The Atlanta Braves are leading their division but have not nearly lived up to their potential this season, and the biggest issue has been their starting rotation. Insert Ian Anderson, the Braves top pitching prospect, who will make his debut on Tuesday.
Anderson was selected third overall out of high school just outside New York’s capital city, and he has faired well since. His fastball runs up to 96 with a good amount of run and even some sink to it. This combination of velocity and movement gives it plus potential while sitting just above-average currently.
The best offering for Anderson may be his big 12-6 curve that is a true swing and miss pitch. It sits high 70s and he is not afraid to double up on the pitch to help keep hitters off-balance. His change is much better than you often see from a 22-year old righty, and could flirt with plus in the future, but definitely be an above-average pitch.
All three are at least big league average offerings currently, although the command is a bit of a concern. The arm slot is very high, and the front leg can be stiff at times, causing him to miss up in the zone, which resulted in an uptick in long balls a season ago. If he can manage the north-south command and utilize his advanced off-speed offering well, he should stick in the rotation for the rest of the season and be a quality number three in future seasons.
Tuesday has turned into a rather significant day in terms of prospect promotions, as Jo Adell, James Kaprielian, and Luis Patino all learn they will be experiencing their first day of big league ball on this day.
The biggest hype of the three is easily Jo Adell with the Los Angeles Angels. The 10th overall pick in 2017 is as much fun to watch as any prospect in all of baseball. He is incredibly athletic with a strong yet agile frame. Truly a five-tool talent, he has plus power, plus speed, to go with above average glove and arm. He has struck out more than 25% in his minor league career, so the hit tool is easily his weakest, but has hit just two points under .300 in his three minor league seasons. When he made his pro debut in the AZL in 2017, he was on a very talented Angels club, but there was no doubt he was the best player on the field, and has continued to be nearly every game since. Adell is probably going to be a right fielder long term next to Mike Trout, making the outfield in Orange County one of the best in all of baseball regardless of who plays left.
Kapreilian is joining an incredibly talented and young staff with the Oakland Athletics. He impressed with his elite at UCLA, and has only improved since getting to pro ball, going from walking just 5.3 per nine his freshman year, to 3.0 his sophomore, and 2.8 in his junior season, and walking merely 2.1/9 since entering the minors. Originally selected by the New York Yankees, Kapreilian looked to be on the fast track to the bigs when he flashed high quality innings in the AFL in 2016 after missing a good chunk of the season. He wound up with injuries that saw him miss all of 2017 and 2018, traded away to Oakland in the Sonny Gray deal, and only logging 68 innings a season ago. Assuming health, which is far from a sure thing, he could be a very good fourth or fifth starter with the upside of a three, but that will all be determined by how long he can stay healthy.
Patino may be the biggest surprise call up of the three as he has less than eight innings logged in the upper minors and none at AAA. That said, he is widely considered the best pitching prospect in the San Diego Padres organization not named Mackenzie Gore. The 20-year old righty has an electric fastball that will surely be in full display this season as I expect him to be a reliever before being stretched out to join the rotation next season. He also has a plus slider that has been a major contributing factor in him striking out well better than a batter an inning. If he works out of the pen all season, I expect those to be the two pitches he throws the vast majority of the time, but he can snap off a solid curve to change the eye levels of a hitter and a changeup I have seen flash above-average at times.
Since two of these are pitchers, time will tell if all three debut on the same day, but if they do, Tuesday night could be a night of baseball to remember!
The New York Mets have called up prized lefty David Peterson to start Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox a team that drafted him out of high school, but he opted to go to the University of Oregon instead. That moved proved to be the right call, as he jumped from the 28th round in 2014 to the 20th overall selection in 2017.
Since joining the Mets, Peterseon has put together an ERA of 3.63 in 49 starts, and has stuck out better than 3.5x the number of batters he has granted free passes. He made four appearances in the Arizona Fall League where he struggled some, but held his own for the most part.
The fastball is not the power pitch so many members of the Mets rotation possess, sitting low-90s with the occasional offering starting with an 8, but he pounds the zone. His best pitch is the power slider that allows him to induce a lot of soft contact and grounders. His sinking change is a distant third offering, but it helps keep right-handed hitters honest and continues the grounder them.
He has a clear starter’s body, standing 6’6” and weighing in at 240 lbs., the 24-year old doesn’t have any projection to grow more, so the velo is likely at its peak, but he gets good extension despite the slight arm bend in a lower 3/4 slot delivery.
His future role is most likely at the back end of a rotation, but should put up consistent “quality starts” no matter how flawed that stat may be.
Luis Robert signed a six-year, $50M contract this offseason, locking him into the Opening Day roster. He creates an outfield of the future for the Chicago White Sox of Eloy Jimenez, Robert, and recently acquired Nomar Mazara (who opens the season on the IL).
Robert brings a rare combination of speed and power that saw him top 30 doubles, home runs, and steals a season ago, something MLB.com points out hasn’t happened in the minors since 1961. He was nearly a consensus top five prospect in all of baseball, and he will get the opportunity to show why when he bats seventh in the White Sox opener.
He has plus speed and very good defensive instincts that will allow him to stick in center, but a cannon of an arm that would be more than enough to hold down right. At the plate he hit a career .314 when still in Cuba and a teenager, and has hit nearly as well, .312, in his minor league career. He has an OPS of .932 in the minors, including over 1 over three levels a season ago.
Robert has all the makings of a future star and multi-time All-Star, but there is still plenty of refinement needed. While the ball absolutely flies off his bat, he has struck out nearly four times to every walk, and nearly six times a season ago, so there is plenty of room for improvement in his plate discipline. 11 of his career 18 caught stealing came a season ago, again pointing to the fact there is refinement to be made in the baserunning department.
He will certainly have an impact with the White Sox this season and is the favorite to be named Rookie of the Year, but it is the seasons to come that should have Sox fans truly excited.