The Top Pitching Prospects In The Pacific Coast League

Dan Straily - Thearon W. Henderson

An inside look at the top pitchers in the PCL and how effectively they've pitched through the first month of the season.

The Pacific Coast League is known as a hitter's paradise with some extreme park effects, but it's also home to some of the best pitchers in the minor leagues. This season there are eight of John Sickels top 50 minor league pitchers throwing in Triple-A PCL.

This article looks at some of their top performers this season with a particular interest in who's put up the best Gamescores (GScr). A GScr is a stat developed by Bill James that grades pitchers on how deep they go into a game and effectiveness. Most of the stats collected are through Sunday.

Through the first few weeks of the season Cardinals prospect Michael Wacha has to be considered the darling of the PCL. He's scored three straight 70+ GScr in his last three games and is allowing just over three hits per outing. Wacha was selected with the 19th pick in the first round of the 2012 draft and dominated in his four starts in High-A Palm Beach where he earned a -0.58 SIERA -- I didn't even know it was possible to score a negative SIERA.

This year Michael was aggressively moved to Triple-A to start the season and he hasn't disappointed putting up a 1.96 ERA and receiving calls from Cardinals fans for a promotion to St. Louis. One stat that's troubling with Wacha this year, is his lack of strikeouts. He's striking out less than five batters per nine innings, but Cardinal fans know he's capable of more as he had a 17.14 K/9 in 2012.

Dan Straily began the year in the Oakland A's rotation as a fill-in until Bartolo Colon returned from suspension. Straily took advantage of his opportunity, striking out 11 and allowing only two earned runs. In a move representing how deep the A's system really is, Straily was sent down for his next start and has pitched well for Sacramento with three consecutive 60+ GScr and topping out with a 71 on April 16th. That day he went seven innings, allowing only a run on four hits with seven strikeouts.

Through three starts Dan has earned a 0.96 ERA and a K/9 of 9.6. Straily returned to the A's rotation on April 29th replacing an injured Brett Anderson. It wouldn't be surprising to see Dan cement himself in the rotation this time, although Anderson is only expected to miss a start or two.

Straily is one of those unique prospects who was selected out of college late in the draft - in the 24th round - and still worked his way into national attention with many prospect experts. Usually when guys like Keith Law hear about a 24th round prospect, they tag the guy as - organizational filler - but not with Straily. In his chat last year Law described Straily, where he actually compliments the A's pitcher:

"Consensus seems to be fourth starter type, four average to above-average pitches, nothing plus, can really pitch. In Oakland that might look a lot more like a 3 given their ballpark and defense." 

Jarred Cosart has been limited in his outings by the Astros implementation of the piggy-back system with their minor league pitchers. This system includes the starter going up to five innings or limited to 75 pitches, then the second pitcher capped at four innings and 60 pitches.

When he first heard about it, Cosart wasn't very excited about the new pitching experiment in Houston's system:

"When they first told us in Spring Training, it was about the third day [after] I'd been sent down from Major League camp. I'm not in the best of moods, so that threw a little icing on the cake."

This new role keeps Jarred from going deep in the ballgame and has resulted in three games where he was pulled before the fifth. When Cosart has lasted five innings he's put up some good GScr with his best being a 69 on April 10th. His season stats are strong as well with a 2.86 ERA and a K/9 of 9.41.

The Diamondbacks prospect Tyler Skaggs has been mostly consistent, if we throw out his game against Sacramento - where he lasted only 2.1 and gave up nine earned runs - then we see four starts with a 60+ GScr. Skaggs has yet to allow a home run on the year and that includes the game against Sacramento where the wind was gusting at 19 mph out to right field.

Tyler has been able to utilize his changeup effectively and pitch to the seventh inning nearly every start. His ERA is going to be ugly for a while thanks to the Sacramento game, but he's allowed two or less runs in the rest of his appearances and both his SIERA and FIP scores represent his true ability.

The rest of the top pitchers in the PCL haven't quite lived up to expectations this year. Zack Wheeler is putting up GScr's in the low 40's and has a walk rate that matches his ERA of 5.84. Mariners prospect Danny Hultzen probably doesn't deserve to be in this paragraph, but the news of his injury and that he'll be shut down for at least a month is very disappointing. The Brewers prospect Tyler Thornburg has been up and down this month going five innings every appearance, but allowing too many extra-base hits. His FIP and SIERA indicate some better appearances are down the road, but so far he hasn't dominated.

Best GScr

Age

Tm

Aff

G

IP

ERA

FIP

SIERA

GB%

BABIP

HR/9

BB/9

K/9

Michael Wacha

72

21.92

Memphis

STL

5

29

1.86

4.65

5.32

33.3%

0.186

0.93

3.41

4.66

Daniel Straily

71

24.5

Sacramento

OAK

3

18.2

0.99

1.99

3.08

40.8%

0.224

0.00

2.97

9.89

Jarred Cosart

69

23.08

Okla. City

HOU

5

22

2.86

2.79

3.07

56.9%

0.246

0.41

3.68

9.41

James Paxton

69

24.58

Tacoma

SEA

4

97

6.00

4.06

3.86

3.86

50.8%

0.86

5.14

9.43

Danny Hultzen

68

23.58

Tacoma

SEA

4

22.2

2.84

2.48

2.92

31.7%

0.267

0.41

2.43

10.14

Tyler Skaggs

66

21.92

Reno

ARI

5

26.1

6.21

2.86

4.23

39.5%

0.341

0.00

4.14

8.28

Tyler Thornburg

63

24.75

Nashville

MIL

5

25

5.04

3.52

3.67

41.3%

0.338

0.72

3.24

8.64

Zack Wheeler

52

23.08

Las Vegas

NYM

5

23.1

5.84

4.54

3.87

39.4%

0.371

1.17

5.84

10.91

 

Infographic

Gscr_zpseb899dd4_medium

 

 

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Minor League Ball

You must be a member of Minor League Ball to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Minor League Ball. You should read them.

Join Minor League Ball

You must be a member of Minor League Ball to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Minor League Ball. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker