Prospect of the Day: Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 20: Chris Archer #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches in his major league debut against the Washington Nationals in interleague play at Nationals Park on June 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Prospect of the Day: Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Chris Archer made his major league debut for the Tampa Bay Rays last night, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk over six innings against the Washington Nationals, taking the loss but looking impressive doing so with seven strikeouts.

Archer was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the fifth round in 2006, from high school in Clayton, North Carolina. He struggled with command problems and general inconsistency in their system, and was shipped west to the Chicago Cubs in the winter of 2008. The change of scenery worked wonders and he pitched brilliantly at times in the Chicago system, especially after reaching Double-A in the second half of 2010 (1.80 ERA in 13 starts).

The Rays acquired Archer in the January 2011 Matt Garza deal. He was inconsistent last season for Double-A Montgomery, posting a 4.42 ERA with a 118/80 K/BB ratio in 134 innings with 136 hits allowed. However, he pitched better as the season progressed. Opening for Triple-A Durham this spring, he went 4-8 in 14 starts for the Bulls with a 4.81 ERA and a 90/45 K/BB in 77 innings with 65 hits allowed.

Archer is a 6-3, 200 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born September 26, 1988 in Raleigh, North Carolina. He's clocked as high as 96-97 MPH at times, but works more commonly in the 92-94 range, albeit with excellent movement. His second pitch is a nasty slider which makes an excellent combination with the fastball. He varies the speed of his slider and it is almost like having two different breaking balls to work with. His changeup draws mixed reviews, some observers rating it as below average, others saying that it is an underrated, quite solid offering that offsets the fastball and slider very well.

By all accounts, Archer has tremendous stuff and is overpowering when he's on. This shows up very nicely in his excellent K/IP and H/IP ratios this year for Durham. His biggest issue is simple command: he has bouts of wildness, traced to inconsistent mechanics, and can get hit surprisingly hard on days when his location is off. Despite these concerns, his upside is enormous and he can develop into a number two starter if all goes well.
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