by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We always say that pitching is deep, but injuries and struggles happen so we have to be keeping our eye on the next pitcher to arrive. Sometimes they are heavily hyped prospects… Sometimes they are virtual unknowns… And sometimes they are names we know and have seen, though they didn’t necessarily impress.
Here are pitchers we all know and have seen before, but are currently spending time at Triple-A awaiting an opportunity. In both cases, it may not be long making them intriguing players to stash:
Jose Berrios – Minnesota Twins
Pitching in the World Baseball Classic, limiting his time with the Twins during Spring Training, cost him an opportunity to break camp with the Major League team. Kyle Gibson (6.91 ERA, 1.60 WHIP) and Adalberto Mejia (4.05 ERA, 1.65 WHIP) could both easily be bumped from the rotation, and Berrios is stating his case at Triple-A for the move.
Berrios has posted back-to-back strong performances to start the season, throwing 14.0 innings without allowing an earned run (1 unearned run). Even better he’s allowed 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 13 in the process.
It’s easy to write him off, after his disastrous stint in the Majors in ’16 (8.02 ERA over 14 starts). Part of it was likely nerves (leading to an uncharacteristic 5.40 BB/9) and part simple bad luck (.344 BABIP, 59.7% strand rate). It wasn’t long ago that he was considered one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, and his early season success should start to get people talking again. He has swing and miss stuff (9.6 K/9 in the minors) and potentially elite control (2.5 BB/9 in the minors). While home runs could be an issue the overall package makes him an intriguing, high-upside flier.
Mike Clevinger – Cleveland Indians
Clevinger made his name in the post season in ’16, though he’s never been considered a significantly high-level prospect. That said he’s always been intriguing, and with 25 K over his first 19.0 IP at Triple-A in ’17 he’s a name that should soon factor into the MLB discussion. While he’s not going to replace Danny Salazar or Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco, both Trevor Bauer (8.44 ERA) and Josh Tomlin (18.47 ERA) aren’t safe. For a team looking to win the World Series, they aren’t going to be afraid to make a change.
It’s not like Clevinger has never shown this type of stuff before, including a minor league career 8.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. While that type of strikeout rate isn’t “elite”, the control is solid (though unspectacular). Unfortunately he does bring the risk of allowing home runs (0.85 GO/AO for his minor league career, 1.4 HR/9 in the Majors), clouding the picture a little bit. That skill set speaks more to a streamer/lightning-in-a-bottle type flier, as opposed to a pitcher that can be trusted on a start-to-start basis.
Of course with the way he’s pitching right now, it’s possible that he hits the ground running. With the way the back of the Indians’ rotation is looking, it’s only a matter of when Clevinger is given an opportunity. Depending on the format, be ready to pounce.
Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out our Preseason 2017 Prospect Rankings:
|Top 50 Prospects||1-50|
|Right Handed Pitchers:||1-10||11-20|
|Left Handed Pitchers:||1-10|