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Top Candidates for Left-Handed Pitchers in 2023

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MLB Pipeline will reveal its 2023 Top 100 Prospects list at 7 pm ET on Thursday, January 26 with an hour-long show on the MLB Network and MLB. with. Before the Top 100 launches, we’ll be looking at baseball’s top 10 prospects at each position.

While only four left-handed pitchers cracked our soon-to-be-revealed Top 100 of 2023, the lowest number since we started making prospect lists in 2004, the position is far from lacking in talent. Several left-handers stand out for their ability to miss bats.

Kyle Harrison (Giants) led the Minors in strikeout percentage (39.8) in 2022, and Ricky Tiedemann (Blue Jays) would have ranked right behind him (38.9) if he had enough innings to qualify. Harrison also outscored the Minors by nine innings (14.8), with DL Hall (Orioles) posting a similar rate (14.6) as an unqualified.

The 2022 Draft was full of lefties with the Top 100 heads up. Brandon Barriera (Blue Jays) and Noah Schultz (White Sox) were in the first round as high school seniors, while fellow preps Robby Snelling (Padres) and Jackson Ferris (Cubs) received bonus $3 million as later picks. Cooper Hjerpe (Cardinals) was the top healthy and active college left-hander in a crop plagued by injuries to Connor Prielipp (Twins), Hunter Barco (Pirates) and Reggie Crawford (Giants) and a suspension to Carson Whisenhunt (Giants).

1. Kyle Harrison, Giants (2023)
2. Ricky Tiedemann, Blue Jays (2024)
3. Ken Waldichuk, Athletics (2023)
4. DL Hall, Orioles (2023)
5. Dax Fulton, Marlins (2024)
6. Jordan Wicks, Cubs (2023)
7. Matthew Liberatore, Cardinals (2023)
8. Jake Eder, Marlins (2024)
9. Brandon Barriera, Blue Jays (2026)
10. Blake Walston, D-backs (2023)
Full list “

Top 10 prospects by position:
RHP | LHP
Wednesday: C
Thurs: 1B
Sex: 2B
01/23: 3B
01/24: SS
1/25: DE
01/26: top 100

Fastball: Harrison, Tiedemann, Waldichuk, Hall (65)
All four of these southpaws have well above average fastballs that stand out in different ways. Harrison had a crazy 41 percent swing-and-miss rate with his heater in Double-A, working 92-97 mph with riding action and a flat approach angle from a low three-quarter arm slot. Tiedemann has the best sink of the bunch, Waldichuk has the best strike zone loading, and Hall has the most consistent speed (averaging 96.6 mph and tops of 100).

Curveball: Fulton, Liberatore (60)
Both Fulton and Liberatore rely heavily on their curveballs, the only positive shot in each of their arsenals. Fulton’s doubler has more power in the upper 70s and his spin feel extends to a lower 80s slider he focused on at the end of last season.

Slider: Harrison, Eder (60)
If hitters focus on handling Harrison’s fastball, he can make them look bad with a slider in the low 80s. Eder possesses a similar slider piece that helped him dominate as he made his 2021 professional debut in the Double -A, although he blew out his elbow in August and required Tommy John surgery.

Change: Tiedemann, Wicks (70)
Tiedemann was a revelation on his professional debut in 2022, thanks in large part to his mid-’80s change that falls and disappears. Wicks has similar action and slightly less speed in his shifter, which scouts call the best in the 2021 draft.

Control: Mechs, Barrier (55)
Wicks has a low-effort delivery and repeats it well, averaging 2.7 walks per nine innings, clinching Double-A in his first full pro season last year. 23rd overall in the 2022 Draft, Barriera enjoys attacking hitters with three solid pitchers and is more forward than most high schoolers.

Highest ceiling: Harrison
Harrison projects himself as a frontline starter thanks to his three-pitch repertoire, which also includes an enhanced mid-’80s fade-and-sink change. He can dodge bats in the strike zone with all three deals.

Highest floor: Tiedemann
Tiedemann has less of a track record than Harrison, but an equally devastating arsenal with better control and command at this point. The Blue Jays handled him very carefully in his first full pro season, so it remains to be seen how his stuff will hold up under a full workload.

Rookie of the Year Candidate: Harrison
The Giants don’t have an available spot in their opening-day rotation, but Harrison’s stuff and performance (2.71 ERA, . 196 opponents average, 186 strikeouts in 113 innings, mostly in Double-A at age 20) will be hard to deny. He continues to refine his control and command, although the quality of his shots means he doesn’t need to be precise.

Highest elevation: Tiedemann
Going into 2022, Tiedemann was a third-round pick by Golden West (California) JC, who had yet to pitch the pro ball. Now he’s challenging Harrison for the title of baseball’s best left-handed pitcher after posting a 2.17 ERA, . 149 opponents average and 117 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings as he climbed from Single-A to Double-A.

Humbler Beginnings: Waldichuk
Waldichuk’s performance and stock dipped as he tried to pitch more forcefully as a junior at Saint Mary’s in 2019, which caused him to fall to the Yankees in the fifth round. New York helped him upgrade his fastball, slider and changeover before sending him to the Athletics in the trade for Frankie Montas last August.

More to try: Liberatore
The top prep pitching prospect in the 2018 Draft, Liberatore was 16th overall for the Rays and joined the Cardinals in Randy Arozarena’s January 2020 contract. His 5.17 ERA in Triple-A and 5.97 ERA in his big-league debut last year highlighted his need for a better-than-average second pitch to match his curveball.

Keep an eye out: Hjerpe
Hjerpe creates a ton of disappointment with a low-arm slot and flat approach angle on a 91-95 mph fastball that college hitters couldn’t touch. The 22nd overall pick in the 2022 Draft, he led NCAA Division I with 161 strikeouts, recording a 2.53 ERA, . 180 opponents average, and 23 walks in 103 1/3 innings at Oregon State last spring. Its slider and change show the potential to become solid pitches.

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