|Received On: 02/23/2016|
My first return is from Braves prospect Andrew Thurman.
Thurman was originally drafted by the Houston Astros in the 2nd round of the 2013 MLB Player Draft. Thurman is armed with a fastball, a change up, a slider and a curveball and projects to be anywhere from a middle of the rotation starter to a middle reliever in the big leagues. Thurman was a bit of an overlooked prospect in what was an absolutely loaded Astros farm system in 2014 but he was one of the players sent to Atlanta in the Evan Gattis trade, after which he became one of the Braves' top prospects. And he continues to be in their top 30 (on most rankings) even after the Braves continued to load up on young pitching talent.
Thurman's 2015 season was a bit of a mixed bag where he was fairly good in high-A (2.99 FIP according to Fangraphs) but wasn't overly impressive in double-A (his walks-per-nine jumped from 1.73 to 5.92 according to Fangraphs). However, I'm willing to bet that Thurman's struggles in double-A (which was near the end of the season) in 2015 was a result of an injury he sustained after the team bus he and his then-teammates (the Carolina Mudcats) flipped on it's side. As a result of that crash Thurman (along with six other Braves prospects including Lucas Sims) ended up on the disabled list. Thurman eventually came back in mid July and he was even one of the Braves prospects sent to the 2015 Arizona Fall League to make up for lost time and development.
Although he's quickly becoming overshadowed in the Braves organization due to them acquiring every pitching prospect ever, Thurman is not one to be overlooked. Keep an eye on him, you might be surprised.
|Received On: 2/25/2016|
My second return this week was my first return from Spring Training 2016, courtesy of Cardinals southpaw Austin Gomber!
Austin Gomber was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB Player Draft. The lefty is equipped with a low-mid 90's fastball, a change up and a slider. Gomber also added a curveball to his arsenal after the Cardinals' pitching coordinator Tim Leveque taught him the pitch. Adding the curveball gave Gomber quite a boost as he ended up leading all lefties in the Cardinals organization with 140 strikeouts in 2015. Gomber's strikeouts per nine jumped to 9.33 (per Fangraphs) in A-Ball and he shared the 2015 Cardinals' Minor League Pitcher of the Year award with righty Alex Reyes.
In 2016 Gomber may either get assigned to high-A or double-A depending on how he does in Spring Training. This year he was invited to the Cardinals' Spring Training as a non-roster invite, but it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility to see him be back, this time as a guy on the roster in a couple of years. As of this moment Gomber has the potential to be anything from a middle of the rotation starter to a really capable bullpen. He's a Cardinal though so he's probably going to end being a really really good third or fourth starter in the future.
The really cool thing about this Gomber was that this got back to me in record time. I sent this request out on the 19th and it got back to me roughly six days later. Thanks Austin!
|Received On: 2/26/2016|
My next return was a pretty cool one from former first overall draft pick, Mark Appel.
Mark Appel was drafted by the Houston Astros in the first round (first overall) of the 2013 MLB Player Draft.
Appel features an arsenal that includes a mid 90's fastball, a slider and a change up. All of which are quality pitches and makes it all the more puzzling why Appel's results in the minors have been so poor.
In any case expectations for Appel have been lowered tremendously these past few years. So much so that Appel was part of the trade package sent to Philadelphia in the Ken Giles trade. While his mediocre results have scared many away, he still has the talent to one day break out and reach his potential as a frontline starter. After all his fastball still touches 96 mph.
Whether or not Appel can turn his career around in Philadelphia remains to be seen but for now let's hope that his legacy isn't being the guy the Astros picked instead of Kris Bryant.
|Received On: 2/26/2016|
My next return came from White Sox righty, Chris Beck.
Beck was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 2nd round of the 2012 MLB Player Draft.
Beck is armed with a fastball, a slider, a change up and a curveball. After he was drafted he's sped through the White Sox farm system by getting to triple-A during his second full year as a pro. His fastball and can reach as high as the mid-90s and his change up is also said to be a dominant pitch but scouts seem to doubt Beck's ability to reach his ceiling due to the lack of a third breaking pitch.
Despite that though, Beck still has potential to be a serviceable starter in the big leagues. Beck got his first taste of the big leagues in 2015 around early May. If he can add a good breaking pitch he could be the third best starter on the team behind Sale and Rodon. If he can't add a good breaking pitch he could still be a really useful fifth starter or a pretty good reliever.
|Received On: 2/26/2016|
This next return is a doozy and from top Reds pitching prospect Robert Stephenson.
Robert Stephenson was drafted by the Reds in the first round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft.
Stephenson is armed with a mid-90's fastball, curveball and change up and he projects to be anything from a really good middle of the rotation starter to a dominant reliever with plenty of potential to be even better than that to boot. Experts say it depends on how well he learns to control his pitches (Fangraphs, 2016).
Stephenson made it to triple-A in 2015 so it's likely that he'll start there in 2016 and if he makes the improvements necessary he could be a September call up. Or possibly left in the minors until 2017 to delay service time.
Either way, the 32nd best prospect in baseball according to Baseball America (2016), will be an important part of the Reds' rebuilding process.
|Received On: 2/27/2016|
My final return this week was another Spring Training success, courtesy of Matt Boyd this time. Matt Boyd was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth round of the 2013 MLB Player Draft.
Matt Boyd is armed with a fastball (a two-seamer and a four-seamer), change up, curveball and a slider. Boyd's slider in particular was recently reported to be catching attention in Tigers Spring Training as Boyd spent a fair bit of time this past offseason refining his grip for the pitch and preparing to use it in games.
Boyd made his MLB debut in mid 2015 as a member of the Blue Jays and made two starts before being traded to the Detroit Tigers in the David Price trade. He made 10 more starts for the Tigers in 2015 and here in 2016 he is currently fighting for a spot in the Tigers rotation.
With any luck he could get one of the starting pitcher roles in the back of the Tigers' rotation and use his refined slider to good use in 2016.
And those were my returns this week. Big thanks to Mr. Thurman, Gomber, Appel, Beck, Stephenson and Boyd for the awesome autographs.
And as always thank you (the readers) for stopping by :).
2016 TTM Count: 26