Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
SSS rank among all right-handed starting pitchers in the system: 3
2021 SSS Top Prospect Vote: 7
2020 SSHP Top Prospect Ranking: 5
2019 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 27
Jonathan Stiever capped a great three-year run with the Indiana Hoosiers when he posted a 3.41 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 16 starts spanning 100 innings, surrendering just 94 hits and 32 walks while striking out 97. Although MLB Pipeline ranked him 88th among all draft prospects, Stiever mysteriously fell to the fifth round (138th overall) in the 2018 draft, where the White Sox happily snatched him up.
Despite only pitching in just two- or three-inning spurts for Great Falls after being drafted, he held his own for the Voyagers with a respectable 4.18 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over 28 innings as he surrendered just 23 hits (.258 OBA) and nine walks (7.2%) while fanning 39 (33.2%).
In 2019, Stiever struggled unexpectedly for Kannapolis in 14 starts (77 innings) with a 4.74 ERA and 1.38 WHIP as he ceded 88 hits (.293 OBA) and 14 walks (4.4%) while fanning 77 (24.1%). A promotion on June 20 to Winston-Salem, against more advanced hitters and in a hitting-friendly ballpark to boot, saw Stiever dialing it up incredibly in 12 starts for the Dash. Although his walk (13) and strikeout totals (77) were eerily similar to his Kannapolis numbers in nearly the same number of innings (71), hitters only batted .216 against Stiever’s offerings. With the Dash Stiever elevated his fastball, which made it far more difficult for opponents to hit. Thus, while he maintained his solid walk (4.7%) and strikeout rates (28.0%) in A+ ball, his ERA and WHIP dropped precipitously, to 2.15 and 0.97.
MLB Pipeline has Stiever’s fastball typically averaging 92-96 mph with a peak of 98, and features plenty of running and sinking action. This actually is an increase of two mph from earlier in the year. Like his fastball, Stiever’s upper-70s spike-curveball is graded at 60 and varies significantly by shape and speed. Stiever’s third hard pitch is a hard slider that currently grades at 55 by MLB Pipeline, and he features a changeup as well (currently grading at 50, which he used to help stifle lefties to a .178 average while pitching for the Dash).
It’s really an incredible repertoire, and with the control, stuff and power he displayed for the Dash, Stiever made the incredible jump to the majors during last summer’s short season, getting two starts. The first, at home in Chicago, was very solid; the second was a shelling in Cincinnati, upping his season numbers to a 9.95 ERA and 1.737 WHIP.
The White Sox are still enthralled with the step forward Stiever made in the second half of 2019, so he will be an emergency arm in Schaumburg for the first month of the season before reporting to Charlotte and manning a spot in the Knights rotation.
For more on Stiever, read Dan Victor’s terrific South Side Hit Pen piece from a year ago, and revisit the rookie’s debut with some words and video from Sports Illustrated last summer.