Monday, August 22, 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.

Overall Impressions

The top pre-season pitching prospects look better and better as the season continuous. In their last 348.2 IP (since the last breakdown) they pitched for a combined 2.68 ERA (!!) and 3.44 FIP. I repeat the same words I said in my last pitching prospect breakdown: "Very, very impressive!". Most peripheral numbers look very strong as well (7.15 H/9, 8.34 K/9) while the high walk rate (4.36 BB/9) concerns me a bit. Especially Chris Archer (6.2 BB/9), Alex Colome (4.7 BB/9), Nick Barnese (4.4 BB/9), Scott Shuman (13 BB/9) and Enny Romero (6.0 BB/9) have concerning command problems.

Nevertheless, the overall impression is a positive one and Matt Moore (1.34 ERA, 14.06 K/9 in last 40.1 IP), Alex Torres (2.25 ERA, 9.2 K/9 in 44 IP), Enny Romero (despite heavy command issues; 2.45 ERA, 13.68 K/9 in 25.2 IP), and Joe Cruz (in GCL; 13.2 IP, 0 ERA, 10.54 K/9) led the pack as of lately. Lets get a bit more into detail:

Pitching prospects stats overview

(Click at the image for a larger view)

There is serious concern in the Rays blogosphere about the minor league high end starting pitching talent. So, I'm a bit focusing on pitching talents in the lower minors now, leaving Matt Moore (we all know about him), Alex Cobb (out for the rest of the season), Chris Archer (control problems), Alex Torres (turning it around?) and Alex Colome (low strikeout rate concerns me a bit) out of the picture.

In A/A+ there are lots of question marks. Enny Romero by far has the highest upside and I only see his abysmal command (5.3 BB/9 on the season) holding him back. His other peripherals are excellent. Wilking Rodriguez as well as Joe Cruz and Albert Suarez just came back from injury. All of them have legit starting pitching potential while also having lots of question marks (some related to health reasons, some to secondary offerings). I'm just glad to see them pitch again and I'm very confident that at least one major league starting pitcher comes out of this bunch. C.J. Riefenhauser on the other side was injury free and looks excellent this season. The question is: Will he become an Alex Cobb-type (who dominates with excellent command and pitchability) or more of an Heath Rollins-type (who had to realize that his stuff was not good enough for the majors)? Only time will tell. All the others in A/A+ (Jake Thompson, Merrill Kelly (both not missing enough bats; impressive groundball rate by Kelly, though), Alex Koronis, Kyle Lobstein, Jason McEachern and George Jensen) will have to make a jump in order to become a major league starter. Most of them (Thompson, Kelly, Koronis) are better suited for the bullpen anyway.

In short season ball there have always been lots of raw pitching talents in the Rays farm system. Is it the same way this year? Andrew Bellatti (doing very well in HDV), Parker Markel (excellent scouting reports), Ryan Carpenter (15 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 14 K in HDV), Ian Kendall and Jeff Ames (FB first guys who will have to improve), Blake Snell, Jakob Faria (15.2 IP, 15 H, 1 BB, 14 K in GCL), Brandon Henderson, Matt Spann, Pedro Silvestre, Stepan Havlicek, Geisel De la Cruz (DSL Rays) are all names who could emerge into high end starting pitching prospects one day. The two most impressive SP prospects not in full season ball, however, haven't taken the field for the Rays yet. Tyler Guerrieri and Jesse Hahn (any update on his injury out there?) do have the arsenal of an excellent, front of the rotation pitcher.

So, while I also think that there is a bit less top-of-the-rotation talent in short season ball (as well as less mind blowing stat lines for pitching prospects than in previous years) right now, I think we shouldn't be concerned as of yet. All it needs is one or two of the players named above (and the pitchers I forgot) to take a step forward. We have seen it lots of times in the past and it will happen with this bunch again. Especially guys like Ryan Carpenter or Parker Markel could emerge as top notch pitching prospects down the road.


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 have enjoyed watching the Bowling Green Pitchers. Great talent with all of them. The hitting has been good too. Wilking Rodriguez has only pitched 24 innings for Bowling Green so far. Anxious to see more what he has to offer. Relief Pitchers for Bowling Green are getting it done too.

  2. Interesting comments regarding Hot Rods pitching. My concern for the Hot Rods in the playoffs is the relief pitching. The starters have been solid as have the two closers. The problem has been middle relief.

  3. As far as Pitching goes for the Hot Rods, I have seen many of them (starters and relief) have some difficulties at times over the course of the season, but also have noticed vast improvements in the 2nd half. I do worry about the high walks for some of these pitchers, and hope they can improve in that aspect.

  4. Linsky and Carpenter could come up from HV to provide some help in the bullpen for the playoffs

  5. McEachern is on DL with shoulder. It's dated the 19th and I didn't see it this morning, so must have been a retroactive thing.

  6. After looking at the stat-chart there is one hickup: Brandon Gomes of course has a lower FIP (1.5). I'm sorry Mr. Gomes for that.

  7. Leave Carpenter alone he has had enough! I would shut him down now. Long season and obviously his velo is down so he is tired. He can pitch but bring up Dickman, Jannis or Linskey!

  8. The Hot Rods don't need any help.

  9. I don't know if any of you get a chance to interview or even talk to any of the managers or pitching coaches from the lower levels. I would be interested in hearing their thoughts on how pitchers are progressing.
    All the stastical analysis is wonderful but I don't think it translates to the lower levels as well as AAA and the big club. I've watched many of these lower level games and it seems the coaches are working on specific mechanics or development of a 3rd pitch that might translate into weaker stats. They are certainly playing to win but not at the expense of developing these young arms. We often dismiss players on this site(and others) because statistically they had terrible years. Yet they come back the following year with success.