SF Giants pitching prospects rundown (5/7 - 5/13)
SJ Giants Pitching Prospects
Will Bednar: 1 G (1 GS), 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 HBP, 2 BB, 2 K, 3.00 ERA
Matt Mikulski: 1 G (1 GS), 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 HBP, 0 BB, 7 K, 1.80 ERA
Keaton Winn: 2 G (2 GS), 6.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R (3 ER), 1 HBP, 1 BB, 9 K, 4.05 ERA
Jose Cruz: 1 G, 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA
Will Bednar is having a very weird first full professional season. You see his 2.28 ERA and you can concur that he is having a very good season but there is a lot of nuances involved that in my opinion makes the ERA a bit of a mirage. Bednar has hit as many batters as he allowed hits (nine) and he's walked one more batter than he's allowed a hit (ten). He's allowed seven walks in his last three starts (15% walk rate) which showed that his strike-throwing has been an issue as of recently which is far from his usual self. His BABIP this season is a minuscule .130 which tells us that he is getting away unscathed a lot of times and he's rising to the occasion when his back is against the wall. He's making it work though with his 28.4% strikeout rate and a 17.4% swinging-strike rate. It's good that he shows his grit, the swing and miss ability, particularly with his slider, and the clutch gene but he should dominate and his 5.18 xFIP tells us that a poor Bednar performance is a matter of 'when' and not 'if ever'.
Like Bednar, Matt Mikulski is having a very weird 2022 season as well. Let's look beyond the 4.37 ERA. The biggest takeaway from Mikulski's performance this season is that he's sacrificed velocity to be in the strike zone more consistently and the numbers proved it (2.8 BB/9 in San Jose compared to 3.6 BB/9 last year in college). The fastball that once touched 97 MPH last year has parked in the 90-94 MPH range in San Jose. He's also been noticeably effective against righties than lefties (.706 OPS versus lefties compared to .921 OPS versus righties) even though it looked like his changeup regressed in terms of quality. The slider has been less consistent as well though at its best flashed late break down and in on the righties but it's been more of a pretty flat pitch with only little break when in the zone. Mikulski makes up for the lesser stuff by being one of the best fielding pitchers in the farm system as well as having a plethora of nasty pickoff moves. At the end of the day though, it's the stuff that matters and Mikulski's stuff waned a bit in pro ball in my opinion and has been surpassed by his fellow draftees due it while also having a similar or better strike-throwing ability.
I am probably the only person who gets excited with a pitcher who is already 24 years old with a 5.94 ERA in San Jose because I mean, a 5.94 ERA as a 24 year-old pitching in Low-A should not be exciting. But I am excited on Keaton Winn. Winn has the quintessential late-bloomer traits. Drafted in the fifth round of 2018, Winn has not pitched over the last two years. During that time though, he's worked on getting stronger that resulted from a guy with a low-90s fastball with middling secondaries to a guy with a fastball that touches 100 MPH and a pretty nasty splitter and slider when it's on. Winn flashed the ability to spot his fastball in the zone but it's more control than command but for someone who throws in the high-90s, that's acceptable enough. Winn is getting time in the rotation as he is piling on the workload but he projects as a nasty reliever with him sitting in the 98-101 MPH range with a wicked splitter.
Capping off the San Jose rundown is the always interesting Jose Cruz. I'll do a deeper dive on Cruz sometime this week but the 411 on him is that he is a sidearm power reliever who throws his fastball in the mid-90s, touching 98 MPH, and has struck out 19 of the 40 batters that he's faced this season. Sounds pretty familiar? I can personally vouch for a Camilo Doval-type ceiling for Cruz as he's had a dominant but wild 2022 season if you look past the 3.86 ERA.