It’s always an exciting moment to see a highly-regarded prospect come up from the minor leagues to debut.
Unfortunately, not all of them have successful careers. Some players can’t continue their success due to various reasons. We will evaluate a few young pitchers to see if they can repeat their success at the highest level.
He had an eye-popping K rate in the minors, amassing 150 strikeouts over 102.2 innings. His electric fastball and elite slider combo were the real lethal weapon against minor league hitters.
However, it has not been quite as effective at the major league level so far.
His putaway rate with the fastball is only 8.7%. It means he has a hard time striking out hitters in two-strike counts with his fastball.
His slider has been working okay but already allowed two home runs.
While he currently has a slightly above average Whiff rate, his SwStr rate is 9.7%, well below MLB’s average rate of 11.3%. The only good sign is he maintains a high GB%. Most of his plate discipline numbers indicate that his stuff has not been good enough to fool hitters.
Another problem is his command, he is carrying a BB/9 of 6.6. Presumably, part of the reason why hitters don’t chase his pitches is the location is off.
Despite my low expectations of him, I don’t think he is this bad. But unless he starts adjusting, it may just be a matter of time before a demotion to Triple-A to refine his pitches.
I always believed he is a rather high-floor guy, his fastball velocity initially sat in the low 90s when he was drafted. Now his average fastball velocity is 94.2 MPH. While it’s certainly an encouraging sign, his numbers don’t look pretty.
However, it’s foreseeable his 5.52 ERA will regress to the mean considering his absurd 30% HR/FB rate and .375 BABIP.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean he’s going to be a good fantasy contributor. The main issue is a lack of a dependable third pitch.
His most recent game against Saint Louis was his best so far. He allowed only one run and struck out 7 batters in 5.2 innings. Common sentiment seemed to be that he was getting better as he pitched more.
However, if you take a closer look at the game, it doesn’t look like he’s improved.
He threw 15 changeups but only one of them went for a strike. It’s thrown as much as his secondary curveball but the effectiveness is far lower.
Without a dependable changeup, I don’t think he will stay in the rotation. There’s a possibility he could develop his changeup as he throws it more and more.
However, I wouldn’t invest too much considering his projection was more about the floor.
Unlike the previous two pitchers, Joe Ryan has shown good numbers. He’s got a shiny 1.69 ERA in 16 innings while striking out 16 batters. He’s known for his smooth delivery that comes from water polo.
Although he doesn’t possess high velocity, his fastball had been a bread and butter pitch when he was in the minor leagues.
Unfortunately, his fastball is not nearly effective as it was in the minors. It’s not a bad pitch, but considering his breaking balls are underwhelming, his fastball is not as dominant as he wants. He threw fastballs 65.8% of the time last year, and his SwStr rate was 11%, right around average.
This season, Ryan started throwing more breaking balls, and fewer fastballs. The slider usage has nearly doubled up to 31.2% which should yield him better results.
His SwStr rate increased by 2.4%. O-Contact rate is one of the most noticeable changes he’s shown. It decreased by 21%.
Although there seem to be some good results after shaking up his repertoire, there are still a few concerns. His BABIP is .194 and LOB% is 98.4% – these are not sustainable numbers. He is going to have a couple of bad games sooner than later.
A lack of third pitch is another issue. He’s thrown curveballs and changeups against lefties, but none of them look reliable.
His backend rotation starter projection seems to be right unless there’s a drastic improvement on his changeup or reliable third pitch.
All three pitchers have some issues. It’s completely normal for young pitchers to need some time to adjust. There’s still a possibility they will figure something out going forward.
Even though I personally prefer to trade them for less attractive but more productive veteran players, it’s not a bad idea to hold onto them hoping for a break out.