by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We are just days into the minor league season, but there have already been some notable performances. Who has already opened some eyes? Let’s take a look at a pair of pitchers, both of which were drafted in ’17, who had stellar debuts and can quickly see their stock rise:
Griffin Canning – Right-Handed Pitcher – Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels aren’t known for having a very strong farm system, but after making his professional debut on opening night Griffin Canning, the team’s 2017 second round pick (47th overall) opened some eyes. Pitching 4.0 shutout innings at High-A, Canning allowed 1 H and 2 BB while striking out 6. For a soon to be 22-year old right-handed pitcher that line may not be overly impressive, but it was a change in skills that should grab our attention.
Baseball America described his arsenal after the start as follows:
Canning sat 94-96 mph, touched 97, and maintained his velocity and location through his outing. He backed his fastball up with a knee-buckling 80-82 mph curveball that left hitters frozen in the box and an 86-87 mph slider that ran away from righthanded batters and had them futilely reaching for it.
It’s the spike in velocity that’s eye-popping. In the article Baseball America notes that while at UCLA he generally stayed between 90 and 94 with his fastball, but he didn’t throw one slower than 93 mph during his debut.
It’s just one start, but it is promising all the same. Prior to the season we had him ranked as the team’s 7th best prospect, earning him a C+ grade. If he can continue showing this type of stuff he will quickly be bumped to a B-, with a B or B+ possible by year’s end. He has the potential to move through the system quickly (at his age and having thrown 119.0 innings last season, getting 150 innings and reaching Triple-A isn’t out of the question), which should put him squarely on all prospect maps.
Current Grade – C+
Upside Grade – B+
Alex Faedo – Right-Handed Pitcher – Detroit Tigers
There were questions surrounding the Tigers’ 2017 first round selection, and this one start isn’t going to change that. That’s because the question is his health, not his stuff, as he already has had injury issues with both of his knees. Will he be able to stay healthy and take the mound every five days?
While his first professional start got off to a bit of an inauspicious start, allowing a pair of home runs in the first inning, Faedo ultimately settled down and delivered. The home runs were the only two hits he allowed, going 5.0 IP with 2 ER on 2 H and 0 BB, striking out 4. He would go on to retire 13 straight batters, with Rob Terranova of MILB.com said:
“During his stretch of 13 consecutive outs, Faedo struck out four and the Tarpons got only three balls beyond the infield.”
Health also isn’t the only concern, as Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 noted that:
“His slider is his money pitch and there is some concern that he relies too much on the pitch, potentially exposing himself to future injury risk. The biggest concern is his inability to consistently repeat his delivery which is leading to below average control.”
In the MILB article Faedo noted that he “had a good feel for all three of my pitches tonight, especially my changeup, which no one has really seen before, so that was huge.” Adding that third pitch will be key, and he also didn’t walk a batter. It’s all promising, and could help lead to a huge spike in his grade by year’s end. The upside is there, so keep a close eye on him.
Current Grade – B-
Upside Grade – A-
Sources – MILB.com, Baseball America, Prospect 361
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here. Also don’t miss all of our 2018 Preseason Positional Prospect Lists: