More from the MLBA… Pitching Prospects

Now that you’re familiar with the system, let’s jump right in, shall we?

Stephen Strasburg, 10C (21)

Drew Storen, 9B (22)
Roundly criticized last June as a “signability” pick, Storen may have been the shrewdest pick of the draft – providing desperately what the parent club needs: a young, MLB-ready reliever with a live arm

Josh Smoker, 8D (21)

Jack McGeary, 8D (21)

A.J. Morris, 8D (23)

Colton Willems, 8E (21)
Injuries are said to be the cause of his struggles in ’09. Was rocked hard the two times I saw him start.

Pat Lehman, 7B (23)

Aaron Thompson, 7C (23)

Brad Meyers, 7C (24)
A dark horse that throws a sinking fastball and plus slider. Not overpowering.

Trevor Holder, 7D (23)
A three-level pitcher (A-, A, A+) that was also hit very hard at Potomac and may have been an overdraft

Luis Atilano, 7D (25)
Works fast, throws strikes, and is gaining velocity but time may be running out him

Victor Garate, 7D (25)

Zechry Zinicola, 7D (25)
Appears to have hit a wall at AAA

Adrian Alaniz, 6B (26)
Classic case of a pitcher that could get by on marginal stuff at the lower levels by compensating with above-average command, but hasn’t been able to solve AA batters and likely won’t

Marco Estrada, 6B (27)
Book went to press before his recent DFA


For better or worse, most of the pitchers here I’ve only seen briefly, which is a function of the past two seasons where guys were rushed up to the bigs to help out with the bullpen. From my perspective, I believe we could use more depth in the system. Only five of these guys are 22 or younger, and only two of those guys seem certain to make it above AAA. Everybody else is a maybe.

In fact, I’d refer to Brian’s Top 20 list again because I respect his opinion on the guys I haven’t seen, and I think you’ll see that there’s not as much overlap here as there was for batters. Like I’ve posted before, I really don’t like to comment about guys I haven’t watched at the ballpark.

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9 Responses to More from the MLBA… Pitching Prospects

  1. e says:

    wasn’t Zinicola picked up by the Blue Jays in the Rule 5 draft?

  2. suedinem says:

    Another good catch… I sure hope this is a factor of the two new guys or that the publishing house that prints these books is very small.

  3. Toast says:

    I would like to see info on some other guys like Milone, Mandel and Atwood. I would currently take all 3 over Holder.

  4. Bob_in_Manassas says:

    Glad to see Myers get some props from BA, but it seems that some guys like Milone, Jaime, Applebee, Rosenbaum, Severino & Bronson might have been overlooked.

  5. Chaz says:

    Do you think the Nats will leave Storen in the bullpen, or do you think they will try to convert him to a starter somewhere down the road?

  6. suedinem says:

    Chaz – Storen hasn’t started since high school, so it’s unlikely he’ll be a starter this season or next. All signs point to him being used as an 8th/9th inning reliever. If he were to be converted, he’d have to be sent back to A+ or AA ball to learn a 4th pitch, but more importantly, learn how to pace himself.

    Philosophically, I’m opposed to grooming pitchers for “bullpen roles” for this very reason. The late Dick Radatz had a point when he once said “Your role as a pitcher is to throw strikes. Period.” [Expletives deleted]

    Put more simply, it’s easier to convert a starter into a reliever than vice-versa. I can’t think of many elite relievers that didn’t start at some point in their careers. I think the very reason why guys like Tom Gordon and Derek Lowe were able to move back-and-forth from the rotation to the bullpen was their experience as starters.

  7. Steveospeak says:

    Boy this is list is very optimistic, esp. for Smoker, Williems and McGeary. Now maybe one of those guys will develop but those are high ceilings on guys who can’t get out of Low-A baseball.

    • suedinem says:

      Steveo – That’s what I like about MLBA: Instead of the blanket grade, they hedge their bets with an assessment of their chances. The trio of pitchers you listed are all 21 as of April 1, with Willems turning 22 in July, Smoker in November, and McGeary in March of ’11. Their age is what accounts for the optimism (8), but I think the “D” grade says it all — a 30% chance of realizing their potential.

      I haven’t seen a study that supports this gut feeling of mine, but I think the average age of a major-league debut (MM – weigh in; you might know!) has drifted from 22 to 24, corresponding to the age of being “washed up” from 35 to 37.

      Point being… A lot can change with these kids in the next three years.

  8. JT says:

    Well, Smoker did get hurt. I think that he may still have a future.

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