SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 08: Relief pitcher Stephen Pryor #46 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Safeco Field on June 8, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Minor League Prospect Notes: Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor of the Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners have recently promoted a pair of prospect right-handers to the major leagues, Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor. Can either of these guys be future closers? Let's take a look.
Carter Capps, RHP: It took Capps slightly more than a year to reach the major leagues. Drafted out of Mount Olive College in North Carolina last June as a third round pick, Capps began 2012 in Double-A, posting a 1.26 ERA with a 72/12 K/BB in 50 innings for Jackson, allowing just 40 hits and picking up 19 saves. He got into one game for Triple-A Tacoma, fanning three of the four men he faced, then found himself in the majors.
Capps is a 6-5, 220 pound right-hander, born August 7th, 1990 (happy birthday). He threw in the low-90s as a starter in college, but as a reliever in the pros he works in the mid-to-upper-90s, touching 100. He has a good slider and changeup, and his command has been excellent in the minors. If he maintains his command, I don't see any reason why he can't close games eventually. His personality is reportedly suited for it, he throws hard, throws strikes, and profiles well both sabermetrically and subjectively.
Stephen Pryor, RHP: Pryor was drafted by the Mariners in the fifth round in 2010 from Tennessee Tech. Bothered by elbow problems early in 2011, he posted a 7.67 ERA in 27 innings for High-A High Desert, but improved as the season progressed and finished on a positive note for Double-A Jackson, with a 1.19 ERA and a 27/7 K/BB in 23 innings. In 2012, he's pitched three innings at High Desert, 16 at Jackson, and 20 with Triple-A Tacoma, combining for a 0.93 ERA and a 47/19 K/BB in 39 innings, allowing a mere 18 hits. He picked up 10 saves. So far in the majors, he's got an 11/3 K/BB in eight innings with a 1.13 ERA.
Like Capps, Pryor is a physical right-hander at 6-4, 245, born July 23, 1989. His fastball is very fast in the mid-to-upper-90s, topping out at 100. The fastball has tremendous movement along with the premium velocity. His breaking ball has been described variously as a hard curve or a slider and is also a plus pitch. His command was inconsistent in the minors, but he clearly has closer-quality stuff and can succeed even when his control is less than perfect.
Given that Pryor is a year older than Capps, he should get first-dibs at the closer job, but both of them have that potential.
I had both of them rated as Grade C+ prospects pre-season. Depending on how you value relief/closer prospects, they would both be in the very strong B or the Grade B+ range at this point.