Scouting J.R. Graham

Just take a look at Craig Kimbrel and you'll get a good idea of how successful the Atlanta Braves have been when it comes to scouting young relievers. One of the next arms in line to help the Atlanta bullpen is righty, J.R. Graham. Graham is currently working as a starter in High-A, but he ultimately looks like another dynamic power arm for the back end of the big league bullpen.

J.R. Graham

Position: Pitcher
Organization: Atlanta Braves
Height: 6 feet
Weight: 185
Bats/Throws: R/R
Event Scouted: High-A All-Star Game

Expert's Take:

Graham's command and secondary pitches have made tremendous strides since his college days. He spots his fastball well now, and he's getting in good enough counts to drop in that sharp, above-average slider. Of course, his game is still to overpower hitters. His fastball sits at 94-96 mph mph and consistently bumps 97. And, a good sign is that he's getting hitters to take some awkward swings and misses at his fastball. This is not one of those straight as a string four-seamers.

As long as he's locating, the slider is a tremendous weapon for Graham as well. Thrown at 85-88 mph, it shows good depth and late bite. His changeup is still his least featured offering, but thrown at 83-85, the differential is very solid.

If Graham continues to show an ability to locate three pitches, the Braves will likely continue to move ahead with him as a starter. But, his frame, somewhat high effort delivery and arsenal would indicate his most likely future role is as either a big league setup man or closer.

- Frankie Piliere

Scout Quote:

"He's probably ultimately still going to be in the back of the bullpen but his secondaries have come a long way. It will be good for him to continue develop as a starter and if it works out, it works out. But, the fallback is pretty good. With his fastball and slider, he's going to be pretty dynamic at the back of a major league bullpen someday. His breaking ball is not as good as Kimbrel's so that comparison doesn't quite work but that's a tough pitcher to compare to."

Ceiling: #3 Starter/Effective Late-Inning Reliever (6)

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