If you are like me you love looking for the next big pitching prospect. So far this season it may have paid dividends for you, if you took the plunge on someone like Drew Smyly or more recently Christian Friedrich. Who may be next in line to make in impact? Let’s take a look at two possibilities:
Jake Odorizzi – Kansas City Royals – Starting Pitcher
One of the main pieces in the trade that sent Zack Greinke to Milwaukee, Odorizzi could be on the precipice of making an impact in Kansas City. You could have said that thanks to the struggles in the Kansas City rotation (the only SP to make at least 4 starts and post an ERA below 4.00 is Dan Duffy at 3.90), but the injury to Duffy, who is potentially facing Tommy John surgery, makes his debut even more likely.
Pitching at Double-A, Odorizzi is definitely making his case as he has opened the year going 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 47 K over 38.0 innings. The numbers look even better when you realize that he has allowed just 6 ER over his last 27.1 IP (he had a two start stretch early in the year where he had allowed 8 ER over 5.2 IP) and that the numbers come courtesy of realistic luck metrics (.269 BABIP, 64.3% strand rate).
The strikeouts are extremely impressive, and they are along the lines of what he’s shown over the past few years:
- 135 K over 120.2 IP in ‘10
- 157 K over 147.0 IP in ‘11
He’s really gotten the strikeouts on track recently, as he’s posted a pair of 11 K performances in his last four starts.
Entering the season Odorizzi was ranked as the Royals fourth best prospect by Baseball America. They described his arsenal by saying:
“Odorizzi sits at 91-93 mph and touches 95 with his fastball, which seems a little firmer because he has a slow, easy delivery with a quick finish. He misses a lot of bats with his heater, which has sinking and running action, and he maintains its velocity deep into games. Odorizzi’s curveball, slider and changeup all have the potential to be average. His curve has the most upside, and he throws his changeup with conviction.”
The tools are there, and the 22-year old right could easily get an opportunity in 2012, and fairly soon. With an innings limit not likely a big obstacle, don’t be surprised if he reaches the Majors by July at the latest. In keeper leagues, that makes him a player well worth stashing.
Matt Harvey – New York Mets – Starting Pitcher
You would’ve thought that Harvey would be in consideration for a spot in the Mets rotation due to the injury to Mike Pelfrey, but the Mets appear determined not to rush him to the Majors. The talk on the Mets’ telecasts is that the team wants all young pitchers to spend around 150 innings in the upper levels of the minor leagues before joining the Major League team. To date, Harvey has 101.2, so if they stay true to that we have a little bit more time to wait.
That said, Harvey is a pitcher that owners will definitely want to keep in mind for the second half of 2012 and beyond. His overall numbers are not that impressive thus far (4.29 ERA, 1.44 WHIP), but some of that is due to a poor start (14 ER over his first 19.0 IP) and some poor luck (.330 BABIP).
The biggest thing, however, has been poor control. He already has posted four starts with at least three walks. In the Major Leagues that will not likely lead to glowing results.
That said, despite whatever issues he may have had thus far, there is little doubting his potential upside. Prior to the season Baseball America ranked him as the Mets’ second best prospect (behind Zack Wheeler, though he likely won’t be under consideration until 2013). They described his repertoire by saying:
“Harvey dominated high Class A hitters with a 92-94 mph fastball that clocks as high as 98. He locates his fastball to both sides of the plate and with good life down in the zone. His two-seamer runs in on the hands of righthanders. His No. 2 pitch is a plus 81-84 mph slider, and he also likes to throw a 12-to-6 curveball to catch opponents off guard. He got by without a changeup in the FSL but began throwing one in earnest in Double-A. His changeup features late fade but remains a bit firm in the mid-80s.”
They cited command as a major concern, and as we’ve already said that has manifested itself this season. Once he can correct that issue the 22-year old has the stuff to be a potential top of the rotation starter.
It doesn’t appear likely that he’ll reach the Majors until after the All-Star Break, and it’s possible that the Mets won’t push him until much later than that. Still, he has the stuff to excel and that makes him worth tracking in all formats.
What are your thoughts on these two pitchers? Do you see either of them making an impact in 2012? Why or why not?