The Astros called up top pitching prospect, 20 year-old Jordan Lyles, to take Wandy Rodriguez's place in the rotation after he was placed on the DL with a left elbow injury. Lyles has been on the fast track to the majors since he signed with the Astros after being selected as the 38th pick in the 2008 draft.He certainly impressed with 7 quality innings (pitched into the eighth), in which he allowed two runs (one earned), five hits, no walks and four strikeouts.
Lyles, the number one ranked prospect in the Astros' organization by Baseball America, demonstrated fantastic command of four pitches: his fastball, curveball, change-up and cutter/slider.He demonstrated decent command of his fastball throwing 23 strikes out of 40 and recording a first pitch strike to 70 percent of the hitters he faced. Additionally, he threw 75 percent of his offspeed pitches for strikes; 79.2 percent of sliders, 73.3 percent of curves and 69.2 of change-ups were thrown for strikes.
Though he only recorded four strikeouts, Lyles did record an impressive 12 percent swinging strike rate. He only recorded 2.5 percent with his fastball, but Lyles did show the ability to record swinging strikes with his change-up (23.1 percent), slider/cutter (12.5 percent) and curveball (26.7 percent). He averaged 89.4 mph on his fastball, but the average of 6.74 inches of horizontal movement towards a right-handed hitter was very impressive.
The ability to pitch backwards and his feel for all of his offspeed pitches is impressive for a 20 year-old, and I think he has the change to be a good number two or three starter in the National League.Strikeouts will never be a part of his game--his strikeout rate in AAA over the last two seasons sat at 6.25 K/9--and I would worry about his propensity for fly balls (.73 GB/FB ratio in last night's game).
Overall, it was a good night for Astros fans. I hope Lyles stays in the rotation when Rodriguez returns from the DL, and he might be the most intriguing player to follow for the rest of the 2011 Astros' season.