A 25-year old in Double-A usually doesn’t garner this much attention. When it’s a 6 foot 7, 240 pound pitcher with the stuff of Connor Sadzeck, you start to understand why.
He’s hit triple digits on the radar gun with ease and he spins an impressive slider, a curveball that’s as dominant as it sometimes is hittable and a change-up to complete a repertoire that most believe will end up in the bullpen. With the power behind his arsenal, it could play very well in the back-end as one of the last arms used in future close games in Arlington.
But for now, the Texas Rangers are still utilizing Sadzeck as a starting pitcher. In fact, he was the opening day starter for the Frisco RoughRiders, their Double-A affiliate.
An 11th round pick in 2011, the towering, bulky right-hander spent missed the 2014 season but advanced to Frisco in 2015. After posting a very impressive 3.98 ERA and 10.6 K/9 in the hellish pitching environments of the now defunct High Desert, the Rangers promoted “Sadzy” to Double-A and added him to the 40-man roster in the off-season.
Sadzeck may not be the highest profile name on the Riders’ pitching staff —that honor goes to top prospects Yohander Mendez and Ariel Jurado— but Manager Joe Mikulik faced an indecision when assigning his opening day starter for 2017.
Unfortunately, the hard-to-predict Sadzeck was at his worst in his first opener. He failed to record an out on 30 pitches, missing the zone on 18 of them. Four walks and four runs on no outs saddled the righty with an undesirable “INF” ERA and WHIP, among other statistics.
Since the disastrous first game of 2017, Sadzeck has been the hot to his own cold. He’s allowed three earned runs in 18.1 innings, winning two of the three outings.
All of his runs ironically came in what was his finest outing. He carried a perfect game into the 6th and a no-hitter into the 7th. Finishing the game with a season-high 10 strikeouts, the Rangers prospect ranked 14th by John Sickels and as high as 10th by MLB.com looks to be finding his groove.
Strikeouts are not Sadzeck’s problem. It’s walks that have plagued him his professional career. But in his past three starts, he’s walked just five batters and allowed just six hits. Whatever Texas saw to add Sadzeck to the 40-man roster in 2015 and protect him the year after, he could be starting to show with consistency.