When I headed out to Rome to watch Max Fried and the Braves last Thursday, I wasn’t expecting much from their opposition. After all, John ranked the Miami Marlins farm system 29th out of 30th for the second season running, so to temper my expectations of the Greensboro Grasshoppers seemed right.
I was impressed with a few things I saw. I saw Marlins 2015 first-round draft pick Josh Naylor steal a base, to improve to 9-for-11 on the season, which still boggles my mind considering he is 6-foot, 225 pounds with what many have labeled Grade 20 speed. I saw Anfernee Seymour rip a gapper and drive in two, continuing to make himself look like a nice find in the seventh round of the 2014 draft. And I saw Cody Poteet totally control the strike zone.
To say I was impressed with Poteet is an understatement. He zipped through five innings with ease, and I was pretty shocked he didn’t come out for a sixth — and to be honest with the way he was throwing — a seventh. When his night was over, Poteet had landed 42 of his 63 pitches for strikes.
There was nothing over-powering about Poteet, with his fastball sitting in the high-80s most of the night, sprinkling in a few that hit in the low-90s. His curve was nasty, coming in around 77-mph and completely freezing several batters. He completely froze Carlos Castro, locking his knees at the plate, en route to his first strikeout in the bottom of the second.
Poteet pitched quickly and to contact for the most part, as he ripped through the second, third and fourth inning facing them minimum (he did allow a single, however the lone hit in those three innings was quickly erased with a double-play on the next batter). He did "struggle" in the fifth, allowing three singles and a run, but he still landed 17 of his 24 pitches for strikes, and struck out two in the inning.
His final line on the night was five innings pitched, allowing one run on four hits and a walk, while striking out four. So, who is Cody Poteet?
John labeled him as a sleeper coming into this season in his 2016 Prospect Guide and he seems to be filling out that role. He currently sits at 3-5 on the season, with a very impressive 2.43 ERA striking out 57 and walking 22 over 63 innings. Much of his control problems seemed to have stemmed from early season adjustments to Class A ball, as he has been on fire of late, hurling 16 innings while allowing just three earned runs and striking out 16 to just four walks over his last three outings.
Poteet was drafted in the fourth round last season and is shaping out to be someone that can help on the Major League level. Now 21-years old, the 6-foot-1, 190 pound righty may be able to add a tick or two to his velocity down the road, but I think we are seeing who he is, which isn’t a bad thing.
The former UCLA swingman, used out of the bullpen and rotation, has now become a full-time starter. None of his four pitches in his arsenal are elite, but he handles all of them pretty well. His fastball tops out at 94, but as already mentioned he seems to work it in the 89 to 91 range. His best pitch may be a mid-80s slider that was working well that night, and the aforementioned high-70s curve keeps batters fooled. His changeup is a work in progress, but having a fourth pitch that may pan out is a solid weapon.
Poteet could one day be a viable inning eating, back of the rotation starter with Mark Buehrle-esque stuff, or become a middle reliever with the ability to start a la Adam Warren. The latter role could see Poteet climb the ladder much more quickly and perhaps see the major leagues by next season. It seems that the Marlins are content with Poteet growing into his role as a starter, so the likely expectations would be a 2018 arrival.