Minor League Report: Young arms showing big potential

As the minor league regular season begins down its final month, here are some interesting young arms (and one bat) to keep an eye on for the 2017 season.

Michael Kopech

  • Last three starts: 15 1/3 innings, 0.59 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 22 K, 10 BB
  • 2016: 37 2/3 innings, 0.96 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 53 K, 24 BB

I was done with him in the preseason because of how much off field issues could prevent him from making it to the majors. The raw talent is obviously there. He has recently hit 105 miles per hour, as a starter. If you’re investing you are going to have to wait a few years before he is major league relevant. With his elite fastball, if he flames out as a starter he could become a top-notch reliever. The biggest issue, like almost every other pitching prospect, is he tends to lose control at times; his career walk rate is bordering on five walks per nine.

Francis Martes

  • Last three starts: 20 1/3 innings, 1.33 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 28 K, 4 BB,
  • 2016: 102 innings, 3.53 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 108 K, 41 BB

He has potential to be a bullpen arm, but his recent starts have shown why a lot of people were excited about him preseason. He has the ability to strikeout more than a batter an inning based on how quality his pitches are. The walks have crept back up a little after they went down to just 2.5 per nine last season. He went on a fantastic stretch from mid-May until the end of June where he had an ERA of just 1.80 over eight starts. The big difference in his early season struggles and that great stretch was a big drop in his walk rate. Keep an eye on how he is with his walks, if he keeps them below three he could be a number two or three starter in the Astros rotation.

Triston McKenzie

  • Last three starts: 17 innings, 2.12 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 24 K, 2 BB
  • 2016: 54 2/3 innings, 0.99 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 66 K, 16 BB

The first round pick from last season’s draft has been dominant this season. He is tall at 6’5”, but still needs to fill out as he is just 165 pounds according to the Indians. He just turned 19 last week. This is a long road if you are investing in McKenzie. He has good control, a plus fastball, and potential for a plus curveball and changeup. The ceiling can be astronomical for McKenzie if everything works out, but at just 19 years old in A-ball a lot of things can still go wrong.




Erick Fedde

  • Last three starts: 18 2/3 innings, 0.48 ERA, 1.07 WHP, 24 K, 2 BB
  • 2016: 91 2/3 innings, 2.85 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 95 K, 19 BB

Fedde is one of the typical arms that falls further than they should on draft day because of injury concerns. He was once thought of as a top pick going into the 2014 draft, but fell after he went under the knife for Tommy John Surgery. Since May 23rd (11 starts) Fedde has allowed just four earned runs over 57 2/3 innings good for a 0.62 ERA while striking out 60. He has a nice slider to go with a mid 90s fastball. Fedde has a lot of risk attached to him with his injury history, but the upside is enticing.

Lewis Brinson

  • July 24-August 7: .397/.397/.569, 7 2B, 1 HR, 10 K, 0 BB, 4 SB
  • 2016: .254/.296/.450, 19 2B, 12 HR, 69 K, 19 BB, 16 SB

Brinson isn’t like everyone else on this list; he is a hitter, but I feel like he can’t be ignored. Since going to the extremely hitter friendly Colorado Springs he has been on fire with a .480 average and just three strikeouts. I expect to see a big uptick in his production because of his skill set, but his new home field in AAA must be the best place to hit at any level in baseball. I liked him a lot in the preseason, but his first half was scary enough that I bumped him down in the midseason update. He has above average, if not great, raw power and potential for 20 plus steals every season.

 

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Andy Germani
I am a lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan and a graduate from Penn State. Baseball was my first love and I still play to this day in an adult baseball league. I always love helping people with their questions on Twitter so feel free to follow me and ask questions.