First came the suspension to Domingo German… Next the injury to James Paxton… Now comes news that Luis Severino has been battling soreness in his forearm, dating back to the 2019 playoffs, and his immediate availability should be considered in doubt…
That’s 60% of the expected rotation potentially sidelined on Opening Day, leaving JA Happ as the #3, Jordan Montgomery the likely #4 and a slew of questions battling for the fifth spot. While most will focus on someone like Deivi Garcia as an option to step into the role, it could be more likely that fellow prospect Michael King gets the first opportunity.
King only made 11 appearances in the minor leagues last season, mainly due to a stress reaction in his elbow, and when he was on the mound he underwhelmed with a 5.48 ERA over 46.0 IP (he also threw 2.0 innings in the Majors). However, even while he struggled he showed enough in all three skills to garner some attention:
- Strikeouts – 8.61 K/9 (courtesy of a 10.3% SwStr%)
- Control – 1.96 BB/9
- Groundballs – 50.7%
He may never be a strikeout machine, but a 1.62 BB/9 over 161.1 IP in ’18 is key, especially since he was able to maintain it even while battling injury. He also continued to generate groundballs (50.8% in ’18), and that should be enough to be a solid pitcher.
Let’s be clear though, the arsenal is far from elite. Here’s a scouting report, courtesy of Baseball America:
He uses a mix of two-seam, four-seam and cut fastballs to carve hitters up in all quadrants of the strike zone and produce plenty of weak contact. King complements the fastballs with a low-80s slider and a mid-80s changeup that each project as average pitches. All of his pitches play up because excellent command and control of his arsenal.
That reminds us a bit of Kolby Allard, who has potential but also the downside of being tattooed if his control is off on a given day if he’s off even a little bit (Allard pitched to a 4.96 ERA in his first taste of the Majors). Pitching in the AL East that’s not going to be a recipe for success and it’s hard to consider King anything more than a streaming option.
He is on the 40-man roster, which helps, but even if he gets the opportunity he shouldn’t be highly sought after. King may get the first opportunity due to his age/experience, but it’s Garcia who would bring far more excitement and upside.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball America
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 preseason rankings: