by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Fantasy owners are always looking for the big named prospects, which often causes the middle tier (who may have upside) to fall under-the-radar. Such is the story for a pair of Kansas City Royals’ pitching prospects, both of whom are already on the 40-man roster and could conceivably give the back of the rotation a boost. Let’s take a look:
Matt Strahm – Left-Handed Pitcher
Double-A: 40.1 IP, 2.68 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 40 K, 7 BB, 1.106 GO/AO
Prior to being promoted to High-A last year Strahm had been operating as a reliever, albeit it in limited innings. A 21st round selection in 2012, he missed the entire ’13 season due to Tommy John surgery but things have certainly clicked for the southpaw. Control had always been an issue, but he appeared to have solved that last season (2.51 BB/9 at High-A in ’15) and has taken it to another level this season.
His pure stuff has also appeared to improve. Here’s what MLB.com had to say about him prior to the season:
“Strahm’s stuff has improved since he had his elbow reconstructed. He’s throwing hard and maintaining his velocity deeper into games, working at 92-94 mph with his fastball. His once-slurvy breaking ball has tightened into a true curveball.”
He’s always shown strikeout stuff out of the bullpen, but being able to maintain it as a starter is extremely impressive. He’s also been generating enough groundballs, though that’s something we’ll have to continue to monitor as it hasn’t been a consistent story (1.01 career GO/AO). That said, strikeouts and control, even if he’s allowing 1.0-1.2 HR/9, would be enough for success.
He’s not a sexy name and may not have ace-type upside, but he could be a solid starter and an upgrade over what the team is currently utilizing at the back of their rotation. Of course, being left-handed only adds to the potential appeal.
Current Grade – C+
Upside Grade – B
Alec Mills – Right-Handed Pitcher
Double-A: 42.0 IP, 2.36 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 44 K, 6 BB, 1.22 GO/AO
He’s consistently generated groundballs throughout his minor league career (1.50 GO/AO), and while his strikeouts are up this season he also has coupled it with control since being selected in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft:
- Strikeouts – 8.7 K/9
- Walks – 1.7 BB/9
Prior to the season here’s how MLB.com described him:
“Mills has the ability to locate his fastball wherever he likes, operating at 91-95 mph and carrying that velocity deep into games. His changeup is a solid second offering, while his curveball and slider give him a pair of average secondary pitches. Mills has good but not overpowering stuff, so there are times when he’s hittable because he’s around the strike zone so much.”
Being around the plate “too much” is an interesting issue, but you’d think that’s something that the 24-year old can learn. His success this season also is not luck aided, with a .330 BABIP and 71.4% strand rate. You can argue he’s old for the level, but the upside appears to be there. The real question is just how long can the team keep him from Triple-A and subsequently the Majors?
He threw 113.1 innings last season, so we may be looking at 150 max this season. In 2017, however, he’s an intriguing name to keep an eye on.
Current Grade – B
Upside Grade – B+
Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our Team Top 10 Prospect Lists: