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 keep abreast of prospects’ development, 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. We’re watching, reporting, keeping tabs on investments, and catching new names.
This week was an effort to catch some guys who I’ve almost watched (bypassed for other April viewings), prospecting friends’ suggestions, while paying attention to teams traveling to one of the few broadcast stadiums in their leagues, and, for unintentional reasons, more Angels. I guess when you draft 21 pitchers in one draft, you’ll have a decent stash of new names to be curious about.
(Note: If you are on your phone, turn it horizontal to view the entirety of the game line tables.)
Joe Boyle, High-A Dayton (Cin)
|The 2020 5th-rounder surrendered a hit, something he hadn’t done his first two outings, bringing the big man’s batting average against up to .026.|
A prospecting friend asked if I’d seen Boyle, so I checked in to see what this hitless streak was all about. Through 10.2 innings on the young season, no one registered a hit, but Bobby Barrels snapped it on his first try:
(Single Robert Hassell)
Coming out of Notre Dame, the story on Boyle was big stuff, but wild. After four walks the first outing, and only one the second, totalling eight innings of work, Boyle surrendered five this day. He also hit a guy and had an egregiously wild pitch. Strikes were thrown 58% of the time this outing, 57% on the season. That kind of inefficiency is frustrating, especially while showing the ability to work deep into pitch counts without losing big velocity. The only real threat Fort Wayne mustered was Boyle’s last batter faced, and the horsepower was there 90-ish pitches in:
(K vs. Joshua Mears)
It’s a big fastball and a big, slow-breaker attack. Egregious misses happen with both. There weren’t remarkable stretches of it being honed in, with an overt stray getting away at seemingly any time. With 22 strikeouts on the season over 13 innings, the asset seems there, with the breaking ball looking more inclined for the swing and miss, fastball for strikes looking…at least this day. Above was the only strikeout via fastball, with the four others on the breaking ball. Boyle feels like the quintessential “what if” kind of dream for dynasty prognosticators, but that game’s played out for me. Recognizing the upside here, but not feeling inclined to place a bet the 6’7″ Boyle puts the requisite command together to be an MLB starter. Can he prove me wrong? For sure, and we’ll keep an eye out for signs of it happening.
Robert Gasser, High-A Fort Wayne (SD)
|The 2021 second-rounder out of Houston went toe-to-toe with Boyle most of the day.|
The lefty has the reputation of being a command guy with a plus slider. Fort Wayne’s broadcast isn’t for checking out a lefties slider but watching the hitters’ reactions to it, and Gasser’s ability to spot it inside and outside lends me to think it’s probably nasty looking from the correct view. The lone ball-four looked like a questionable call, but overall execution on the day didn’t have the feel of a guy lauded for it. With 61% strikes on the day and 63% on the season, I’m gonna hold off calling Gasser a big command guy for now. The weather was cold and has been pretty bad this Midwest League season to date, perhaps we’ll get a different feel for execution later on.
The fastball isn’t a scorcher, but did get its fair share of swing and miss, perhaps it has some nice action? The slider felt like the headliner, while a changeup was mixed in some. There was a second, slower breaking ball spotted a few times. Rece Hinds got him for a home run, and an error led to some other runs, all in the last inning it got away a little. There wasn’t much loud contact allowed, with a couple of singles up until then.
(K vs. Justice Thompson)
It was a nice check-in, longing to see a better look at the arsenal.
Zack Thompson, Triple-A Memphis (StL)
|The 2021 1st-rounder out of Kentucky is starting to pitch like it. Maybe?|
As the Cardinals are inclined to do, they challenged Thomspon with a triple-A assignment in 2021. Things didn’t go well with lesser stuff and, perhaps, some physical ailments. Thompson looks on the bounce back/come up, putting together one of the most impressive outings of this PPL&R season. The fastball was touching 96 mph, per the broadcast. Last year it was dipping down to 88 mph, after touching 96 in college. The command, so elusive in 2021, was there this day, particularly the curveball. The first time through the lineup, the curveball accounted for five strikeouts.
(K vs. Ryan Boldt)
Second time through, as Durham hitters were looking for it, Thompson brought out more power:
(K vs. Ruben Cardenas)
The two hard-hit balls of the day, the Cardinals outfield had his back:
The attack was primarily fastball/curveball. A slider and maybe a changeup were thrown in. There was also a harder thrown slutter-type thing happening too. Thompson was pretty fantastic executing the whole arsenal outside of hanging the above slider. At the end of the day, this is the first-round talent the Cardinals drafted, and if he continues to execute the arsenal at this level, with the curveball staying down like this, there’s excitement for dynasty owners. In some aspects, watching him work felt a little like Reid Detmers. Thompson has to prove this is the real version, but we may have a sneaky development here, as this looks like the second such outing he’s put together this year.
Gordon Graceffo, High-A Peoria (StL)
|The 2021 5th-round pick out of Villanova once again dominated a Midwest League lineup.|
Graceffo is a hot name, and deservedly so. Now through four starts, he’s given up two runs, while striking out 30, and only walking one over 21.2 innings. Credit to my friend @prospectreport for getting my attention here this offseason. Shame on me for not getting in on the action, because Graceffo sure impresses. Even with small sample size, it feels apparent he’s punching below his weight in the Midwest League.
Graceffo is a big man, with a delivery starting out like Bald Bull, finishing with a swoopy right leg, Pedro Martinez-esque (said friend’s observation, not mine.) Graceffo pitches with some passion, using a four-pitch mix, seemingly anytime, putting pitches all over the zone. There were no more than a handful of non-competitive offerings this day. Peoria isn’t a great vantage point for us, but Graceffo’s stuff isn’t hard to see, and you “get it”.
(K vs. Joe Grey Jr.)
Wisconsin’s best hitter got him for a single and this opposite field home run, but Frelick’s going to get his:
(HR Sal Frelick)
Profiles like Graceffo’s are the ones getting more dynasty value from me. A “toolsy” pitcher showing the ability to attack hitters in multiple ways, strikeout upside, with a physical build housing horsepower to boot. Giddy up! Barring injury, I’d be surprised his 3% Fantrax ownership rate doesn’t balloon. If the consistency comes, which I lean it will, and the stuff continues to perform as he moves along, which I also lean it will, we’re talking a nice top 100 spot.
Jonatan Bernal, Single-A Dunedin (Tor)
|Coming off the best start of his pro career, the 19-year-old performed better than the line suggests.|
South of the border teenagers have been stealing the show. Taking advantage of a rare opportunity to catch Bernal, wondering if our streak would continue, he didn’t impress as much as Victor Juarez or Victor Lizaragga, yet there were things to like. There were few non-competitive pitches thrown while exuding strike-throwing ability with all three offerings. I wouldn’t call him precise though. One of the two walks appeared to be a clear pitch around in a 1-1 game, two outs, runner on third, with Bradenton’s hottest hitter at the plate. For whatever it’s worth, higher caliber defense behind him, and this could have easily been a scoreless outing. Several of the hits were borderline errors, while a few more would’ve been flyouts with a more mobile right fielder. A couple of hard-hit balls, but all in all, weak contact the arsenal feels suited for was there.
Bernal has been putting up strike-out numbers this young season, just not so much missing many Bradenton bats today. The changeup looks like the attempted swing and miss pitch in the zone, and the breaking ball a chaser. Here was the strikeout in the zone off a changeup. The other strikeout was a breaking ball he got Alexander Mojica to chase which isn’t a grand feat, to be honest:
(K vs. Rodolfo Nolasco)
There’s a nice feel to pitching at a young age here. The arsenal may sharpen and grow. No need to sound any dynasty alarms at this point, but there could be a bright future here.
Chase Petty, Single-A Daytona (Cin)
|Petty’s broadcast debut flashed his first-round talent, while also impersonating an iconic fictional pitcher.|
The first-rounder was sent as part of the Sonny Gray deal. A big arm capable of triple digits, didn’t have the monster velocity this outing, while the concerns with Petty did show up. Is that Ricky Vaughn?:
(HBP Jose Rivera)
No need to call it anything it wasn’t, Petty was wild. There were nice pitches, and some runs of a few in a row, like below, but anything was liable to fly off anywhere at any time.
(K vs. Stanley Consuegra)
Petty may very well develop into an exciting fantasy asset, but command, something hard to coach, needs to take a significant leap forward before I’m slapping serious dynasty value down. We don’t need to invest profoundly in such arms in the dynasty world. There’s plenty of fish in the sea.
(Angels Thursday I guess)
Alejandro Hidalgo, Single-A Inland Empire (LAA)
|The 18-year-old Venezuelan continued to keep runs off the board, dropping his ERA to 2.65 over his first four full-season starts.|
The 2019 international signee (30K) is the third-youngest pitcher in full-season ball behind Juarez and Lizarraga. He’s not up to their level of command at this point, but the healthy three-pitch mix did well avoiding hard contact, and also inducing some swing and miss. The modified wind-up ends with him falling off to the first base side. It was hard to discern if he was missing his intention to that side during stretches, or if the plan was pepper lefties inside. There were times it felt like everything was tilted that direction. Hidalgo was far from efficient, needing 83 pitches to get through four innings, with some quick at-bats sprinkled in. The execution wasn’t overtly bad, just loose.
(K vs. James Woods)
The third inning was his sole rough patch, whereupon getting into the stretch may have thrown off his strike-throwing ability briefly. He got Woods the second time in the back with a fastball that got away. There were only a few hard-hit balls. Favorite moment: during the most pressure-packed at-bat of his outing, he was able to get a big strikeout:
(K vs. Lucas Dunn)
There was no mention of velocity, but reports claim the fastball gets up to 94 mph. None of the three pitches seemed to stand out from the others in terms of command or effectiveness. There’s a juicy foundation here, especially for a kid this young pitching this decently controlled. There’s the requisite polish required, but curious to know more about his stuff, looking forward to watching it come along. Hidalgo’s listed at 6’1″, strong looking in the shoulders with some strength in the legs as well. Not hard to imagine more velocity coming.
Chase Silseth, Double-A Rocket City (LAA)
|A tale of two different 44 pitch stretches, the former Arizona Friday night starter continued his fantastic four-game start to 2022.|
One of the bazillion pitchers the Angels selected during the 2021 draft (11th round, paid like a 5th-rounder), Silseth’s lines have been eye-catching. Despite Rocket City’s poor broadcast for our purposes, I had to check him out now. Through four starts (20 IP), 1.35 ERA, .90 WHIP, and 27 strikeouts, Silseth may be worthy of more dynasty attention. There were questions about his ability to go deeper into games, but he got better as this day progressed.
Striking out the side in the first inning after surrendering a hard-hit one-out triple, the 28-pitch second inning flirted with an inning pitch count ending his day. The command of his three to four-pitch arsenal got loose on him, there were some long battles, good hitting, a wild pickoff attempt, and a sac fly leading to the lone run, but he got through it. The following four innings only took 44 pitches, running into a groundball single and a swinging bunt single leading off the sixth. A quick double play and a flyout and it was a wrap.
Reports are Silseth throws two breaking balls, but I couldn’t discern if there were two being offered or just the one pointed out below. The fastball is said to sit mid-90s, but I had no reading this outing. The splitter kind of stole the show though. After those second inning battles, a longing for a more nasty-looking put-away pitch came on. We started getting it:
Horsepower concerns and command questions kept Silseth from a larger payday, but he may be starting to answer those. Impressed with his execution, particularly the second time through the lineup, there’s an arsenal to get the job done with strikeout upside. If Silseth continues pitching like he did this day, there’s more dynasty value coming.
Calvin Ziegler, Single-A St. Lucie (NYM)
|The 19-year-old Canadian sat down the first six swinging, looking anything but intimidated by a beefy Daytona lineup.|
This was a dominant outing by the 2021 second round selection. The fastball and changeup were competitively executed over and over, whereas the curveball was spiked a few times and responsible for a hit-by-pitch. No good looking curveballs below, put there were several thrown this outing.
(K vs. Ruben Ibarra)
After striking out the first six, Daytona led off the third with an attempted bunt single. Leading off the fourth, said curveball hit Jay Allen, who stole second and advanced to third on a groundout, creating the only threat of Ziegler’s day. He bowed his neck and:
(K vs. Michel Triana)
Ending the threat, striking out Ibanna for a second time, things got heated:
(K with words exchanged vs. Ruben Ibarra)
Ziegler is off to an impressive start to his pro career, striking out 26 over 14.2 innings, allowing only five earned runs. So many impressive teenagers this season, but who might be the best of the bunch?
Ricky Tiedemann, Single-A Dunedin (Tor)
|Broadcasts will be limited in 2022 for the 91st pick of the ’21 draft, so he made this one count with five innings of dominant perfection.|
Wow. Woooooow. Dominant. If this is baseline Ricky Tiedemann, capable of coming out like this on a consistent basis, this is one of the best young pitching prospects in the game. If Tiedemann’s second inning of work, doesn’t get you excited, you’re not a pitching fan:
The fastball/slider combo was fantastic, with the changeup showing capable too, when he could locate it. He also straight powered his way through a few hitters:
(K vs. Wyatt Hendrie)
Listed at 6’4″ 220 pounds, looking a bit like a linebacker, a la left-handed Daniel Espino, you’d think the horsepower is in there. Giddy up. Let’s go! Why, oh why are you going to deprive us more looks milb.tv?
Blake Walston, Single-A Hillsboro (Arz)
|Walston’s four pitch mix overmatched Vancouver hitters, exuding what we wished for when slotting him #35.|
Looking forward to the day we get a better angle of Walston’s stuff, but another trip to Hillsboro it is. During a rough patch to start the day, Walston got visibly upset with himself for not executing pitches. Two of his three baserunners came in said stretch after leaving a first-pitch-changeup over the heart of the plate and walking a batter. After he calibrateted, it was lights out, using all four weapons to get swing and miss. Only a single the rest of the way via some good hitting on a tough pitch by Garrett Spain. Here’s all ten strikeout pitches:
Over the offseason, we longed for more efficiency to put the dynasty value on Walston like some are. Today, he was pretty dang efficient. The 66% strikes came on a day it seemed the strike zone was shrunk. Get this exciting arm out of Hillsboro and into a better view. Just how good, exactly, is his stuff? The fastball was sitting 91 per the broadcast. Isn’t that too soft for most folks’ liking? Walston feels polarizing when determining dynasty value.
Andrew Abbott, High-A Dayton (Cin)
|The 53rd pick of the 2021 draft is making quick work of his high-A assignment.|
If you like lefties who mix up all their offerings, working quickly, throwing strikes, keeping all the pressure on hitters, this was a masterpiece. Abbott got down 3-0 to Brandon Venezuela leading off the second inning, then proceeded to throw 18 straight strikes, retiring six in a row. Abbott only pitched from behind in the count two or three times the rest of the day. Here is part of said 18 strike streak:
(K vs. Jarryd Dale. When they met again in the 5th, Dale went down taking a back door breaking ball/swinging and missing a changeup/fouling off a fastball/swing and miss changeup.)
A step ahead of Dale the entire way, dropping the breaking ball when he least expected. The next hitter, Abbott attacks differently; breaking ball and fastball (below). This was Abbott all day; attacking differently at-bat to at-bat, relentless pressure on the hitter:
(GO vs. Justin Lopez)
If there was a pitch longing for better command, it was the changeup. A few got away up and arm-side; the culprit during his one walk surrendered (still wondering how the first two pitches of said at-bat weren’t strikes). The two hits were soft-to-weakly struck groundballs and the contact as a whole on the day, pretty pedestrian. Very impressive performance by a guy who brought his chess pieces to a Candyland game. I can’t imagine he’s long for high-A, with a chance to try his attack against better hitters coming soon. Lauded as being a fierce competitor with the acumen for pitching, these attributes shown today. If good pitchers are your thing, you should probably put some dynasty value here.
Trent Palmer, High-A Vancouver (Tor)
|The 2020 3rd-rounder’s split-change devastated for six perfect innings.|
2021 provided a mere four innings of broadcast ball for Palmer. There may not be many this season either, so another Hillsboro game, but he was perfect! Palmer has a filthy split-change the Blue Jays are pushing him to throw more. The offering was a Hillsboro killer for six perfect innings:
(Split-change for the K vs. Caleb Roberts)
During the 2020 draft, the knock on Palmer was control. The 69% strike rate for the day was the highest of his pro career, a career containing dominant days. Yet, even as good as the strike-throwing was, you still long for better command. I’m not sure Palmer found the feel for a breaking ball at all:
(K vs. Spencer Brickhouse)
No denying the impressive day, but if we’re talking a loosely commanded sinker/splitter profile here, my excitement in the MLB context dwindles. But was that a four-seamer I caught? Was today just a bad day for the breaking ball? A guy you never get to see puts up six perfect. Of course you want more looks.
PPL&R 2022 Top 10 Outings
(This season’s outings that WOW’d or got us thinking about a player in a different, positive manner.)
Graphic by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)