MLB Pipeline will reveal its Top 100 Predictions for 2023 at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, January 26, with a one-hour show on MLB Network. and MLB.com. Prior to the release of the Top 100 Players, we will examine the top 10 prospective baseball players at each position.
While only four left-handed pitchers have unveiled the top 100 for 2023 soon, the lowest number since we started making prospect lists in 2004, the center is far from talent. Many southern paws stand out for their ability to miss bats.
Kyle Harrison (Giants) led the minors in strikeout percentage (39.8) in 2022, and Ricky Tiedeman (Blue Jays) would have ranked right behind him (38.9) if he had enough innings to qualify. Harrison also topped the minors in all nine innings pitched (14.8), as DL Hall (the Orioles) posted a similar average (14.6) as an ineligible.
The 2022 draft was deep left with the top 100 on the upside. Brandon Barrera (Blue Jays) and Noah Schultz (White Sox) each went first round as minors, while teammates Robbie Snelling (Padres) and Jackson Ferris (Cubs) earned $3 million in bonuses as picks later. Cooper Hjerpe (Cardinals) was the best healthy and active Southpaw college in a crop battered by injuries to Connor Prielipp (Twins), Hunter Barco (Pirates) and Reggie Crawford (Giants) and suspension to Carson Whisenhunt (Giants).
1. Kyle Harrison, Giants (2023)
2. Ricky Tiedemann, Blue Jays (2024)
3. Ken Waldichuk, Athletics (2023)
4. DL Hall, Orioles (2023)
5. Dax Fulton, Marlins (2024)
6- Jordan Weeks, Caps (2023)
7. Matthew Liberatore, Cardinals (2023)
8. Jake Eder, Marlins (2024)
9. Brandon Barrera, Blue Jays (2026)
10 – Blake Walston, D Linebacker (2023)
Fastball: Harrison, Tiedemann, Waldichuk, Hall (65)
All four of these lefties have well above average fastballs that stand out in different ways. Harrison had an insane 41 percent swing and fall rate with his heater in the Double-A, working from 92 to 97 mph with the riding action and flat approach angle from a low three-quarter arm hole. Tiedemann has the best sink of the bunch, Waldichuk has the best carry into the strike zone, and Hall has the most consistent speed (averaging at 96.6 mph and topping out at 100).
Curveball: Fulton, Liberator (60)
Fulton and the Liberator both rely heavily on curveballs, the only extra pitch in each of their arsenals. Bender Fulton has more power in the upper 70s, and his spin feel extends to the tighter lower 80s slider he focused on at the end of last season.
Slider: Harrison, Eder (60)
If hitters focus on handling Harrison’s fastball, he can make them look bad with a sweeping slider in the low 80s. Eder has a similar slide piece that helped him dominate during his 2021 Double-A debut, though he blew his elbow in August and required Tommy John surgery.
Change: Tiedemann, Wicks (70)
Tiedemann was a revelation in his professional debut in 2022, thanks in large part to his mid-80s change-up that is crumbling and fading. Wicks has similar action and slightly less speed to Cambio, who is considered the best scout in the 2021 draft.
Control: Wicks, Barrera (55)
Wicks has a low-effort delivery and repeats it well, averaging 2.7 walks per nine innings pitched while hitting Double-A in his first full professional season last year. The 23rd overall pick in the 2022 draft, Barriera likes to attack hitters with three solid pitchers and is more forward than most high schoolers.
Highest cap: Harrison
Harrison stands out as a frontline starter with his three-layer repertoire that also includes an improved mid-80s changeup with fades and sinks. He can dodge bats into the strike zone with his three wides.
Highest floor: Tiedemann
Tiedemann has a lower track record than Harrison but a similarly devastating arsenal with better control and leadership at this point. The Blue Jays handled him very carefully in his first full professional season, so it remains to be seen how his stuff will hold up to his full workload.
Rookie of the Year: Harrison
The Giants don’t have a slot in the Opening Day tournament, but Harrison’s form and performance (2.71 ERA, . 196 opponent average, 186 strikeouts in 113 innings pitched, mostly in Double-A at age 20) will be hard to deny. He continues to improve his control and command, although the quality of his performances means he does not have to be as precise.
Heading into 2022, Tiedemann was a third-round draft pick from Golden West (California) JC who had yet to play in pro ball. He is now challenging Harrison for baseball’s MVP title as a left-handed pitching prospect after posting a 2.17 ERA, . 149 opponent average, and 117 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings pitched while rising from Single-A to Double-A .
Humble Beginning: Waldichuk
Waldichuk’s performance and arrow faltered when he tried to throw harder as a junior at Saint Mary’s in 2019, causing him to fall to the Yankees in the fifth inning. New York helped him upgrade his fastball, sliding, and changeup before sending him to the Athletics in a Frankie Montas trade last August.
Most demonstrable: Liberatore
The best preseason prospect in the 2018 draft, Liberatore went 16th overall for the Rays and joined the Cardinals in a Randy Arozarena trade in January 2020. His 5.17 Triple-A ERA and 5.97 ERA in his major league debut last year underscored his need for A better-than-average second field to pair with the curveball.
Stay tuned: Hijerbi
Hjerpe creates plenty of trickery with a low arm hole and flat angle of approach on a 91-95 mph fastball that college hitters can’t touch. The 22nd overall pick in the 2022 draft, he led NCAA Division I with 161 strikeouts while posting a 2.53 ERA, 180 strikeout average and 23 walks in 103 1/3 innings pitched at Oregon State last spring. Its slider and change shows the potential to become hard tones.