We have reached the Top 10 and it is here when you start to see a lot of the names that you have heard before. There is a good mix of levels in here with a player from the Rookie League as well as someone who made it all the way to Chicago last summer. Each of the pitchers that you will read about here will someday make an impact in the bigs at some point or another, so why not get a little acclimated with them now?
Highest Level: A+ Myrtle Beach
78.2 IP, 3.09 ERA, 1.157 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 3.8 BB/9
Skulina has always been a big question as far as what he could end up being in the future. Throughout his minor league career he has never really had awful numbers but never had outstanding numbers either. He has consistently improved to the point where he had his best year yet in 2015. While he should be starting his 24 year old season in AA Tennessee this season, he is a little older than most of the players at that level, but what you see is what you get with Skulina and he could end being a very valuable middle relief option come 2017 for the big league squad.
Highest Level: AA Tennessee
64.2 IP, 5.98 ERA, 1.701 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 4.2 BB/9
The Mizzou product has all the pieces it takes to be a very solid number 4 starter for a big league team. The lefty has a low 90s fastball with late life and break and one of the best changeups in the entire system. None of that means anything though if he can’t control his pitches and lower his walk rate. 2016 should be a huge season for Zastryzny as if he can figure it out and put everything together he has the opportunity to rise up this list and put himself in contention for a September call-up this year. But if he struggles this season like he has in the past, Rob could end up being a major afterthought.
Highest Level: Rookie AZL Cubs
24 IP, 2.62 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 6.0 BB/9
The Cubs took a chance on Cease in the 2014 draft as he was returning from Tommy John surgery. Now it looks like it paid off. Cease has been clocked in the upper 90s with his fastball and could end up skyrocketing up this list if he can stick around as a starter. Even for a high school draft pick, Cease could end up being a fast riser through the system once he is truly back at 100%. If he winds up as a reliever due to his smaller stature, he could be a solid bullpen piece strictly due to his electric fastball. If he fills out and develops a solid changeup, Cease could end up being a really good 2 or 3 starter.
Highest Level: MLB Chicago
55.1 IP, 2.77 ERA, 1.211 WHIP, 12.2 K/9, 6.7 BB/9
The pitcher formerly known as CJ is the only guy on this list to actually appear in Chicago last season. Edwards would still be up much higher on this list if he was being worked out of the rotation. But now a member of the bullpen, he falls down the list just because he will be unable to have an impact on the game as much with limited innings. An absolutely unreal strikeout rate is directly correlated with the nasty stuff he has. With hitters making little solid contact off of the String Bean Slinger he could afford to cut down on his strikeout rate by a few percentage points in order to also cut down on his walk rate. By doing that, he shows the ability to be a future closer or setup man at the very least.
Highest Level: A+ Myrtle Beach
117.1 IP, 3.38 ERA, 1.185 WHIP, 6.3 K/9, 0.8 BB/9
Null got off to an absolutely incredible start to 2015. Null was named the Minor League Pitcher for the month of April and through his first 5 starts of the season his stat line included an ERA of 0.59 and a 3-0 record. Those first 5 starts also included a 28.1 walk-less inning streak to start off the year. Over his first 2 seasons in the minors after being drafted way down in the 15th round out of Western Carolina, Null has done nothing but impress. After just turning 22 in September he should start off the year where he finished last year, in A+ Myrtle Beach, but finish 2016 in Tennessee. Null’s stuff will not blow you away, but he does show the potential to be a back-end starter in Chicago.