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Standout Pitching Prospects In Double-A

Dynasty leagues are built from the ground up and watching Triple-A pitchers is a solid way to grab the latest call-ups. However, as we have seen with Eury Perez and past top-performing pitching prospects, teams won’t shy away from grabbing a guy performing well in Double-A. Last time out we looked at the top hitting prospects tearing up Double-A. This time out let’s take a look at some of the top pitching prospects that I believe could be targets for their teams to promote to Triple-A or the major leagues soon.

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Double-A Pitching Prospects to Watch

Southern League

Carlos F. Rodriguez, RHP MIL

Milwaukee’s pitching factory seems to be at it again. The sixth-round pick out of Florida Southwestern State Junior College performed well in his first full season in 2022. Ascending two levels, Rodriguez struck out 129 batters in 107.2 innings, with a .188 average against and a 2.75 ERA in 20 starts and 26 total appearances. The 21-year-old Rodriguez is picking right up where he left off in 2023 after getting the bump to AA Biloxi. In 28.2 innings, Rodriguez has 41 strikeouts while keeping opposing batters to a .146 average and putting up an excellent 1.88 ERA in six starts.

If there is a cause for concern, it would need to be directed toward the walk rate for Rodriguez. Currently, he has a 4.08 BB/9 and it was at 3.31 BB/9 in 2022. With that being said, Rodriguez works off of his plus slider and changeup. This is relevant because he relies heavily on swing-and-miss outside of the zone, so he will show higher walk rates as a result when he doesn’t get the strikeout call. Keep your eyes on Rodriguez as he can quickly become a highly touted prospect in the Brewers organization and is already showing to be a quick riser.

Sean Hunley, RHP TBR

Tampa Bay has a knack for finding and developing pitching prospects to work with the “Rays style” of baseball. Taken in the 19th round in the 2021 draft out of Tennessee, Sean Hunley was a workhorse reliever for the Volunteers. In four years at Tennessee Hunley logged 209 innings, struck out 173 batters, and posted a 2.71 ERA with 13 saves. It seems the Rays wanted to convert him from a reliever to a starter in 2022 while he was at AA Montgomery. Over 10 starts and 27 total appearances Hunley struck out 68 hitters in 91.1 innings.

The Rays sent Hunley back to Montgomery to start the 2023 season exclusively as a starter and so far the numbers are fantastic. In 29.2 innings, Hunley has 32 strikeouts with a .178 average against and a stellar 0.91 ERA in six starts. The most impressive aspect of Hunley’s game over the last three seasons is the elite walk rate. Last season, as a reliever and starter, he only had a 1.77 BB/9. That’s better than most starters in the minor leagues. This season he is sitting at a cool 0.91 BB/9.

With the Rays pitching development history, it would not surprise me to see this guy get more run as a starter. This could be an option for the Rays’ rotation similar to Drew Rasmussen.

Texas League

Nick Frasso, RHP LAD

One of the main pieces in the Ross Stripling trade from Toronto was Nick Frasso. The fourth-round pick by the Blue Jays in the 2022 MLB draft has an electric fastball, slider, and change-up that provide a serious strikeout upside. It’s been a solid season for Frasso so far in 2023 as he has overpowered Double-A hitters with his previously mentioned high-90s fastball that tops out at 100. The change-up sits in the mid-80s and has strong fade and sink whereas the mid-80s slider has been a solid out pitch that he has been locating well recently.

So far in 26.2 innings, Frasso has 36 strikeouts, with a .198 average against and a 1.01 ERA in six starts. Frasso’s 12.15 K/9 is impressive but it’s his 1.69 BB/9 that has me excited. He has done a solid job of keeping the ball on the ground and out of the air in Tulsa, not a small feat to do. This is just one of the many intriguing pitching prospects in the Dodgers organization. With a start to the season like this, Frasso needs to be on your watch list.

Bryan Woo, RHP SEA

First thing is first tell me you didn’t see Bryan Woo’s name and give out a Ric Flair Woooo… All jokes aside, Bryan Woo has been fantastic at Double-A Arkansas. Woo was drafted out of Cal Poly in the sixth round of the 2021 MLB draft and split time between relieving and starting. Woo is equipped with a solid three-pitch mix of an upper-90s fastball, a sharp almost cutter-like slider in the upper 80s, and a power change-up that comes in at 88 MPH. At Cal Poly Bryan Woo would mix in a curveball but the pitch isn’t seen too often as a professional.

The Mariners assigned Woo to Double-A Arkansas where so far he has 39 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched, holding batters to a .146 average and putting up a 1.93 ERA in six starts. It’s been good to see the walks down to 1.93 BB/9 as that was something he struggled with in high-A in 2022. The Mariners have just recently sent Prelander Berroa to the bullpen for the Travelers to work as a reliever. It was predictable but telling that they will move Berroa to that role and keep Woo in the rotation.

Eastern League

Shane Drohan, LHP BOS

The Boston Red Sox should be happy with the performance put in by the 24-year-old Drohan this season. The Red Sox drafted Drohan in the fifth round of the shortened 2020 MLB Draft out of Florida State. Drohan had a solid season in 2022, ascending two levels and logging 129.2 innings with 157 strikeouts across 27 appearances. With two full seasons behind Drohan, the Red Sox sent him back to AA Portland in 2023 where the results are fantastic so far. Drohan has 36 strikeouts in 34 innings, while keeping batters to a .161 average and posting a 1.32 ERA across six starts for the Sea Dogs.

The only concern for Drohan out of Florida State was the control. In his three seasons with the Seminoles, Drohan walked 69 batters in 73.2 innings. Fast-forward to 2021, which was his first full season, and Drohan had 45 walks in 88.2 innings. Last season we saw improvements in the walk rate and that carried over to the 2023 season, as Drohan has a solid 2.38 BB/9 in 34 innings pitched. This is a solid arm to have in your stable in 20-plus team dynasty leagues. Currently, the Red Sox do not have a bunch of top-tier pitching prospects in their system, and buying rotations is unsustainable. Keep Drohan on your radar as he has just gotten the promotion to AAA Worcester.

Cade Povich, LHP BAL

The Baltimore Orioles are on the rise and we have been seeing their top-tier prospects light up AAA Norfolk. The only thing that has eluded the Orioles has been pitching development. Now they have finally got Grayson Rodriguez finding his way in the majors. Sadly the opposite could be said for DL Hall who is looking more and more like a reliever long-term. This begs the question, who’s next? Drew Rom has looked fantastic and Cade Povich is really making his case quickly for a future rotation spot.

This season Povich has shown fantastic strikeout numbers so far. In 26.2 innings, Povich has 44 strikeouts which is good for a 14.85 K/9 at Double-A Bowie. The walks have been a bit on the high side at 3.38 BB/9. This is not as much of a concern for me as Povich thrives on his plus slider and a curveball that will induce swing and miss outside of the zone. When you look into Povich’s numbers you will notice his FIP is significantly lower than his 3.38 ERA at 1.43. This tells me Povich is getting a bit unlucky.

If and when he gets promoted to Triple-A, it will be interesting to see how he looks with what has been a strong defense. This might be a sign of good things to come for Povich as he is settling in nicely in his new organization.

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