Prospect Report - Rome Pitchers
Zeke Spruill, SP: 7-3, 3.18. Spruill burst onto the scene last season after being drafted in June, going 7-0, 2.93 in 10 starts in the GCL. Compared to his time in the GCL last season, he's cut his walks, but is allowing a few more hits, and his strikeouts has dropped. With his low walk rate, the drop in strikeouts isn't really worrisome. In news to make me smile even more, Spruill has kept the ball on the ground a lot more than he did last season. Improvements all around the board for Zeke this year, and I'm very happy.
JJ Hoover, SP: 3-2, 3.31 (2 levels). Hoover is a couple of years older than Spruill, but that doesn't make him less of a prospect. He's made 9 starts this year for Rome, and come out of the bullpen for long relief 5 times (which explains his lack of decisions). I'm going to ignore his one appearance for Myrtle Beach this season, and instead focus on his time in Rome. Hoover was drafted last year, and only pitched in 4 2/3 innings for Danville, so its a blank slate for him. I'm very impressed with him thusfar. He's got a miniscule walk rate of 1.33, and a fantastic K rate of 9.98, and to make matters even better, he's allowed more ground balls than fly balls. Nice...very nice. His HR rate might be a LITTLE high (0.93)...but I'm not going to complain. So far, I'm really enjoying the JJ Hoover era in Rome.
Randall Delgado, SP: 1-6, 5.02. Randall Delgado is one of the young, international arms in the Braves system thats getting a lot of hype. The other one of course is Julio Teheran, who I'll cover in my Danville pitching report, whenever that happens. The most important thing to remember about Delgado, is that no matter how many some of his stats may look, he's still only 19, and still very raw. What I'm really digging about Delgado is his 9.73 K rate, as a 19 year old. That is some straight filth. His walk rate is still too high (4.08), and he's allowing too many hits (.267), but be patient people...he's 19, and in a new country. Patience with these young guys is tantamount to their success.
Brett DeVall, SP: 4-4, 3.52. Ah yes, the first round (supplemental, that is) pick from last year. Like Delgado, Brett DeVall is only 19, so patience is critical. But unlike Delgado, DeVall's numbers don't necessarily require patience. Before his last 2 starts, where he allowed 11 runs in 11 innings, DeVall had a ridiculous 2.10 ERA. Natually, getting shelled like that will raise your numbers a little bit. DeVall's HR rate is a miniscule 0.50 this year, and his 2.34 walk rate, which I wouldn't mind seeing get lowered a smidge. His K rate is chilling at 6.88, which doesn't worry me since he's never been much of a strikeout pitcher. I'm very pleased with DeVall's progress so far.
These 4 guys are all doing a great job down in Rome. The team finished exactly at .500 after the first half of the season, because as I outlined, they have some great pitching and a ghastly offense, much like their major league club. Many of the pitchers in Rome could be due for a late season promotion to Myrtle Beach to fortify their rotation, especially with the glut of raw young pitching comign up through the system. It will be interesting to see how these guys progress over July and August.
Time for a huge bright spot in the organization: raw, young pitching. Rome is rife with talented starters and relievers, and the lower levels of the organization have even more kids that are still a long way off from the majors. Tonight, we're going to take a look at some of Rome's most promising prospects, some of which you may have heard of.