Friday, May 1, 2015

Who the Heck is...Mike Foltynewicz?

In today's article, I take a look at new call-up starter Mike Foltynewicz. Besides having a name that's impossible to spell or pronounce (seriously, I can't wait until opposing game-callers try it out), Folty is a pretty good pitcher. Let's look at those stats:

Full Name: Michael Gary Foltynewicz
Age: 23 Born: Sterling, IL
Throws: Right
Position: Starting Pitcher
Twitter: @Folty25 Favorite
Cartoon: Adventure Time (probably)

Folty is part of the Evan Gattis trade to Houston, where we picked him up as a minor league prospect along with Andrew Thurman, and Rio Ruiz. At the AAA level in Houston, Folty had a 7-7 record as a starter with a very meh 5.08 ERA. However, when Folty arrived in the Atlanta Braves system, he's shown marked improvement.

 Mike got roughed up in Spring Training, which probably cost him the chance to start on the team as the 5th guy in the rotation. But here's the thing, he has a great top end fastball, and he can strike out a lot of hitters. His K/9 rate in AAA is 9.6, which is very solid. In Gwinnett, he's sporting a 2.08 ERA and showing that he's got decent command. 10 Walks to 21 Ks is a pretty good ratio, but my concern with Folty is that he's got a 1.246 WHIP to go along with the decent ERA. He's giving up a lot of hits, and he's 0-3 down in Gwinnett.

I'm thinking that Folty will get a rude awakening at the MLB level again this time around. He came up once in Houston as a reliever, and he was roughed up for a 5.00+ ERA. He's been up and down in the minors and at spring training. The question is whether he's developed any off-speed stuff or change of pace pitches to go along with the high heat. Because hitters at the major league level will time up your fastball if it's all you have to offer. Unless you are Mariano Rivera.

My feeling right now is that Folty is pitching above his head in AAA Gwinnett. Which is good because he wouldn't get the call-up if he wasn't. However, it also means that the majority of his stats show a trend of much worse pitching at varying levels. Can we suffer through the growing pains along with the kid? I think this season is the time to do it, although I think the Braves are also impatient about giving people bad start after bad start this early in the season. If they were 10 games under .500 in July? Nobody cares. But it's still early enough that people think the team has a chance, and I'm one of those. I'd hate to see us throw everything away before June and go into try-out mode, 2 games below .500.

However, I'm becoming less sure about the Braves ability to compete because of these types of pitching moves. If we're relying on 23 year old rookies to make sure we keep the rotation together? Things have come off the rails. Still, this is how you ferret out talent. You put it in the crucible of the real deal MLB and you watch the fireworks. Let's hope it's the K fireworks at the Ted, and not the long bombs of the opposition.


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