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Catching up with short-season pitchers

The Rays have spent a number of draft picks on high school pitchers in recent seasons

Spencer Moran is a part of a deep Hudson Valley staff
Spencer Moran is a part of a deep Hudson Valley staff
Jim Donten

After catching up with some short-season bats last week, it's time to get to the mound. That essentially became "catching up with Hudson Valley's pitching staff". So far, the Renegades lead the New York-Penn League in ERA and WHIP.

Like last week with the hitters, I did not include every pitcher performing well. I tended to pick pitchers who have some scouting information online so there's something to offer besides a handful of stats.

RHP Peter Bayer, Princeton Rays (18 IP, 1.00 ERA, 1.95 FIP, 38.5 K%, 1.5 BB%)

Bayer, the organization's ninth-round pick in June, has dominated the Appalachian League. After three years at Richmond, he finished his career at Cal Poly Ponoma. All told, he walked 96 batters in 153 collegiate innings, which makes it all the more strange he has just one walk as a professional so far. Baseball America ranked him as the No. 448 player in the class and noted he had an average-to-above-average fastball and good curveball.

LHP Brock Burke, Hudson Valley Renegades (37 2/3 IP, 3.58 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 23.8 K%, 13.4 BB%)

The prize from the Rays' 2014 draft is going to be Brent Honeywell, but the team made a significant investment in prep arms, landing Cameron Varga (2nd round), Burke (3rd), Blake Bivens (4th), and Spencer Moran (11th). Burke wasn't even in BA's top-500 players in that draft, so it was surprising when the Rays took a pitcher who walked over seven batters per nine innings as a senior in high school. Last summer, he showed average stuff but was in control. This season, the walks have bumped up again.

RHP Austin Franklin, GCL Rays (33 IP, 2.73 ERA, 2.54 FIP, 25.2 K%, 9.2 BB%)

Like that 2014 draft, the 2016 draft saw the Rays gravitate toward high school arms. All eight of their Day 2 picks were pitchers, including three from high schools and another from a junior college. Franklin was the first of those off the board with the No. 90 pick. His pro career is off to a nice start, using his fastball that touches 96 to rack up some strikeouts. The development of his offspeed pitches will obviously be key -- Baseball Prospectus' Christopher Crawford was not a believer at the draft and questioned the pick ($).

RHP Garrett Fulenchek, Hudson Valley Renegades (18 IP, 3.50 ERA, 6.81 FIP, 6.5 K%, 21.7 BB%)

Fulenchek was acquired by the Rays in 2015 when they traded international bonus slots, which were useless to them under the penalties stemming from signing Adrian Rondon in 2014. This season, he provides a great example for why everyone should look below surface stats like ERA. Since joining the organization, he has nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts. Until he fixes that, I don't know if it matters how good his stuff is.

RHP Easton McGee, GCL Rays (19 IP, 1.89 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 15.2 K%, 8.9 BB%)

Pitchers already 6-foot-6 in high school are probably going to have trouble throwing strikes early in their careers. McGee was touted as having better control than usual for tall pitchers, but the early returns show quite a few walks so far. He has average stuff with room to grow, so I'm not worried about the free passes. He has a nice ground-ball rate, which you might expect for someone with his size.

RHP Spencer Moran, Hudson Valley Renegades (39 IP, 2.31 ERA, 4.64 FIP, 16.3 K%, 10.0 BB%)

Moran has progressed through the system slowly with the Rays. After pitching well for Princeton last season, he's been a little underwhelming with the Renegades. After allowing just one home run in 69 innings over his first two seasons, he's already allowed four, although his ground-ball rate is up. His strikeouts are down, and his walks are up. He's still only 20, though, and I wouldn't be surprised if he made an appearance for Bowling Green with some of its recent injuries.

RHP Adrian Navas, Hudson Valley Renegades (44 2/3 IP, 1.81 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 19.0 K%, 5.8 BB%)

I couldn't find any information at all on Navas. However, he was Hudson Valley's Opening Day starter, made the All-Star Game and is pitching pretty well. Adam Hayes, who has written some eyewitness reports for BP, has this video:

LHP Travis Ott, Hudson Valley Renegades (41 2/3 IP, 0.22 ERA, 2.03 FIP, 27.3 K%, 6.5 BB%)

In a way, Ott was "the other guy" in the big trade that saw Wil Myers end up in San Diego. Compared to Rene Rivera, Steven Souza, Jake Bauers and Burch Smith, he was certainly the most unknown quantity, and he still hasn't reached full-season ball with the organization. With his lengthy tenure in the league, his jersey number will likely be retired by the entire New York-Penn League soon. His stuff has been described as average, but hitters seem to be having problems with that.

RHP Reimin Ramos, Princeton Rays (21 IP, 3.43 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 28.6 K%, 5.5 BB%)

International signing penalties as described above don't prevent a team from signing players entirely; they just severely limit your spending. Ramos was signed in the period after the Rays got Rondon, and he signed for $150,000. He's pretty new to the mound but has a good fastball. His inexperience clearly isn't hurting him. He's throwing a lot of strikes, and his strikeout rate is way up compared to his 2015 in the Dominican Summer League.

RHP Joe Serrapica, Hudson Valley Renegades (17 1/3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.69 FIP, 32.3 K%, 7.7 BB%)

Serrapica has a pretty nice ERA. He had Tommy John surgery during his college career, but he appears past that.