New York/Penn League MLB Top Pitching Prospects
For some players, the short season leagues, like New York/Penn League, serve as the first step in their professional careers in baseball. So it is pretty exciting to be able to bring this information and analysis to you, the reader, at a player’s earliest stages of development. Players were selected for this list with age appropriateness to level, draft position, performance, and physical tools in mind. So let’s get started!
Parker Markel RHP Tampa Bay (20) – Snapped up in the 39th round in 2010, the big right-hander (6”4” 220lbs) works off a fastball with 92-97 mph velocity, but also mixes in a good slider and change-up. As one of the top arms in the league, Markel has posted a 2.33 ERA with 28 hits, 12 earned runs, 18 walks, and 39 strikeouts in 46.1 innings. So there’s no problem with his production at this point. Whether he’ll stick in the rotation at higher levels, I am not sure. With his almost side-arm delivery, Markel doesn’t take advantage of his height by pitching with a good downward plane, so at higher levels, lefty hitters will see the ball better against him. Already, he posts a 3.38 ERA against lefties as opposed to 1.78 against righties. Pair that with an inability to hold his velocity later in games and a move to the bullpen could be in his future. He has time though to improve those splits.
Andrew Bellatti RHP Tampa Bay (20) - At only 20 years old, Bellatti has lived a lot of life. Drafted in the 12th round in 2009, he posted promising numbers in the GCL. In 2010, he moved up to pitch for the Princeton Rays. In October of that year, Bellatti plead guilty to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and served about 5 months in jail and 5 years on probation. So unless this experience has scared him straight, there may be some questions about his maturity. In 2011, Bellatti has maintained this numbers at every level by posting a 2.47 ERA with 47 hits, 14 earned runs, 17 walks, and 44 strikeouts in 51 innings. The right-hander throws a low to mid-90s fastball, a slider and a change-up. His pitches have good movement and he elicits plenty of swings and misses, but with that, he is subject to control issues. Right now, he’s effectively wild; at higher levels, hitters simply may not swing as much. That said, let’s just hope this kid can turn his life around off the field. He’s on his way.
Kyle Hallock LHP Houston (23) – The 6’2” 185lb 2011 10th round pick hasn’t missed a beat from his Kent State college career. Hallock has torn up the NY/Penn League with a 1.79 ERA with 41 hits, 9 earned runs, with only 8 walks, but 41 strikeouts in 45 innings. He also keeps the ball on the ground at a nice 59% clip. His fastball sits in the high 80s but can reach 90 mph. Would be nice for him to eventually sit in the 90s especially paired with this power slider and decent change-up. Nonetheless, command will be the name of Hallock’s game being that he doesn’t blow hitters away. Since he is mature for the league, keep an eye on him as he moves up.
Danny Jimenz LHP Cleveland (21) – A 23rd round draftee in 2009, young Jimenez was moved to the rotation in 2010 and repeated the Arizona League with solid results. Now, in the NY/Penn, he has dropped his ERA to 2.70 with 50 hits, 15 earned runs, 17 walks, and 38 strikeouts in 50 innings. Jimenez does it all with a 88-91 mph fastball, a slow curveball, and developing change-up. While he isn’t overpowering with his heater, he does have the ability to keep his velocity in later innings. He also sports a solid 48% groundball rate and 7.7 walk percentage that is essential to his success.
Nick Kingham RHP Pittsburgh (19) – A 4th rounder in 2010, the 6’5” 220 pounder runs his fastball at 89-92 mph with good movement, sometimes touching 94. With this large, projectable frame, there should be more velocity to come in his quick arm. Reportedly, his change-up has the making of a plus pitch, but his curve needs work. This season, King has shown a 2.65 ERA with 51 hits, 15 earned runs, 5 homeruns, 11 walks, and 36 strikeouts through 51 innings. Even though he has a solid 46% groundball rate, right now, it’s troubling how much contact hitters have made against him (51 hits, 5 homers). He needs to pitch to the bottom of the strike zone more consistently. Also, don’t expect that sparkling ERA to follow him to the higher levels.
Luis Diaz RHP Boston (19) – Signed in 2009 out of Valencia, Venezuela, young Diaz was moved from the bullpen to the rotation. This season, the 6’3” 210 pounder has broken out in Lowell with a 3.02 ERA with 38 hits, 17 earned runs, only 13 walks, and 31 strikeouts in 50.2 innings. His 6.4% walk rate and 49% GB shows that he controls his 90-92 mph fastball that touches 94 and his nice slider at the bottom of the zone. To be successful in the rotation, he’ll need to continue to develop a change-up. A few ticks added to this fastball wouldn’t be out of the question, either, as he develops.
Mike Nesseth RHP Philadelphia (23) – The Phillies selected Nesseth in the 17th round out of Nebraska in 2010 two months after he had Tommy John surgery. So a year had passed and now Nesseth gets his first taste of pro ball. In 53.1 innings, the 6’5” 225lbs right-hander gave up 42 hits, 14 earned runs, 17 walks, and struck out only 28 batters with a 2.36 ERA. In interviews before his surgery, Nesseth has said that he wanted to be a late inning reliever which complements his mid-90s fastball/slider arsenal and would serve to be his quickest route to the majors. The Phillies currently have him in the rotation. So has he bought into being a starter? I dunno. He will need a third pitch if he wants to stay there. Also, don’t fall in love with his low ERA, his 4.08 FIP tells us he’s over-performing.
Thanks so much for reading this article. We also have a Top NY/Penn Hitters article here. Please check back for the hitter and pitcher reports for the CAL and Carolina Leagues.