Having covered the other affiliates yesterday, today we'll turn to the pitching prospects at low-A Lansing. And what better time than on the heels of Jon Harris having turned in easily his best professional appearance in a matinee game yesterday in Fort Wayne.
After a rough first outing in which he didn't make it out of the first inning, 2015 1st round pick Jon Harris put together 4 very solid outings in which he allowed just one unearned run over 18 total innings. This was good to see coming on the back of a very rough couple months in Vancouver last year, but there was a yellow flag in that he only struck out 10 batters over those 18 innings, and wasn't missing many bats, which is not what one wants to see from a first round college pick in low-A.
But yesterday was a major breakthrough, as Harris worked 7 shutout innings, allowing 4 hits and 1 walk while striking out 11 batters to almost double his season total. Just as importantly, he piled up 20(!) swinging strikes in dominating a Fort Wayne lineup that is quite decent though somewhat prone to striking out. For the most part he got a lot of weak contact as well (including four popups), though the four hits were all pretty well squared up including two extra base shots. Other than perhaps that, everything else was a recipe for dominance, including working ahead. His fastball was 92-93, touched 94 and his other three pitches were working too, particularly his curveball and slider for swing strikes.
Ryan Borucki made his first start down in low-A on the weekend after struggling in Dunedin, and he too turned in his best start of the year, allowing 1 run over 5 innings. Pretty much everything was a positive, as he only gave up 1 walks, struck out a quarter of his batters faced, and induced a lot of weak contact. The three hits he allowed were on two ground balls and a bunt hit. His changeup was responsible for a lot of his swings and misses.
Sean Reid-Foley's inconsistent 2016 continued. Over the first 3 shutout innings, he was in control, striking out 4 with no walks, with two of the three hits allowed being cheapies on weak contact. But after a popout to start the 4th inning, his outing unraveled. 7 of the next 8 hitters reached on a walk and 6 hits of which at least 5 were hard hit. Reid-Foley didn't make it out of the inning, and was charged with 5 runs in a loss.
Later in the game, Patrick Murphy came in for two innings of relief. Murphy was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft, and signed for an underslot $500,000 as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery that wiped out his senior year of high school. He pitched a couple games in the GCL in July 2014 before being shutdown with injury issues that required thoracic outlet surgery. That basically wiped out 2015 too, so he had barely pitched in over 3 calendar years. That's he's finally healthy enough to pitch is a big positive in and of itself.
Even better is that his fastball was 93-95 in his first appearance according to what Lansing broadcaster Jesse Goldberg-Strassler was told. He was up to 96-97 on the stadium gun, but it was hot. He wasn't very sharp, walking 4 and throwing 2 wild pitches, but in light of all the missed time that's to be expected. He's listed a probable starter in a doubleheader Friday, so it looks like he'll be stretched out to start, not converted to a reliever at this point. He's still only 20 (21 next month), so if he can stay healthy there's plenty of time for him to figure things and potentially fulfill the promise he showed back as a high school junior.