Mid-Season Prospects: #19

19. Chris Stratton, RHP, San Jose (High A)

2014: 16 GS, 87.1 IP, 4.95, 88 H, 35 BB, 92 K

You might see this ranking and wonder how a credible blogger could drop a 1st round pick (and Baseball America’s #3 Giants prospect) almost out of the organization’s top 20. But Stratton has just been too inconsistent for my liking since he turned pro, and I really feel every player I have ranked above him has a great case to be there.

So, what’s the deal with this guy, who the Giants were thrilled to draft 20th overall just a couple summers ago? Honestly, I don’t know, because I’ve never seen him pitch in person. But I have a pretty good idea, based on the reports that are out there. Stratton peaked during his junior year at Mississippi State, and entered the draft as a power arm, pairing a plus slider with a FB that hit 95 most outings. But that velocity seems to have dropped off pretty significantly since he entered the organization. More often than not, you hear/read about him working more 87-91 with his FB. His slider is still a strikeout pitch, as you can see by his increased K rate this year in the Cal League. But with that kind of velocity, he has to really show great command, which he hasn’t in his career thus far. As painful as this is to say, if you throw his SEC and 1st round pedigree out the window, and evaluate him solely for what he’s done the past couple years, he really doesn’t look like a top prospect.

I’ll say this about Stratton: he’s pitched much better in spurts lately. 5 of his last 10 outings have been quality starts, and he’s got 22 K in his last 3 starts (15.1 IP). He’s shown some flashes of the dominant pitcher the Giants were hoping for. He was even clocked up to 93 in his most recent start, which is another positive sign. If he can make strides in his command, the Giants will give him every opportunity to make it to the big leagues in a couple years. The problem is, he’s almost 24 years old in High A. For me, everything adds up to a player whose prospect status has really slipped.

(Video c/o Conner Penfold)

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7 thoughts on “Mid-Season Prospects: #19”

  1. Yeah, I can definitely see why you ranked him this low. He is one of the many puzzling selections made in the first round in recent years.

    1. To be fair, Stratton wasn’t exactly a puzzling pick. He was one of the top college pitchers in the country. Everyone has their preferences, but I didn’t see a ton of negativity from the pundits when the Giants drafted him.

  2. If you look back to his MSU career he muddled along for two years with middling results, then figured something out big time, 5.08 K/BB, 6.89 H/9 and 10.42 K/9. If course, that’s college this is the pro’s. Velocity might have a lot to do with it, but Stratton was supposed to be a polished bulldog type who could get strikeouts and go after people. He definitely has not been that guy. Of all the draft picks that get cricitiized since the Gints started winning, this is the one that I get on board with. There were some interesting HS team usa pitchers and there were a couple of bats worth looking at. If Stratton was a stud, the farm system would be looking much, much better. I think you’ve got a pretty good rating here – but he does have good ratios for the most part except for HRs, and that could be explained by the CA league. Teams are hitting 263/333/443 against him. That just isn’t very good.

    1. He certainly didn’t have the overall college career of a guy like Beede, but you still would like to see him come around to pro ball better than he has. I’m definitely a little more intrigued by his recent outings, but it’s just not enough right now to sway my overall opinion. He seems like a very humble guy with a great attitude and work ethic, but he’s got a long way to go to reach his potential.

  3. I think that Stratton has “earned” his demotion in rankings, but I’m still willing to cut him some slack because of his concussion from a line drive the year he was drafted by the Giants. A pitcher’s mechanics is so sensitive to slight changes, so I wouldn’t be shocked if his body unconsciously is telling him to hold back a little, taking some of his velocity. Likewise, if he had prior concussions, recovery takes longer.

    I like this article: http://www.brainfacts.org/diseases-disorders/injury/articles/2012/hard-knocks-the-science-of-concussions/

    Says that there is no conclusive way to know exactly when the brain is ready to handle being put at risk again. It also notes that the damage could be permanent – they just don’t know – and thus it could be that he’s taking longer to recover, perhaps.

    Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/clinical-updates/neurosciences/concussion-determining-when-brain-recovered

    Basically, we don’t really know.

    Still, it is a results oriented business and he hasn’t been progressing, at least at the surface. He has had his ups and his downs. But there is very little to argue in his favor given the expectations on him when drafted and the lackluster results thus far.

    One thing I noticed is that his BABIP has been very high, around .330, showing that he’s getting hit pretty hard. That is not a very good sign, he’ll need to figure that out before he can hope to make the majors. And a saber who works in the business, Mike Fast, noted that regressing to the mean is a major league skill, not every pitcher in the minors can do that, they can get hit hard.

    Also, his results recently has been much better, with his striking out 8+ in four of his last six starts, whereas he had none previously, and he also had low walks in those starts. And that is much better than what he did last season in Augusta, he rarely had 8+ and not once combined that with a low walk start, so these four starts are a step up in terms of his performance over his pro career so far.

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