Zeke Spruill is the first pitcher we are hitting on the top ten list, coming in at number 8. Spruill is a guy most people haven’t heard of (thanks Teheran, Vizcaino, Minor, Beachy, and Gilmartin) and a player unlike most of the other pitching prospects the Braves are known for.
Most of the Braves top pitching prospects are known for their high ceilings as major league pitchers. Teheran is supposed to be the Braves ace of the future, Delgado has been predicted as a good #2 guy, and Vizcaino has been a solid #2 or #3 before making the transition to the bullpen. Spruill has never been thought of like this and likely never will. He is an extremely good pitcher because of his excellent control which—according to Baseball America—is better than Sean Gilmartin.
the rest after the break…
Spruill’s excellent control means that he can get away with his ‘less than stellar’ stuff. He throws a fastball around 90 miles per hour as well as a slider and a change up. He’s got a ‘classic pitcher’s body’ so he does have the potential to add some velocity but he doesn’t really have to.
Spruill projects to be a solid back of the rotation type pitcher that eats a lot of innings and keeps the team in ball games. Although that’s not what us Braves fans are used to hearing when talking about pitching prospects, he is still a valuable player and could have a successful career in the majors.
Here are Zeke’s stats since 2009:
- 2009/A: 116 IP, 7.37 K/9, 1.86 BB/9, .70 HR/9, 3.40 FIP, 4.58 ERA
- 2010/A+: 65 IP, 5.68 K/9, 1.80 BB/9, .55 HR/9, 3.52 FIP, 5.54 ERA
- 2011/A+: 129.2 IP, 6.39 K/9, 1.60 BB/9, .49 HR/9, 3.20 FIP, 3.19 ERA
- 2011/AA: 45 IP, 3.20 K/9, 3.40 BB/9, .60 HR/9, 4.82 FIP, 3.20 ERA
The one thing you really should pay attention to is the BB/9. Those numbers are fantastic and tell you why his control is the best among Braves pitching prospects.
You will notice the drop in production when he hit AA but you should also take into account the 45 innings. That’s not a huge sample, and I would expect his numbers to get closer to the A/A+ numbers as he logs more innings in Mississippi.
Spruill has a history of immaturity which includes breaking his own hand after a tantrum in 2010 (which is why we only have 65 innings on him) but a bounce back year in 2011 with no attitude problems shows that he is maturing and putting his anger/frustrations behind him.
In A Perfect World- Spruill masters the control of all of his pitches and exceeds expectations because of that. He becomes the number 3 pitcher in the Braves rotation and throws many 200+ inning seasons throughout his career. His strikeout numbers won’t catch your eye, but his complete games and walk rate will.
According To The Mayans- Despite Spruill’s above average control he starts becoming ineffective as he moves up through the system. Even if he locates his pitches where he wants, they are not enough to get past advanced hitters. He makes it to Triple A where he is decent, gets a few MLB starts and gets hammered in the process.