Jeremy Rhoades, Right-Handed Pitcher
HT : 6'4
WT : 225
DOB : February 12, 1993 (23), Wheaton, Illinois
Throws : Right
Bats : Right
School : Illinois State University (Normal, IL)
Acquired : Drafted in 4th Round of 2014 MLB Draft
Last Year's Ranking : #13
We break into the top 10 prospects in the system with one of the Los Angeles Angels best arms in the system. Between mixing the mentality of a closer with a wicked slider and fastball combo, you can see the luster of a breakout rotation arm in Jeremy Rhoades in the middle levels of the minors, turning hitters sideways with his stuff on the mound. The Angels took an athletic pitcher with good stuff and turned him into something to be aware of moving forward, with the potential of helping the big club in multiple ways.
One of the largest marks to Rhoades' abilities on the mound is versatility. He was a premier closer in college, moved to the rotation and has spent the majority of his career as a starter. He has a nice arsenal that would play well as a back end rotation arm, but would also be fine-tuned as a reliever, giving the Angels options with his development. Until he shows he can't be a top starter in their system, the Angels will keep him in the rotation, and if things don't play out, both the Angels and Rhoades have a fall back as a plus relief arm.
Rhoades comes equipped to the mound with a pair of fastballs, both sitting primarily in the low 90's. This past season, there was a short time where he fell into the high 80's range, but was mostly spotted at 90-93 with his four-seam and two-seam. There's added velocity when he's throwing from the bullpen, touching the mid 90's with regularity, but you'll mostly see low 90's with run out of Rhoades. He uses these pitches early to set up his off-speed, attacking with his four-seam with a downhill plane, with some cut. His two-seam is used to pitch to contact, and create ground balls, but was hit hard in the California League. He doesn't show enough velocity as a starter to miss location and has a high mark of focus on locating his fastball to move in the system.
There's a high amount of good sliders in the Angels system, and Rhoades carries one of the better ones with him. It has enough velocity to it to be a harsh pitch to swing through, making it a poor contact pitch. It's a hard and late breaking slider, thrown best while on a fastball line in the mid 80's, jumping upwards of 88 at rare times. It has swing-and-miss qualities to it, and he has the ability to throw it for strikes, which makes him fall in love with it a little too much at times. However, when it's on, it's near impossible to hit and when it is hit, it's usually weak contact, likely making it his best pitch.
Rhoades hasn't used a changeup often in his career, rarely going to it in college and early in his professional career. This would be a sign towards the bullpen, but his progress in throwing it with confidence shows signs of keeping him in the rotation. Though there's a lot of work to be done with it, it comes in around 5-10 miles per hour slower than his slowest fastball and shows a nice amount of promise in becoming a third and fourth weapon for Rhoades. It works best when he's on the outer half of the plate, using it to force swings off the plate.
Standing tall at six-foot-four and 225 pounds, there's not much more room to add on to physical development, except for proper weight. Rhoades is known as a workhorse in the gym, taking away any incorrect weight and turning it into solid muscle. He has big hands, which should add to the development of his changeup, and long limbs which should add to deception to all his offerings. Rhoades has a funky delivery, but has progressed in finding more consistency in sending the ball to the plate. There's still times that Rhoades is rushed in his motion, leaving mistakes in the form of pitches up in the zone.
In total, Rhoades delivery has polished out, with the addition to his outstanding athleticism, and put him in a better scenario to last longer and gain stamina through games and through the season. He stands taller and doesn't herk-and-jerk like he did upon being drafted. He's taken a lot of the effort out of his mechanics, taking strain on his shoulder and elbow away to some degree. He still drives with his strong legs, and hurls from a near four-fifths angle, keeping the ball behind him and slinging his arm through as he begins his landing - this adds deception as he hides the ball all the way through his delivery. This may have come from his catching days in high school, which ended due to a broken finger, but it shows a similar pattern to a catcher. He's cleaned up this mechanism to become more consistent and not as rushed, which had lead to better command of his pitches.
Another mark in moving to the bullpen is how he attacks hitters. He works quick and with a high intensity to gain outs, all with a strong confidence. There's no arrogance to Rhoades' game, but a confidence in believing in gaining the out is something all relievers must force into their minds - and all pitchers for that matter. As stated at the outset, there's versatility to his game which adds excess desire. He has middle to back end rotation like stuff, and strong relief like mentality and pitches would could play up. The Angels have a high-floor arm that they can do multiple things with in the future.
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Scouting Report from Taylor Blake Ward - Senior Publisher for Scout.com
Scouting Report from Taylor Blake Ward - Senior Publisher for Scout.com
In his three years at ISU, Rhoades held a 12-9 record, 2.76 ERA, and 1.288 WHIP, along with 10 saves. As a sophomore, Rhoades served as the RedBirds closer, picking up six saves and allowing just seven runs in the span of 41 innings (1.54 ERA). He moved from the bullpen and back into the rotation as a junior, and found his most dominant year, striking out 10.8 per nine, while holding a 2.35 ERA and picking up six wins and four saves.
Upon Rhoades becoming a professional, the outings jumped in inconsistencies. He had seven of his 14 outings go scoreless, with four go for three or more runs. He finished the year with a 4.42 ERA and 1.500 WHIP, while striking out just over one batter per inning. Most impressive of the year was Rhoades' second career outing, where he struck out five in three hitless and walkless innings.
Last season was a tale of two seasons for Rhoades, as he saw an ERA in the two's at one level and in the eight's at the other. In Low-A, Rhoades held a 2.69 ERA and 1.080 WHIP, with 10 of his 16 outings go for one run or scoreless, with five of those going six innings or longer. While in High-A, six of his 10 starts went for five or more earned runs, while he allowed a .961 OPS
Rhoades will likely begin this upcoming season in High-A, where the road parks really plagued him. He'll have to deal with the elements of High Desert and Lancaster - two of the most hitter friendly parks in Minor League Baseball, but it will also teach him to trust his changeup and work low in the zone more often, giving him a more repetitive delivery and making him a better pitcher.
As he progresses, the Angels will have to make a decision on if Rhoades is a starter or reliever. Until he shows he can't perform in starts, the Angels will keep him in the rotation, which is likely his full-time spot in the future as a back end starter at the highest level. If the decision is made to turn him into a reliever, it's likely he'll be moved more aggressively and be a bullpen piece by the 2018 season.
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This article was published by Taylor Blake Ward, who serves as a Senior Publisher for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.