by Ivar G. Anderson
Time for another round of low minor pitching prospect reviews. Today we look at three pitchers making their way up the ranks in the Detroit, St. Louis and Texas systems:
Alex “Chi Chi” Rodriguez RHP TEX (Double-A Frisco RoughRiders/Texas League)
#6 prospect in Ranger organization
Always good to have a great nickname. In terms of development as a pitcher it also helps to have a couple of plus pitches, and Rodriguez possesses both a low 90s fastball and a hard slider. His fastball has terrific movement with both cut and sink properties. He needs to work on his curveball, but right now his slider is his out pitch. His sinkerball tendencies will work to keep the ball in the park. He also has a very good changeup that helps to keep hitters off balance when they look for his hard stuff.
Rodriguez possesses excellent control, posting a 55:16 K/BB ratio at both High-A and Double-A this season. His frame is suited for a starting pitcher, and the Rangers are fast tracking his development. A 2.62 ERA/1.10 WHIP in 11 starts (65.1 innings) at High-A led to a recent promotion to the RoughRiders rotation.
Look for him to hit the majors sometime in 2015, possibly mid-season.
Alexander Reyes RHP StL (Low-A Peoria Chiefs/Midwest Leagues)
#7 prospect in Cardinal organization
The 19 year old righty has one of the top teenage arms in all of baseball. Although listed at 185 pounds, he has been growing into his 6’3″ frame and is more likely around 200 pounds at this point. His fastball measures in the mid-90s consistently, although he needs to work on locating that pitch better. He changes speed on his curve, tossing it slower for strikes with better command, and harder as a pitch that breaks out of the zone that hitters will chase. He is also developing a feel for his changeup, which fades enough to make hitters miss.
Despite racking up serious strikeouts for the Chiefs this season, he needs to improve his control as his K/BB ratio is only sitting at 1.63 over 10 starts and 48 innings. Still, you have to like his 10.7 K/9 rate (it was 10.5 in Rookie ball in 2013). He has the potential to be a SP2 as he moves up the ladder in the Cardinals minor league system, but he does need to work on his control and command to make a move to the upper levels and ultimately the big time.
The Cardinals will give him time to work on his potential, and while he could make an appearance in the majors by the end of 2016 I wouldn’t expect a real impact until 2017.
Jake Thompson RHP DET (High-A Lakeland Flying Tigers/Florida State League)
#5 prospect in Tiger organization
Thompson has been proving that he can handle the promotions the Tigers have thrown at him, posting a stellar 2.48 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over 61.2 IP at High-A while accumulating a 6-2 record in 10 starts. His K/BB ratio sits at 2.7, and he has allowed only one HR over the season so far. With a 77% strand rate and a .293 BABIP, his results have not been based on luck, as his FIP sitting at 2.81.
At 6’4″, he is throwing on a downhill plane that augments his slider and curve. His fastball runs from the low 80s up to 94 MPH and he can either entice hitters to chase the high hard one, or bury it at the bottom of the zone. The heater has good, late movement that works to fool hitters. He has the frame to pitch with authority, weighing in at 235 pounds.
His big issue is command. He needs to work on limiting his walks to realize his potential, which most scouts project as a mid-rotation starter. Like Reyes, the Tigers will give him time to work out his control issues (his BB/9 over three levels on minor league ball sits at 3.3, not terrible but certainly not great), and thus do not look for his arrival in Detroit before late 2016, and more probably 2017, absent the light bulb flashing on before that.
When drafting dynasty pitchers, an owner needs to take some chances. Teams frequently overstate their prospects’ values, and numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Still, you need to take some chances to get the big rewards, and that is presumably why you read these articles. So, if you have a pitcher or position player you want to see profiled, drop me a line and I will do my best to accommodate your requests.
I am always available to talk fantasy baseball, especially starting pitching and prospects. Feel free to drop me a note with any questions or comments at email@example.com and inquire about your team. Just remember the advice is free and you get what you pay for in this day and age.