and the NBA and NHL are both about midway through their respective 2023-24 campaigns. For MLB enthusiasts, that means baseball is fast approaching.

Proper preparation for fantasy baseball drafts always includes digging through the farm systems of all 30 organizations to uncover the next crop of potent producers. In this piece, the focus will be on pitching prospects that could make an impact for fantasy managers during the 2024 season.

(Each player included still holds MLB Rookie eligibility)

Top 5 Fantasy Baseball Prospects: Pitcher

1. Kyle Harrison (SF)

Kyle Harrison was a strikeout machine during his three years in the Giants’ farm system after the club selected him in the third round of the 2020 MLB Draft. Before making his MLB debut on Aug. 22 of last year, Harrison recorded a ridiculous 37.4 K% alongside a 3.32 ERA and 1.31 WHIP across 279 1/3 minor-league innings. That less-than-ideal WHIP was largely the product of an elevated walk rate (12.3%), as the opposition hit just .212 against Harrison in the minors.

Surprisingly enough, Harrison’s command of the strike zone improved once he got the call to the majors. Over seven starts for the Giants down the stretch last summer, the 22-year-old lefty posted a solid 35-to-11 K/BB ratio with a 4.15 ERA and 1.15 WHIP across 34 2/3 innings. Inside the pitcher-friendly confines of Oracle Park, Harrison turned in a 2.66 ERA over four starts, including an 11-whiff gem in his San Francisco debut.

Harrison’s rookie eligibility remained intact despite his time in the bigs last year and he seems like pretty much a lock to begin the upcoming season in the Giants’ rotation. That makes Harrison a prime preseason contender for 2024 National League Rookie of the Year.

2. Paul Skenes (PIT)

Pat Skenes is the consensus No. 1 pitching prospect in the game but he is likely to finish well behind Harrison in MLB innings this year. The Pirates made Skenes the first overall pick in the MLB Draft after he dominated the NCAA landscape with a 1.69 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and a 209-to-20 K/BB ratio across 122 2/3 innings with the LSU Tigers last year. That workload led the Pirates to significantly limit his innings in their system, as Skenes logged only 6 2/3 innings across five appearances at various levels.

Still, for Skenes, his last outing of 2023 came for Double-A Altoona and shows the Pirates have him on an express lane to the majors. His record-setting signing bonus is more evidence of that trajectory. Armed with high-90s heat that has touched 102 MPH as well as a sharp slider and power change-up, Skenes is well on his way to breaking through as a 6-foot-6, 235-pound hulk on the hill for the Pirates at some point this summer.

3. Ricky Tiedemann (TOR)

Speaking of strikeouts, few record them at the pace Ricky Tiedemann has during his time on the farm. Over the last two years, the third-round pick from 2021 has struck out 40.9% of minor-league hitters he’s faced while turning in a 2.71 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP over 122 2/3 innings. He’s also held the opposition to a microscopic .168 AVG with the devastating stuff that comes from his left arm.

Some injuries led to Tiedemann only working 44 innings, mostly at Double-A, last summer. His ratios also suffered a bit. However, the work he turned in during the Arizona Fall League built any lost hype right back up, as the 21-year-old hurler posted a 2.50 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and a 31.5 K% across 18 frames. The Blue Jays already have a solid pitching staff on paper for this year, but, whether it’s out of the bullpen or in the rotation, they will find a spot for Tiedemann as soon as he’s ready. That should be by midsummer.

4. Mick Abel (PHI)

While the Philly faithful wait out top prospect Andrew Painter‘s recovery process from Tommy John surgery, Mick Abel — the organization’s No. 2 prospect (MLB.com) — could be the young hurler to emerge this year for the club. The 15th overall pick in 2020, the lanky right-hander made 22 starts at the Double-A level last year before making one appearance at Triple-A late in the season.

Between the two highest levels of the Phillies’ system last summer, Abel put together a 4.13 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and a strong 27.4 K% across 113 1/3 innings. There’s plenty of swing-and-miss in his repertoire, which includes mid-to-high 90s heat and a plus slider. His control still needs refining, as a career 12.4 BB% in the minors won’t serve him well at the highest level. If Abel shows improved command early in the upcoming season, he could find his way into the Philadelphia rotation in the second half.

5. Hurston Waldrep (ATL)

The Braves’ rotation has the potential to be something special in 2024, but there are some questions about durability. Charlie Morton is now 40 years old. Chris Sale‘s health issues in recent seasons are well known. All-Star ace Max Fried was limited to just 77 2/3 innings due to injuries last year. Simply put, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to imagine the Braves needing as few as even six starting pitchers to get through the season.

With all that in mind, the Braves may also, like the Pirates with Skenes, end up placing their top selection of the 2023 draft on a big-league mound sooner rather than later. Hurston Waldrep is viewed by many as being an absolute steal for the Braves at pick 24 last year. The righty out of the University of Florida got 29 1/3 innings of work after exiting the college ranks last summer, with the last of his eight starts coming for Triple-A Gwinnett.

Waldrep responded to the organization’s confidence in him by finishing with a stellar 1.53 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and a 41-to-16 K/BB ratio last year. He’ll need more time at the highest levels of the Braves’ system to iron out his control but Waldrep’s three-pitch repertoire is already electric — high-90s heat, a solid split-change and a power slider. The Braves’ veteran-laden staff has an up-and-coming duo waiting in the wings with Waldrep and AJ Smith-Shawver.

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Nate Miller is a featured writer at FantasyPros and a 9-year veteran of the fantasy sports industry. For more from Nate, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @Miller_RotoDad.

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