Grading the Prospects: Anthony Kay & Simeon Woods Richardson

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Forget about the debate about the deal for Marcus Stroman and if it made sense for the Mets, a team that isn’t likely to compete for a playoff spot in 2019, because we don’t know the full picture yet (though we should soon).  The fact is that Stroman is a controlled asset who can make an impact both in 2019 and 2020 (and beyond if the Mets ultimately resign the hometown player).  We discussed him in detail already, which you can read by clicking here.

As for the prospects Toronto received in the deal, let’s take a look:

Anthony Kay (LHP)
The 24-year old former first round pick (2016) opened the year at Double-A but didn’t stay long.  After dominating the level, Kay was promoted to Triple-A where things have regressed significantly:

  • Double-A (66.1 IP) – 1.49 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 9.50 K/9, 3.12 BB/9
  • Triple-A (31.1 IP) – 6.61 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 7.47 K/9, 3.16 BB/9

Obviously the Triple-A numbers are impressive, but how “real” they were is a fair question.  He benefited from a .222 BABIP and 83.9% strand rate while playing at the level, which alone raises a significant red flag.  The strikeout rate was nice, but watching his SwStr% go from 12.9% to 8.3% upon moving to Triple-A (where he was facing more advanced hitters) is another.  Can he miss bats at the highest level?

This scouting report from Baseball America gives hope, though also gives caution about his future upside:

Kay is a power lefthander with a fastball that sits at 93 mph and regularly reaches 95-96 mph. He complements his fastball with a high-spin, top-to-bottom curveball he locates to sides of the plate and a changeup that flashes above-average with sink at the bottom of the zone. Kay’s arsenal is that of a mid-rotation starter or better, but his control and command are inconsistent and make him a future back-end starter in the eyes of most evaluators. 

Then you have the groundball rate, which could cause issues with home runs regardless of where he pitches as it’s regressed with each step of his advancement.  Pitching in the AL East with regular matchups against the Yankees and Red Sox, as well as a less friendly home ballpark?  Things could get ugly (groundball rate):

  • Double-A – 35.2%
  • Triple-A – 30.2%

All in all, while Kay brings the potential to make an impact in the short-term his ultimate value isn’t very high.

Current Grade – C

Simeon Woods Richardson (RHP)
The soon to be 19-year old (in late September) was selected in the second round a year ago.  While Kay offers a more immediate impact it’s Woods Richardson who is viewed as having the higher ceiling.  It’s clear that the Mets have been bringing him along slowly, with 78.1 IP over 20 starts, but the overall skills have been impressive at Single-A despite the uninspiring numbers:

4.25 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 11.14 K/9, 1.95 BB/9

He’s added a solid 49.3% groundball rate, giving the appearance of a skillset that can thrive anywhere.  This scouting report from Baseball America adds to the potential appeal:

His four-seam fastball reaches 95-96 mph and his cutter sits at 92 mph, giving him two hard offerings to front his four-pitch mix. His 12-to-6 breaking ball has hard downward action and shows the potential to be an impact pitch, and his changeup flashes average. Woods-Richardson struggles leaving the ball up and gets hit as a result sometimes, but evaluators feel he can be an impact starter once he learns to work the edges of the strike zone. He earns wide praise for his fearless, bulldog mentality on the mound and aggressiveness in attacking hitters.

Obviously he’s still a few years away and when it comes to pitchers you really never know.  He eventually is going to have to prove that he can work deep into games, with 5.1 IP being his longest outing this season.  The skills could play, though, and that’s going to add to the intrigue.

Once he proves he can go 6+ innings it would be easy to argue him as a “B” prospect or better (though for now would it be surprising if he ultimately converts to the bullpen, where his stuff would play well).  We’re going to stay conservative with the ranking, but he has the potential to be the far better prospect.

Current Grade – C+/B-

Sources – MILB.com, Baseball America, Fangraphs

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