- Full name Joshua James
- Born 03/08/1993 in Hollywood, FL
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 234 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Western Oklahoma State College
- Debut 09/01/2018
- Drafted in the 34th round (1,006th overall) by the Houston Astros in 2014.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Track Record: James didn't strike out a batter an inning in junior college, but Astros scout Jim Stevenson liked his arm. Still an organizational arm after four pro seasons, a sleep apnea diagnosis changed his life. Once James started getting restful sleep, his fastball jumped three grades in 2018, when he ranked fourth in the minors in strikeouts (171) and seventh in opponent average (.191).
Scouting Report: James pitched at 88-92 mph in 2017 but now sits 95-97 mph and can ramp up to 103 mph, even working as a starter. When he had to learn survival skills with a fringy fastball, he developed a plus changeup. Now that he can blow hitters away with his fastball, his change is a double-plus, 87-90 mph offering with deception. He can drop it off the table or run it away from lefties on the outer half of the plate. The development of James' inconsistent slider will be key to determine just how dominant he can become. He has shown an 87-89 mph Frisbee at times with tilt and power that could be a third plus weapon, but he lacks confidence in the pitch because he tends to hang it. James has fringe-average control but worse command, and his delivery doesn't lend itself to precise control. That will have to improve if he's going to be a successful starter long-term.
The Future: James will have to prove he can hold the gains he made in 2018, but his stuff is good enough to work as a mid-rotation starter.
Minor League Top Prospects
James got treated for sleep apnea and became a different pitcher this year, with his fastball jumping from 89-93 mph to 95-100. With his new power arsenal, James finished fourth in the minors with 171 strikeouts and led the PCL in WHIP (1.09) and opponent average (.187) from the time he joined the league. He earned his first callup in September. James’ enhanced fastball sat 95-97 mph and touched 101, making it a plus-plus pitch that blew hitters away. His secondaries sharpened as well, with a mid-80s above-average slider his main offering and a changeup that flashed above-average. Occasionally James tried to throw too hard and lost his delivery and release point, but those moments gradually became fewer and fewer. “He’s got a big time arm and he basically can throw any pitch that he wants at any time,” Sacramento manager Dave Brundage said. “We faced him a couple times. There was a night it didn’t matter what he threw, we couldn’t touch him.” James is still working on controlling his energy and tempo to keep his delivery consistent, and at times he falls in love with his secondaries too much. Tightening his pitch sequencing and control are next.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Fastball in the Houston Astros in 2019