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Which Top Pitching Prospects Could Help Fantasy Baseball Teams Out the Most this Season? | Kyle Harrison, Cade Horton, Ricky Tiedemann, Mick Abel, AJ Smith-Shawver and More

Discussing some pitching prospects who could make a fantasy impact at some point in the upcoming season.

Morgan Rode Feb 7th 6:27 PM EST.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: San Francisco Giants pitcher Kyle Harrison (45) throws a pitch during the MLB game between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 21, 2023 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: San Francisco Giants pitcher Kyle Harrison (45) throws a pitch during the MLB game between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 21, 2023 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

The first prospect-centered article I did last week was a popular piece to readers, so I plan on covering prospects plenty leading up to the regular season and then here and there throughout the season as well.

We took a look at the top-five prospects and who might make the biggest difference this season. Today, I’ve decided to dive into some more pitching prospects, since the first story only covered Paul Skenes. I’ll comb through the MLB’s top 100 prospects and hit on the pitchers who have ETAs of 2024. There’s 15 pitchers that are projected to debut this season, so we’ll break things down into two stories. Here’s the first half of things - check back soon for the second half.

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Kyle Harrison Fantasy Outlook

We already covered Skenes in depth in the first article, so we’re going to start with Harrison here. The left-handed pitcher is just 22 years old and was a third-round pick of the San Francisco Giants in 2020.

He made his MLB debut in 2023 and pitched 34 2/3 innings. He had a 4.15 earned run average across seven games, striking out 35 batters while walking 11 and allowing eight homers.

Harrison is expected to pitch near the top of the team’s rotation right from the start of the regular season, so that already gives him a huge leg up on other pitchers for making the biggest fantasy impact. That little bit of MLB experience last season should prove big for Harrison. 

I typically see him going late in standard fantasy drafts, if at all. If he goes undrafted, be sure to keep an eye on him, as sometimes all it takes is a start or two before a youngster really settles in.

Cade Horton Fantasy Outlook

Horton is a right-handed pitcher in the Chicago Cubs organization. He was a first-round pick in 2022 and made it up to Double-A a season ago.

Horton had a combined 2.65 ERA over 88 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out 117 batters while walking 27. Horton’s slider is graded as his best pitch, with an above-average fastball too. 

With only 27 innings pitched at Double-A, it seems like Horton would likely be a mid-season call-up at the earliest for Chicago. It might all depend on how the Cubs’ big league rotation is faring, and if the team is in contention or not. 

While Horton is a solid pick in dynasty leagues, he shouldn’t be drafted in standard or even somewhat deep leagues (unless he just dominates in spring training and is destined to pitch in the MLB from the start of the season). Keep an eye on him starting around the trade deadline - I’d guess he’s a September call-up.

Ricky Tiedemann Fantasy Outlook

Tiedemann is a lefty from the Toronto Blue Jays farm system. He was a third-round pick in 2021 and is only 21.

He got all the way up to Triple-A a season ago, but only had four innings there. Still, that means Tiedemann might only need a month or two in the minors before getting the call - if he doesn’t impress and makes the team right out of the gate.

He had a 3.68 ERA across 122 2/3 innings, with 199 strikeouts and 52 walks. The big workload shows he’s ready for the big leagues, while the high strikeout numbers definitely should catch fantasy owner’s eyes. 

He’s another guy I wouldn’t draft outside dynasty leagues, but he needs to be monitored closely, as it might not take long for him to get the call.

Rhett Lowder Fantasy Outlook

Lowder was the seventh overall pick in the 2023 draft for the Cincinnati Reds. He’s just 21 years old and hasn’t pitched in the minors yet.

It’s wild to see a pitcher have an ETA in the following year after he was drafted, especially with no minor league experience. He’s got three pitches graded above average, with the changeup being his best pitch. His command is fantastic, which is a way you can rise through the minors in quick order.

The Reds have a ton of prospects on their way to the big leagues this season. Lowder could be one of those guys, but you’d expect it to not come until he gets at least a couple months of minor league experience. He might move quickly through the system, so keep an eye on him. I’d expect a call-up later in the season (if it comes at all), so his fantasy impact is likely to be marginal.

Mick Abel Fantasy Outlook

Abel was a first-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2020. He’s just 22 years old and got up to Triple-A a season ago.

Between AA and AAA last season, Abel had a 4.13 ERA over 113 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out 132 while walking 65. Only 4 2/3 of those innings were at AAA, so he’ll likely need a little more minor league seasoning before getting the call.

His arm appears ready to handle a big league season, but like most teams do nowadays, I expect Philly to limit him at some point. They could ease him into things in Triple-A and then unleash him in the big leagues - it’s more likely to go the other way though. 

Abel should be monitored pretty closely after the first two or so months of the season. I could see a call-up in June if all things go well in AAA. That’d give him plenty of time to make an impact for fantasy teams.

Jared Jones Fantasy Outlook

Jones was a second-round pick in 2020 of the Pirates. He’s 22 years old and shouldn’t be in Triple-A much longer after getting 82 innings there last season.

Jones had a 4.72 ERA at AAA, so a little more minor league seasoning is probably the path the Pirates will take with him. If he excels early in the season, he could get the call in May, and I’d certainly expect him up before the end of June. 

He’s another decent option in dynasty leagues, but should probably be avoided in all other formats and instead watched closely as the season gets ramped up.

Tink Hence Fantasy Outlook

Hence was the 63rd overall pick in the 2020 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s just 21 years old and has 54 1/3 innings pitched at AA under his belt already.

Hence had a 5.47 ERA while in AA, with 53 strikeouts and 22 walks along the way. He could probably use a little more time in AA, and then at least a handful of AAA starts. That probably puts a potential call-up for Hence in either July or August - at the very least, he’s likely a September call-up.

So I’d start really focusing in on Hence around the MLB All-Star Game or shortly after.

AJ Smith-Shawver Fantasy Outlook

Smith-Shawver is the last pitcher I want to hit on in this article. He was a seventh-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2021. He’s just 21 years old and already has made his MLB debut.

Smith-Shawver pitched in six games last season (five starts). He covered 25 1/3 innings, striking out 20 and walking 11. He allowed seven home runs and had a 4.26 ERA.

It’s pretty wild that Smith-Shawver already made his debut, especially since he only has 41 innings at the Triple-A level.

He definitely will be in the running to make the starting rotation right out of training camp, but is projected to actually start the year in AAA by several sites. Even if he starts the season in the minors, it shouldn’t be long before he’s back in the MLB.

You’re probably better off drafting a different player late in really deep drafts, but Smith-Shawver should be watched closely all spring training. He’s obviously a very talented pitcher and could be a star if all things click this season.

#prospects #kyle-harrison #cade-horton #ricky-tiedemann #mick-abel #aj-smith-shawver

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