I got this message yesterday about Houston Astros farmhand Kit Scheetz, a left-handed pitcher:
“Do you know what has changed for Kit Scheetz since college? I watched him extensively at Virginia Tech and he just seemed like a guy with marginal stuff who could get college hitters out but who struggled when his stuff flattened out. He was throwing his fastball 86-88 at the time and the curveball was pretty good, but the whole package was somewhat inconsistent and he went undrafted. Now he has a 2.03 ERA and a 140/26 K/BB after his second pro season. What happened?”—-Z Silverman
Let’s take a look.
As Z notes, Scheetz was a college pitcher at Virginia Tech. He wasn’t massively successful, posting a 4.83 ERA in 252 innings over four seasons with a 181/80 K/BB. His 2017 senior year was the best of the bunch (3.86 in 68 innings, 57/23 K/BB) but it wasn’t enough to get him drafted. Still, the Astros saw something they liked and picked him up as an undrafted free agent.
Scheetz has been much more successful in pro ball. He split 2018 between High-A Buies Creek and Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a combined 2.24 ERA in 68 innings with an 87/17 K/BB. He was impressive enough in the Texas League that he’s being mentioned as a possible bullpen asset over the next year or two.
What’s changed since college? Has there been some massive uptick in stuff?
Not really. His fastball is in the upper-80s, maybe a tad faster than in college but not by much. He has both two-seam and four-seam types and is adept at coaxing grounders. He mixes in a curveball and slider, and he has an unusual arm angle that adds some deception. He throws strikes and one source describes him as “utterly fearless” on the mound.
All of his metrics have improved greatly since college. Why? Exact causality is hard to pin down in cases like this where there has not been a huge change in stuff. Although the basic scouting profile hasn’t changed much, he’s more consistent in general, his command has improved, and his game plays up in the bullpen. The context is friendlier, too; with better coaching and better defenses behind him now. All that adds up.
All told, Scheetz projects as a viable bullpen lefty and could get a shot within the next year or two if he continues pitching like this. He’s another example of successful bargain hunting by the Astros in the late-round and undrafted player markets.