Mother Nature rewarded patient Tribe fans with a brief respite from the Cleveland weather yesterday. The Indians, however, continued their struggles on the field, losing to the Boston Red Sox 6 to 3.
Right-hander Zach McAllister, who was acquired for what amounted to 36 games of Austin Kearns, is one of the more underrated pitchers in the American League. Not because of the on-field results — he’s thrown just 160.1 career innings — but the potential to become one of the better hurlers in the league, maybe even peaking as a 3.0-win player at some time in his future.
McAllister’s fastball, which grades out as a 55, on occasion flashing a 60 on the scouting scale, ranged from as low as 89 mph to as high as 96 mph against the Red Sox. Typically, it sat in the low 90s. And his two-seamer showed some arm side action as well. His curveball, which he struggled to command early in the game, is tightly spun, breaking 12-6; it also ranged fairly widely (75 – 82 mph). He threw his 45-grade changeup only a handful of times.
It was an interesting start for the big right-hander, who at times looked completely in control and at other times walked several hitters on four straight pitches — his first free passes issued on the season.
He was very aggressive with his fastball early in the game, commanding it well to the left-hand side of plate, striking out both Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia looking in the first inning. During the second inning, a wind-assisted fly ball, which wasn’t hit all that well by Mike Napoli, carried to the wall and resulted in a standup triple because of Ryan Raburn’s misread. Daniel Nava would drive Napoli in the next at bat.
And after struggling to get a feel for any type of secondary offering, McAllister found his curveball in the fourth inning. So much so, that he actually dropped his arm slot down a few degrees on Jonny Gomes, creating some east-west movement.
With the Indians down 2-to-1 heading into the fifth, thanks to a Jarrod Saltalamacchia homerun, McAllister just looked flat to start the inning. Instead of working in the low 90s, he opened with several upper 80s fastballs and had to exert himself more to get the pitch back to where it was.
Overall, this was a decent start for the Tribe’s number four. His pitch count got away from him near the end — and also thanks to punching out seven in five innings — and he just wasn’t getting much in terms of calls on the outside part of the plate.
One of the things that make McAllister so intriguing is how he’s developed as a pitcher. Coming up through the minor leagues he was used to pitching with an upper 80s fastball and generally succeeded against older competition. The Indians now incorporated more of his hips, showing more of his back pocket. And his fastball ticked up three or four miles-per-hour.
The St. Louis Cardinals have a system in place that is strictly based on a scout’s gut instincts. It’s how the organization uncovered flame-throwing right-hander Trevor Rosenthal, a former shortstop turned dominant reliever. I watch Zach McAllister and my gut tells me he’s going to be good, potentially very good, maybe peaking as a #2.
For prospect analysis check out Joe’s site: ProspectDigest.com. Or follow him on Twitter, @ReleasePoints