Welcome to a roll-up-your-sleeves weekly video review of prospect pitchers. These aren’t the “best outings” of the week per say, but rather an attempt to try and keep abreast of prospects’ development, with the ultimate intent of getting a leg up on our dynasty opponents. There was a rank this offseason after a massive video review (link to offseason review series and rank list), but ranks aren’t our main focus now. Watching, reporting, keeping tabs on investments, catching new names…this is going to be a fun season!
(A Christmas morning for prospect pitching geeks, both MLB and MiLB sides, difficult to choose what all to watch.)
Asa Lacy, Double-A Northwest Arkansas (KC)
|It was a wild Double-A debut for the 2020 fourth-overall pick, adding another peculiar chapter to our #57 pitcher.|
There isn’t a four million dollar pitcher missing, it’s four million dollars worth of quarters dumped on your front lawn. It’s a mess and hard to know where to start. Last year was a disappointment, ending with shoulder problems. Lacy spoke about 2021 in an interview on milb.com last month. Although it was his first outing of the year at a new level, you could have thrown this outing in last year’s archives and wouldn’t notice a difference. Missing arm-side is still an issue. Mechanical adjustments are said to have been in the works, but he still looks rigid up top with inconsistent pace toward the plate, arm slots, and follow-throughs. There was hard contact allowed, including a few just-missed home runs.
NW Arkansas’ angle isn’t for getting into the repertoire, but we don’t need to with Lacy. He has plenty to work with, and that’s never been the concern. It’s a lack of consistent command and execution of darn near everything. Here’s a little compilation from this game feeling all things Lacy, and sometimes it isn’t his fault either:
Wild third strikes, walking in a run after a string of walks, hit batsmen, and throwing the ball away are mixed in with the moments that made him coveted, like this strikeout of Austin Martin keeping you around like a birdie putt on hole 18 of your 100 round:
(K vs. Austin Martin)
Frankly, if his name isn’t Asa Lacy with the huge bonus, you wouldn’t pay too much attention, at least until production started coming. Even when Lacy says the right thing, it feels off, like when he stated his goal is 60% strikes. 60? Is that good enough? But who knows? Perhaps it only takes the next outing to squash all this bubbling negativity like the following guy did (I doubt it though. Lacy will need a lot more than one outing)?
Max Meyer, Triple-A Jacksonville (Mia)
|Void of the looseness this go ’round, a fired-up Meyer blitzed his way through five perfect innings.|
Safe to say some rust was knocked off after last week. With less than eleven pitches per inning, Meyer again overwhelmed with the fastball/slider combo. Stretches of the archive had a bogus commercial break logo airing instead of Meyer plowing through hitters, but we’ve seen this show before. The execution was better, but there were still misses leading to hard contact heading right at fielders. From a developmental standpoint, there hasn’t been much to speak of with Meyer. I wonder about a changeup coming along, but it looked mostly the same, usage, execution, and results-wise. Here are the ones I caught (a fastball in there by accident?):
Meyer saved the best for last there, garnering the swing-and-miss strikeout his last batter-faced, Tristan Gray. We’ll continue to keep tabs on our #7, but there doesn’t seem to be much going on other than tossing the same kind of bullets through outings. Still early in the season though. Great results this outing, and Total Recall-ing our memories of the last outing, right?
Matt Mikulski, Single-A San Jose (SF)
|The 2021 second-round pick out of Fordham’s full-season debut showcased his crafty and sneaky skills.|
Eagerly awaiting a chance to see this lefty, I had to check him out ASAP, especially against Fresno. It wasn’t disappointing. Mikulski hides the ball extremely long and sends it toward the hitter out of the side of his head. Thinking I saw three offerings: a fastball, changeup, and slider. Any one of the pitches seemed liable to come out at any time, vs. righties or lefties, which gets me excited.
(K vs. Warming Bernabel)
The execution wasn’t flawless, but I’ll hold off too much judgment from one outing. There were a few egregious misses arm-side, but all in all, it was pretty decent. Mikulski also features a few good moves to first base. After leading off the game with a walk, he picked the runner off but didn’t get the call. Then this sequence happened later whereupon he hit a batter, picked him off, and then gave up a cheap infield single (first hit of the game), and picked him off:
(HBP then pickoff of Zach Kokoska/broken-bat infield single then pickoff of Adael Amador)
Benny Montgomery and Yanquiel Fernandez had hard-hit groundball singles their second looks of Mikulski, but that was the only hard contact allowed on the day. Here’s a heavy dose of sliders for a big strikeout (Benny Montgomery stole second on that pickoff attempt and came around later for the only run):
(K vs. Juan Brito)
The athletic Mikulski is a different look for hitters. Digging the ability to throw anything anytime, I’m looking forward to more looks, wanting to see how well he truly executes and keeps hitters off-balance.
Joey Cantillo, Double-A Akron (Cle)
|Injury derailed his first season in Cleveland’s system, but Cantillo was back doing Cantillo things.|
Cantillo’s ability to execute his quality secondaries he isn’t afraid to throw in different locations to either side hitter draws me in most. His fastball is the wart, but he’s with fastball maestro Cleveland now, back from an injury that deprived us of many looks in 2021. I was pumped for this, and the first pitch of the game (fastball)…was taken yard, of course:
(Madison Stokes HR first pitch of game)
But the above and a hard-hit single by Jhailyn Ortiz was it for hard contact allowed. Cantillo had Reading off-balance all night. It also seemed the delivery looked a smidge less violent than in the past.
(K vs. Stokes next time through)
(Killer parachute vs. Vito Friscia)
Cantillo has shown to be a good defender as well:
(To get Kevin Vicuna)
Cantillo is going to get knocked by dynasty prognosticators because he lacks a big swing-and-miss fastball. That’s fair, but Cantillo (#87) has shown the ability to use his fastball to set up well-executed secondaries for swing and miss his whole career and keeps me interested. All that’s really left to know is how his stuff plays against the upper levels, and so far, so good.
Alec Marsh, Double-A NW Arkansas (KC)
|Marsh’s potential 2021 breakout was derailed by injury. His 2022 debut teased the same helium he left us with.|
Landing a perhaps aggressive #47 this offseason, Marsh’s improved arsenal started showing real strikeout upside. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a long look at him learning to use the newfound tools. It may still be a work in progress.
Marsh pitched just six games last year, allowing four home runs accounting for the large majority of runs allowed. This day was the same, with the two runs allowed via this hanging breaking ball with a man on via walk:
(HR Andrew Bechtold)
Marsh was all in all pretty dominant, but there’s a theme showing itself over the course of his last seven outings. Getting ahead of hitters isn’t a problem, usually a combination of fastball/curveball. Finishing hitters efficiently is though, as 0-2 or 1-2 counts turn into full counts. My suspicion is the long ball has him timid to keep the pressure on hitters, preferring to try and get a chase. Breaking balls running out of the zone is the usual culprit. Wonder how things would fair if he did the following more:
(FB/Breaker/FB K vs. Spencer Steer)
He came right at Steer. A little later on in the game, unsure if this was execution problems or more purposeful, we saw said inefficiency come out again. This time it wasn’t breaking balls, but rather fastballs out of the zone:
(K vs. DaShawn Keirsey)
This won’t be the last time we check in on Marsh, and we’ll see if trust in the stuff grows.
Matt Canterino, Double-A Wichita (Min)
|The highly caffeinated Canterino is back from a forearm strain ending his 2022, and there’s rust to be knocked off.|
Figured I check out the other side of Marsh’s bill. Canterino has his fans. He landed a timid #70 this offseason in part of repeatability concerns. Canterino isn’t the most balanced on the mound but he’s done well getting to release points. Are we talking a strike-thrower here, or an actual command guy? This was his second outing of the season, and he wasn’t either. The following is actually the best-looking walk of the day, occurring with the bases loaded. Finding the feel for his fastball and curveball was a struggle all day keeping his catcher, Dennis Ortega on the run for a long one and two-thirds innings. Canterino needs to tidy things up and stay on the bump longer before I start adding more fantasy value. The good news: strikeout stuff was still there and he only allowed one real hard hit, a double to Michael Massey.
(BB to Maikel Garcia)
Luis Peralta, Single-A Bradenton (Pit)
|A hitless, seven strikeouts in four innings full-season debut? So who is Luis Peralta?|
Peralta is a shorter, 21-year-old lefty who spent last season playing rookie ball in Florida. The mostly fastball/curveball combination gave Lakeland plenty of troubles, including their better hitters. The stuff seems to play well, and there weren’t many non-competitive offerings. There were better strikeouts to be viewed, like one versus Daneurys De La Cruz he tossed a changeup for a strike, but Bradenton’s feed was doing its digital distortion thing that inning. Here’s one against the highly touted Izaac Pacheco:
Impressive first look, seems to have strikeout upside and decent enough execution. If there’s a tighter version popping up down the road and/or the requisite consistency, Pacheco’s getting dynasty value placed on him by yours truly. Curious to see more looks at the sinker and changeup offerings.
Joey Estes, High-A Midland (Oak)
|@ West Michigan||1||4.1||6||3||3||2||5||0||73||67%||4||3||20|
|Estes made his A’s system and high-A debuts after being sent as part of the Matt Olson trade. The line wasn’t great, but in Estes fashion, there was a lot to like.|
Of course I’m going to watch Estes’ first outing of 2022 and first outing at a new level, as he was the most interesting watch of 2021 for me. The development over the course of last year was fantastic, and the trajectory he was on put him in the top tier of young pitching prospects for me at #19 overall. West Michigan is a poor angle to watch the stuff, but there was still plenty to see.
Estes’ first outing a year ago was unremarkable; an inning or two of fastballs. This current version was incorporating all offerings after the first inning, mixing well and attacking hitters. His execution wasn’t the best I’ve seen, but there was rarely a non-competitive pitch. There is debate over how good Estes’ stuff was last year. Being aggressive, keeping the pressure on the hitter style he has, we should get a clearer sense of things against better hitters in 2022. A few of the hits this day were on 0-2 counts, like the one below:
(RBI single Parker Meadows)
There were only one or two hard-hit balls, a few walks, and legit wind playing into some interesting hits. Estes bowed his neck in the fourth going strikeout/strikeout/groundout to get out of a runner on the corners no outs jam. Estes also made two difficult plays on swinging bunts which was nice to see as he had rough moments defensively last year.
I’d love to know what this conversation below was after he again went up 0-2 against Meadows. He didn’t change his aggressive mentality and got a better result:
(K vs. Parker Meadows)
There are going to be big-time outings by Estes in 2022 or I’ll eat my shirt.
Brett Kerry, Double-A Rocket City (LAA)
|The 2021 fifth-round pick dished out a heavy dose of his riding fastball and Pensacola couldn’t do much with it.|
Kerry snuck a Double-A start in at the end of last season (his draft year) and impressed enough to stick him on my deep league FYPD draft list. He’s off to an insane start; 2 GS, 10 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 20 K. The numbers look amazing but the profile may be limited as Kerry’s putting up gaudiness with a heavy one-pitch attack. Kerry’s riding fastball is the main attraction sprinkling in an unremarkable breaking ball and a changeup here and there. One only needs to look at Tommy Romero to see a dominant similar pitch getting you to the bigs, but it’s a different proposition concerning dynasty value. Here’s a look at the last batter faced/12th strikeout:
(K vs. Luis Aviles)
Kerry commands his fastball better than Romero does, rarely wasting any bullets. Here is the lone time Pensacola could touch him, the at-bat previous to the above strikeout:
(HR Cobie Fletcher-Vance)
We’ll see if there are more dimensions to come from Kerry who seemed to incorporate more secondary usage during his lone Double-A outing in 2021.
D.J. Herz, High-A South Bend (ChC)
|@ Fort Wayne||1||4||1||1||1||1||5||0||57||63||6||0||13|
|Our #54 pitcher is throwing secondaries more than fastballs and executing them. Helium tanks activated.|
Arsenal and stuff isn’t the question, but rather using the tools efficiently and effectively enough. This outing sure felt like getting what I wished for. Herz was throwing more changeups than anything else for a stretch, and spotting the breaking ball well. This felt like a concerted effort to work on his craft. The fastball got away on a few occasions, but this was the best execution I’ve seen from Herz. There may have been a second breaking ball being thrown in as well, wondering if two different grips were spotted. We’ll confirm nor deny this at a later time. The following was the second at-bat of the game. After this, the secondaries really came out.
(K vs. Robert Hassell)
Herz was perfect through three with a leadoff walk to start the fourth coming around to score. Nothing left, nor should have left the infield and batted balls barely got past Herz. This was one of the best PPL&R outings of the young season and a developmental step forward for Herz.
Junior Santos, High-A Brooklyn (NYM)
|Finally out of 2021 blacked out St. Lucie, the 20-year-old’s first broadcast left something to be desired.|
Santos threw just under 100 Florida State League innings in 2021 as a 19-year-old. Unfortunately, none of those games were broadcast. Anxious to see this 6’8″ righty with a mid-90s two-seamer, it got disinteresting pretty quick. Santos got through the order first go-round quickly, without threat, relying on fastball after fastball. There was a try at a changeup and a breaking ball, but they didn’t get close to the zone. First batter, second time through, Santos tried two breakers in a three-pitch span:
(vs. Johan Rojas)
Kudos to Santos and the fastball, as it more than neutralized this lineup, but as good as this offering is, I don’t think Santos is getting major league hitters out loosely spotting two-seamers. Santos has the reputation of struggling to put a breaking ball/second pitch together. Something else needs to come along before any dynasty interest sparks, but the good news is he’s only 20 years old with plenty of time.
Bryce Jarvis, Double-A Amarillo (Arz)
|A good-looking line teased excitement for our #23 pitcher, while the same concerns reared their heads.|
Jarvis put together runs of some of the prettiest pitching reviewed last season. Yet, struggles to execute and produce consistently as a pro has been concerning. Keeping Jarvis in perspective can be tricky, as there seems concerted effort to find the feel for a pitch, or get a certain number of them in an outing. In other words, questioning if Jarvis is pitching more toward development than results feels fair. There were stretches this outing Jarvis seemed determined to throw a secondary until he landed a good one. Considering the amount of signs shaken off, Jarvis appeared determined to throw what he wanted. On one hand, you love to see the work being put in, while on the other, you long to see better execution.
The results of the day were great, but far from the pitching I imagine Jarvis was hoping for. Below is the only hit allowed, but hard contact was plentiful, including a few warning track shots and screamers at infielders. Jarvis was lucky to have surrendered just one hit:
(HR Jacob Amaya)
The 51% strike rate is poor, but it also doesn’t quite give his command this day enough credit. Frankly, this umpire was bad, but Jarvis’ execution wasn’t the sharpest either. Check out the first two pitches of the following sequence; one was a ball and one was a strike. The inconsistent zone was there all day:
(K vs. Devin Mann)
Later in the start, Jarvis busted out changeups in an aggressive way, initially struggling to locate, but then the feel started coming around. The one to a righty here looked impossible:
(K vs. Jacob Amaya)
Watching Jarvis can be an up and down experience, with opinions on how to value him fluctuating significantly from inning to inning. You feel the work going on though, giving one solace. Tuning in to Jarvis will be a thing in 2022.
Joe Rock, High-A Spokane (Col)
|The 68th pick of the 2021 draft started grooving, retiring the last 10 batters he faced.|
Rock is a tall lefty whose three-pitch mix got stronger as the day went on. Eugene’s talented lineup squared a few pitches early, but once Rock started incorporating and executing his secondaries better, they struggled. Eugene’s angle doesn’t do much for us in way of getting a good look at the stuff, but once Rock got going, everything was around the plate.
(K vs. Marco Luciano)
The changeup command seemed to give him the most trouble, struggling to keep it down as Drew Romo pleads for him to do here:
(Changeup for the K vs. Ghordy Santos)
This was my first look at Rock and he grew on me as the outing went along. Big tall lefties with wide arm slots can give hitters fits. The arsenal may need polishing, and Rockie pitching prospects aren’t worth it for most, but here we are.
Victor Juarez, Single-A Fresno (Col)
|One of the youngest players in full-season ball backed up the reputation of being advanced beyond his years.|
Wow. I’ve not seen 18-year-olds with this kind of arsenal pitch like this before. If Doogie Howser were a pitching prospect, it’d be Juarez. With a four-seam fastball flying over bats, a knockout traditional 12-6 curveball, a changeup getting swing and miss, and, I believe, a sinker tossed in for good measure, this was a full-on arsenal commanded and executed better than some “advanced arms” fresh out of college. Here’s what may be the most impressive at-bat of PPL&R’s season to date:
(K vs. Aeverson Arteaga)
Juarez is slick. The fastball was reportedly hitting 91/92 and had Giants swinging under it. The curveball was disgusting. The young man started running out of gas around 75 pitches, but even whilst getting loose, Juarez still looked good. After hitting lefty Max Wright on a 3-2 high and inside fastball (which I happened to love the pitch selection), an 0-2 single via a pitch that got too much plate (Vaun Brown), he couldn’t put a competitive at-bat together vs. Arteaga. Juarez left the fifth inning with the bases loaded and two outs…all three of his runners came around to score as the bullpen struggled.
With at least three good pitches and a few that could be great, the ability to throw all of them for strikes, and already budding the acumen to use the tools. Giddy up!
Kyle Nicolas, Double-A Altoona (Pit)
|The day after bean balls and wildness led to a tussle, it was, of all people, a controlled Nicolas with four perfect innings.|
The previous night, pitches got away, guys got hit with mid-90s fastballs, benches were warned, and then this:
(4/16/22 Altoona @ Richmond)
The next day it was Nicolas and his occasionally wild fastballs on the mound. Omitted from the top 100 because of command concerns, both egregious misses off the plate and wildness in the zone, a perfect outing whilst throwing 74% strikes…I see you.
Nicolas (part of the return for Jacob Stallings this offseason) looked like his 2021 self early on, including a few unsettling high and inside fastballs, but he tightened up and threw three efficient innings, with all four of his offerings on display. The changeup came out on occasion vs. lefties, whereas the attack was fastball/hard slider to righties, but here’s a look at a nice curveball as well:
(K vs. Tyler Fitzgerald)
The 61st pick of the 2020 draft out of Ball St. has a new home, and showed some improved execution this outing. If Nicolas continues to show this kind of strike-throwing, efficiently playing his secondaries off the 96 mph fastball, dynasty value may need recalibration. We’ll see. Three innings worth of a nice step in the right direction.
Andry Lara, Single-A Fredericksberg (Was)
|Our #61 pitcher’s 19-year-old season could be a monster if stuff gets wrangled. This outing teased some of that promise.|
Lara is a large kid and everything syncing up consistently is a concern. With what is mostly a hard, mid-90s fastball/breaking ball combo, you’ll catch a loose changeup to lefties from time to time. There are stretches the execution gets decent, and then things go loose again. 58% strikes when your level of opponent is chasing isn’t gonna cut it. After a nice looking strikeout to start things off, Carolina’s most dangerous hitter (arguably) destroyed a mistake:
(HR Hedbert Perez)
Perez destroyed a few more Lara offerings his next at-bat, but couldn’t keep them inside the white lines. Clearly there’s big strikeout stuff in need of polish before we start getting too excited about the big man.
(K vs. Arbert Cipion)
Breaking ball command felt better than the brief 2021 looks, which is a great step in the right direction. Lara will be a watch of ours for quite some time I think.
PPL&R 2022 Top 10 Outings
(This season’s outings that WOW’d us or got us thinking about a player in a different, positive manner.)
Graphic by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)