Name: Brady Lail
DOB: August 9, 1993
Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Cutter.
Fastball. There once was a thought that Lail could eventually develop into a power pitcher when he first entered the system but that really hasn't come to fruition four years into his development. In fact, from a pure velocity standpoint he is still about the same, sitting mostly 90-94 mph. However, what has changed is the movement he's been able to develop with his fastball and the overall command he now has of it. He's morphed from a four-seam fastball hurler in his earlier days into mostly a sinking two-seam artist, one who now has stellar command of a great moving sinker. He can seemingly throw it wherever he wants it and it not only serves as a contact out-pitch but hitters will swing over it rather often too.
Other Pitches. What has aided the effectiveness of his sinking fastball has been the rapid developing changeup that once could have been labeled a non-existent pitch when he first began his career. Just like his fastball, his changeup, now a true plus big league pitch, dives down as it crosses the plate. Not only does the depth and fade make it grade out as a plus pitch but so does his stellar command of it. It is now his primary strikeout pitch against both left-handers and righties. He also has an above average, borderline plus curveball at his disposal too. Just like everyone of his other pitches, the movement and late bite he's able to generate with his 77-81 mph power knuckle-curveball makes it yet another quality strikeout weapon. He also has a quality big league cutter that he's been throwing for a little more than a year now and while it's not exactly a big strikeout option for him it does allow him to give batters another look and he can throw it for strikes consistently.
Pitching. More of a true pitcher than hurler, Lail is all about the pitch-ability. His biggest strength is his innate ability to not only throw a ton of strikes but with an array of pitches that all have above average or better movement and perhaps an even bigger strength is his ability to set up batters. In true chess-like fashion he is always thinking a couple of steps ahead. Extremely cerebral, he studies his opposing batters, recognizes their weaknesses, is able to read swings extremely well, and will throw purpose pitches earlier in counts in order to get them to swing at his pitches later on. Throw in his ability to spot up his pitches wherever he wants, in some sense Lail is more painter than pitcher. His approach is very efficient too. He's not up there trying to strike out batters even though he does have strikeout stuff; his plan is to induce early count contact and get his team back into the dugout as soon as possible. It's that business-like approach that makes him a real innings eater and few boast the kind of confidence he has too. A high character, high makeup guy, it's his ability to make quick adjustments not just from start to start and from inning to inning but even from pitch to pitch that makes him a bit rare in today's power pitching atmosphere. If there is a downside to his game it's he will often times only be as good as his defense behind him since he does induce so much contact.
Projection. While it's true that the one-time promise of potential power pitching hasn't materialized in Lail's game, in a lot of ways it could be a blessing in disguise. He doesn't have the mid-90s heat to have the ceiling of a frontline starting pitcher but he does have everything else in his game to pitch like one on any given day. Given his plus command of four above average or better big league pitches, his high level of pitch-ability, very fluid delivery and effortless motion, and off the charts mental makeup, he is not only one of the safer bets to slide into the middle to back-end of a big league starting rotation someday but has the kind of solid overall game to be one of the more consistent performers too; a manager knows what he's going to get from him every time. Throw in the fact that his game is rather unique in today's power arms race he could be an ideal 'changeup' pitcher too, one who could slide in between power pitchers in the rotation to give opponents a completely different look in a series.
ETA. 2016. We've been estimating Lail's eventual big league arrival time at mid-2016 for sometime now and he's still very much on target for that track. He finished the 2015 season in Triple-A Scranton and that's where he will open up this coming season. If he can make the adjustment there like he has at every other minor league level in the past then he'll be on the short list of potential starting pitchers for the big league club should a need arise later in the season.