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Deep Dive: right-handed starter edition, part 4

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A snapshot of the top free agent righty starters, as well as the best projected arms in next year’s draft

MLB: ALCS-Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros
Salty: Charlie Morton, at 3.5, had the best bWAR of any right-handed starter in this year’s free agent class.
John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position will be a four-part series:

  1. Depth in the lower levels (Dominican through Kannapolis)
  2. Depth in the higher levels (Winston-Salem through Charlotte)
  3. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  4. Free-agent options at that position, plus sneak peeks into available players in the upcoming 2019 MLB Draft.

So, finally, let’s take a look at free agent right-handed starting pitchers, as well as those who could be available in the first few rounds of the upcoming MLB draft.

Free Agents

With only three pitchers locked in to begin next year’s rotation (Reynaldo Lopez, Carlos Rodon, and Lucas Giolito), the White Sox may look into acquiring free agents via trade or free agency to help fill the void for 2019 — especially if they don’t feel guys like Jordan Stephens, Jordan Guerrero, Spencer Adams or Manny Banuelos will be ready to step in. Of course, the Sox have pitchers like Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning and Alec Hansen who could be ready for full-time gigs in 2020, so it will be interesting to see what how the White Sox address 2019.

(age as of April 1, 2019)

Charlie Morton
Houston Astros
2018 bWAR: 3.5
Stats: 15-3, 3.13 ERA, 167 IP, 1.16 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, 10.8 K/9
Age: 35

At some point this offseason, he’s been unsure whether he will pitch in 2019, or retire.

Clay Buchholz
Arizona Diamondbacks
2018 bWAR: 3.0
Stats: 7-2, 2.01 ERA, 98.1 IP, 1.16 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 7.4 K/9
Age: 34

Anibal Sánchez
Atlanta Braves
2018 bWAR: 2.6
Stats: 7-6, 136.2 IP, 2.83 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 8.9 K/9
Age: 35

Atlanta pulled Sánchez off of the scrap heap, and he was a major contributor to their playoff push.

Edwin Jackson
Oakland Athletics
2018 bWAR: 1.6
Stats: 6-3, 92 IP, 3.33 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, 6.7 K/9
Age: 35

Old friend Edwin went from one of the worst bargains in the bigs (his Chicago Cubs contract of a few years past) to the best, with a resounding bounce-back season for Oakland. He seems to be a lock to set the major league record for most teams played for in his career.

Nathan Eovaldi
Boston Red Sox
2018 bWAR: 1.5
Stats: 6-7, 111 IP, 3.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 1.7 BB/9, 8.2 K/9
Age: 29

Took his prospective salary from nine figures (perhaps even lower nine figures) to a comfortable 10 per season with a potent stretch run and postseason with Boston.

James Shields
Chicago White Sox
2018 bWAR: 1.4
Stats: 7-16, 204.2 IP, 4.53 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, 6.8 K/9
Age: 37

No.

Jeremy Hellickson
Washington Nationals
2018 bWAR: 1.4
Stats: 5-3, 91.1 IP, 3.45 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 5.6 K/9
Age: 31

Trevor Cahill
Oakland Athletics
2018 bWAR: 1.3
Stats: 7-4, 110 IP, 3.76 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, 8.2 K/9
Age: 31

Tyson Ross
St. Louis Cardinals
2018 bWAR: 0.9
Stats: 8-9, 149.2 IP, 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 3.7 BB/9, 7.3 K/9
Age: 31

Ross brings an ability to start or relieve, like our newly-acquired southpaw Bañuelos.

Lance Lynn
New York Yankees
2018 bWAR: 0.8
Stats: 10-10, 156.2 IP, 4.77 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 4.4 BB/9, 9.3 K/9
Age: 31

Doug Fister
Texas Rangers
2018 bWAR: 0.8
Stats: 1-7, 66 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 5.5 K/9
Age: 35

Matt Harvey
Cincinnati Reds
2018 bWAR: 0.7
Stats: 7-9, 155 IP, 4.94 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 7.6 K/9
Age: 30

In the category of Adam LaRoche let’s-mess-wth-the-clubhouse free agents, we present Matt Harvey.

Marco Estrada
Toronto Blue Jays
2018 bWAR: 0.6
Stats: 7-14, 143.2 IP, 5.64 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, 6.5 K/9
Age: 35

Brett Anderson
Oakland Athletics
2018 bWAR: 0.5
Stats: 4-5, 80.1 IP, 4.48 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, 5.3 K/9
Age: 31

Bartolo Colon
Texas Rangers
2018 bWAR: 0.5
Stats: 7-12, 146.1 IP, 5.78 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, 5.0 K/9
Age: 45

The potbellied pitcher would be making his third run with the White Sox if he signed here as veteran rotation ballast.

Garrett Richards
Los Angeles Angels
2018 bWAR: 0.1
Stats: 5-4, 76.1 IP, 3.66 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 4.0 BB/9, 10.3 K/9
Age: 30

Nate Karns
Kansas City Royals
2018 bWAR: 0.0
Stats: Didn’t pitch in 2018
Age: 31

Yovani Gollardo
Texas Rangers
2018 bWAR: -0.2
Stats: 8-8, 94.1 IP, 6.39 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, 5.5 K/9
Age: 33

Ervin Santana
Minnesota Twins
2018 bWAR: -0.6
Stats: 0-1, 24.2 IP, 8.03 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, 5.8 K/9
Age: 36

Miguel Gonzalez
Chicago White Sox
2018 bWAR: -0.7
Stats: 0-3, 12.1 IP, 12.41 ERA, 2.43 WHIP, 4.4 BB/9, 3.6 K/9
Age: 34

Out well into the 2019 season after shoulder surgery, so it’s hard to imagine anyone snapping him up. More time to prep his mariachi gig.

Chris Tillman
Baltimore Orioles
2018 bWAR: -1.1
Stats: 1-5, 26.2 IP, 10.46 ERA, 2.21 WHIP, 5.7 BB/9, 4.4 K/9
Age: 30

Jason Hammel
Kansas City Royals
2018 bWAR: -1.6
Stats: 4-14, 127 IP, 6.02 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 6.5 K/9
Age: 36

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2019 MLB Draft prospects

I will be doing a more comprehensive list next year, so this is just a preliminary look at right-handed starters the White Sox could draft in the first round and beyond. The number in parentheses is where FanGraphs ranked each player as of November 16. Of course, players may move up or down the charts depending upon how well they do in various offseason tournaments and upcoming collegiate/prep seasons. The righty starter class this year seems far stronger at the college level.

College

(12) Carter Stewart
6´6´´
200 pounds
School: Eastern Florida J.C.

As a prep pitcher, Stewart was actually the eighth pick in last year’s draft, but didn’t sign with the Atlanta Braves. The Braves only offered him 40% of slot value as the result of a wrist injury which popped up during a physical. In order to be eligible for the draft this year, Stewart will be playing junior college ball. He’s got a fastball that runs 98 mph, a power 12-6 curveball, and an improving changeup.

(39) Ryan Zeferjahn
6´4´´
216 pounds
School: Kansas

Zeferjahn has some of the best pure stuff in the 2019 draft class, between a fastball that gets into the upper 90s and a mid-80s power slider that gives him a second plus offering. Part of a loaded 2016 Kansas prep class that also included Riley Pint and Joey Wentz, Zeferjahn showed plenty of potential as a hard-throwing high schooler and has filled out his frame over his two years with Kansas. Zeferjahn has also showcased more consistency out of his slider recently. Still, evaluators are less impressed with his control — he’s walked five batters per nine innings over 132 college frames —and want to see him take a step forward during the spring before they consider him no-doubt Day 1 pick. The potential and stuff is there, but he’ll need to put together a respectable junior campaign with the Jayhawks.

(53) Alek Manoah
6´6´´
260 pounds
School: West Virginia

Manoah has mostly worked out of the bullpen over the last two years for West Virginia, but this summer, he was one of the best starters on the Cape. Manoah strikes an imposing figure on the mound and has the fastball to match. He pitches in the mid-90s and can touch 98 mph in shorter stints. His slider is his best secondary pitch and has the makings of a plus offering. He also mixes in a good changeup. Manoah, like Zerfjahn, has had problems with control, with a 5.01 BB/9 ration in his two years for the Mountaineers. If he has a solid junior season in this year’s rotation, he could be one of the most coveted pitchers in next year’s draft.

(60) Kenyon Yovan

6´3´´
215 pounds
School: Oregon

Yovan has an athletic delivery with a long stride as well as a handful of solid pitches, headlined by an above-average, low-90s fastball that he locates well to both sides of the plate. His trio of secondary offerings grade out as average, but include a curveball, slider and changeup. Scouts are excited to see what Yovan looks like as a full-time starter this spring after his successful transition from the bullpen in 2018. Last year in 84 23 innings for the Ducks, he allowed 61 hits and 37 walks (3.93 BB/9) while striking out 98 (10.42 K/9) to compile a 2.98 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. Scouts believe he has the size, athleticism and pitchability to handle a starting role, though his stuff ticks up out of the bullpen.

(62) Matt Canterino
6´3´´
205 pounds
School: Rice

Several outstanding right-handed starters have recently come from Rice, including Jordan Stephens. Last year in 95 innings for the Owls, he posted a 3.06 ERA and 0.93 ERA by allowing 65 hits and 22 walks (2.11 BB/9) while striking out 116 (11.11 K/9). Canterino features a fastball that touches 95 mph, along with a big curveball, slider, and good changeup. His delivery is funky, which leads some to wonder if his mechanics will force him to the bullpen.

High School

(20) Brennan Malone
6´3´´
203 pounds
IMG Baseball Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
Verbal commitment: North Carolina

Malone put himself at the top of the prep pitching class thanks to an excellent package of starter traits, premium stuff and projection for more down the line. His fastball is among the best in the class, touching 97 mph and sitting in the low to mid-90s in short stints this summer. His quick and loose arm action, combined with a terrific frame, lead scouts to believe he will touch 100 mph at some point. Malone throws a slider and curveball that are presently inconsistent, but have shown flashes at times this summer. His low-80s slider is currently ahead of a mid- to upper-70s curveball (the slower his curveball is, the more effective it becomes), and he also throws a mid-80s changeup with solid arm speed. With an excellent summer, he’s shooting up the charts.

(21) Daniel Espino
6´0´´
196 pounds
School: Bulloch Academy, Statesboro, Ga.
Verbal commitment: LSU

Espino has the best present stuff of any pitcher in the high school class. His fastball touched 100 mph this summer, and the pitch regularly sat in the 94-98 mph range in short stints. His mid-70s curveball is a plus pitch presently, with sharp, late break, and he also throws a slider in the low 80s with late life that could become another plus offering. Espino infrequently throws an 86-89 mph changeup that needs refinement. Born in Panama, Espino lacks the future projection of other arms in the class; some scouts worry about the length to his arm action, but he has a strong lower half and gets off the mound with tremendous force, allowing others to worry less about the stress he’ll endure on his elbow and shoulder.

(24) Matthew Thompson
6´0´´
196 pounds
School: Cypress Ranch H.S., Cypress, Texas
Verbal commitment: Texas A&M

Thompson is an immensely athletic right-handed pitcher who jumped onto national radars as an underclassman last fall. Thompson’s fastball ranged from 88-93 mph early in the summer before ticking up to 96 mph range as the season progressed, according to PerfectGame. He throws from a high, three-quarter slot with electric arm speed and shows great feel to spin the baseball. Thompson throws a low-80s slider that has hard, late break and two-plane action that routinely draws whiffs and causes batters to expand the zone. He also showed some feel for a solid, 76-79 mph curveball with 11-to-5 break.

(32) Matthew Allan
6´3´´
210 pounds
School: Seminole H.S., Samford, Fla.
Verbal commitment: Texas A&M

Allan is a strong, physical pitcher with a pair of potential plus offerings in a fastball that has touched 96 mph and a big, 12-to-6 downer curveball. Allan works out of a slow windup and throws from a three-quarter arm slot, but he struggled with command at times throughout the summer. He will need to improve the consistency of his fastball command during the spring, as he would land his breaking ball for strikes more consistently than his heater. Allan occasionally threw a firm, 87-89 mph changeup that could develop into a quality third pitch as well.

(43) J.J. Goss
6´2´´
172 pounds
School: Cypress Ranch H.S., Cypress, Texas
Verbal commitment: Texas A&M

Goss, like his high school teammate Thompson, is also committed to Texas A&M. Goss has a fastball that sat in the 89-92 mph range this summer, getting into the mid-90s, and a swing-and-miss, low-80s slider with tight spin and 10-to-4 shape. Goss also showed solid feel for a mid-80s changeup that has solid fading action, and he throws the pitch with the same fast arm speed used on his fastball. He has some length in the back of his arm path, as well as some effort and head whack in his delivery, but overall Goss displays exciting raw stuff. The only concern I have is his ability to maintain his speed in long durations, unless he adds more weight to his thin frame; if he can’t withstand the rigors of a long professional campaign, he may eventually be best suited for a high-leverage role in the bullpen.

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Summary

No qualifying offers are attached to any of the right-handed starters on this year’s free agent market. Thus, the White Sox wouldn’t relinquish a second-round draft pick and $500,000 in international bonus pool money by signing any of them. Most of these starters will be willing to sign for three years or less, which is obviously a good thing, as short-team deals will allow time for the White Sox to develop prospects at their own pace without creating any logjams on the major league roster. While it’s not very likely that the Sox would select a prep pitcher with the third pick in the draft, it’s conceivable that the Sox could would consider a collegiate pitcher with that pick — especially if the hitters they like were already selected by the Baltimore Orioles and/or Kansas City Royals.