Mike Foltynewicz Scouting Report (2014)
Catching up to a Mike Foltynewicz fastball is a nightmare for professional hitters. Pitchers don’t throw 95-plus with late-movement very often. Like Zeus shooting lightning from the heavens, hitters cannot catch up to the lightning bolts Foltynewicz’s hurls from the mound. The fastball writes the headline, but the development of his secondary pitches fills the pages. Is this 22-year old right handed pitcher just another overblown prospect with one exceptional tool, or does he have the secondary pitches to start at the Major League level?
Far removed from the tall, lanky kid that the Astros drafted in the first round in 2010, Mike Foltynewicz has filled out his 6-foot-4 frame. The Oklahoma City RedHawks pitcher’s body is at physical maturity. From wide shoulders to tree trunk thighs, Foltynewicz looks the part of a power pitcher. Despite the muscular bulk, his agility and flexibility fits a Solid Average athletic profile. His body should sustain the rigors of pitching in the Major Leagues.
Foltynewicz has a true plus-plus four-seam fastball. Thrown downhill, his 95-97 MPH fastball explodes on hitters. Late movement results in weak contact and plenty of swings and misses. The right-handers command is below average, a product of overthrowing the baseball to light up radar guns. Concerns do not end there. The effort and energy Foltynewicz expends leaves him vulnerable to future arm difficulties. Due to command and injury concerns, the pitch plays better out of the pen.
Although reports out of Spring Training indicated the Astros had curbed his two-seam fastball, the pitch made a several cameos during his start against Nashville. At 93-94 MPH, The two-seam fastball is an average offering, lacking the life of his other fastball. The Astros cited injury concerns when scrapping this pitch. The effectiveness of the offering lends itself to being curbed for good.
To date, his prospect ranking is built on the strength of his fastball, with nary a mention of secondary pitches. Featuring three secondary pitches, only one pitch projects as a cemented Major League offering.
Folytnewicz throws a 78-81 MPH slurve hybrid pitch. While his breaking pitch didn’t rival the effectiveness of the other team’s starter Jimmy Nelson [SCOUTING REPORT], the slurve offers plus potential. A swing and miss offering, the pitch drops out of the zone, resulting in flailing swings from hitters. Its effectiveness plays down due Foltynewicz’s inability to find the strike zone with his fastball.
Early in the game, the right-hander also threw a true 12-6 curveball, but struggled with feel for the pitch. Just one, 74 MPH curve was thrown for a strike. Robinson Diaz barreled the pitch. At this stage, Folty’s curveball is more experimental than a part of his repertoire.
The third off-speed pitch for the Illinois native is an 84-86 MPH change-up. It has moderate drop and the correct speed deferential (8-10 MPH) from the fastball. Rarely needing to throw it, Foltynewicz gives the pitch away by slowing down his wind up to throw the pitch, telegraphing it. Major League hitters will pick up on this and make him pay.
Mike Foltynewicz is a player riding one phenomenal tool to a potential All-Star career. The Astros will give the top-100 prospect every opportunity to work his way into the rotation. Because he’ll pitch with effort to maintain high 90’s heat, the sum of the parts play up in the pen. The 22-year-old’s progression is reminiscent of Billy Wagner, the best closer in team history. Wagner struggled with fastball command as a starter. The Astros converted him to the pen and never looked back. Fast forward 18 years and the Astros have a similar decision to make with Foltynewicz. His stuff and make up scream top flight closer.
TOOL PRESENT FUTURE PROJECTED ROLE ALL-STAR CLOSER FASTBALL 70 75 Slurve 50 60 Curveball 25 30 Changeup 30 40 Control 40 45 Command 30 40
Owning Mike Foltynewicz
Many owners ignore the bullpen, preferring cheap alternatives to the big name relievers. The Astros will give Foltynewicz time as a starter, which should benefit owners in need of high strikeout rates to improve their team. If the young hurler reaches full potential, he will be a dominant closer, which is worth a few dollars in any dynasty league.
28 May 2014 / Chris Blessing /
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