The Cardinals have added Jordan Hicks to their major league bullpen. The move comes as a surprise with Hicks skipping both Double and Triple-A. While Hicks’s role is not defined, he’s a talented pitcher who can’t be ignored.
The 21-year-old righty has previously shown a plus fastball. Here are the various scouting reports on it.
- FanGraphs: Grade 50/55, “…routinely sitting 94 or better during the regular season, Hicks’ heater sat 97-100 in the Fall League … trouble keeping it down … doesn’t play like an 80-grade fastball…”
- MLB.com: Grade: 70, “… fastball will sit in the mid-90s, frequently touch the upper-90s and flirt with triple digits, all with plus natural movement…”
- Baseball America: Grade: 70, “… 93-98 mph with his fastball, sits 95, and touches 101 in short bursts…holds his velocity … fastball plays up further with arm side life…”
- BHQ: Grade: 4+, 93-98 “… sits 93-96, topping at 100 mph with good late sink…”
The industry has a consensus on the fastball, it good They aren’t as high on his secondary stuff. He throws a breaking pitch in which gets classified differently.
- FanGraphs: Grade 50/60, “… a slurvy, mid-80s breaking ball … effective shape but isn’t always tight…”
- MLB.com: Grade: 55, “… very hard power curve … could be a plus pitch as he works to be more consistent with it…”
- Baseball America: Grade: 70, “…tight power curveball at 79-82 mph … plus-plus grades … goto swing-and-miss pitch”
- BHQ: Grade: 4+, “…power curve grades as plus…”
Some good reports with most sources having it better than average. Also, he tries to throw a change which grades below average at best.
Hicks’s other main issue was throwing strikes with a BB/9 near or above 4.00 until High-A when dropped it to 2.00 in 27 innings of work. Additionally, this K/9 jumped 10.7 in High-A.
After looking through his scouting reports, I decided to watch this last spring training game from the 25th against the Nationals
- Fastball: No velos on screen but the broadcast mentioned a 97, 99 and 101 (x2) mph pitches. It had some nice downward and release-side bite.
Thanks to @pitcherlist for the GIFs
- Curve: It’s a hard curve which doesn’t get loopy. He can throw it for called strikes since it doesn’t break much.
- I didn’t read in any of his profiles but he is a groundball machine after seeing a ton of groundball outs during the game. Here are his minor league rates:
2016 (Rookie): 57%
2016 (A-): 64%
2017 (A): 52%
2017 (A+): 66%
I can’t wait to get the Trackman spin data on his fastball. A high-90’s fastball with sink automatically gives him a decent value.
- He commanded all his pitches for strikes and had no issues with walks or extended counts
I believe in the talent after seeing him throw and knowing his pedigree. The biggest issue will be his role. All but three of his minor appearances were starts so he’s used to going long into games. But he’s headed to the bullpen. If I was to bet on his role, it will be more of the 2-inning variety to start the season. He can stay stretched out and the Cardinals can move him as needed as a late-inning reliever or a spot starter.
At this point, he should be owned in all keeper and dynasty league where he is still available. Also, he probably needs to be owned in 15-team or deeper redraft leagues. Finally, with his starting pitcher eligibility, he will be a nice Holds/Ratio pitcher in leagues with SP/RP slots. Buy now on the talent and see how his role shakes out.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.