Arms Dealers

August 29, 2020
By Chris Steele

It’s an arms race as teams start to take shape for the playoffs. Here are five prospects who are turning heads as they make their MLB debuts.

Ian Anderson, SP, ATL

He gets his fastball up around 94 and has a nice changeup mix to make him deadly. Ian Anderson looked like the player Atlanta needs to save their rotation right now. In his first start of his career, he earned a win over and it came over Gerrit Cole, a nice feather in his cap (Get it because he’s on the Braves. I’m a dad. I get to make bad dad jokes). He finished his first outing throwing six innings allowing just one hit a solo home run with two walks and six strikeouts. Anderson is leading with his fastball, but his changeup is his elite pitch with a 44 percent whiff rate, and putting away 44 percent of batters with his change. While his line looks very good, he did get hit pretty hard. The Yankee’s exit velocity was averaging 94 MPH, and 53 percent of his pitches were considered to be hard hit.    

Triston McKenzie, SP, CLE

Everyone is crazy for the young gun after an exceptional first outing. Triston McKenzie fired six innings allowed two hits including a solo home run and finished with 10 strikeouts. For a little perspective, he faced 20 batters and he struck out half of them. He knows how to turn up the heat. He threw 57 percent fastballs and put away 56 percent of batters with his velocity. He has a dynamic arm and he should be added as soon as possible just for the strikeout numbers he’s going to put up alone.

Dylan Cease, SP, CHW

Here’s the power arm everyone is looking for in Dylan Cease. In six games, he holds an ERA of 3.13 with 22 strikeouts and a whip of 1.33. Chicago’s Cease is throwing his fastball for an average of 97.6, which is over a mile per hour faster than he was throwing his fastball last year. His slider is just about unhittable holding batters to an average of .182. His batted ball profile this year puts him in the same category as Aaron Nola’s 2019 season according to Baseball Savant.    

Jesus Luzardo, SP, OAK

His nickname should be The Ride because this guy is always up and down. He’s one of the best pitching prospects in the league, but his season got off to a shaky start when he tested positive for coronavirus early in the year. In 2019, he seemed poised to break camp with the A’s, but Luzardo missed the first two months of the season with a left rotator cuff strain. After making it to AAA in 2019, Luzardo suffered a lat strain that had him on the self again. Since he’s been back at 100 percent this season, he’s had a profile similar to Justus Sheffield and Kyle Freeland, according to Baseball Savant, which is a real compliment considering they are both having breakout years. Luzardo has pitched in seven games this year, and he’s posted an ERA of 3.74 with 34 strikeouts and a FIP of 2.63. He primarily throws a sinker, but he puts batters away with a sharp curve and changeup combo. It turns out he already has a nickname the … Lizard King? The Ride is a much better dude. Enjoy The Ride while it lasts.

Sixto Sanchez, SP, MIA

I’ve been excited to see him pitch for about three years now. When you get the nickname little Pedro (Martinez), I want to see you pitch as soon as possible. In his debut, he didn’t live up to the name. In five innings, Sanchez gave up three runs and allowed five hits with four strikeouts. His fastball averaged 98.5 MPH, but as fast as it was coming at batters it was going the other way just as fast. Opponents were hitting .600 off his fastball with a pair of home runs surrendered. As much as I love guys who have stuff, Sanchez might be a case of he still needs to learn how to pitch and get people out. He’s just 21 years old, and he looks like he needs a bit more time to be a refined pitcher to be compared to Pedro.