66. David Speer – Left-handed Pitcher
Born: 08/14/1992 – Height: 6’1” – Weight: 185 – Bats: Left – Throws: Left
Facts & Info: Speer was selected by the Indians in the 27th round of the 2014 Draft out of Columbia University (NY). As a college senior in 2014 he posted a 7-2 record with a 1.86 ERA, and in 87 innings pitched he allowed 7 walks and racked up 75 strikeouts, good for a 10.7:1 strikeout to walk ratio which was the second best ratio in the nation. He was the first unanimous Pitcher of the Year winner in the Ivy League in a decade and was an ABCA Northeast Region second team selection. Last season, among relievers in the Carolina League he tied for 7th in games (39), 5th in holds (6), 1st in lowest batting average (.203), 2nd in K/9 (9.20), 1st in BB/9 (1.69) and was 1st in fewest baserunners per nine innings ratio (8.90, by a long shot as 2nd had a 10.42).
Stuff: Speer is a command and control lefty who doesn’t have much velocity but features a four pitch mix that he commands very well and has proven to be a consistent well above average performer. His fringe average fastball sits at 86-89 MPH, but his command and confidence in it is off the charts. He is very aggressive with it and shows a lot of confidence that he can get hitters out with it, and does a good job of locating it to both sides of the plate. He consistently locates it well to the bottom of the zone and shows an ability to throw it in the strike zone or purposely out of the strike zone depending on the count. His average slider is his primary secondary offering and displays some good spin along with some good command. It flashes plus because of some wipeout ability it shows against left-handed hitters and how tough it can be for hitters to pick up out of his hand. He also mixes in a fringy curveball and changeup that he commands well but are low in quality because they lack much depth.
Delivery & Intangibles: Speer has a quirky delivery and follow through that is a little stiff, but is simple with clean arm action. He has some funk in his delivery which helps create some deception and allows him to hide the ball well. He’s an extremely intelligent pitcher who knows what his strengths and weaknesses are and comes into every outing well prepared where he always goes in physically and mentally ready to pitch. He has a lot of pitchability and has a good feel for what hitters are trying to do to him because of his innate ability to read swings and tendencies of hitters. He consistently works ahead of hitters with a pitch to contact approach and gets a good amount of groundballs. He’s just someone who maximizes his stuff and abilities by masterfully taking advantage of all the variables within the game.
Focus: Speer is another advanced, mature left-handed pen arm who is pretty much maxed out both physically and developmentally, so the upside is limited with him moving forward. The key to his success will be to develop his curveball or changeup as a viable third offering in order to limit his overreliance on his slider and also work to tighten up his the slider so that it becomes a more effective option and can be used as more of an out pitch to lefties. There are also some opportunities for improvement in his pitch sequencing as he can get too predictable at times, he needs to be a little better at changing speeds and commanding all of his pitches to both sides of the plate, he needs more experience in high leverage situations and he needs to be more in sync with the upper and lower half of his delivery.
Future: Speer is a lower round pick who doesn’t carry the fanfare of some other relief pitching prospects in the system, but he certainly is a prospect to watch because of his maturity, advanced approach to pitching and ability to command the baseball from the left side that could expedite his movement through the system. With the lack of much velocity or a true plus offering, his chances of filling a regular relief role in the big leagues are slim because he doesn’t have the arsenal to attack right-handers; however, with his funk, deception and command from the left side he could end up a good lefty specialist. The key to that will be an uptick in the quality of his secondary stuff and making the most of every opportunity he is given as he moves into the upper levels of the minors. He has dominated left-handed hitters at all levels holding them to a .179 average in his pro debut at Short-A Mahoning Valley in 2014, a .243 average at Low-A Lake County in 2015 and a .179 average at High-A Lynchburg last season. He also owns a rather ridiculous 80:6 strikeout to walk ratio (13.33 K/BB) in 61.0 career innings against lefties (11.8 K/9, 0.9 BB/9), which is a significant difference from his 98:33 strikeout to walk ratio (2.97 K/BB) in 117.2 innings against righties (7.5 K/9, 2.5 BB/9). He’s no doubt put together some strong seasons in the lower levels of the minors and emerged as an interesting left-handed relief prospect for the Indians, and should get an opportunity to take the next step up the minor league ladder by opening the season at Double-A Akron.
Ranking History: #81 (2016)