Cody Poteet Might be Breaking Out

The Miami Marlins have become a starting pitcher haven as their three studs – Pablo López, Sandy Alcantara, and Sixto Sánchez – were heavily targeted during draft season while Trevor Rogers was a popular sleeper pick. Sanchez has been derailed by a shoulder injury, but Rogers has greatly exceeded expectations and ensured a trio of beasts atop their rotation.

And now, a new challenger has emerged!

Cody Poteet is making a case to be included with the others as all-formats studs, though we definitely need to take a closer look before anointing him to the level of Lopez-Alcantara-Rogers or even Sanchez (but he was shutdown for discomfort after a 20-pitch bullpen on May 28th). Even with a rough start last time out (4.3 IP/5 ER), Poteet still has a 2.95 ERA in 21.3 IP which tells you how insane he was in the first three starts – 1.06 ERA in 17 IP.

Poteet didn’t make the Marlins prospect list this year or last year… or the year before. Or even the-you know what, let me just say that the last time was back in 2017 and he made the 2016 list before that.

Eric reminisced on that ranking in a mid-May prospect notes piece, highlighting how Poteet added velo to change his outlook. Back when Eric ranked him in 2017, he was sitting 88-92 mph and now he’s 92-95 with a 96-97 upper reach. That’s a fundamental change so I’m reluctant to take Eric’s lack of ranking Poteet this year as a disqualifying factor.

He has a standard four-pitch mix: fastball, changeup, slider, and curveball which he uses in that order, but all four have at least a 12% usage. The fastball is at 47%, changeup at 23%, slider at 19%, and curve at 12%. The changeup was his worst rated secondary in that 2017 prospect list but has since risen to be his best of the three secondaries. I think you could derive that from the eye test just watching him pitch, but then the results back it up big time.

Poteet is running a heavy reverse platoon as a right-hander who stifles lefties, and the changeup is obviously a big part of that. He has a 405-point platoon split with a .361 OPS v. lefties (I’ll let you add the 405 points to get the OPS v. righties) that includes 10 Ks and just one walk against them in 45 PA. His 9 Ks and 3 BBs v. righties in 37 PA are good marks, too, so it’s not like he is inept against them, just that he has really thwarted lefties thus far.

He fits right in on the Marlins as Lopez has the highest righty-right changeup rate at 35% and Alcantara is tied for the 8th-highest rate at 19% while Poteet is right there behind him at 18%, tying him for 9th-highest among the 116 righties with at least four starts this year. Unsurprisingly, the Marlins lead the league in righty-righty changeups thrown at 12%, tied with Philadelphia, and one of just five teams with a 10% or higher mark.

Poteet uses his changeup 27% of the time against lefties and they still don’t have a hit off of it. They are 0-for-11 with a walk while righties are 1-for-8 against it. The hit and the walk off the changeup both came in that bad outing against Boston, so it was essentially untouchable in his first three starts.

The fastball and changeup are the foundation of his arsenal, so he uses them quite a bit against anyone, but he has essentially identified one of his breaking balls for each side: lefties get the curve and righties get the slider (he uses them just 4% of the time against the other handedness).

He might want to alter things a bit, though, as righties are pummeling the slider to the tune of a .400/.455/.600 line thus far. Lefties are only hitting .167/.167/.667 off the curve with Alex Verdugo’s home run off it inflating that slug. I wonder if the curve might find some success against righties or if he just needs to execute better with the slider. Of course, when the fastball-changeup combo is working, he barely needs either breaker.

I will also point out that Poteet has a high 51% flyball rate which may have some concerned about him maintaining his 0.84 HR/9, but his 21% infield flyball rate is tied with John Means for second in the league behind only Marco Gonzales (Jacob deGrom, Dylan Cease, and Freddy Peralta are right there at 20%, too). His 41% Under rate is 5th in baseball among the 314 with at least 75 batters faced and best among starters. Yes, he lives in the air, but it’s lazy contact that is often very playable. His 7% HR/FB may indeed raise, but I don’t see substantial regression that will turn him into a homer machine.

Looking forward, Poteet isn’t going to be a sub-3.00 ERA guy for the whole year. His 3.94 SIERA is more in line with where expectations should be if you are considering a pickup or have already picked him up after the first three starts went so well. We have a one-time prospect who has made distinct changes fueling the performance – velo surge, greatly improved changeup – and he’s on a team that has really started to develop a reputation for pitching development (and their pitcher-friendly home park helps, too).

He should remain in the rotation for the foreseeable future, too. Sanchez’s outlook is a bit bleak in terms of getting back before the All-Star break. As mentioned, he was shutdown after a brief bullpen last week and he will still need a relatively lengthy rehab once he is ready to make his return.

Elieser Hernandez is in the midst of his rehab (he made his third start on Friday, but he did get rocked) and he will get a slot in the rotation once he is ready, but that won’t push Poteet out as they will likely go Lopez-Alcantara-Rogers-Hernandez-Poteet and then by the time Sanchez is ready, the logjam will likely work itself out as pitchers unfortunately get hurt a lotttt.

What do you think? How much are you buying into Poteet as a potential breakout candidate and fantasy pickup?





Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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henrywilson
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henrywilson

Miami has become a team where I am willing to look closer at every pitcher they give a start because they have proven that they can develop good pitching.

LenFuego
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LenFuego

Yep. Miami has joined Houston and Cleveland as a team where you just keep finding gold at the end of that number 5 starter rainbow time after time.