And just like that we are back with the Carolina League pitchers as promised. We brought the hitters to you yesterday as well as a Prospect Instinct on recently promoted to the majors, Pat Corbin. Lets keep things rolling and see how the arms in this 8 team High-A league are shaping up. Players are in no particular order and the stats provided are through Monday Night.
The Arm’s Race
T.J. House, LHP Indians – Age 22 – Given a healthy work load and the confidence of the Indians, the 2008 16th round pick has not had phenomenal numbers in his 1st 3 seasons, but has been a work horse nonetheless. House struggled with his mechanics in his 2nd go in the Carolina League in 2011, but worked on things over the winter. His fastball sits at about 91 with decent movement and his command is improving. He also has a great changeup and a slider that is improving. The results so far: a 2-0 start with a 1.44 ERA and a 26/6 K/BB ratio over 25 innings. He’s not a high ceiling prospect by any means, but he could potential sneak into the back-end of a big league rotation.
Andre Rienzo, RHP White Sox – Age 23 – Rienzo has toiled around the White Sox organization since signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2006. He’s been effective, yet not dominant in his 5 seasons of professional ball. In his first go round in the Carolina League he went 6-5 with a 3.41 ERA and 118/66 K/BB ratio for 2011. The walks were concerning to us, coupled with the fact he gave up 108 hits. He’s lucky his ERA wasn’t much higher. Pan forward to 2012 and he was off to a 3-0 start with a 1.08 ERA a 31/7 K/BB ratio over 25 innings. Throw in just 17 hits and he’s got a sub 1.00 WHIP. Sadly, He’s been suspended for 50 games for violating Minor League Baseball’s drug prevention and treatment program.
Cody Buckel, RHP Rangers – Age 19 – The Rangers 2010 2nd round pick has shown no fear with his aggressive pitching style. He destroyed hitters in the Sally last season with a 120/27 K/BB ratio over 96.2 innings. Buckel, who was ranked in our Baseball Instinct 360 preseason prospect list, is off to another great start. He’s 2-1 with a 1.65 ERA and 33/9 K/BB ratio over 27.1 innings on this young season. If he’s not on your radar yet – he should be.
Jason Adam, RHP Royals – Age 20 – The 2010 5th round pick got his feet wet in 2011 in the Midwest League. His numbers weren’t amazing, but more importantly he worked on mechanics and building arm strength in the 104.1 inning debut. Things are clicking along in 2012 in the Carolina League for Adam, who is off to a 1-2 start with a 2.36 ERA and 25/8 K/BB ratio over 26.2 innings. There’s a reason he was on our Baseball Instinct 360 preseason prospect list and is displaying mid-rotation potential.
Aaron Northcraft, RHP Braves – Age 21 – We mentioned Northcraft in our 2012 Carolina League preview just a few weeks ago as a potential big league middle reliever. Northcraft appears to have a different opinion, at least in the very early going. He’s 3-1 with a 2.74 ERA and a 25/11 K/BB ratio over 23.0 innings. We would like to see him cut down on the walks, however his WHIP is a shade over 1.00 and induces a lot of ground balls.
J.R. Graham, RHP Braves – Age 22 – Tom Belmont wrote about Graham in his Braves top 21 prospects article in mid March, saying “He’s an undersized righty with a power fastball. He works the pitch in the mid 90s touching 98 and it has late fade. His secondaries lag but he’ll only need to develop one average breaking pitch to be able to work in pressure situations. Back end of the bullpen type stuff.” He’s 2-0 with a 3.13 ERA with an 18/8 K/BB ratio over 23.0 innings. He might sneak into the back-end of a rotation, but right now he seems like yet another promising arm for the Braves bullpen.
Keith Couch, RHP Red Sox – Age 22 – Couch is another pitcher who won’t overwhelm hitters, but doesn’t make many mistakes with his exceptional command. To date the 2010 13th round pick has walked just 34 batters in 219 innings pitched. The sinker ball pitcher is off to a 3-0 start with a 3.08 ERA and a 28/6 K/BB ratio. Tom Belmont, who has an opinion on everything, said this of Couch in his Touch’em All Sally report “His move to Advanced A will be telling. If he can refine his curveball into an out pitch he could stick in the rotation long-term. His upside is back-end of the rotation, but that’s pretty impressive for a player that isn’t exactly setting off many prospect radars yet.” I think this assessment was spot on and Couch is starting to blossom. Keep an eye on him.
Brandon Workman, RHP Red Sox – Age 23 – Was initially held back in extended spring training to start the 2012 season for additional work, but was listed as starting in the Sally to start the season, which we found to be really surprising, if not a mistake. True enough, Workman made his debut in the Carolina League on April 20th and through 2 starts the 2010 2nd round pick is 1-0 with a 3.48 ERA and a 8/1 K/BB ratio. He’s likely to see Double-A at some point this season.
Matt Barnes, RHP Red Sox – Age 21 – The recently promoted Barnes has not made his High-A debut yet, but he’s worth a mention here. About a week ago he was at the top of my Touch’em All Sally report, where I said “Ah yes, the previously mentioned Matt Barnes. One of our favorites here at Baseball Instinct. Barnes is taking names in the Sally, posting a 2-0 record with a 0.00 ERA (yep), giving up just 6 hits to go with a 25/2 K/BB ratio over 16 innings in 3 games. WOW! If you have the chance to see him pitch in the Sally, you better get out and see him as he won’t be there very long. A promotion in May is a strong possibility.” Here we are in the 1st part of May and the promotion has happened. He leaves the tortured Sally League hitters with this line: 26.2 IP, 4 BB, 12 H, 42 K, and 1 ER. The 1st run of the season came after he departed in Sunday’s game.
Drake Britton, LHP Red Sox – Age 22 – The 2012 season is sadly picking up where it left off in 2011 for Britton. After posting a 1-13 record with a 6.91 ERA and a 89/55 ratio over 97.2 innings in the Carolina League, He’s back in the same league with worse results. He’s 1-3 with a 10.71 ERA and a 13/12 K/BB ratio over 19 innings in 5 games. He’s working his way right out the rotation.
Roman Mendez, RHP Rangers – Age 21 – Like teammate Cody Buckel, we have high expectations for Mendez for the 2012 season. Unlike Buckel, Mendez is off to a rough start. He’s pitched 2 exceptional games sandwiched around 3 pretty lousy outings. The results: 1-3 record with a 6.04 ERA and a 27/9 K/BB ratio. We expect more results like his last outing where he went 6.2 innings, with 4 hits, 3 walks, 2 ER, and 9 K’s.
We will report again on the Carolina league in about 2 weeks. Until then look forward to reports from other leagues, Prospect Instinct articles, and our geared up reports on the upcoming 2012 MLB First-Year player draft. Thanks for playing along.
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