Yesterday, I identified and discussed the top eight prospect pitchers in SwStk%, which is the ultimate measure of a pitcher’s stuff. Of course, it’s not totally just about inducing whiffs, as there are other ways a pitcher could record a strikeout. So let’s now peruse the leaders in strikeout rate, sticking with those who posted a mark of at least 40% all all minor league levels in 2019. You’ll naturally see some overlap with yesterday’s SwStk% leaderboard, so while I’ll include them in the list, I won’t discuss them.
|Name||Org||Level||Age||Top 100||Org Rk||FV||K%|
After being selected in the fourth round of the 2019 draft, Matt Cronin pitched 22 innings at Single-A for the Nationals and posted some extreme stats. He struck out nearly half the batters he faced, but he also walked opposing batters at a double digit clip, and allowed an insane 60% rate of fly balls. He’s like the Joey Gallo of pitchers! I could only imagine what would happened if those two faced each other. And hey, they are both lefties! As a relievers who only sits in the low-to-mid 90s, I’m curious how his solid, albeit unspectacular repertoire, and extreme skill set end up doing during his next minor league stint.
Mason Fox hit up all the Single-A levels in 2019, but threw fewer and fewer innings the higher the Single-A level. With just 55 grades on his fastball and curveball and underlying skills yo-yoing around at each level, it’s hard to get a good sense of his future potential.
Ken Waldichuk was the Yankees fifth rounder in 2019, but managed to throw 29.1 Rookie league innings. Interestingly, while his strikeout rate is impressive, his SwStk% of 17.6% is actually just below that league’s average. He was also an extreme fly ball pitcher, so it was a weird set of skills he posted. I would be petrified of throwing an extreme fly ball pitcher at Yankee Stadium! With a 50 grade fastball and two secondaries graded at just 45, he’ll have to prove his pitches play better by continuing to strike out hitters.
Demarcus Evans has posted a strikeout rate above 40% in each of his last minor league stops, ending in Double-A, which is quite impressive. What’s not impressive is his crazy walk rates, which have sat in double digits at every stint except one throughout his entire minor league career! With a 70 grade fastball and 60 grade curveball, he appears to be the classic prospect with elite stuff who has no idea where the ball is going. Sounds like an ideal lottery ticket, hoping he wakes up one day and suddenly sharpens his control to the point where we could see MLB success in his future.
Drew Parrish made his debut last year after being drafted in the eighth round by the Royals, andn impressed over 25 Rookie ball innings. That said, with a 35-grade fastball that sits in the high 80s, and two mediocre secondary pitches, it’s hard to get excited solely by the strikeout rate. His 35+ FV suggests there’s no need to follow him.
The seventh overall pick of the 2019 draft, Nick Lodolo faced 74 batters during his debut, and didn’t walk any of them, while striking out 30. Can you get much more impressive a debut? I would have liked to see a better SwStk% at Single-A than just 6.5%, but the sample is tiny, so it’s not a big deal. None of Lodolo’s pitches really stand out by scouting grade and he only sits in the low-90s, so perhaps that strikeout rate is going to drop precipitously. At least he should display excellent control, making him one to at least monitor.
Tony Locey was another 2019 draftee and made an interesting debut marked with strikeouts and lots of walks, plus a batted ball distribution that featured each batted ball type allowed at above 30%.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.