BLUF: Chance to start but potential high-leverage reliever with two 70-grade pitches.
The Player: Chris Archer (RHP, Tampa Bay Rays) – Originally drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the fifth round in 2006 and was then traded to the Chicago Cubs as part of the Mark DeRosa deal in December 2008. After pitching three seasons and reaching Double-A in the Cubs system, he was dealt to the Rays as part of the trade that sent Matt Garza to Chicago. Archer started 25 games at Double-A in 2011, finishing with a 4.42 ERA. He started another 25 games in Triple-A in 2012 and posted a 3.66 ERA and only 99 hits allowed in 128 innings, while fanning 139 batters.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (Midwest League 2009, Southern League 2010 and 2011), Industry Contacts
Body (6-3, 200): Long and strong. Lean, athletic body with good strength throughout. Long legs and shorter torso with longer arms. Premium pitcher’s body. Good athlete.
Delivery/Mechanics: Free and easy with long arm sweep. Repeats delivery well and has consistent mechanics that work well for him. Doesn’t finish in a position to field the ball well, but his athleticism allows him to overcome this at times.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 97, Low – 91, Average 92-94, Grade – 60/60
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 97, Low 90, Average 92-93, Grade – 60/60
Fastball (FB) Movement: Very good sink that occurs naturally. Four-seam FB will show some horizontal run. True plus movement that allows FB to play at true plus level. Grade – 60/60
Overall Fastball: Plus pitch as starter. Could play a grade higher in short relief bursts. Sink and run on the ball are both effective against good hitters. Needs to challenge more inside with FB and pitch off FB early in games. Grade – 60/60 (70 potential in relief)
Slider (SL): Great pitch. Hard, tight spin. Pitches in mid-80s consistently with excellent arm speed and the same angle as FB. Outstanding pitch with plus-plus potential at peak. Easy plus right now and can play up when he airs it out in relief. Grade – 60/70
Change-Up (CH): Doesn’t trust it and lacks feel. Below-average pitch with minimal projection. Rarely throws in game situations. Easily his worst pitch and not one that will be effective in the big leagues. Would likely go away in relief. Grade – 40/40
Control: Struggles to consistently throw strikes. Delivery is repeatable and executed properly on a regular basis but he lacks ability to pound the strike zone. Below-average control project, despite athleticism and ease of delivery. Grade – 40/40
Command: Command lags behind marginal control profile. Lacks refined ability to move FB throughout the zone. More of a thrower that relies on movement and velocity to be effective, rather than location. Likely well below-average long term, but slim chance to show 40 command, particularly in shorter stints. Grade – 30/40
Summation: Two high-quality pitches and raw potential for two 70-grade offerings in a relief role. FB could tick up in shorter outings. Sink on FB allows him to keep the ball in the park, and SL compliments sinking FB well. Developed additional aggression on the mound this year. Needs to attack more frequently and challenge hitters with his quality stuff. CH is almost irrelevant in the grand scheme. Arsenal and use of arsenal reminds me of Jeremy Bonderman. Two-pitch guy that can pitch in the third or fourth spot in a rotation, or could be an outstanding, bat-missing reliever that pitches the late innings. Big league ready in just about any role.
Relative Risk: Low. Nothing to prove in the minor leagues and should find success of some kind in the big leagues.
Future: Archer should spend significant time with the Rays in 2013 and could break camp with the team on Opening Day. His ultimate role will be determined as much by the makeup of the rest of the pitching staff as his ability.