Monday, July 11, 2011

Minor League Breakdown: The Pitching Prospects

After looking at the hitting prospects in my last breakdown I’m going to take a look at the Rays pitching prospects today. I've added Jason McEachern to my follow list which consists of 35 pitchers who have already taken the field in '11 + Albert Suarez and Stepan Havlicek + the yet unsigned top draft picks. Regarding the short season ball pitchers I've to remind you (and myself) that you (we) shouldn't get too excited just yet about performances of e.g. Blake Snell or Matt Spann. Way too small of a sample size just yet.

Overall Impressions

The top pre-season pitching prospects took another big step forward since my last pitching prospect breakdown. In their last 194.2 IP they pitched for a combined 2.77 ERA and 3.03 FIP. No, that's not the best pitcher in the system, that's the COMBINED number of the top pre-season pitching prospects. Very, very impressive. The peripheral numbers have been very strong as well: 7.4 H/9, 3.1 BB/9 and 8.7 K/9. They allowed only 8 HR's.

The reason for these overall numbers can be found in the improving performances of e.g. Chris Archer (2.88 ERA, 2.85 FIP since last breakdown), Alex Torres (1.23 ERA, 2.3 FIP, 6.6 H/9, 11.1 K/9), Alex Colome (1.88 ERA, 3.63 FIP, 6 H/9) and Enny Romero (4.32 ERA, 2.28 FIP, 10 K/BB ratio) as well as the continuing dominance by THE TOP MINOR LEAGUE PITCHER Matt Moore (0.95 ERA, 1.3 FIP, 4.3 H/9, 7.3 K/BB).

Pitching prospects stats overview

(Click at the image for a larger view)

On the starting pitching front Matt Moore improves more and more. He makes AA hitters as well as the hitters at the future game look helpless. Baseball America ranks him as the #1 pitching and #3 overall prospect in the minors. After showing that much progress I'm dreaming of a Price-Shields-Hellickson-Moore-Davis/Niemann/Cobb rotation in '12. Speaking of Alex Cobb. He pitched another 2 solid outings and could be called up after the All-Star break if Wade Davis' recovery is not as smooth as anticipated. With Chris Archer, Alex Torres, Alex Colome and Enny Romero all four top starting pitching prospects behind Moore/Cobb pitched very well recently while C.J. Riefenhauser continues to impress in his first full season. Regarding the lower level prospects I'm very glad Wilking Rodriguez started to take the mound (so far: excellent peripherals, high ERA). Jason McEachern, Blake Snell and Matt Spann have also had very strong starts to their seasons.

Looking at the relief pitchers, Brandon Gomes has recently (justifiably) been called up to the majors while with Rob Delaney and Marquis Fleming some major league depth continues to play well.

3 prospects on the rise

  1. Matt Moore … His recent performances and stuff updates make him the #1 pitching prospect in the minors. That's as good as it gets.
  2. Alex Torres … The stuff is there as his last five starts have shown. A combined 1.24 ERA with excellent peripherals (29 IP, 26 H, 12 BB, 33 K) shows that. If he continues to limit his walks he can become a #2/#3 starter.
  3. Chris Archer ... He continues to progress. A 2.92 ERA over his last 37 IP (30 H, 18 BB, 35 K) is solid. The walks still are the big problem holding him back. He is much more of a project than I anticipated when he came over in the Garza-deal but he starts to improve.

3 prospects falling

  1. Scott Shuman ... Speaking of control problems: 10.3 BB/9 over a span of 35.2 innings. The stuff is there (15.9 K/9) but will the control ever come around?
  2. Kevin James … Drafted with high praises in 2009 we knew that he would be a long time project. But after not getting on the mound for nearly all of '10 (8.2 IP, 7.27 ERA, 6:9 BB:K ratio) due to injury he surely didn't start well into the new season (8 IP, 13 H, 12 ER, 11:6 BB:K ratio).
  3. Merrill Kelly, Alex Koronis and Kyle Lobstein … All three Charlotte pitchers were way too hittable over their last starts. They couldn't strike out enough hitters and combined for 6.71 ERA, 13.4 H/9, 3.35 BB/9, 6.53 K/9.


The stats from StatCorner and FanGraphs provided above are excluding the stats from the previous day. I preferrably use 3 sources for the stats. Click on each stat for its explanation:


  1. I think you should add parker markel to your list. He has been praised for having two plus pitches and has not given up an earned run in over twenty innings so far in hudson valley.

  2. You're right! I should add him! Next time he'll be on it! Really impressive numbers ... was following him since last year!

  3. He's no longer a prospect.

  4. Parker Markel in Hudson Valley......keep an eye on him! Keith Law was raving about him.

  5. Hellickson, as in, Niemann's mentioned twice in the "dream rotation" instead of Hellickson. If you look, you will see Jeremy's name is missing.

  6. Thanks for pointing it out! It's fixed now!