Finding value where others aren’t looking is never easy, but it’s not impossible. Enter the Nationals’ Sterling Sharp, who was on our radar prior to the season (we awarded him a “B-“ grade and ranked him fifth in Washington’s system) and has likely raised the bar this season. Just look at some of the key metrics from ’18 vs. ’19:
Obviously the numbers for 2019 have come in just 17.0 IP, but they are impressive just the same. After getting beat up a bit in his first start he’s now allowed 2 ER over 12.0 IP in his past two outings. If he keeps this up the 2016 22nd round selection is going to start grabbing more and more attention.
He owns a minor league career 1.99 GO/AO and it’s not a surprise that he’s a groundball machine. Just look at how Baseball America described his sinker prior to the season:
Sharp doesn’t overpower batters with velocity, but uses a sinking fastball in the 90-92 mph range with terrific boring action that he routinely locates in the bottom half of the strike zone. He complements his sinker with a changeup that has diving action as well, with a tick of armside run.
Having already demonstrated solid control, the question is whether or not he’s going to miss enough bats. Considering his SwStr% it would seem like he had already figured that out, but he has just a 6.88 K/9 this season after posting similarly mediocre numbers a year ago (6.55 K/9 over 79.2 IP at High-A, 6.16 over 68.2 IP at Double-A last season).
The development of his slider would go a long ways in keeping opposing hitters honest and allowing him to start generating a few more strikeouts. Even if he simply developed into a 7.5-8.0 K/9 type pitcher, with solid control and elite groundball stuff he’d have more than enough potential to produce. It doesn’t need to be an elite pitch, just average, given the way he’s always proven capable of utilizing his sinker/changeup combination.
That’s key, when coupled with what Baseball America calls “plus deception”, to just how good of an option he could become. At the very least he’s going to be a potential streaming option, but he could be even more than that. For those in dynasty leagues he’s an intriguing name worth stashing, as it’s not impossible that the soon to be 24-year old arrives in 2019 (though 2020 is more likely) and make impact immediately.
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball America