SF Giants pitching prospects rundown (4/30 - 5/6)
Emeralds Pitching Prospects
Nick Swiney: 1 G (1 GS), 5.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA
Cole Waites: 3 G, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA
Nick Avila: 3 G (3 SV), 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 6.00 ERA
Kyle Harrison: 1 G (1 GS), 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 10 K, 0.00 ERA
It was only a matter of time until Nick Swiney put it all together after he struggled to throw strikes last month. Swiney, Cole Waites, and Nick Avila threw a combined no-hitter when the calendar flipped to May against Tri-City. Swiney was essentially lights out from the get-go and the relief duo followed suit. When I watched Swiney last April, the execution was still there but he was missing on the edges with his pitches and he was catching a bit too much of the plate with his changeup. Swiney has to live on the edges with his fastball however as the radar gun registered his fastball in the high-80s more often than not.
Speaking of the bullpen duo, Waites and Avila have performed well over the past couple of weeks. Even though Waites brings the heat, Avila has actually been the closer for the Emeralds this season earning a perfect five for five in save opportunities. The 24-year-old righty from Long Beach State has been deadly this season with a 2.79 ERA, a career-high 10.2 K/9 and a career-low 1.86 BB/9. Avila can throw his fastball up to 95 MPH with a big near-12-6 curveball and has always been a good strike-thrower throughout his pro career while having a distinct throwing motion.
Waites has been lights out as well where he has not given up a run in seven straight appearances out of the bullpen, often in high-leverage situations, while striking out 14 and walking just two batters in 6.2 innings pitched. I have seen improvements in Waites' slider to make it a viable second pitch as his fastball that tops out in the triple-digits is just straight-up overpowering as long as he throws enough strikes and throws enough strikes Waites does.
To cap things off, let's talk about the top prospect in the farm system and that's Kyle Harrison. Let's talk about his strikeout numbers first. The lefty has struck out double-digit batters in consecutive starts, bringing his strikeout rate to a mind-bending 52.5%. If that is not clear, Kyle Harrison has struck out more than half of the batters that he's faced.
The second is let's talk about his season so far. Removing his worst outing of the season against the Canadiens as he pitched through sickness (flu/cold, you know bad Pacific Northwest weather taking its toll), here is his stat line:
17 IP, 9 H, 6 BB, 37 K, 0.53 ERA, 56.1% strikeout rate, 41.8% whiff rate, 9.1% walk rate, 63.6% strike thrown rate
Yes, the strike-throwing numbers have been league average for Harrison but the difference in terms of execution and general control for Harrison this season compared to last season has been night and day. He has not missed much in terms of where the catcher wants the ball and where the ball ends up, and he has not lost all of his control in any at-bat so far this season (when he's not sick, of course). If there was a critique that I must point out, it's that I want to see the changeup thrown more to get more confidence out of it. Like performance does not even matter anymore for me, it's already there. I want to see Harrison develop that third pitch that you expect to see from a potential ace.