Height: 6’3″ Weight: 185
Chris Archer is well traveled for his age. He was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the fifth round (No. 161 overall) of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. He signed with Cleveland despite a huge commitment to attended the University of Miami out of Clayton High School in North Carolina. After spending 3 seasons in the Indians system, he was acquired by the Chicago Cubs along with RHP Jeff Stevens and LHP John Gaub from Cleveland in exchange for OF Mark DeRosa on Dec. 31, 2008. Archer then spent 2 seasons in the Cubs’ system before being acquired by the Tampa Bay Rays along with C Robinson Chirinos, OF Sam Fuld, OF Brandon Guyer and SS Hak-Ju Lee from Chicago in exchange for RHP Matt Garza, OF Fernando Perez and LHP Zach Rosscup, Jan. 8, 2011.
Archer was coming off an outstanding season in the Cubs organization, where he went 15-3 with a 2.34 ERA and 149 K’s in 142.1 innings pitched between the High-A Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League and the Double-A Tennessee Smokies of the Southern League, which was one of the reason why he was ranked in our 2011 preseason Top 100:
80. Chris Archer SP TB – The Rays got a haul for Matt Garza from the Cubs and Archer was consider the Cubs top pitching prospect. He has a plus fastball and above average slider, but he still has a lot of work to do before he becomes MLB ready. His changeup is lacking and his command has been erratic. But with enough time he does have #3+ upside.
He didn’t immediately carry that success over to the Rays organization, but he battled hard with the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits and ended up posting a not so sexy, but decent, 4.09 ERA over 27 starts, and 130 strikeouts over 147.1 innings pitched. He was then rewarded for his determination with a promotion to Triple-A Durham, where he made 2 outstanding starts to close out the season. He really had the Charlotte Knights (White Sox) number in those 2 games, posting a 1-0 record with a 0.69 ERA. He surrendered just 1 run on 11 hits, while posting a 12/6 K/BB ratio in 13 innings. Certainly a good sign, a full season at AAA in 2012 will tell the story with Archer.
Archer’s stuff is dominating, but his command and control tend to allude him. He has a three pitch arsenal. He offers a four-seam fastball, a slider, and a change up.
Four-Seam Fastball - For the record, he does throw a two-seam fastball, but there isn’t much movement on it and he doesn’t throw it much. He generally tops out at 95 mph, though I’ve seen reports of hitting 97 mph on occasion. He generally gets his best results working in the 92-94 mph range with excellent movement on the ball. This is a plus-plus pitch for Archer.
Slider – Archer throws a hard slider, and when his command allows it, he throws it with great success. If he attacks batters with his fastball and sets them up for his 85 mph slider, its a pretty deadly combo. I would like to call it a plus-plus pitch, but he still needs to show better command to get ahead of hitters.
Change-up – As with the two-seam fastball, Archer does offer a curveball from time to time, but his 3rd pitch is a work-in-progress change-up. It’s not very deceptive at this point and is a below average pitch. Developing this will be vital to his success in the big leagues.
Archer himself admits that it all starts for him with balance on the pitching rubber. ”Where it starts is balance over the rubber,” Archer answered. “That’s more of a baseball term. Normal people at home probably wouldn’t understand, but balance over the rubber is where everything starts for me.” Lacking that consistent balance this year, Archer said he’s rushing his delivery and “just getting going too soon.” This was evident with the 80 walks in 134 1/3 innings pitched. He has a pretty fluid over the top motion that causes his fastball to sink, but there’s really no deception in it. His mechanics are pretty clean and he’s even worked with Dr. Donn T. Dimond, PT OCS who specializes in Pathophysiology and Mechanics of the Shoulder with Labs to decrease the risk of incidents of injuries.
There’s no question that Chris Archer has great stuff. The question is 2 fold. #1 – Will his command and control come around and can he get back to breaking off bats and forcing ground balls? He gave up too many fly balls resulting in more home runs. #2 – Can he develop a 3rd pitch and will it be the change-up or will he need to go back to the curveball more? When his control is good, his Fastball-Slider combo is deadly effective, as evident from his 2 games at AAA. Archer is looking to me like a late bloomer and the Edwin Jackson comparisons seem fair. If he develops a 3rd pitch his ceiling is pretty high, a really good #3 or possibly a decent #2. If not, he’s looking at the bullpen and has the stuff to be a closer or a lock down 8th inning guy. It’s possible to see Archer in majors in 2012, but he’s going to need to have a pretty impressive half season or better at AAA to even be considered. I would say more realistically look for Archer in 2013.
Check back soon as we profile many more Top MLB Prospects and also get our baseball geek on and take a look at some of the later draft picks from the 2011 draft that we think could be big names on the prospect radars in the near future. While you’re here, take a look at our recent article in our top 10 series: New York Mets Top 10 Prospects List and be a step ahead of the game. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org.