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Left Handed Pitchers

SP rankings artworkLeft-handed pitching continues to be sought after by all Major League teams and the signing and development are critical to the success of any team.  While Clayton Kershaw has established the standard for excellence for lefties, his performance should be viewed as an outlier.  In other words, if you’re a fantasy owner and looking for the next Kershaw, just stop, reset your expectations and hope to get 80% of him.

The best lefty in the minor leagues is still at least two years away in MacKenzie Gore.  While it wasn’t a dominating year for the 19-year-old pitcher, he still has the stuff and athleticism to give him the ceiling of an Ace.  Jesus Lazardo should see time next season with the A’s but his inconsistent curveball pushes his ceiling to a strong number three or number two starter in the big leagues.

Further down the list are two of my favorite pitchers from last year’s draft in Ryan Weathers and Daniel Lynch.  Both have solid mid-rotation ceilings, if not more with Lynch closer to contributing to the big leagues than Weathers.  Finally, there is Jay Groome.  If he can stay healthy, I think there is something special there.  To-date, that hasn’t happened.  But I’m not willing to give up and therefore, he makes our list.

1. MacKenzie Gore (SD)

A 4.47 ERA last season does not show the true potential of MacKenzie Gore. He’s a great athlete with premium stuff and is one of the few pitchers in the minor leagues with ace potential.

2. Jesus Luzardo (Oak)

The A’s won with over-the-hill pitchers last year. It’s time for some young blood for their rotation and Jesus Luzardo should provide that sometime during 2019. I still wish his curveball was better, but otherwise, he should be solid.

3. Justus Sheffield (Sea)

Justus Sheffield should get his chance for extended playing time at the Major League level in 2019. He doesn’t have the size or premium stuff of an ace, but he should be a solid mid-rotation starter for many years in the Major Leagues.

4. Brendan McKay (TB)

I didn’t list Brendan McKay as a first baseman because I think the Rays will have him focus exclusively on pitching going forward. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking on my part because I think he has a chance to be a Top 15 lefty in the game.

5. Yusei Kikuchi (Sea)

Yusei Kikuchi doesn’t excite me like Yu Darvish and Shohei Otani did. However, he’s a lefty and should be able to be an effective mid-rotation starter.

6. A.J. Puk (Oak)

Another TJS survivor…or we hope. I’ve been wrong about him to-date as the control has progressed faster than I predicted. But the A’s will likely bring him back slowly. So, if you’re hoping for production in 2019, I think resetting your expectations are in order.

7. Adrian Morejon (SD)

Adrian Morejon struggled with arm trouble last season but still managed to pitch to a 3.30 ERA. He’s not a physically imposing guy (6-feet tall), but the stuff is solid, and he throws strikes.

8. Logan Allen (SD)

If Logan Allen’s breaking pitch develops, the upside is a front-of-the-rotation pitcher. His fastball-changeup are both plus pitches and they are good enough to get major league hitters out. Look for him in San Diego in 2019.

9. D.L Hall (Bal)

Sleeper alert. DL Hall can really pitch and with a teardown of the Orioles organization from top to bottom, I’m encouraged that Hall and others will get the coaching that has been missing for a while.

10. Matthew Liberatore (TB)

Matthew Liberatore will be handled with kid gloves, but the upside is extremely high. If you have the patience, he’s a kid to get behind.

11. Ryan Weathers (SD)

The Padres system is so deep that one of the best left-handers in last year’s draft did not make the Top 100 list.  Ryan Weathers already has an advanced arsenal and should move quickly through the system.

12. Luiz Gohara (Atl)

Luiz Gohara has a big arm and has already seen time in the Major Leagues.  His lack of command of his pitches is causing him to be homer-prone and the result is an unsightly ERA.  However, once he can better paint his pitches, watch out.

13. JoJo Romero (Phi)

Sandwiched between a bad start to the season and an injury that cut his season short, JoJo Romero pitched effectively.  He’s a lefty with solid stuff and continues to have a mid-rotation ceiling.

14. Daniel Lynch (KC)

Daniel Lynch was one of the plethoras of college arms taken by the Royals last June.  While I’m not a huge fan of Brady Singer, I do like Lynch and think he could be a sleeper.

15. Jason Groome (Bos)

I’m not going to reiterate the struggles of Jay Groome, but just know that the arm is special.  I’m just hoping he successfully recovers from TJ surgery and can show the kind of stuff that had everyone excited when he was in high school.

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