by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Through three spring outings the Colorado Rockies’ have a young pitcher who should be garnering our attention (note, he had his fourth and possibly most impressive outing yesterday as he tossed 4.1 scoreless innings). No, it’s not Jon Gray or Tyler Anderson or Jeff Hoffman… Nor is it German Marquez or various other young pitchers the team has been accumulating.
The name to know is Antonio Senzatela, the 22-year old right-handed starter who was ranked #9 on our Rockies’ Top 10 Prospect list (click here to view). It’s easy to overlook him, after injuries limited him to 34.2 innings at Double-A in ’16. However he’s shown an ability to thrive since joining the Colorado organization in 2012:
Obviously the strikeouts and groundballs are the numbers that stand out most, though the strikeout mark is a bit deceiving. In 154.0 innings at High-A in ’15 he posted an 8.4 K/9 and was at 7.0 last season as he dealt with injuries.
Can he maintain the elevated marks against more advanced hitters? He has 6 K over 7.0 innings this spring (obviously an extremely small sample size) and it would appear that his secondary stuff has taken a step forward. Here’s a quote from manager Bud Black after his most recent outing, courtesy of Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (click here for the article):
“He looked good, didn’t he?” Black said. “He’s on our radar and we’ve talked about it. The ball comes out nice … he throws the ball downhill with some angle and he’s got good velocity. Plus he throws a tight little slider and a good changeup. Our minor-league people like this guy a lot. There is a reason for that.”
Senzatela’s fastball has always been his strength, as it was described by MLB.com:
“Senzatela has one of the best fastball packages in the system, working at 92-95 mph and reaching 98 with modest life but advanced command and difficult downhill plane.”
Obviously the groundballs are going to be key, pitching half his games in Coors Field. However he could follow the path of Tyler Anderson, who showed last season that it’s possible to tame the ballpark (and who also fell under the radar as he worked his way up the minors due to injuries). Anderson has shown a bit more in the groundball department (1.39 GO/AO over his minor league career), though he also displayed less control (2.7 BB/9 in the minors) and a similar strikeout rate (7.4 K/9).
For a team looking to build it’s rotation (and which has two holes to fill) Senzatela is an interesting name to monitor. While it appears unlikely that he’s going to open the year in Colorado (given his limited exposure at the upper levels), at 22-years old he could arrive quickly. If he has developed his secondary offerings, which may be the case, the potential for him to be a #3 starter is there. Sliding him behind Gray and Anderson, the situation in Colorado appears headed in the right direction.
Current Grade – B-
Upside Grade – B
Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Baseball Reference, The Denver Post
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Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: