Patrick Teale

Here's a scouting report on Tampa Yankees right-handed pitcher Jonathan Holder.

The Yankees drafted right-handed pitcher Jonathan Holder in the sixth round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Mississippi State University. The former college closer has made a seamless transition to starting since his selection and he now offers one of the safer big league projections down on the farm.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jonathan Holder
Position: Pitcher
DOB: June 9, 1993
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 235
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Slider, Changeup.

Fastball. Holder isn't one to light up the radar gun in comparison to today's power arm era.  While he'll sit mostly in the 90-93 mph range he will occasionally hit some 88s and 89s, and even bump some 94s.  Not only does he vary his speeds but he's been able to really learn how to generate a lot of movement with his fastball since transitioning from the bullpen in college.  What he lacks in plus velocity he more than makes up with stellar command; he can not only throw strikes with eyes closed but he can paint all four quadrants of the strike zone seemingly at will.  A closer in college, he hit 95-96 mph as an amateur so while he hasn't shown that kind of velocity at the professional level yet he does have it in him for shorter relief stints if need be.

Other Pitches. Not only has Holder's fastball changed dramatically but so has his secondary arsenal.  His best secondary offering used to be a plus curveball.  He actually has two, a slower one in the lower 70s and another one in the mid-to-high-70s.  The curveball combination still shows plus potential but his secondary pitch of choice has given way to a now plus slider that started out as more of a cutter.  Sitting more in the 85-87 mph range, his slider is his main strikeout pitch and it's a plus big league pitch.  He still has the cutter in his back pocket to give his slider another look and a different speed [it can reach 89 mph] and he rounds his repertoire with a solid above average big league changeup that shows long-term plus potential given the fade and depth he gets with it and his ability to locate it for quality strikes.

Pitching: While not a prototypical power pitcher Holder is a nightmare for opposing batters because he can throw an array of four quality big league pitches [six if you include the two curveballs as separate pitches and the cutter too] anywhere he wants to and also has the ability to vary speeds.  While he won't hit the high-90s his pitch speeds range from 71-94 mph and all of his pitches move.  What makes matters worse for batters is his reluctance to issue the free pass too.  He not only doesn't walk many batters but he seldom pitches behind in counts and that has him in command during most at-bats.  Employing a quick tempo, one who throws the next pitch as soon as he gets it back from his catcher, he has a total bulldog approach on the mound, attacks batters with first-pitch strikes, and lives in the lower-half of the strike zone.  Even when he misses with his pitches he misses low and is therefore extremely adept at keeping the ball in the yard [he's given up just five home runs in 154 career innings].  At his rapid development would suggest he is extremely coachable and can make quick in-game adjustments.

Projection. Holder's lack of elite velocity gives his ceiling some limitations from a pure profile standpoint but everything else is in place to safely project as a potential middle to back-end big league starting pitcher someday, one who given his depth of quality pitches and stellar command can pitch higher than his rotation slot on any given day.  His experience closing games in the SEC in college [where he struck out over twelve batters per nine innings pitched over his career] gives him some obvious long-term role flexibility too and in that regard is a little Adam Warren-like.  Like Warren, another prospect who ascended the minor league ranks with little fanfare, Holder is more pure pitcher than thrower and has legitimate organizational value in a number of ways. 

ETA. 2017. Holder will open up the 2016 season in Double-A Trenton and with virtually no weaknesses in his game he's a strong bet to accumulate some Triple-A experience later in the year.  He is well on his way to being a viable big league option no later than the following season.

Year Team W L SV IP H BB SO ERA
2015 Scranton 0 1 0 5.2 4 4 4 6.35
2015 Tampa 7 5 0 103.1 92 21 78 2.44
2015 GCL Yankees 0 0 0 9.0 5 0 8 1.00
2014 Staten Island 1 2 0 32.2 35 10 30 3.03
2014 GCL Yankees 1 1 0 3.2 7 3 4 12.27

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