Houston Astros rookie Joe Musgrove made his first major league start yesterday, allowing one run in seven innings against the Texas Rangers. Add in the results of his MLB debut back on August 2nd, a 4.1 inning relief outing, and he has given up just one run in his first 11.1 innings with an outstanding 14/1 K/BB.
Musgrove was originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the compensation round of the 2011 draft from high school in El Cajon, California. He was traded to the Astros in the 2012 J.A. Happ deal. After working through some injury issues he had a decent season in the New York-Penn League in 2014 and looked like a nice sleeper entering 2015.
From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book
Joe Musgrove, RHP, Houston Astros
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-5 WT: 230 DOB: December 4, 1992
2012: Grade B-; 2013: Grade C+; 2014: Grade C; 2015: Grade C+
From the 2015 book:
It seems strange to put a SLEEPER ALERT tag on a former first round pick but I think it fits in this case. If he makes a clean transition to full-season ball, his stock will leap forward quickly.
Well I was an optimist on Musgrove but nobody expected this: 12-1, 1.88 at three levels with a 99/8 K/BB in 101 innings. Fully healthy for the first time in three years, he polished up his slider and change-up while working his fastball consistently at 90-94 MPH. While none of his pitches are spectacular, they are all at least big league average. His command, control, and mound presence are simply superb. The main issue now is durability, how he handles a larger workload. If that goes well he should be a highly-efficient and consistently above-average major league starter. Grade B+.
Musgrove continued to thrive in 2016, posting a combined 2.74 ERA in 85 innings between Double-A and Triple-A with an 87/10 K/BB. In his minor league career overall he stands at 28-11 in 52 starts and 24 relief outings with a 2.53 ERA and a 320/41 K/BB in 337 innings.
His initial MLB innings confirm the minor league scouting reports: fastball between 88 and 95 MPH, averaging around 92; curveballs, sliders, and change-ups ranging from the upper-70s to mid-80s, plus excellent command and control that helps everything play up. There's nothing left for him to prove in the minors and he is ready for a full trial.
Given his history and some funk in his delivery, I'm not certain that he'll be durable long-term, but you can say that about most young pitchers. Aside from that, I love Musgrove as a prospect and would rate him as a Grade A- right now. He hasn't received as much attention as he deserves, but in my view he is an elite prospect.