Eye On the Prize: Pitching Prospects to Watch in 2018

Relievers Don't get The Hype, But They Contribute

LHP Jesse Biddle. (Photo: Yong Kim/Philadephia Inquirer)

In my last post, I mentioned several players to keep your eye on, comparing them to Bitcoin. This time around, I’ve found some pitching prospects that require a much closer look. Maybe something akin to Ethereum.

Everyone knows the big name prospects, but there’s so much more here. For the past few seasons, much has been made of Atlanta’s woeful bullpen. While the reliever prospects don’t receive as much air time, there’s plenty of potential to be molded. True, these prospects are much more volatile, but there’s little doubt Atlanta’s bullpen could turn around quickly. In true Royals fashion Atlanta’s bullpen could go from its biggest weakness to its biggest strength.

Anyelo Gomez

Age: 24

Height: 6’1″   Weight: 185 lbs

Throws: Right

Atlanta’s first (and only) selection in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft back in December, Gomez should immediately step into a big time role in Atlanta. As a Rule 5 pick, Gomez must remain on the Braves 25 man roster for the entirety of the season, or the Braves must offer him back to New York for half of what they paid. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem, as Gomez, after ascending through four levels of the minors last season, posted some very enticing numbers. Through 70.1 innings last year, Gomez posted 87 strikeouts, good for 11.1 K/9 with only 21 walks. While he posted slightly reverse splits a season ago, Gomez certainly projects to be a key cog in the bullpen for Atlanta this season.

Anyelo Gomez is pictured during a 2016 minor league spring training game. The Braves selected the Dominican reliever from the Yankees in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft. (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP)

Chase Johnson-Mullins

Age: 23

Height: 6’8″   Weight: 270 lbs

Throws: Left

Johnson-Mullins is a mountain of a man with a fastball to match. Working 96-98 MPH with his four-seamer, Johnson-Mullins complements a strong  two-seamer with an excellent curve ball. While it was only 44 innings in High A a season ago, his 10.23 K/9 with a 3.27 BB/9 is extremely intriguing coming from the left side. With very few big lefty flamethowers, Johnson-Mullins presents a prospect to keep tabs on. Throw in a 61.3 GB% and Johnson-Mullins is a true candidate to fly through a minor league system relatively lacking in high end lefty relievers.

Jessie Biddle

Age: 26

Height: 6’5″   Weight: 230 lbs

Throws: Left

It’s been a bit of a wild ride for Biddle. A former top prospect with Philadelphia back in 2013, Biddle tore his UCL in 2016. Shortly after the injury, he was traded to Pittsburgh, where Atlanta acquired him on waivers.  Oddly enough, Biddle posted some severe reverse splits last season, with lefties hitting .400 with an OPS of .969, and pitching slightly better with runners on base. Biddle works low- to mid-90’s with his fastball, a plus curve that at this point is his best pitch, and a promising changeup that features a decent bit of late fade that should help even out those reverse splits. Now two years removed from Tommy John surgery, expect big things from Biddle if he’s truly over the unfortunate injuries. A quick promotion to Atlanta at some point this season wouldn’t shock me at all.

Rome LHP Thomas Burrows fields a bunt from Lexington’s Khalil Lee. (Steven Eckhoff/Rome News-Tribune)

Thomas Burrows

Age: 23

Height: 6’1″   Weight: 205 lbs

Throws: Left

The “other” piece in the deal that sent Mallex Smith and Shae Simmons to Seattle in return for Luiz Gohara, Thomas Burrows is no slouch himself. In his 66.2 innings a season ago, Burrows struck out almost 12.5 batters per nine innings. That’s impressive enough in its own right, but when you couple in a walk rate of 3.38 BB/9, it’s almost mouth watering. A two-pitch guy, Burrows works with a fastball in the 92-94 MPH range with a slow, heavy slider that’s darn near unhittable from the left side.  Those high K numbers, complemented with a 52.4 GB%, make for a very intriguing late inning specialist, at the very worst.

Factor in these four prospects with others like Devan Watts, A.J. Minter, Corbin Clouse, Dan Winkler, and the incredibly underused Akeel Morris, and Atlanta’s bullpen looks primed for a major bounce back for the next few seasons.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

[sc name="HeaderGoogleAnlytics"]