August 3, 2015 at 11:00 AM
While the Greenville Drive lineup is one of the deepest in the system prospect-wise, following the suspension of Michael Kopech, the pitching staff is on the thin side. However, despite the lack of top-end talent, there are a few pitchers who have the potential to be bullpen arms at the big league level. During the four games we were down in Greenville, we got a chance to see most of the pitching staff and below is the first of a two-part series breaking down the Drive pitchers.
- SoxProspects.com Assistant Director of Scouting Chaz Fiorino will have a more detailed report on 2015 seventh-round pick Ben Taylor this week, so this will be relatively brief. Taylor was one of the best pitchers I saw from Greenville while down there, after also impressing during his stint with Lowell. Considering he was signed as a college senior and only received a $10,000 bonus, he looks like he could be a steal.
Taylor does not have a huge ceiling, but he’s advanced with a high floor. The right-hander has strong pitchability and a solid three-pitch mix. His fastball sat in the low-90s in this outing, topping out at 94 mph a handful of times. The pitch jumps on hitters with late sink and run, showing the ability to miss bats. Taylor has very good control of the pitch with the potential for above-average command. He has feel for both his secondary offerings, a slider and changeup. He threw his changeup at 79-81 mph in this outing and his slider at 80-82 mph, showing the ability to bury it down or backdoor it to left-handed hitters. Taylor is a great example of a prospect who could potentially move very quickly as a reliever, but for now the Red Sox will continue to develop him as a starter. This makes sense especially while he is in the lower minors as his advanced arsenal would eat up hitters at that level and he wouldn’t be forced to throw all his pitches.
- A 2014 seventh-round selection, Reid Reilly started the first game of the trip on July 17 showing off solid pitchability, but a pedestrian arsenal that is likely better suited for the bullpen. Reilly has a solid pitcher’s frame, listed at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, with limited physical projection remaining. He has some effort in his delivery including long arm action featuring a stab behind and slight drop and drive. He works from the first base side of the rubber, throwing from an over the top arm slot, but with only average arm speed. He gets some deception in his delivery from his front side as he starts with a wide base and then utilizes a high leg kick, before coming partially across his body.
Reilly’s arsenal includes four pitches: a fastball, changeup, curveball and slider. However, in this outing he primarily relied on the first three pitches, only throwing a few sliders. His fastball sat 88-90 mph over his four innings of work showing some sink or cut on occasion. He has good control, but struggled to locate the pitch within the zone, and as a result it was very hittable. He also struggled to find his release point, tending to yank the pitch, especially in the fourth inning. His best secondary offering was his 83-85 mph changeup. He showed decent feel for the offering and it flashed average potential. His 11-5 curveball, thrown 75-77 mph, was on the loose side and he struggled to snap it off consistently, showing fringe-average potential at best. With his delivery and fringy arsenal, Reilly profiles best out of the bullpen long-term, though at this point he doesn’t project as more than an organizational arm.
- Carlos Pinales’ fastball sat 89-92 mph out of the bullpen, with his velocity dropping down to 86-88 mph during his third inning of work. He has limited remaining physical projection in his 6-foot-1, 210-pound frame and a jerky, arm-heavy delivery. His arm action is long behind and tough to repeat consistently. He has solid feel for his changeup with confidence to throw it in any count. The pitch comes in 81-83 mph with late, hard fade and drop. The pitch showed bat-missing ability and is thrown with deceptive arm speed in that it is very similar to his fastball. Pinales also showed a long, sweeping slider in the low-80s, but threw it sparingly.
- Left-handed pitcher Michael Gunn throws from a high three-quarters arm slot with effort in his delivery. He has a sturdy, filled-out frame, and does a good job pitching downhill despite his height of 6-foot-0. He has a quick, compact delivery with an arm hook behind and violent head whip. Gunn sat 89-91 during his 1 1/3 innings of work. His fastball jumped on hitters, but was on the straight side. He complemented the pitch with a 76-78 mph curveball. The pitch had sharp, late break through the zone and he showed the ability to bury it down and away from righties. He had some trouble throwing strikes in this outing, however, especially in his second inning of work when he couldn’t locate arm side and was not consistently finishing his delivery, releasing the ball early.
- Right-handed reliever Kuehl McEachern throws from a low three-quartes arm slot with a jerky, arm-heavy delivery. He has an arm swing behind and effort in his delivery. His fastball sat 87-89 mph in the outing scouted, topping out at 90. The pitch showed natural sink as a result of his delivery and arm slot coming from the low three-quarters angle. He complemented his fastball with a slurvey breaking ball at 75-76 mph and changeup at 77-78 mph. The breaking ball showed long, sweeping break and was on the loose side, tending to roll to the plate. His changeup floated to the plate and he did not seem to have great feel for the offering.
- Ryan Harris’ fastball sat 89-91 mph in relief, but the right-hander had significant effort in his delivery and below-average secondary stuff. He throws from the first base side of the rubber, utilizing a drop and drive delivery with an arm swing. Physically, he is maxed out with little-to-no projection left in his average-sized frame. His secondary pitches included a slider 79-80 mph and changeup in the mid-80s.
Photo credit: Ben Taylor and Reid Reilly by Dave Letizi; Carlos Pinales and Kuehl McEachern by Kelly O'Connor
Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.