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By John Arguello Follow John @miCubs and @CubsDen
I started out with the idea of scouting a few players in today’s Tennessee Smokies game but as the game went on, I found the pitchers to be a bit more interesting. Today the Smokies trotted out 3 pitching prospects: Trey McNutt, Jeffrey Antigua, and Kevin Rhoderick, who combined to strikeout 12 batters over 9 innings.
Here are my observations/scouting report on the 3 AA arms.
Trey McNutt, RHP
Line: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks
Physically, he has a big, athletic, 6’4”, 220 lbs. frame with good presence on the mound.
His delivery was a little inconsistent at times. When he was right he had a tight, fluid delivery but at other times he seemed to want to overthrow, causing him to fall off slightly toward his glove side. This was most evident in the 2nd inning when he lost some command and got himself into some trouble with walks. There were other times where he varied his release point, causing him to leave the ball up. In fact, on one particular pitch he would have nailed the Bull Durham mascot had he been wandering aimlessly behind the plate. Kevin Costner would have been proud.
When his mechanics were good, McNutt showed 2 plus-plus pitches: a mid 90s fastball with some riding action and a hard curveball with a big, sharp break. The curveball, in particular, showed flashes of being a true knockout pitch. There is no question his fastball/curveball combo can be near top of the rotation quality if he can command them.
What surprised me the most, however, was his change-up. While it doesn’t compare to his first two pitches, it has a chance to be that solid 3rd pitch that McNutt needs to remain a starter. He had good arm action on the pitch and the ball appears to have some late drop.
What McNutt needs to do to improve is to resist the temptation to overthrow once he gets into some trouble, something that should come with more maturity. When he tightened up his delivery and successfully repeated his mechanics, he showed good command of all 3 of this pitches and hitters had a tough time getting a good swing on him.
He’s nowhere near ready to pitch in the majors right now, but he has the athleticism to one day consistently repeat his delivery. If it clicks for him, he could take a big step forward. I think it’s going to take some time before that happens, but I’m optimistic McNutt can fix his weaknesses and become the kind of impact starting pitcher the organization needs.
Jeffrey Antigua, LHP
Line: 3.1 IP, 3H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks
Antigua was a departure from McNutt in that he was more of a finesse pitcher. He has a good feel for pitching. He changed speeds well and worked both sides of the plate but his stuff doesn’t look special to me. Looks like a high 80s fastball which he complements with a nice change and good control. The slider looks more like a show-me pitch.
He throws across his body a little and he looks a little soft, so I’m not sure if he can maintain enough velocity late in games to keep hitters off his change-up. His stuff is average but I think he has enough feel for pitching to make it in middle relief, or perhaps as a lefty specialist.
Kevin Rhoderick, RHP
Line: 1.2 IP, 2H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 Ks
Rhoderick is a smallish, but solidly built pitcher. He’s listed at 6’1” but I’m not sure he’s even that tall. He has a high energy delivery but it’s clean and I don’t believe it’s going to cause him any issues.
Rhoderick has a good fastball, in the low 90s and sometimes peaking in the mid 90s. His calling card, however, is his slider. The pitch has so much movement and sharp break that it look like he’s throwing a whiffle ball. It’s a legit strikeout pitch as his 10 strikeouts per 9 innings rate last year would suggest.
The trouble with Rhoderick is command. At times it affects his control, but today he was around the strike zone. Unfortunately on one pitch to minor league veteran Eric Campbell, he caught too much of the plate, resulting in a HR that won the game for the Jackson Generals.
Rhoderick is strictly a relief pitcher. His slider is true out pitch and certainly good enough to land him in the Chicago bullpen if he can show consistent command.