Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Anytime you’re part of a list that features the likes of super-prospect Wander Franco… you’re doing something right. On Monday, pitcher Spencer Strider was not only included on such a list, but he finished higher as Baseball America ranked the right-hander as the fifth-hottest prospect from the past week. Franco came in at no. 18 (though I’m sure he doesn’t mind his spot on the list given he’s set to make his much-anticipated MLB debut with the Rays this week).
If you recall, Strider was one of three pitchers the Braves drafted last year, with his call coming in the fourth round at pick no. 126 overall. And the 22-year-old Clemson product has enjoyed about as great of a pro debut as a player could ask for as he continues to absolutely dominate opposing batters.
Strider’s first assignment was with Single-A Augusta, but just four starts in it was clear he wasn’t being challenged. The 6-foot, 195-pound righty tallied 32 strikeouts in just his first 15 ⅓ innings during that four-outing span, a K rate of 18.8 strikeouts per nine, to go with a ridiculous 0.59 ERA. By the time the calander flipped to June, a promotion to High-A Rome was initiated.
Moving up a level in the minors is usually met with some adversity, but for Strider… such a thing has yet to come. In his first 14 ⅔ innings with the R-Braves, opposing batters have managed just a .170 AVG; and once again Strider is racking up the punch outs, recording a career-high 12 strikeouts in his most-recent outing last Friday versus one of the better teams in the league, the Bowling Green Hot Rods. His ERA sits at 2.45 in High-A.
Now there’s talk that Strider is once again up for promotion, as Talking Chop‘s Eric Cole reported on Monday (in the tweet above). As Cole states, moving up two levels is quite the feat for a first-year player, especially considering it’s still June. Hell, at this point, the Braves are just simply trying to find Strider a worthy adversary.
The increased excitement regarding Strider comes on the same day that prospect Kyle Muller put together a respectable first-career-start for Atlanta, an outing in which the big lefty allowed just a single hit in four innings against New York (Mets) on Monday, featuring not only an efficient attack of the zone but also plenty of swing-and-miss with his slider. While Strider obviously still has a ways to go before he starts receiving big league looks like Muller, yesterday was still a nice representation of what this Braves system still has to offer pitching-wise. Indeed, from top to bottom there’s a ton of talent in this organization.
It will be interesting to see how Strider reacts to the upgrade in competition this week when he makes his first start for Mississippi, possibly on Thursday. For hitters and pitchers alike, it always seems as if the transition to the Double-A level is always the hardest. Although if Strider’s performance so far this season is any indication, I don’t believe there will be much of a learning curve for him. Mark your calendar for Thursday, folks.