Because so many high-profile prospects are off to a hot start for their team’s respective Double-A affiliate, I’ve decided to omit the coldest pitchers at the level so as to include even more noteworthy performances.
Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
31 IP, 1.74 ERA, .114 BAA, 40/12 K/BB (5 GS)
In last week’s installment I discussed Biddle’s masterful outing against Harrisburg in which he fanned 16 batters and allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings. Meanwhile, his follow-up start on Sunday was equally impressive, as the 6’4” southpaw allowed one knock while notching 10 strikeouts over six scoreless frames. So, just to be clear, here’s a breakdown of Biddle’s last two starts: 13 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 26/5 K/BB.
Alex Wood, LHP, Atlanta Braves
27 IP, 0.67 ERA, .192 BAA, 31/5 K/BB (5 GS)
I don’t think anyone saw this coming. Despite his max-effort delivery and choppy arm action on the backside, Wood has been able to effectively command his entire arsenal this season in his first taste of Double-A. Last three starts: 18 IP, 13 H, 0 ER, 18/3 K/BB.
Chad Bettis, RHP, Colorado Rockies
26.2 IP, 3.04 ERA, .273 BAA, 30/2 K/BB (5 GS)
Bettis appeared to be on the fast track to the major leagues until a shoulder injury ended his 2012 campaign before it even began. With a plus fastball-slider mix, the right-hander has managed to dominate Double-A hitters despite the massive layoff. Last four starts: 21.2 IP, 18 H, 5 ER, 26/1 K/BB. His power arm should be a welcome addition to the Rockies’ starting rotation later this season.
Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
27.2 IP, 1.30 ERA, .178 BAA, 32/5 K/BB (5 GS)
Considering that the Brewers already aggressively promoted Hiram Burgos directly to the major league from Double-A, it seems as though it’s only a matter of time until Nelson receives a similar call. After wearing down over the final months of the 2012 season, early-season reports indicate that the 6’4”, 245-pound right-hander has enjoyed a slight velo spike with sharper (and more consistent) secondary offerings.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
35 IP, 1.54 ERA, .150 BAA, 39/20 K/BB (6 GS)
Arguably the most projectable pitching prospect in the game, Walker is surpassing all expectations while repeating Double-A. While his command still leaves something to be desired, the 20-year-old has still been highly effective due to the sheer quality of his stuff. And if you remove his first start from the equation, here’s what the right-hander’s line would look like: 30 IP, 13 H, 2 ER, 31/16 K/BB.
Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals
23.1 IP, 2.31 ERA, .200 BAA, 33/9 K/BB (5 GS)
With a fastball that eclipses triple-digits with ease, and a pair of secondary offerings that continue to improve, it’s becoming more and more likely that we’ll see Ventura in the major leagues this season. Meanwhile, the 21-year-old was nearly unhittable in his last start: 5 IP, H, 0 ER, 10/3 K/BB.
Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
27 IP, 1.00 ERA, .169 BAA, 30/6 K/BB (5 GS)
Selected with the 39th overall pick in the 2010 draft out of LSU, Ranaudo logged only 37.2 innings last season as both a groin and shoulder injury resulted in significant time spent on the disabled list. The 6’7” right-hander certainly looks healthy this season and has been a nightmare for opposing hitters in each of his five starts.
Erik Johnson, RHP, Chicago White Sox
31.1 IP, 1.44 ERA, .165 BAA, 32/9 K/BB (5 GS)
Having left a lasting impression this spring in major league camp, Johnson has been on point with his four-pitch mix thus far. More specifically, the right-hander has been drawing countless whiffs with his plus slider—a pitch that’s essentially big-league ready. Last three starts: 21.1 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 23/6 K/BB.
Burch Smith, RHP, San Diego Padres
26 IP, 1.38 ERA, .163 BAA, 31/4 K/BB (5 GS)
Another lesser-known pitching prospect deserving of more recognition, Smith put himself on the big-league radar last season by registering a 3.85 ERA and 137/27 K/BB over 128.2 innings in the California League. Despite moving up to Double-A for the first time, the soon-to-be 23-year-old has picked up where he left off last year.
Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
28 IP, 2.57 ERA, .248 BAA, 34/11 K/BB (5 GS)
At 6’9”, 220 pounds, there are very few pitchers with Myers’ size who are able to repeat their mechanics and showcase legitimate command. With two plus pitches and an approach that will continue to improve, expect the 23-year-old to make an impact in the major leagues this season.
Jose Ramirez, RHP, New York Yankees
9 IP, 0.00 ERA, .103 BAA, 12/2 K/BB (2 G/1 GS)
Coming off a breakout campaign at High-A Tampa in 2012, Ramirez has only appeared in two games so far this season. That being said, his effectiveness warrants a spot on this list.
Danny Salazar, RHP, Cleveland Indians
28.2 IP, 2.83 ERA, .202 BAA, 43/9 K/BB (6 GS)
One of my favorite under-the-radar pitching prospects, Salazar has the pure stuff to contribute (in some capacity) in the major leagues this season. Last three starts: 16 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 30/4 K/BB.