The future of MLB will be showcased this fall in Arizona, as the Arizona Fall League returns for another year. Rosters are out, and a number of notable prospects are set to headline the AFL in October and November. Here’s a look at the five pitching prospects to key in on during the 2023 Arizona Fall League season.
Selected in the same draft as Heston Kjerstad, the Orioles gave right-hander Carter Baumler a $1.5M bonus out of high school in 2020 when Baltimore selected him in the fifth round of the draft that year. Since then, Baumler’s been besieged by injuries. The 21-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery in 2020, then a bout of shoulder inflammation and has only thrown 28.2 pro innings in three Minor League seasons.
Still, Baumler’s an intriguing prospect with plenty of upside. MLB.com graded Baumler’s fastball, changeup, and curveball at 50 or higher. And, the 21-year-old’s numbers in that short sample size — 41 strikeouts, 2.51 ERA over those 28.2 IP (ROK and A) — were good.
When the White Sox traded 3B Jake Burger at the 2023 Trade Deadline to the Marlins, Chicago managed to reel in a high-ceiling prospect in Jake Eder. The former Vanderbilt left-hander dominated in Double-A two seasons ago, but underwent Tommy John surgery in August of that year and didn’t pitch in a game this season. The 24-year-old put up fine numbers in Pensacola but was tagged for 27 hits and 22 earned runs in 17.1 IP with Birmingham (AA).
The left-hander showcased a good fastball in the Minors that can overpower hitters at times, but getting on the right track and logging innings before the calendar can do the White Sox pitcher a lot of good.
The Tigers are set to send several high-prized prospects to Arizona this fall, including right-hander Wilmer Flores, Jace Jung, and former first-rounder Jackson Jobe. Jobe missed about half of the 2023 season with lumbar spine inflammation but dominated Minor League hitters when he returned. Across four levels, Jobe struck out 84 over 64 IP this season and walked just six batters.
Jobe can blow away hitters with his fastball/cutter/slider/changeup combination. Statcast recorded his fastball in the upper-90s in Lakeland (A) this season, and his cutter and slider generate a lot of spin and a lot of movement.
Red Sox RHP Bryan Mata, much like the other pitchers on this list, missed a fair amount of time during the 2023 campaign. Mata, a top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was limited to just 27 innings in 2023 and owned an ERA of 6.33. That was a near polar opposite of his 2022 numbers, when he struck out 105 batters over 83 innings and made it up to Triple-A.
The 24-year-old knocked on the door last season, and he’ll likely get a chance to crack the Red Sox rotation at some point next season. But, health will be key.
Another one of the marquee pitching prospects that’s on a 2023 Arizona Fall League roster is Blue Jays LHP Ricky Tiedemann. Tiedemann missed much of the 2023 campaign and sported a sky-high .390 BABIP in 44 innings in the Minors this season. But, Tiedemann also struck out a whopping 82 batters along the way.