We’re into the meat of the Top 10 here. These are two good arms.
#8 – RHP Jacob deGrom
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 185 lbs
Acquired: 9th rd ’10 (Stetson U
Born: 6/19/88 (Deland, FL)
2012 Rank: NR
Why Ranked Here: deGrom moves from unranked to Top 10 because he has a great arm. In fact, the specific reason that he moves in front of Montero is that he has a better fastball. He also has a better pitcher’s body, long and lean at 6’4” compared to Montero’s 6’ frame. DeGrom sits 92-96 with real sink out of a nice, easy motion. He told me in spring training that he really picked up his two-seamer when he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in Port St. Lucie and got to throw with Johan Santana. Later in his time in Savannah, deGrom began throwing his four-seamer more to spot up, and get in to lefties. As I wrote last summer, “at times, he’s shown a usable changeup and slider, while in other starts, he’s struggled with feel on his breaking stuff and pitched almost exclusively off his heat.”
If he can improve his secondary offerings to MLB average – no easy feat of course, he can be a starter for me. Otherwise, he’s a really nice hard-throwing reliever. He seems to have a really good feel for the ball out of his hand.
deGrom showed up at Spring Training with a broken finger in his non-throwing hand from an accident working with cattle at his off-season job, but it did not dramatically affect his 2013 preparations.
2012: A revelation. deGrom’s sinker produced an awful lot of weak contact. He allowed under eight hits per nine innings pitched in Savannah and just 14 hits in 21.2 innings the FSL. Even among those few hits, guys just did not square up his heat very much. It seemed like a few times a game, a slow roller or a bloop would find a hole in the expansive Grayson Stadium outfield.
Dr. Pangloss Says: If his slider and changeup come along, he could make an All-Star game as a starter.
Debbie Downer Says: Hard-throwing reliever who generates strikeouts and grounders.
Projected 2013 Start: Advanced-A St. Lucie. If he’s there in July, something went wrong.
MLB Arrival: Late 2015/Early 2016 depending on MLB needs
#9 – RHP Rafael Montero
Why Ranked Here: How does one rise 29 spots up the rankings in a year? Montero did it by blowing through both a-ball levels, earning the Mets’ organization Sterling Pitcher of the Year in the process. And as always in a-ball, the way Montero succeeded was as important as the fact that he succeeded.
He works of a fastball that’s a tick better than Major League average. He sits 92-93 and can touch 94. The fastball was too much for a-ball hitters because he could locate to both sides of the plate and even elevate when he wanted to change a hitter’s eye level. It’s not an ace-level fastball, but it’s plenty to get to the big leagues.
At the beginning of the 2012 season, Montero’s changeup was his primary offspeed weapon. He has good arm action on the pitch and a little fade although not much depth. He throws the pitch 84-86 mph.
His slider made progress in 2012 from “non-factor” to “decent weapon in a-ball.” I saw him working on the pitch in game action in Spring Training 2013. It was 80-81 with a short break. His command of the offering is just ok, and there’s nothing special about it from a MLB perspective at this time. If he’s going to make it as a starter, his slider must continue to develop. Also, the record on 6’ righthanded starters putting together long big league careers is just poor. Montero has a lot of history working against him.
2012: Montero just threw a crazy number of strikes in the South Atlantic League. I think to some degree he figured out that even if they made contact, A-ball hitters were not going to hurt him in Historic Grayson Stadium even if they did make contact. He walked just eight guys in 71.3 innings – that’s just nuts. In the Florida State League, his walk rate jumped from 2.8% to 5.7%, but his strikeout rate hopped with it, from 18.9% in the SAL to 29%. That seems like a very worthwhile tradeoff and in part it speaks to the development of his slider.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Mid-rotation starter
Debbie Downer Says: Back end starter/Middle reliever
Projected 2013 Start: AA Binghamton
MLB Arrival: Late 2014 at earliest; 2015 more likely.