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Deep Dive: left-handed starting pitcher edition, part 4

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

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks
Big Money, Straight Ahead: Patrick Corbin had the highest bWAR last year of all available free agent starting pitchers — righty or lefty.
Joe Camporeale-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 left-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 quite ready to fill out the rotation. Of course, the Sox have other 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 the White Sox will do.

(age as of April 1, 2019)

Patrick Corbin
Arizona Diamondbacks
2018 bWAR: 4.8
Stats: 11-7, 3.15 ERA, 200 IP, 1.05 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 K/9
Age: 29

Rejected a qualified offer. The White Sox would relinquish a second round pick and $500,000 international bonus pool money if they signed him. Rumored to be heading to the East Coast, with the New York Yankees the best guess.

J.A. Happ
New York Yankees
2018 bWAR: 3.4
Stats: 17-6, 177.2 IP, 3.65 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 9.8 K/9
Age: 36

Profiled nimbly by Darren Jackson a couple of weeks ago.

Dallas Keuchel
Houston Astros
2018 bWAR: 2.6
Stats: 12-11, 204.2 IP, 3.74 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 8.9 K/9
Age: 31

Rejected a qualified offer. The White Sox would relinquish a second round pick and $500,000 international bonus pool money if they signed him. Fully bearded.

Gio Gonzalez
Milwaukee Brewers
2018 bWAR: 1.8
Stats: 10-11, 171 IP, 4.21 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9, 7.8 K/9
Age: 33

Old friend alert. Perhaps the third time will be the charm.

Derek Holland
San Francisco Giants
2018 bWAR: 1.8
Stats: 7-9, 171.1 IP, 3.57 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, 8.9 K/9
Age: 32

Old friend alert. Maybe the second time will be the charm.

Wade Miley
Milwaukee Brewers
2018 bWAR: 1.5
Stats: 5-2, 80.2 IP, 2.57 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 5.6 K/9
Age: 32

Francisco Liriano
Detroit Tigers
2018 bWAR: 0.0
Stats: 5-12, 133.2 IP, 4.58 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 4.9 BB/9, 7.4 K/9
Age: 35

Old friend alert. We’d have to put our Eduardo Escobar bitterness to the side.

Drew Pomeranz
Boston Red Sox
2018 bWAR: -0.5
Stats: 2-6, 74 IP, 6.08 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 5.4 BB/9, 8.0 K/9
Age: 30

Jaime Garcia
Chicago Cubs
2018 bWAR: -0.5
Stats: 3-7, 82 IP, 5.82 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 4.8 BB/9, 8.0 K/9
Age: 32

Martin Perez
Texas Rangers
2018 bWAR: -0.9
Stats: 2-7, 85.1 IP, 6.22 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 3.8 BB/9, 5.5 K/9
Age: 27

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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 left-handed starters the White Sox could draft in the first round and beyond. The number in parentheses before the name is where FanGraphs ranked each player as of November 23. 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 southpaw class this year seems far stronger at the collegiate level. Because the Sox tend to go more with college pitchers, I’ve provided more of those options here.

College

(14) Graeme Stinson
6´5´´
250 pounds
School: Duke

Stinson has pitched primarily in relief throughout his college career, but will be inserted into the Blue Devils rotation this year. Last year in 62 innings, he posted a 1.89 ERA and 1.00 WHIP while allowing 43 hits and 19 walks compared to a whopping 98 strikeouts. Armed with a plus fastball and slider — which some scouts label a grade higher at plus-plus — Stinson has the potential to be an innings-eating workhorse in the starting rotation. A team will be willing to draft this guy high — especially knowing he’d be a great fallback option as a potential closer.

(35) Zach Thompson
6´2´´
225 pounds
School: Kentucky

An elbow injury limited Thompson to just 31 innings last year, as he posted a pedestrian 4.94 ERA and 1.42 WHIP last year for the Wildcats; he did strike out 42 hitters but walked 20. His fastball runs in the low 90s but complements it with a high-spin, 82-84 mph slider. Thompson also throws a fringe-average curveball and solid changeup, which give him the tools to become a middle-of-the-rotation starter if he stays healthy and lowers his walk rate. If he has any setbacks with stuff, injuries or control, his stock could fall anywhere from the second to fourth rounds.

(48) Erik Miller
6´5´´
220 pounds
School: Stanford

Miller posted a 4.07 ERA and 1.36 WHIP with the Cardinal last year in 48 23 innings, allowing 43 hits and 23 walks compared to 52 strikeouts. He’s obviously got good size, with the ability to miss bats. Like Thompson above, he will need an outstanding season to move into first-round contention; otherwise, he could easily drop to the third to fifth rounds.

(64) Adam Laskey
6´3´´
205 pounds
School: Duke

Based upon his results last year, Laskey must have something special to be regarded this highly. His stock has risen primarily due to his showing in the Cape Cod League, where he was named Pitcher of the Year. He doesn’t throw particularly hard despite his size, as his fastball sits in the low 90s — but he locates it well. His slider and changeup are both considered slightly above-average. Despite his showing in the Cape Cod League, Laskey will need to have a great junior season with the Blue Devils. After all, he posted a 5.47 ERA and 1.55 WHIP last year in 75 23 innings, allowing 79 hits and 38 walks while fanning 61.

Nick Lodolo
6´6´´
180 pounds
School: TCU

I’m with Baseball America in rating Lodolo eighth among all college prospects in next year’s draft. However, he seems to be fairly polarizing since he’s not even listed in FanGraph’s Top 50. Lodolo posted a 4.32 and 1.40 WHIP for the Horned Frogs last year in 77 innings, allowing 80 hits and 28 walks while striking out 93. He has a long, lean, projectable frame. Lodolo’s his fastball sits in the low 90s, and he uses his height to throw it from a steep downhill angle. He also mixes in a sharp curveball and a changeup. He can create plenty of swings and misses, but he also has been hit more than would be expected for a pitcher with his stuff. With that side, Lodolo’s upside is huge, and with a strong spring, he could be the top college pitcher off the board.

High School

(57) Hunter Barco
6´4´´
201 pounds
Bolles H.S., Jacksonville, Fla.
Verbal commitment: Florida

Barco has three pitches that could be projected as plus — fastball, slider, changeup. His fastball was mostly in the 89-92 mph range this summer, with tremendous running action and sink. Barco throws from a very low, practically sidearm delivery, which gives both his fastball plenty of run and low spin rate changeup plenty of fade. Yet, that low arm slot can also hurt the consistency of his slider at times. Barco can back door a fastball glove side intentionally, throws to spots and likes to come inside to right handed hitters.

Hayden Mullins
6´1´´
180 pounds
School: Hendersonville H.S., Hendersonville, Tenn.
Verbal commitment: Auburn

Mullins has tremendous spin on his breaking ball, and a fastball that touched 94 mph this summer. He works with an up-tempo pace and features that curveball, which has plus potential in the 72-79 mph range, with 1-to-7 shape and plenty of depth. Mullins’ repertoire also includes a firm slider that can become a plus pitch. However, his build doesn’t offer much further projection

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Summary

With 1ualifying offers are attached to Corbin and Keuchel, the White Sox would relinquish a second-round draft pick and $500,000 in international bonus pool money to get them. While the top two southpaw starters had better years than their right-handed counterparts, the right-handed free agent starter class actually has more depth. Most of these starters will be willing to sign for three years or less, which is obviously a good thing as it’d help prevent the team from rushing its prospects. 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. Overall, however, most of the top collegiate pitchers are right-handed.