In a perfect world, we would see the best MLB prospects immediately live up to the hype and prove that they belong in the show.
But that is not reality. And, news flash, baseball is hard. Going from the Minors to the Majors is indeed a leap, and some just aren’t quite ready to make it upon arrival. But be patient — sometimes, it just takes a while for a player to fulfill their potential. In this article, we will identify three second-year pitchers who could break out in 2022.
Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners
Gilbert does a couple of things very well in order to be considered here: He doesn’t walk many hitters, and he racks up a healthy number of strikeouts. His 19.9 strikeout-minus-walk rate was among the top 30 pitchers who threw at least 100 innings last year. He couples his mid-90s fastball with a stellar slider (close to a 40 percent whiff rate last year). His ERA was an unsightly 4.68 but also nearly a run higher than his FIP (3.73). It would be nice if Gilbert adds a third effective pitch to his arsenal, but, he should help you in many categories for a burgeoning Mariners squad.
Tanner Houck, Boston Red Sox
Again, strikeout-minus-walk rate is a really strong predictor of pitching success. Although Houck threw just 69 innings during the 2021 regular season, he put up a 23.2 K-BB rate. He also had a 2.58 FIP and a notably dominant showing as a reliever against the Rays in the ALDS (five innings, two hits one run, no walks, five K’s). It remains to be seen if Boston will use him as a starter full-time, although the Red Sox definitely has space in their rotation. Like Gilbert, Houck has the fastball-slider combo that overwhelms hitters. Even if he’s used as a swingman, Houck can be a valuable fantasy asset, especially in roto leagues. But if we do get a 150-inning season out of him, the ceiling is extremely high because of Houck’s stuff and control.
Camilo Doval, San Francisco Giants
Doval really broke out in September and October of last year, when he didn’t allow a run over his final 14.1 regular-season innings, struck out 20 batters and walked just three. You could pick out a bunch of numbers; they all shine. Doval possesses elite fastball velocity and spin, and that pitch is teamed with a high-80s slider that limited hitters to a .167/.186/.278 slash line during the regular season. He tossed just 30.2 innings last year, postseason included. Now let’s see what he can accomplish as the Giants’ closer for the entire year. You won’t find many people who believe that San Francisco will win triple-digit games again, but even with a team regression, the 24-year-old Doval has what it takes to be one of the absolute best closers in the sport.