Prospects On The Rise: Trying To Identify The Next Shane Bieber & More

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We are all always looking for the next big thing, but it’s generally easier said than done. We could think that someone is a can’t miss option, but even the surest prospects have their stumbles. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few prospects who are making some noise and try to determine if they are worth or attention or nothing more than a mirage:

Jonathan Bowlan – Right-Handed Pitcher – Kansas City Royals
A second round selection in 2018, the 22-year old Bowlan is quickly emerging as a potentially viable starting pitching prospect for the Royals.  Obviously coming an error short of a perfect game on Monday (he tossed a no-hitter) is going to bring even more attention, but he’s been doing the job all season long regardless of the level he’s pitched:

  • Single-A – 69.2 IP, 3.36 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 74 K, 10 BB
  • High-A – 34.0 IP, 1.59 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 38 K, 2 BB

All told that’s 102 K vs. 12 BB over 103.2 IP, and he’s paired that with a 1.35 GO/AO.  It will be interesting to see if he can continue to thrive, though the scouting report (courtesy of MLB.com) wouldn’t scream of a developing elite pitcher:

At his best, Bowlan pitches well off of his heavy 92-95 mph fastball and can touch a tick or two higher with the pitch. He throws it with sink to get ground-ball outs. His low-80s slider will flash plus with good sharp break to it, though he still needs to work on the consistency of the pitch. He does have some feel for his changeup, giving him the chance for a third Major League offering.

Despite his size, Bowlan has a repeatable delivery and has shown an ability to throw strikes consistently. If he can continue to do that and refine his changeup, he has the chance to be a workhorse-type starter in the big leagues.

He’s bigger than Shane Bieber, but could he bring a similar skillset?  Back in ’17 Bieber, as a 22-year old, threw 119.0 IP split between Single-A and High-A compiling 113 K vs. 5 BB to go along with GO/AO of 0.77 and 1.33 (he was promoted to Double-A before the year was out).  It’s an interesting comparison, and one that should put Bowlan squarely on dynasty league owners radars.

Josh Green – Right-Handed Pitcher – Arizona Diamondbacks
A 14th round selection in 2018, Green has shown an ability to pitch well above that in short order.  He’ll turn 24-years old before the season is over, and maybe his age/experience helps to explain the success, as he’s spent the year at High-A and posted a 1.73 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 78.0 IP.  Those numbers have led to a promotion to Double-A (where he has yet to debut), after he worked exclusively out of the bullpen in ’18.

He hasn’t shown much in terms of strikeouts (69 K), though he fanned 11 over 6.0 IP in his final start at High-A.  That brings hope, especially when paired with 13 BB and his elite groundball stuff (2.94 GO/AO).  In fact, that’s been impressive whether working as a starter or reliever:

  • 2018 – 67.7%
  • 2019 – 66.7%

It will be interesting to see how the numbers translate to Double-A, but if it continues his stock will quickly grow.  Keep a close eye and see how things develop.

Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs

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