June 10: Pitching prospect thoughts

Kyle Gibson / Minnesota
Gibson’s stock may be the fastest riser in all of prospect land for two reasons. One, the forearm stress fracture that caused him to drop in the 2009 draft is behind him. And two, he is putting up sick, video-game-esque primary numbers two months into the season. But it’s the secondary stat sheet that we should all be looking at. A groundout/flyout ratio of better than three is a true sign of future success.

Aroldis Chapman / Cincinnati
I am impressed with the results that Chapman is churning out, and the heat he brings to the ballpark, but reservations remain. His secondary offerings have been inconsistent, forcing him to be too reliant on his fastball. His flyball rate is troublesome and won’t get it done if he is going to be a standout in Cincinnati. Finally, at the core of the matter, he is simply allowing too many base runners. He does do a good job working from the stretch, however.

Alex White / Cleveland
White has had a couple of rough outings, but he has had a very strong debut overall. Control was a question mark when he was drafted, yet locating his fastball has been the key to his success. He hasn’t used his varied repertoire much to this point, but he’s working on it. Cleveland has to be happy with its investment.

Zack Wheeler / San Francisco
At this extremely early point in Wheeler’s development, inconsistencies have been the name of the game—not just from game to game, but from inning to inning. He has had games where his velocity and control are spot-on one instant and then all over the place the next. He has also had games where his curveball has been ineffective with little movement. But he has ratcheted up his fastball to the mid-90s at times and has had some tremendous outings when his command is on. It will be fun to watch this young pitcher grow.

Randall Delgado / Atlanta
Arguably no pitcher in the lower levels of the minor leagues has been better than Delgado. Despite his young age, he sports three strong offerings. He doesn’t have jaw-dropping velocity on his fastball, but he has strong movement and command of it, making it too much for A-ball hitters to handle. His secondary offerings will have to be used more often and improve as he climbs the ladder, but Delgado is quickly ascending prospect charts everywhere now that his command and movement have taken the next step.

Kyle Drabek / Toronto
Drabek has always been a second-tier prospect for me. His skills, and even his overall Double-A numbers, point toward that viewpoint. He looks like a fairly safe bet to have a strong major league career, but not the career of a true ace, as some are still projecting.

Simon Castro / San Diego
Castro’s slider has hit a new level, making him one of the best pitchers in the Texas League. His change-up needs plenty of work still, and, facing Double-A competition, his command isn’t where it needs to be, but it is encouraging to see a young pitcher get better with each passing year.

Dan Hudson / Chicago White Sox
Projecting Hudson’s control moving forward has always been his biggest asset, and 2010 has been no different. His strikeout numbers continue to jump off the stat sheet, but I have concerns that his low-90s fastball won’t deliver the same level of strikeouts in the majors. His flyball rate has always been high, which is another knock against him. But his slider could be a cure-all type of offering.

Nick Barnese / Tampa Bay
Relying on the movement and consistency of his fastball, Barnese continues to impress against A-level competition. It’s great to see his command step up a peg this year, but his repertoire needs work. And whether or not he has what it takes to eventually anchor the top of a rotation remains to be seen. But he is improving and deserves a bump up everyone’s board.

Matthew Moore / Tampa Bay
Moore has a lively arm that produces enviable movement on every one of his pitches, especially his fastball and potentially plus curveball, but his command is just not there and never has been. What’s especially puzzling is that his delivery, albeit awkward, is pretty consistent from what I’ve seen. Maybe he will just be another live arm that never figures out pitching. Or maybe things will click and he will turn into one of the best prospects in baseball. Only time will tell.

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