You're probably familiar with the expression "there is no such thing as a pitching prospect," often abbreviated as TINSTAAPP. It's a statement on the volatility of pitching prospects and not meant to be taken literally. The literal expression would be "more than half of all prospects are pitchers." They have to be, you see, to account for all the volatility.

But how many of them should we take seriously in Fantasy? The threshold for a Fantasy-capable pitcher is high, and the likelihood of any one pitching prospect meeting it is low -- again, on account of the volatility. So even though I could extend this list to 40 or 50 names, it would be sort of like a red herring because it would suggest that pitching prospects, by and large, are more valuable to us than they actually are. The plain truth is that when I combine all positions into a top 100 list, it might not even include all of these 30.

Still, because the distinctions between No. 25 and, say, No. 40 are paper thin, I'd like to rattle off a few additional names that could have easily made the cut:

The last two even saw some time in the majors late in 2023, which you'd think would earn them special distinction, but when forced to play favorites at the tail end of these rankings, I can't claim them as such. I don't think Phillips knows where the ball is going, and I'm not convinced Wicks has the sort of upside we're looking for. Oh, and because he'll show up pretty high on some rank lists, let me also say, somewhat flippantly, that I'm struggling to understand the Cardinals' Tink Hence.

Bottom line is that the minor-league pitching pool is so vast and the range of outcomes so wide that, apart from the obvious stud prospects, there's a lot of room for disagreement. I tried not to shy away from that here, which hopefully you can respect.

One last note is that Shane Baz is conspicuously absent from this list. Others will include him because he hasn't exceeded 50 innings in the majors, which usually confers rookie status, but technically, he's spent too much time on the active roster to be a rookie. I'm inclined to say he'd be no lower than third for me here, even working his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Note: This list is intended for a variety of Fantasy formats and thus weighs short-term role against long-term value. Not all of these players will contribute in 2023 — most, in fact, will not — but among prospects, they're the names Fantasy Baseballers most need to know.

1. Yoshinobu Yamamoto, free agent

Age (on opening day): 25
Where he played in 2023: Japan
NPB stats: 17-6, 1.16 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 171 IP, 28 BB, 176 K

If you're blown away by the numbers, rest assured they were in Japan, too, awarding Yamamoto the equivalent of the Cy Young and MVP awards in three consecutive seasons. Eno Sarris of The Athletic has compared the characteristics of his fastball and splitter to Kevin Gausman's, only Yamamoto also has a killer curveball. The one question might be durability given his 5-foot-10 frame.

2. Paul Skenes, Pirates

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2023: Rookie, Low-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: 6 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 10 K

The top pick in the 2023 draft is already so developed from his time at LSU that he could push for a job in the big-league rotation this spring. While there are concerns over the shape of his fastball, it's likely to succeed on sheer velocity, and it's more the slider that's going to rack up whiffs anyway. Skenes offers the ideal combination of floor and ceiling, at least as pitching prospects go.

3. Andrew Painter, Phillies

Age (on opening day): 20
Where he played in 2023: did not play -- Tommy John surgery
2022 stats (minors): 6-2, 1.56 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 103 2/3 IP, 25 BB, 155 K

Painter had Tommy John surgery in July and likely won't pitch in 2024, so the fact he's still this high in the rankings is a testament to how rare of a talent he is. So are the numbers he put up across three levels as a 19-year-old, featuring a fastball with elite velocity and spin and the sort of control you just don't see from a teenager who stands 6-feet-7.

4. Ricky Tiedemann, Blue Jays

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2023: Rookie, Low-A, Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: 0-5, 3.68 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 44 IP, 23 BB, 82 K

After surging to Double-A as a 19-year-old in 2022, Tiedemann found the going a bit tougher in 2023, being limited by shoulder and biceps injuries, but when healthy, he was still a strikeout fiend, averaging 16.8 per nine. Though he's most celebrated for his changeup, he made inroads with his slider despite the injuries, and his fastball plays up due to his low release point. His strong showing in the Arizona Fall League should relieve concerns heading into 2024.

5. Jackson Jobe, Tigers

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2023: Rookie, Low-A, High-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: 2-4, 2.81 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 64 IP, 6 BB, 84 K

The third overall pick in the 2021 draft took his development into overdrive this past season, climbing all the way to Double-A with a dumbfounding 14-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and picture-perfect changeup to go along with his 3,000-rpm slider. The only concern is that he hasn't come close to a major-league workload yet, losing time primarily to back issues.

6. Kyle Harrison, Giants

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2023: Rookie, Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: 1-3, 4.52 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 67 2/3 IP, 48 BB, 109 K
Major-league stats: 1-1, 4.15 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 34 2/3 IP, 11 BB, 35 K

The left-hander broke free of the great-stuff-but-no-idea-where-it's-going label with a 64 percent strike rate over his final three minor-league starts. It earned him a call to the majors, where he threw 65 percent of his pitches for strikes. While he's addressed that concern, new ones have emerged about his secondary arsenal, which struggled to generate whiffs in the majors, though having a swing-and-miss fastball, as Harrison does, is the less teachable skill.

7. Cade Horton, Cubs

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2023: Low-A, High-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: 4-4, 2.65 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 88 1/3 IP, 27 BB, 117 K

Though a surprising choice at seventh overall in 2022, Horton climbed all the way to Double-A in his professional debut with impressive ratios all around. His short-arm delivery (he's a former high school quarterback) gives his fastball good spin, and his slider has sharp downward movement. His 1.33 ERA in six Double-A starts serves as confirmation of his legitimacy.

8. Robby Snelling, Padres

Age (on opening day): 20
Where he played in 2023: Low-A, High-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: 11-3, 1.82 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 103 2/3 IP, 34 BB, 118 K

Another high school footballer who made it all the way to Double-A in his professional debut, Snelling was in some ways even more impressive than Horton, delivering the best ERA of any minor-leaguer with at least 100 innings. He doesn't throw as hard and may not have quite as dominant of a breaking ball as Horton, but those distinctions are minimal if you prefer a lefty who's two years younger.

9. Daniel Espino, Guardians

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2023: did not play -- shoulder capsule surgery
2022 stats (minors): 1-0, 2.45 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 18 1/3 IP, 4 BB, 35 K

Espino's shoulder capsule surgery doesn't have as straightforward of a recovery as Andrew Painter's Tommy John surgery, but he likewise gets some benefit of the doubt here for being a singular talent. The rates he was delivering prior to the injury were nothing short of deGromian, made possible by a true 80-grade fastball and two hammer breaking balls. Here's hoping it's all still intact when he returns midseason.

10. Jacob Misiorowski, Brewers

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2023: Low-A, High-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: 4-2, 3.41 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 71 1/3 IP, 42 BB, 110 K

Misiorowski clearly needs to throw more strikes, but his fastball and slider are both top of-the-scale offerings, the former being aided by his low release point and long 6-foot-7 reach. It has the effect of making his triple-digit velocities appear even faster, and if this is all reminiscent of Tyler Glasnow back when he was first climbing the Pirates' organizational ladder, you're not the first to think so.

11. Hurston Waldrep, Braves

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2023: Low-A, High-A, Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: 0-1, 1.53 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 29 1/3 IP, 16 BB, 41 K

All indications are the Braves got a steal with the 24th pick in this year's draft, landing a pitcher with the makings of three elite pitches -- the headliner being a splitter that drops off a cliff thanks to his more over-the-top delivery. There are control issues to sort out, but they didn't keep the Braves from speeding him through the system the way they so often do, putting him at the precipice of a call-up already.

12. Dylan Lesko, Padres

Age (on opening day): 20
Where he played in 2023: Rookie, Low-A, High-A
Minor-league stats: 1-5, 5.45 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 33 IP, 22 BB, 52 K

The Padres saw fit to make Lesko the 15th overall pick in 2022 even as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he showed the wisdom of that decision with a 14.2 K/9 rate when he finally debuted this June. He's like Waldrep in that he's still working to command what looks to be three elite pitches, the most speculative being a curveball that he spins at a Charlie Morton-like 3,000 rpm.

13. Rhett Lowder, Reds

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2023: did not play -- workload management

Drafted seventh overall this year, Lowder stands out more for his polish than his potential, but that was also once the read for another seventh overall pick for the Reds, Nick Lodolo, who everyone reading this list would surely like to have now. There's ace potential if he beefs up his fastball, but as it is, his well-developed secondary offerings and premium control have invited comparisons to Aaron Nola.

14. Noah Schultz, White Sox

Age (on opening day): 20
Where he played in 2023: Low-A
Minor-league stats: 1-2, 1.33 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 27 IP, 6 BB, 38 K

Schultz's gangly build and near sidearm delivery remind me a bit of another White Sox success story, Chris Sale. This left-hander doesn't have quite the same zip on his fastball, but it speeds up on hitters thanks to his 6-foot-9 frame. The White Sox kept his debut short, leaving certain questions unanswered, but between the individual characteristics of his pitches and the surprisingly good control, Schultz's ceiling is high.

15. Mick Abel, Phillies

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2023: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: 5-6, 4.13 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 113 1/3 IP, 65 BB, 132 K

Ever since the Phillies selected Abel 15th overall in 2020, the story has been the same -- great stuff, but the control needs work. Now that he's reached the upper minors, we'll need to see progress on that front sooner than later, but it's encouraging that he's been mostly effective in spite of it, generating whiffs most notably with his fastball, which is the clearest indicator of a high-upside pitcher.

16. Max Meyer, Marlins

Age (on opening day): 25
Where he played in 2023: did not play -- Tommy John surgery
2022 stats (minors): 3-4, 3.69 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 61 IP, 19 BB, 69 K
2022 stats (majors): 6 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

If you're relying on the numbers to jog your memory, you probably won't appreciate the amount of helium Meyer had before tearing his UCL in the summer of 2022. Blessed with a high-90s fastball and wipeout slider that together made him the third overall pick in the 2020 draft, he had just perfected the patented Marlins changeup, taking off with a 1.72 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 11.2 K/9 through his first six Triple-A starts. That's when the elbow troubles started.

17. A.J. Smith-Shawver, Braves

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2023: High-A, Double-A, Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: 4-2, 2.76 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 62 IP, 33 BB, 79 K
Major-league stats: 1-0, 4.26 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 25 1/3 IP, 11 BB, 20 K

Smith-Shawver got all the hype last summer as the Braves rocketed him through three minor-league levels en route to the big leagues, but it may have been more out of necessity than merit. He's still raw as a pitcher, having divided his attention between football and baseball in high school, and his secondary arsenal remains a work in progress. Still, the premium velocity together with the strides he's already made point to a high ceiling.

18. Noble Meyer, Marlins

Age (on opening day): 19
Where he played in 2023: Rookie, Low-A
Minor-league stats: 0-1, 4.09 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 11 IP, 7 BB, 15 K

The second Marlin named Meyer to be featured on this list was the team's first-round pick in 2023, drafted 10th overall, and was considered the top high school hurler of his class. Many such cases have withered under the pressures of pro ball, but Meyer stands out for his 3,000-rpm slider, which is what first piqued our interest in Jackson Jobe, too. The Marlins excel at pitcher development, and Meyer gives them much to work with.

19. Drew Thorpe, Padres

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2023: High-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: 14-2, 2.52 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 139 1/3 IP, 38 BB, 182 K

Coming over with Michael King in the Juan Soto trade, Thorpe was the biggest riser in the Yankees system last year, leading the minors in strikeouts thanks to a well-developed changeup and penchant for throwing strikes. Those two traits in particular can lead to fakeouts at the lower levels, where hitters are still raw, but Thorpe was even better after moving up to Double-A, putting together a 1.48 ERA, 0.66 WHIP and 13.1 K/9 in five starts.

20. Carson Whisenhunt, Giants

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2023: Low-A, High-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: 1-1, 2.45 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 58 2/3 IP, 23 BB, 83 K

Whisenhunt is lacking the sort of breaking ball that's normally required for the modern game, but his fastball/changeup pairing is so effective at generating whiffs, giving him a Spencer Strider-like 18 percent swinging-strike rate across three levels, that I'm willing to let it slide. He has multiple changeup grips, giving the a pitch a variety of looks that might work in lieu of a breaking ball.

21. Chase Petty, Reds

Age (on opening day): 20
Where he played in 2023: High-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: 0-2, 1.72 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 68 IP, 15 BB, 66 K

Petty has completely transformed himself after first being introduced to us as a 102 mph fireballer with the Twins, but it's hard to argue with the results. He pitches more to contact now, inviting weak grounders with his sinking action, and in fact didn't allow a home run all season. That's a nice profile for Great American Ball Park, and since Petty doesn't undermine it with walks, it's all about building up innings now.

22. Mason Miller, Athletics

Age (on opening day): 25
Where he played in 2023: Low-A, Double-A, Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: 1-0, 1.86 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 19 1/3 IP, 5 BB, 35 K
Major-league stats: 0-3, 3.78 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 33 1/3 IP, 16 BB, 38 K

Miller was like a shooting star last season, going from relative prospect obscurity to sudden prominence with an early-season promotion that mostly lived up to the hype, seeing him blow away hitters with a triple-digit fastball and wipeout slider. But an elbow injury that cost him most of the season has the Athletics leaning toward grooming him as a reliever, where he won't have much Fantasy value unless (until?) he works his way into the ninth-inning role.

23. Shota Imanaga, free agent

Age (on opening day): 30
Where he played in 2023: Japan
NPB stats: 7-5, 2.66 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 159 IP, 24 BB, 188 K

Imanaga's modest velocity puts him well behind Yoshinobu Yamamoto in terms of major-league interest, but his fastball has many of the other characteristics valued in the modern game. In fact, he actually led the World Baseball Classic in Stuff+, beating Yamamoto and every major-leaguer who participated. He still loses ground here because of his age, but seeing as his game is less about power than pristine control (check out that strikeout-to-walk ratio), he has a better-than-average chance of maintaining his effectiveness into his mid-to-late 30s.

24. Cade Cavalli, Nationals

Age (on opening day): 25
Where he played in 2023: Triple-A, majors
2022 stats (minors): 6-4, 3.71 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 97 IP, 39 BB, 104 K
2022 stats (majors): 4 1/3 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

The Nationals' first-round pick in 2020, Cavalli was in position to win a rotation spot when he sprained his UCL and wound up needing Tommy John surgery, which of course presents some risk he'll never be the same. But the procedure has a good track record, and he had seemingly turned the corner in the late stages of 2022, delivering a 1.47 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 10.6 K/9 in his final seven minor-league starts.

25. Gavin Stone, Dodgers

Age (on opening day): 25
Where he played in 2023: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: 7-4, 4.74 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 100 2/3 IP, 46 BB, 120 K
Major-league stats:
1-1, 9.00 ERA, 1.90 WHIP, 31 IP, 13 BB, 22 K

Stone was arguably the biggest prospect disappointment of 2023, struggling at all levels of play after lighting up the minors with a 1.48 ERA and 12.4 K/9 the year before, but Baseball America suggests a blister on his toe in spring training may be to blame for throwing off his delivery. It's an interesting wrinkle that persuades me to give him another look, especially since he had a 14.4 percent swinging-strike rate in the majors.

26. Christian Scott, Mets

Age (on opening day): 24
Where he played in 2023: Low-A, High-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: 5-4, 2.57 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 87 2/3 IP, 12 BB, 107 K

A reliever in college, Scott seems to have slipped by prospect evaluators who haven't taken note of how good he looked in his first year starting, showing elite control and bat-missing characteristics while routinely going six-plus innings in a year mostly spent at Double-A. I'll leave it to you to decide which of his 69 percent strike rate and 17 percent swinging-strike rate is more impressive.

27. Bubba Chandler, Pirates

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2023: High-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: 10-4, 4.54 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 51 BB, 128 K

Drafted as a two-way player, Chandler was a bit behind developmentally but made major inroads when he committed to pitching full-time in 2023, namely with regard to control. He went from throwing 61 percent of his pitches for strikes in his first 16 starts to 66 percent in his final nine. With that improvement came a 1.66 ERA and 0.82 WHIP (which included a one-hit, eight-strikeout gem in his Double-A debut).

28. Kyle Hurt, Dodgers

Age (on opening day): 25
Where he played in 2023: Double-A, Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: 4-4, 3.91 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 92 IP, 44 BB, 152 K
Major-league stats: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

Hurt is here because of the hurt I still harbor from leaving Spencer Strider out of my top pitcher prospects a couple years ago due to perceived reliever risk. It's an unhealthy comparison to make even obliquely, and yet Hurt has that same sort of fastball that busts hitters upstairs at 99 mph with late, riding life, only he pairs it with a Bugs Bunny changeup rather than a slider. It led to a 20 percent swinging-strike rate and 14.9 K/9 in 2023.

29. Sawyer Gipson-Long, Tigers

Age (on opening day): 26
Where he played in 2023: Double-A, Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: 8-8, 4.33 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 99 2/3 IP, 29 BB, 126 K
Major-league stats:
1-0, 2.70 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 20 IP, 8 BB, 26 K

Gipson-Long wasn't much hyped as a prospect but did stand out for his impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio, which earned him the late-season look that forced Fantasy Baseballers to take notice. His success may have been a bit gimmicky, relying on excessive slider and changeup use against four bottom-feeder lineups, but his near-16 percent swinging-strike rate would suggest it wasn't all smoke and mirrors.

30. Joe Boyle, Athletics

Age (on opening day): 24
Where he played in 2023: Double-A, Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: 8-8, 3.84 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 117 1/3 IP, 93 BB, 168 K
Major-league stats: 2-0, 1.69 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 16 IP, 5 BB, 15 K

It seems dumb to dismiss Boyle's career 7.2 BB/9 rate in the minors (including 7.1 in 2023) simply because he walked only five in three big-league starts, throwing an impressive 66 percent of his pitches for strikes, but if it's a hurdle he manages to clear, then we're looking at a pitcher whose fastball and slider both rate at the top of the scale. I kind of like the immediacy of this gamble at a position where sunk costs are commonplace.