AFL Reports: Pitchers, Part Eight

Kiley shares scouting reports on Arizona Fall League pitchers from late in his week on the road, including video and reports on Marlins recent first rounder Andrew Heaney and thoughts on who were the top pitchers in the league.

Arizona Fall League Content

Pitcher Scouting Reports (8): Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven & Part Eight

Hitter Scouting Reports: Coming Soon

Pitcher Videos (10): Alex Meyer, Sammy Solis, Marcus Stroman, Jake Barrett, Kyle Crick, Michael Lorenzen, Matt Purke, Kenny Giles, Tyler Matzek & Andrew Heaney

Hitter Videos (5): Jorge Soler, Colin Moran, James Ramsey, Mason Williams & Kris Bryant

Marlins LHP Andrew Heaney was the 9th overall pick in 2012 out of Oklahoma State and has cruised through the minors, likely starting 2013 in AA and likely being added to the Miami rotation at some point later in the year. This is partly due to the Marlins' aggressive promotion of top prospects (Jose Fernandez, Marcell Ozuna, Jake Marisnick, etc.) but also Heaney's solid track record and polished approach.

The one thing I don't like about Heaney is his crossfire delivery reminiscent of currently-injured Mariners LHP Danny Hultzen, but Heaney's has less effort and should create less stress. Heaney works 89-92 and hit 93 mph with some life but I've heard earlier in the year he was a tick or two better at times. His 79-81 mph slider was solid-average and his 78-81 mph changeup flashed plus potential but he didn't throw it that much. It sounds like I saw just an okay stuff day for Heaney but even the version I saw is at least a league average starter and probably soon

I've covered almost all the arms I saw worth noting in the previous seven parts (yeah, I know), so I'll go rapid fire through the remaining arms worth noting and some that a few readers have asked for my thoughts about. Reds RHP Drew Hayes had the loosest delivery of the relievers I saw late in the week, though his wasn't perfect with a slight wrist wrap and some effort at release. Hayes sat at 92-95 mph with a solid-average slider at 84-86 mph and an average 77-78 mph curveball. I wrote about Marlins RHP Colby Suggs earlier in the season when he was an amateur at Arkansas before going in the second round this June. Suggs looked the same as he has all three times I've seen him previously, working 92-94 mph with a hard low-80's curveball that was above average at times, though I've seen Suggs throw harder, topping out at 98 mph once in the past. He looked amazingly generic next to the seemingly never-ending line of anonymous plus fastball/average breaking ball/below-average command relievers in the AFL, many of whom never become much of consequence and many of whom will end up on waivers soon.

Yankees LHP James Pazos fits in the aformentioned group, but has some things that help him stand out, working 92-94 mph with a solid average 79-81 mph curveball and a rarely-used changeup that was also at least average. Before Yankees fans suggest Pazos become a starter, I did say he's close to fitting in that anonymous reliever group (despite being left-handed and having three pitches) because his delivery/command are an issue and it's a relief-only fit. Three Pirates righties all showed similar upside as emergency call-up types: Matt Benedict (90-92 mph, average changeup, solid cutter), Tyler Waldron (90-92 with solid average changeup but fringy breaking ball) and Zach Thornton (89-92 with slider that was above average at times, but a long arm action and fringy at best command).

Being that I was only at the AFL for a week, there are a few pitches I missed of note: Orioles LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (three average or better pitches and command), Astros LHP Alex Sogard, Angels RHP R.J. Alvarez and Brewers RHP David Goforth (relievers in mid-to-upper 90's with Alvarez having best off-speed/command) and three inconsistent young power right-handed starters: Royals Jason Adam, Orioles Branden Kline and Indians Trey Haley. In addition, a handful of solid arms are on rosters but haven't pitched yet: Brewers RHP Taylor Jungmann, Blue Jays RHP Drew Hutchison, Yankees LHP Vidal Nuno and Mets RHP Jeurys Familia.

I mention all those names so that there isn't any excuse for incompleteness in an eight part breakdown of the arms in the AFL, since I wanted to close this out by highlighting the top prospect pitchers in what is normally a very strong hitter-oriented league.

Tier 1: #2/3 Starters

Twins RHP Alex Meyer showed some of the same elements of Crick in the below tier but is bigger, has a few ticks more velocity and a little more feel. He's still got some injury/inconsistency concerns and may just be a dominating closer, but that's a pretty good backup plan. Jays RHP Marcus Stroman continues to be a personal favorite that also has closer as a backup plan even though I think he's an above average starter. Pirates RHP Jameson Taillon's star has dimmed but still looks like he can be an above average starter.

Tier 2: #3/4 Starters & Closers

Giants RHP Kyle Crick and Jays RHP Aaron Sanchez both have the potential to jump to Tier 1 and have similar stuff (plus-plus fastball, plus breaking ball, at least average changeup) and size but also the same feel/command issues. Taillon also has some similarities but his consistency issues are on a much smaller scale. Orioles LHP Eduardo Rodriguez and Marlins LHP Andrew Heaney are similar, though Heaney is a notch ahead for me, as potential mid-rotation lefties with a broad base of skills. Heaney is the best of this group and just missed Tier 1. Potential closers Mariners RHP Dominic Leone and Tigers RHP Corey Knebel both flashed 65 or 70 fastballs and 60 or 65 breaking pitches but as with all relievers, their fortunes can change much more quickly than starters.

Tier 3 would be back-end starters and set-up guys but since I didn't see the whole league and surely missed a few guys that fit in this group, I didn't want to make it appear to be exhaustive. Adam, Kline, Haley and Alvarez from the pitchers I missed above fit in this group, for reference. From the back-end starters side of the coin, you can include LHPs Matt Purke, Sammy Solis and Grayson Garvin along with RHPs Bo Schultz, Keyvius Sampson, Johnny Barbato, Adys Portillo. As for the late-inning relievers, I include LHPs Tyler Matzek, Mike Montgomery and Adalaberto Mejia along with RHPs Brandon Maurer, Trevor May, Juan Jaime, Jake Barrett, Kenny Giles, Angel Baez, Michael Lorenzen and Armando Rivero.


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