30. Dylan Bundy — Baltimore Orioles
This ranking doesn’t reflect Bundy’s potential future in the big leagues. Supremely talented with a hard fastball and a plus-slider, Bundy has the tools to become an upper echelon ace. However, the 26-year-old is coming off an absolutely dreadful 2018 season.
Making the most starts of his career (31), Bundy saw his ERA rise to 5.45. Perhaps most troubling, Baltimore’s ace surrendered 41 home runs — leading the majors — and posted a 9.9 H9, up from 8.1 the year before. The Orioles are likely to contend for the league’s worst record again in 2019, but we anticipate Bundy to elevate his game.
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29. Lucas Giolito — Chicago White Sox
It won’t be long until Michael Kopech takes the reigns as Chicago’s ace. But for now, Giolito holds a slight advantage over Reynaldo Lopez. Giolito, the 16th pick of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft, made 32 starts for the Sox last season. Although his 6.13 ERA is unsightly, Giolito has flashed at times during his young career.
Giolito is a presence on the mound — 6-foot-6, 245 pounds — and features a big fastball coupled with a good breaking pitch. His command was a problem last year, as the righty averaged 4.7 BB9. Giolito, who will be given time to grow alongside the upstart Sox, should be a pillar of the rotation for years to come.
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28. Marco Gonzales — Seattle Mariners
Between dealing James Paxton to the Yankees and Felix Hernandez pitching like a shell of his former self, the Mariners are in desperate need of a new No. 1. The Mariners brought in Japanese import Yusei Kikuchi, formerly of the Seibu Lions, this offseason. The lefty is not at Shohei Ohtani’s level, but he was one of the best pitchers in Japan the past few years.
While it is entirely possible for Kikuchi to become Seattle’s ace, Gonzales will begin the year as the Mariners top dog. Gonzales, who has struggled with injuries throughout his career, had his career-best season in 2018. The lefty throws both two and four-seam fastballs, a curve, and a circle change. Gonzales’ circle change is easily his best pitch. Featuring good action and control on the pitch, Seattle’s new ace limits hard contact and doesn’t walk many batters.
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