Prospect of the Day: Dan Straily, RHP, Oakland Athletics
One of the most interesting pitchers in the minor leagues is right-hander Dan Straily of the Double-A Midland Rockhounds in the Texas League. He's been especially effective of late, posting an amazing 29/1 K/BB ratio in his last 21 innings. Let's take a look.
A pitcher at Marshall University, Straily wasn't a tremendous statistical performer in college, posting a 4.28 ERA and a 115/66 K/BB ratio in 154 innings spread between 2008 and 2009. Oakland scouts saw something they liked, and he was drafted in the 24th round. His pro debut resulted in a 4.12 ERA in 59 innings in the Northwest League, but with a promising 66/18 K/BB ratio, much better than anything he had done in college. He followed this up with a 4.32 ERA and a 149/61 K/BB ratio in 148 innings for Low-A Kane County in the Midwest League in 2010.
Moving up to High-A Stockton for 2011, he posted a 3.87 ERA with a 154/40 K/BB in 161 innings with 160 hits allowed. Note the drastic reduction in his walk rate. Scouting reports were growing more positive, but his 2012 season has been even better than optimists expected: he has a 3.38 ERA for Midland, but with a tremendous 108/23 K/BB in 85 innings with 70 hits allowed. He leads the league in strikeouts by 29 whiffs over his nearest competitor.
So, who is this guy and why hasn't he received much attention outside of Athletics fandom?
Straily is a 6-2, 220 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born December 1st, 1988. He threw in the upper-80s when drafted, but mechanical refinements and better physical conditioning have boosted his velocity: he works consistently at 90-94 MPH now, with reports of him touching higher numbers. His fastball has some hop to it. He's developed a plus slider, as well as a changeup which is at least average and flashes plus, giving him three strong pitches. His command and control are significantly improved from college, and he's proven to be a durable inning-eater in pro ball. His performance has improved at each level, obviously something that augers well for his future.
Although he didn't get a lot of attention until his Double-A success this spring, Straily has exceeded expectations and is a good example of how prospects can be found even in the later rounds of the draft. He projects as a mid-rotation starter, and we should be seeing him in Oakland sometime within the next year.