Triple-A Pitcher K% Leaders — Jun 14, 2022 by Mike Podhorzer June 14, 2022 Yesterday, I reviewed the pitcher SwStk% leaders at Triple-A hoping to uncover some potentially exciting stashes. The list was a bit underwhelming, though it did include some of the very best prospects. So what if we really don’t care how the strikeouts are generated, just that the pitcher is racking them up? Let’s now look at the strikeout rate leaders at Triple-A and see if there are any additional names to keep watch on. Triple-A K% Leaders Name Team Age K% Grayson Rodriguez BAL 22 37.4% Hunter Brown HOU 23 34.3% Ryan Pepiot LAD 24 33.3% Raynel Espinal SFG 30 32.4% Tucker Davidson ATL 26 32.3% JP Sears NYY 26 32.2% Kyle Muller ATL 24 32.0% Zack Thompson STL 24 30.1% Ryan Feltner COL 25 30.0% Gee golly, hello Grayson Rodriguez, thanks for reminding us again what a shame it is that you got hurt. Hunter Brown was recently written up on these pages as a prospect “knocking on the door”. The 34.3% strikeout rate can’t be ignored and it’s nothing new from him, as he has posted marks around that level at Low-A in 2019 and Double-A last year as well. However, I have two concerns that stopped me from picking him up in AL Tout Wars — his poor control and his mediocre SwStk%. He has walked double digit batters in three of four minor league stints, which doesn’t bode very well for his success in the Majors. If he’s walking nearly 13% of minor league batters, imagine how many MLB batters he’ll issue free passes to! Next, even with a mid-to-high 90s fastball and an elite 60/70 grade curveball, a 12.7% SwStk% doesn’t capture my attention. He’s likely living on lots of called strikes, especially if that curve is dropping on in without a swing, and that kind of stuff is likely to occur less frequently in the Majors. I do like his ground ball tendency though, so don’t think I’m bearish on him. I just think in the short-term, I would be surprised if he succeeds immediately and delivers positive fantasy value. Ryan Pepio and Tucker Davidson appeared in yesterday’s post so I won’t discuss them again. Raynel Espinal is a 30-year-old non-prospect who has posted an impressive string of double digit SwStk% marks, with fluctuating strikeout rates. Looking at his track record, I’m pretty shocked he’s only made it to the Majors for two innings. JP Sears is the Yankees’ 25th ranked prospect who made his MLB debut earlier this season and recorded seven innings. None of his pitches grade out any higher than 50, so it’s a surprise that he’s posted strikeout rates over 30%in every stint since 2021. Once again, we see a less impressive SwStk%, so I have my doubts he’ll be able to maintain a strong strikeout rate in the Majors, unless he acts as a reliever. Over a small sample, his four-seamer was acceptable at generating whiffs, while his curveball was below average, and his changeup, thrown just 10 times, didn’t induce a single swing and miss. Kyle Muller was last ranked fifth among Braves prospects and showed off some solid stuff during his MLB debut last year over 36.2 innings. Then, he posted a 13.1% SwStk% thanks to an excellent slider/curveball duo. This year, he only managed to pitch 2.2 innings for the Braves, but seven runs later, he found himself back in Triple-A. I’m intrigued by what seems like an above average pair of secondaries in the slider and curve, to go along with a fastball that graded out at 70, which is elite. He’ll need to figure out his control though before he gets another chance. Zack Thompson is expected to make his first MLB start a couple of hours after I type this. He enjoyed quite the strikeout rate and SwStk% rebound after a really down 2021. Again, he’s lacking an impressive SwStk% and only his curveball has graded out at above average. If his poor 2021 control was a fluke, then he could potentially be a deep league consideration. Do the Rockies even try to develop pitchers? It’s been a while since they actually had a top pitching prospect. Ryan Feltner made his MLB debut last year to poor results, but posted strong results at Triple-A this year and he now finds himself a member of the Rockies rotation. The underlying skills have been quite good, resulting in a shocking 3.26 SIERA, though the SwStk% is underwhelming, and, of course, he calls Coors Field home. Perhaps someone to monitor if he called another team home, but his track record would need to be mind blowing for me to consider gambling on a Rockies rookie starter.