Welcome to a weekly review of pitchers designed to help us get better pitchers on our dynasty teams. These aren’t the “best outings” of the week, 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, etc…this is going to be a fun season!
(Triple-A Opening Day)
Nick Allgeyer, Triple-A Buffalo (Tor)
|The 2018 12th-rounder out of Iowa took a no-hitter into the sixth, keeping a questionable lineup off-balance all day.|
Allgeyer wasn’t part of our review this offseason, but he impressed here. Buffalo is an awful angle to try and grasp a lefty’s stuff, but all four to five pitches seemed to come out of the same low, wide arm slot, and the Cubs looked overmatched for six innings. Allgeyer spotted his repertoire well both inside and outside, playing that game with lefties and righties alike. The two different breaking balls seemed to give hitters the most fits. Allgeyer has me signed up for more looks, wanting to get a better feel for the quality of his stuff. The lineup may have been lacking, but he sure took care of their best hitter:
(K/LO/K vs. Brennen Davis)
Max Meyer, Triple-A Jacksonville (Mia)
|Albeit the first four innings of a season, this felt like a microcosm of all things and questions Meyer.|
Meyer’s fastball was hitting upper 90s and the hard slider low 90s. Through the first two innings, Meyer overwhelmed batters as the slider looked untouchable, pounding lefties inside with the two offerings. As things moved along, the execution got loose, with fastballs and sliders hitting some dirt. This one led to a run:
(Wild pitch allowing a run)
In the following inning, a walk, hit-by-pitch, and single led to another run. It’s outings like these, whereupon the execution of Meyer’s best pitch wavers, and questions of being a better reliever hang around. Meyer was #7 on the offseason list, and still feels good there, but if you wanna get a good sense of the concerns, ask yourself: does the heavy lean on the slider catch more contact as Meyer starts to move along, and does the nastiness get too loose as pitch count rises? These four innings were a good cliff notes version of Meyer. The best part? There was a dabbling of swing-and-miss induced by changeups.
Ryan Feltner, Triple-A Albuquerque (Col)
|Feltner kept a good OKC lineup off the board, with his stuff looking a bit more dangerous than last year.|
Some backdoor Statcast data sheds some nice light on this outing. Overall, Feltner executed fairly well. There were a few bouts of things getting loose, but he was able to reel it in. Across the board, his stuff seemed to have more juice than last year, and he was able to get big strikeouts when up against trouble:
(K vs. Jason Martin)
Ryan Pepiot, Triple-A Oklahoma City (LAD)
|Pepiot was hard to square up for four innings. Critical of Pepiot in the past, this felt like a better display of execution since entering the upper levels.|
As an admitted Pepiot skeptic, who doesn’t deny the high-quality stuff, I have to admit he looked more tightened up here. Still not considering this a great outing execution-wise, but he was quite efficient in spots:
(K vs. Ryan Vilade)
And he only got squared up once:
(Elehuris Montero double)
I’m still going to be hard on our #93 pitcher, in terms of executing his high-brow toolbox on a consistent basis, but this outing was a step in the right direction.
Note: The Sunday Pepiot/Feltner rematch was quite one-sided with Pepiot throwing three and two-thirds of scoreless ball, while Feltner gave up four earned runs across five innings, including two home runs.
Matthew Liberatore, Triple-A Memphis (StL)
|This offseason’s #14 pitcher’s stuff wasn’t the best we’ve seen it and it led to some hard contact.|
What jumped out most was the high number of foul balls, particularly early/first time through the order, and then the Stripers’ ability to make hard contact on their second look. Here was the roughest patch—hitters one through four the second time through:
Liberatore did well getting out in front of hitters but got into long at-bats he couldn’t finish quickly. Credit the Stripers for some good at-bats, but I’m wondering just how good the stuff was this day. Probably safe to say it was inconsistent and there were more hittable pitches offered than you’d want to see. Again, the Stripers hit some good pitches hard, particularly Braden Shewmake’s solo home run he seemed to reach down to get a first-pitch breaking ball out of the zone.
It wasn’t all gloom though, as Liberatore still racked up stretches of strikeouts. Here’s one to end the second inning:
(K vs. Greyson Jenista)
Expecting Liberatore to take a jump after a 2021 full season in triple-A as a 21-year-old, I’ll be curious to see if he can end at-bats more efficiently and clean up some wildness in the zone.
Aaron Leasher, Triple-A El Paso (SD)
|@ Round Rock||1||4||3||2||2||1||6||0||56||71.4||2||4||16|
|The 2017 6th-round pick out of Morehead St. relied on secondaries for some nice results. Changeups early in the outing, and sliders later.|
If you like lefties who rely on spotting pitches well, pressuring hitters by throwing strikes, changing speeds, and not giving up a lot of hard contact, Leasher was that this day. Three of the four innings were three up, three down; in the second inning he gave up all his hits and the lone walk. Here are the three hits:
The secondaries were garnering plenty of swing and miss to both righties and lefties. Here are three quick strikeouts:
(K to lead off the game vs. Bubba Thompson)
(K vs. Josh Smith)
(K vs. Yohel Pozo)
I’m not getting crazy with dynasty love for Leasher, but he’s my kind of pitcher, and I’m not writing it off. Don’t set those velocity numbers in stone either, as there could be more in the tank. The fastball was gaining speed as his day progressed and he throws it with natural cut. The fastball is probably more of a setup pitch, but he can be effective (and fun to watch).
Sean Hjelle, Triple-A Sacramento (SF)
|The 6’11” 2018 second-round pick out of Kentucky had a hitless 2022 debut. Was omitting him from the off-season list a mistake?|
Hjelle almost made the offseason cut, but concerns over executing a repertoire lacking up-in-the-zone stuff kept me cold. More outings like today’s, and that idea is fading quickly. Strikes came in at a 62.7% clip last year, and even though this outing was only 60%, I felt his execution was at a higher level. There were borderline calls not going his way, but more impressive was his ability to stay off the middle of the plate. Furthermore, the two-seamer/sinker seems to have improved from last year, getting 20+ inches of run. Nothing left the infield this day, not even a foul ball. He struck out five of the eleven hitters he faced. I understand it’s the first day and hitters may not have their timing, but the slider/sinker combo was giving these guys no chance.
Hjelle doesn’t come with the typical accruments of a 6’11” pitcher. He’s athletic, which he showed while making a nice cover of first base in the first inning. But he’s fluid on the mound and he isn’t necessarily this long-limbed guy who gets some crazy extension. Rather, he takes a relatively short step toward the mound and keeps things repeatable. His game isn’t power, yet he can throw an easy mid-90s with a lot of run. Still wondering how his attack might work against big league hitters who can basically cut the zone in half with him (look everything down), but this was the most impressive review of the week, and definitely the most impressive Hjelle outing I’ve seen.
(K vs. Pedro Leon to lead off the game)
(K vs. Pedro Leon)
Double-A, High-A, and Single-A opening nights brought on the full slate of minor league action, and lots more to sift through.
Drey Jameson, Double-A Amarillo (Arz)
|Our off-season #50 struggled to find the strike zone and then struggled to stay off the middle.|
The fastball was hitting upper-90s per usual, but some tough calls early turned into poorer command, which then turned into sabotaging of first-pitch fastballs and a knockout punch before ending the second. This wasn’t prime Jameson and was the type of outing where you feel like you’re watching a future reliever. We aren’t going to go crazy after a few innings to start the year, but if you wanna see my concerns with Jameson, this outing illustrated how dependent he is on one pitch with a lack of diversity or other options when a pitch isn’t there.
(BB allowed to Jonah Bride during first inning)
(Hard contact allowed during the second inning; Jeremy Eierman single/William Simoneit double/Jonah Bride double)
Royber Salinas, Single-A Augusta (Atl)
|The soon-to-be 21-year-old has barely gotten his full-season feet wet, but he’s proving to have two legit strikeout pitches playing off each other nicely.|
Listed at 6’3″ 205—I’ll take the over. Don’t let the extra tire fool you though, early on, Salinas was exuding the requisite execution of his fastball and curveball to be a successful starter. Things started getting a little loose on him nearing 70 pitches, but all in all, this was a dominant outing. Only one ball was struck well; a triple to lead off the fifth by Edgar Martinez. The other two hits didn’t pass the pitcher’s mound. Some good Columbia hitters had no chance against a hard invisa-ball heater and sharp downward breaking ball. There may have been a second breaking ball involved sporadically as well. As we’re just getting to know Salinas, we’ll lay off too much judgment either way here. The nasty is in there though:
(11 strikeout pitches)
Garrett Hawkins, Single-A Lake Elsinore (SD)
|@ Inland Empire||1||4||3||0||0||0||6||0||67||70.1||3||3||15|
|The 2021 9th-round pick made his full-season debut, providing a first-time look at the 6’5″ 230 pound Canadian.|
If the best pitch in baseball is a well-placed fastball, Hawkins was spitting out a lot of the best pitches in baseball early. First few innings, I’m not sure I saw anything but fastballs and the 66ers couldn’t do much with them. Jose Bonilla had the only well-struck ball and it may have been against Hawkins’ first try at a changeup (hard to tell for certain).
(Jose Bonilla double)
Evidently, the breaking ball has been a wart for Hawkins, but one he’s put time into improving. Trent Deveaux got a dose of some here:
And here is a look at some fastballs:
(K vs. Adrian Palencia)
More than intrigued to catch Hawkins again down the road, the fastball execution was pretty dang fantastic. That’s a great foundation to play off of and we’ll see how the secondaries come along.
(The day of 2021 draft picks I wanted to see ASAP in 2022.)
Jack Leiter, Double-A Frisco (Tex)
|While knocking off rust, Leiter flashed the appeal that made him the first pitcher off the 2021 draft board.|
We only got a good view of about half the pitches Leiter threw. He struggled to find the feel early, yet was offering stuff too good for hitters to handle. Cade Marlow was the only Arkansas hitter to square him up. Evidently, there’s a new cutter being tossed into four- to five-pitch mix. Leiter’s headliner, a mid-to-high 90s fastball with plenty of “rising” action masked early egregious execution problems with secondaries. Things tightened up in the second inning, and then we never got a good look again. Here’s a strikeout ending the second:
(K vs. Riley Unroe)
No question Leiter has good stuff, but I’m wanting to get a better sense of how well he can use his tools. The fastball is going to land him success, but just how much I want to invest dynasty-wise is yet to be determined. There’s some less touted names from his draft class who might be more exciting bets. Like this guy:
Gavin Williams, High-A Lake County (Cle)
|It was a chilly pro debut, but Williams provided plenty of heat.|
There were fly balls sent into the outfield his last inning, but other than that, Lugnut hitters couldn’t square up the high-90s fastball. He threw a lot of them, tossing in secondaries later. The 12-6 curveball got its fair share of swing-and-miss, including some finishes. There were a few sliders tossed in as well. Williams shook off his catcher to get him to call for some changeups, but they didn’t go very well. Three of the four pitches were executed relatively well. It’s not hard to see how this profile could turn into a real fantasy monster. Looking forward to seeing more, and how all these tools get utilized.
(K vs. Tyler Soderstrom)
(K vs. Austin Beck)
Michael McGreevy, High-A Peoria (StL)
|The tooled-up 2021 first-rounder didn’t seem as rusty as most, tantalizing what a more tuned-in version could look like.|
McGreevy’s arsenal is vast, but more impressive was the execution of it during this cold weather debut. I thought I was seeing both a two-seamer and four-seamer being thrown. The 12-6 curveball command got pretty dang good after a little early calibration. There was another breaking ball and a changeup getting tossed in as things moved along too. No more than a few pitches missed by much. This was a good lineup, and there were some fun battles. Looking forward to watching more of McGreevy this season.
(13 pitch battle vs. Sal Frelick to lead off the game. Tommy Jew with the catch.)
(K vs. Zavier Warren)
Emmet Sheehan, High-A Great Lakes (LAD)
|More outings like this, the 2021 6th round pick out of Boston College and his invisa-ball will turn plenty of heads.|
Sheehan has a low to mid 90s fastball riding to whiffs, and a changeup to play off of it that can devastate. This two-pitch combo can take Sheehan a long way when consistent, while the development of the breaking ball could add a whole other level. There were some glimpses of what that dream could look like during this outing. After back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, two groundballs up the middle, one off a breaking ball and one off a fastball, Sheehan strikes out three hitters in nine pitches to get out of trouble:
The Dodgers are loaded with arms, but Sheehan has a chance to join the conversation more in 2022.
Jimmy Kingsbury, Single-A Modesto (Sea)
|The 2021 17th round pick out of Villanova used a couple of good secondaries to get whifs and rack up strikeouts.|
The video feed of this game was choppy, but you could see the nasty in a three-pitch offering. The fastball gets nice arm-side run, the more horizontal slider dives late, and the split(?)-change seemed to deceive well enough. The execution could get loose, and it led to a few walks and a HBP. This was my first viewing of Kingsbury, so not sure what the norm is in this regard. The strikeout stuff intrigues.
(K vs. Aeverson Arteaga)
Luke Albright, High-A Hillsboro (Arz)
|The 2021 6th round pick out of Kent St. made his pro debut in impressive fashion; lots of strikes and efficiency.|
Albright is a peculiar pitcher, big-bodied, listed at 6’5″ and 225 pounds. Pair more pronounced inverted arm action than Sam Bachman, an upper torso that really flies toward the plate, and a head-whack, with a 76% strike rate, swing-and-miss, and an 11 pitch per-inning efficiency and I’m all sorts of conflicted and confused. My struggles aside, there was an impressive pro debut to watch (it just took getting used to Albright before I could actually watch his pitching).
(3-strike K vs. Christian Molfetta)
For a guy with a reputation of less than stellar command, he sure commanded all four (or five) pitches well. The fastball may lack some velocity and juice, and there was hard contact going right to defenders playing into the efficiency, but overall, he impressed. We’ll check in again to see if my headwhack bias gets overshadowed by my efficiency and execution bias. Curious if this was a bit of an outlier outing, or there’s been some significant development over the last year.
Ty Madden, High-A West Michigan (Det)
|@ Great Lakes||1||4||1||1||1||1||6||1||50||74.0||1||5||14|
|A leadoff home run by the red hot Jonny DeLuca would be the only blemish this pro debut. Is this a different version of Madden than we saw in Texas?|
Madden hung a breaking ball the first at-bat, responsible for the only damage done. There were some other breaking balls thrown through out the day (not sure about a changeup), but this seemed like a concerted effort to get fastball work in. For someone whose previous stuff played down in the zone well, he sure was pitching up in the zone a lot with a hard fastball like these:
(All fastball K vs. Kekai Rios)
I didn’t go sleuthing around college archives, but I wonder if Madden has been working on an arsenal capable of playing better up in the zone. If that’s the case, an already promising pitching prospect gets more diverse. Madden had a successful debut against a lineup with some real offensive talent this day, but it was just a preview/glimpse.
PPL&R 2022 Top 10 Outings
(Outings that WOW’d us or got us thinking about a player in a different, positive manner.)
|1||2022-04-07||Sean Hjelle||Sacramento River Cats||Triple-A||Sugar Land Space Cowboys|
|2||2022-04-09||Gavin Williams||Lake County Captains||High-A||Lansing Lugnuts|
|3||2022-04-09||Michael McGreevy||Peoria Chiefs||High-A||Wisconsin Timber Rattlers|
|4||2022-04-05||Nick Allgeyer||Buffalo Bisons||Triple-A||Iowa Cubs|
|5||2022-04-08||Royber Salinas||Augusta GreenJackets||Single-A||Columbia Fireflies|
|6||2022-04-09||Jack Leiter||Frisco RoughRiders||Double-A||Arkansas Travelers|
|7||2022-04-09||Emmet Sheehan||Great Lakes Loons||High-A||West Michigan Whitecaps|
|8||2022-04-06||Aaron Leasher||El Paso Chihuahuas||Triple-A||Round Rock Express|
|9||2022-04-08||Garrett Hawkins||Lake Elsinore Storm||Single-A||Inland Empire 66ers|
|10||2022-04-10||Ty Madden||West Michigan Whitecaps||High-A||Great Lakes Loons|
Graphic by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)