BLUF: Brings a little of everything to the table and could be a mid-rotation workhorse.
The Player: Mikke Foltynewicz (RHP, Houston Astros) – 19th overall pick in the first round of the 2010 draft. Started 12 games in the Appy League that summer, posting a 4.03 ERA and allowing 46 hits in 44.2 innings while walking 15 and striking out 39. Struggled mightily in the South Atlantic League in 2011, finishing with a 4.97 ERA, ten hits allowed per nine innings and a strikeout rate below six. Returned to Lexington in 2012 and has improved across the board. Through 25 starts he has a 2.67 ERA, 14-3 record, only 132 hits and 55 walks allowed in 145 innings, and 119 strikeouts.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (South Atlantic League 2011), Industry Contacts
Body (6-4, 210): Great frame. Ideal pitchers body. Long levers with good coordination. Strong and muscular without being stiff. Excellent body.
Delivery/Mechanics: Very simple delivery. Gets to his balance point quickly and with consistent movements. Can begin falling from his balance point a little too quickly at times, causing his arm to lag behind a bit, but has done much better with this in 2012. Very quick arm and good use of his entire body in the delivery. Stays balanced through the finish and shows good extension out front. Very solid, simple delivery that he should be able to repeat. Finishes on balance and in a position to field the ball.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 95, Low – 90, Average 92-93, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 94, Low 91, Average 92-93, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Movement: Has some sink that is accentuated by good leverage on FB. Quality pitch that gets on hitters quickly and has good natural movement/life. Potential for plus movement with more consistency. Grade – 50/60
Overall Fastball: Far more consistent pitch than in 2011. Velocity is consistently in the low-90s as opposed to the upper-80s I saw him sitting at last year. Good angle to the plate along with good sink. Can get weak contact and swing and miss with just FB. Quality plus pitch right now with some projection – both velocity and movement – remaining. Grade – 60/70
Curveball (CB): Still a work in progress. Generally consistently below average but will flash an average one at times, particularly when he lets it fly and trusts the pitch. Gets around the pitch too often, flattening it out and softening the bite in the pitch. At its best, CB has hard 11-5 movement with tight spin and can induce ground balls. Maxes out as an average pitch for me but should be a usable breaking ball. Grade – 30/50
Change-up (CH): Very good feel for pitch. Trusts his circle-change grip and maintains his arm speed, throwing it with the same vigor and from the same arm slot as his FB. Very good sink and some fade on the pitch. Can be lethal against LHHs and he will use it against RHHs as well. More comfortable throwing it behind in the count in 2012, a true test of his confidence/trust in the pitch. Legit plus pitch right now. Go-to secondary pitch. Grade – 60/60
Control: Throwing a ton more strikes than he did in 2011. Delivery is more controlled and consistent, improving ability to find strike zone. Very athletic kid that should continue to repeat delivery and pound the zone with FB-CH combination. Grade – 50/70
Command: Work in progress. Certainly locates better this year than last. Can move FB to both sides of the plate and likes to establish that command early in games. Struggles to command vertically at times, leaving the ball up too often and becoming hittable. Works CH to both sides of the plate as well. CB command is well behind. Projects for average command but may never paint. Grade – 30/50
Summation: Dramatically different profile than 2011 report. Simple, consistent delivery with improved poise and maturity on the mound. Good presence. Plus makeup with increased competitiveness. FB and CH are both quality pitches right now and should continue to gain consistency. Potential ground ball machine with those two pitches. CB lags behind and may come up a little short but will be usable. Durable frame with potential to fill out a little more. Could be an efficient innings eater that competes extremely well with solid stuff. Number three starter ceiling and a higher floor than existed in 2011.
Relative Risk: High. Risk has actually decreased since 2011 when it would have been off the charts high. Still a long way to go and some pretty big developmental steps to take.
Future: Dramatic improvements in second tour through the South Atlantic League are impressive. Spring performance will dictate whether he is subjected to the rigors of the California League or skipped to the Double-A Texas League. I view the latter as a pretty unlikely proposition given the improvements he needs to make. On schedule to be a member of the rotation in 2015 and that timetable could accelerate slightly to the end of 2014 with another strong year in 2013.