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)