The Braves have turned to their farm system to fill in the Bartolo-sized hole in their rotation, bringing up prospect Sean “Newk” Newcomb up from AAA Gwinnett to start Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Sean Newcomb, LHP
OFR Prospect Ranking: 5
2017 Opening Day Assignment: AAA Gwinnett
11 G, 11 GS
Newcomb was a 1st-round draft pick (15th overall) by the Los Angeles Angels in 2014 out of the University of Hartford. Newcomb was traded to Atlanta after the 2015 season along with right-hander Chris Ellis and shortstop Erick Aybar for shortstop Andrelton Simmons. He was assigned to AA Mississippi, where he struggled in the early going as his walk rate remained uncomfortably high and he was less fortunate than the prior year with batted balls (.321 BABiP against through May). Newcomb’s command gradually improved over the course of the year, and he pitched very well down the stretch, a 2.08 ERA in August with 3.34 BB/9 and 11.31 K/9. Newcomb was solid in the playoffs for Mississippi, getting two starts and pitching to a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings, walking nine and striking out 11. Baseball America named Newcomb the #8 prospect in the Southern League.
In is first season at the AAA level, Newcomb has handled his first test well, holding opponents to a .209 batting average. This helps off-set his continued high walk rate.
Newcomb is 6’-5” and 225 pounds, broad-shouldered and formidable on the mound. He has a deceptively easy delivery that he repeats well. Newcomb primarily throws a hard, moving fastball that sits in the mid-90’s; it’s that movement that can get him into trouble with walks however, as he sometimes can’t control where or if it crosses the plate. Newcomb will sometimes cut the fastball away from right-handers, and when he can control that pitch it will be a particularly tough day for hitters. On the other hand, it also makes it very difficult for hitters to square up. Newcomb compliments the fastball with a devastating tight-breaking curveball that is a swing-and-miss pitch to both lefties and righties. Newcomb also has a change-up that has shown improvement this season.
Newcomb’s pattern in AAA this year for the most part is to come out of the gate struggling with control, walking several hitters, and giving up a few runs. He then settles in and pitches three or four dominating innings before tiring in the 6th inning.
Make no mistake, this is the most significant Braves debut since shortstop Dansby Swanson was called up last August. Newcomb is expected to be a cornerstone arm in the rotation in the near future. This may just be an emergency call-up to fill in for Bartolo Colon and carry the rotation through the doubleheader, but nevertheless it’s very exciting to finally see another top Braves prospect make it to the big stage.
Newcomb K's Stephen Moya with some high cheese in the 4th. pic.twitter.com/XEm5iodGBG
— Andy Harris (@K26dp) May 11, 2017