Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Acquired: Amateur Free Agent, 2012
Ranking History: #72 (2012)
Signed for just $10,000 before the 2012 season, Saupold impressed the Tigers with his play in the Australian Baseball League before jumping straight to Low-A West Michigan last summer. In 28 games (including one start) Saupold allowed exactly a hit per inning and struck out 58 batters against just ten walks.
The Tigers promoted Saupold to High-A Lakeland for the stretch run last year and he responded with a 3.77 ERA in seven appearances (five starts). Saupold was a critical piece as the Flying Tigers took the Florida State League title and that performance, combined with a strong spring training, earned him another promotion to Double-A for the 2013 season.
So far this year, Saupold has a 2.03 ERA in eight starts for the SeaWolves, having allowed just 33 hits in 48 2/3 innings with 20 walks and 38 strikeouts.
Saupold starts with a mature body that has good strength and some stockiness to it. He has transformed his body over the last two years, going from a slightly doughy, underdeveloped 20-year old to a more physically developed kid with a durable body.
From that frame, Saupold works down the plane of the mound with a repeatable delivery. His arm sweep can get long at times but he generates enough arm speed to catch up to his body and keep things in sync through release. Saupold has some deception to his delivery and that makes it difficult for hitters to pick up his fastball at times.
Saupold sits in the 88-91 mph range and will touch 92 mph on rare occasions. His fastball has some sink and his four-seam heater will show some arm-side life that can get in on right-handed hitters. He doesn't dominate with his fastball but he is willing to attack with it and try to get ahead of hitters.
Saupold's curveball is his best secondary pitch, thrown in the low- to mid-70s with substantial 12-6 break. The pitch has good depth but lacks deception and can be picked up out of the hand by advanced hitters. Saupold has also shown a low-80s slider that offers more two-plane break and provides a horizontal element to his arsenal, though the pitch is generally below-average.
For a changeup, Saupold features a low-80s straight change that simply offers a chance of pace. He maintains his arm speed well with the pitch but the lack of movement limits the overall effectiveness of the offering.
Saupold is a strike throwing machine on the mound, pounding the strike zone with all four pitches. His command over the fastball has improved since signing but he still struggles with consistently locating the ball to all four quadrants of the strike zone. At his best, Saupold can move his fastball and curveball to both sides of the plate with regularity.
Saupold is an intense competitor on the mound and he understands the need for sequence in the absence of overwhelming raw stuff. His ability to mix his pitches is a work in progress but he has flashed improved pitchability this season in Double-A.
Without a "go-to" pitch, Saupold lacks a substantial long term profile. Nothing in his arsenal earns better than an average grade (curveball) and most of his pitches range from below-average to fringe-average. Without impeccable control and command, Saupold will have to walk a fine line against advanced hitters. In a perfect world he profiles as a fifth starter and more likely maxes out as an up-and-down swingman.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP BAA AA
Saupold has not had any health problems since signing with the Tigers. His strong, sturdy frame suggests he should be able to handle an intense workload without much trouble.
Saupold is maxed out physically and his overall arsenal lacks projection. He could still improve his ability to locate his pitches in and out of the strike zone, which would help his entire arsenal play up a half tick. Saupold is not a high-ceiling talent and he maxes out as a back of the rotation starter in the big leagues if he is able to walk the thin line as a right-hander with fringy stuff.
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