Alex Carson wrote that Stephen Pryor’s Triple-A debut was electric. His fastball has the stuff to quiet the low rumble of an inebriated stadium, but more importantly, it silenced the Albuquerque bats. He sat around 97 mph in the two innings he pitched this last Thursday, and the Isotope batters simply looked outmatched and overpowered. Of the six outs he recorded on Thursday, three of them were strikeouts. He induced one ground ball out, a fly out and a line out to right field. He allowed a walk in the eighth and a ground ball single in the ninth.
Pryor has big league caliber stuff. In his two-year professional career, he’s posted a 12.5 strikeout-per-nine ratio. In the 19 innings this year in the time he’s split between Jackson and Tacoma, he has 29 strikeouts and six walks to go with a 0.737 WHIP and a monstrous 13.7 strikeout-per-nine. And although his groundout-to-flyout numbers may not translate to the majors, his 0.61 GO/AO ratio would be good for a ground-ball percentage of 29. In other words, when he’s not striking out batters, he’s going to be an extreme flyball pitcher. He would fit perfectly at Safeco Field.
And I don’t think he’ll stay in the minors for very long.
Dave Cameron recently wrote a piece on trading Brandon League, and if you’ve been following Prospect Insider, you know that most around this site carry the same sentiment. Cameron pretty much covers it all, and when the Mariners find a trade partner for League, Pryor is almost a lock to get the call. Once League is traded, Seattle’s current bullpen will probably just shift forwards a slot. Tom Wilhelmsen will close, Steve Delabar will be the set-up man and so forth. With League gone, the M’s won’t lose any velocity in the pen, as Pryor’s power arm will comfortably fit in with the rest of the flamethrowers in the pen.
In the attached video are all of Pryor’s pitches in his outing this last Thursday.
He doesn’t have the best hip-to-shoulder separation, but he doesn’t need to. At 6′ 4″, 245 lbs., he is built like a tank, and he generates enough strength to propel the ball 97-98 mph. In a way, he sort of reminds me of Justin Verlander. Although Verlander is a bit taller and has less mass on him, he’s big and strong enough to generate his pitch velocity. Both pitchers transfer their weight well and have a perfectly timed hand break, making it easier to generate such high velocity.
From the side angle in the video, you can see that Pryor starts to move his weight forward during his leg raise. And as Brock Huard once pointed out on Michael Pineda’s delivery, it’s from the help of his “power source” that generates much of the velocity. His strong legs help send his weight towards home plate. He has a short, quick arm path, unlike Andrew Carraway and James Paxton.
While he’s down in Tacoma, he should be working on his command of the fastball. Although I wasn’t able to see every frame that catcher Brandon Bantz put up, I did see a few where Bantz wanted the pitch low and away but the fastball sailed up and in. One of those pitches was a Josh Bard swinging strikeout. Pryor’s fastball is filthy enough that he can get away with mistakes in the minors, but that won’t fly in the big leagues.
Pryor has been dominant down on the farm. If I’m in the Seattle front office, I’m getting Pryor up as soon as possible to see if he can overpower major leaguers.
Adam H. Wong can be reached via email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter here.