Analyzing Spin Rate Standouts Among 2022 Draftees

Image credit: Alex McFarlane (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

Fewer pitchers are debuting in pro ball in the immediate aftermath of getting drafted, as teams often shut down their drafted pitchers to build them up for their first full season as a professional. Despite a large number of pitchers being shelved following the draft, we still have some early returns to dive into from pitchers selected all over the draft board. While early performance can often be taken with a grain of salt, we can learn who may have future success as a professional by analyzing velocity, movement and spin.

Today we profile eight 2022 draft picks that showed a plus ability to spin the baseball in their pro debut. We’ll look at each pitcher’s arsenal and identify each pitch in their repertoire, digging into their power, spin and movement to determine who has the type of stuff worth watching in the coming years. While much can change between now and next spring, this is a group of recent draftees with impressive traits.  

Jacob Misiorowski, RHP, Brewers 

A name with heavy buzz coming out of the draft, Misiorowski was selected by Milwaukee with the 63rd overall pick in the draft. The righthander was the top junior college pitcher in the 2022 class and was the second player selected from the juco ranks after the Reds selected Cam Collier in the first round. Misiorowski only made two appearances for Low-A Carolina, but he showcased some seriously heavy stuff—with a three-pitch mix consisting of a four-seam fastball, slider and curveball. His fastball sat 95-97 mph throughout the two appearances, and Misiorowski touched 99 mph at peak. His entire arsenal boasts plus spin rates, with his four-seamer generating on average 2,600 rpm of raw spin. His slider and curveball both average 2,600-2,700 rpm and that translates to movement, as his curveball has good depth and his slider generates some sweep at a powerful 87-89 mph on average. It’s a powerful pitch mix that could blossom over the next few seasons. 

William Kempner, RHP, Giants 

There are very few sidearmers that throw as hard as Kempner. One of the more divisive collegiate pitchers in the 2022 draft class, Kempner showed his ability to miss bats in 2022, striking out 48 batters over 36 innings for Gonzaga this spring. His command is fringy, as he struggled to consistently land his pitches in the zone. Kempner mixes a four-seamer, slider and changeup, and has shown a two-seam-style fastball as well. His four-seam fastball sits 95-96 mph, touching 98 mph with 2,600-2,700 rpm of raw spin. His unusually low release height of nearly four feet allows him to generate a flat approach angle to the plate, keeping hitters off balance. Kempner mixes a low-80s slider he’s gotten up to 3,000 rpm with a firm high-80s changeup. 

Marcus Johnson, RHP, Marlins 

After a strong sophomore campaign in 2021 where he made 30 appearances out of the Blue Devils bullpen, Johnson had a more difficult 2022 season. Despite an ugly stat line, Johnson showed underlying data that pointed to potentially brighter days ahead. His four-pitch mix consists of a four-seam fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. His fastball and slider are his go-to pitches, accounting for 75% of Johnson’s usage. HIs four-seam fastball sits 92-93 mph, touching 95 mph at peak with 2,500-2,600 rpm of spin on average. His slider is a low-to-mid-80s sweeper with nearly a foot of horizontal break on average with 2,900-3,000 rpm of raw spin. His curveball is a mid-to-high-70s offering with two-plane break and more depth than his slider and spin rates in the 2,600-2,700 rpm range. His changeup, meanwhile, is a mid-80s offering with good vertical and velocity separation off of his fastball.


Alex McFarlane, RHP, Phillies 

The stuff has never been a question with McFarlane dating back to his prep days, but the consistency of his strike-throwing ability has often plagued his profile. Despite some command woes, McFarlane is capable of dominating opposing lineups when he’s locked in. The righthander mixes three pitches in a four-seam fastball, slider and changeup, with his fastball and slider seeing equal usage. His fastball sits 94-96 mph, touching 98, with high spin rates in the 2,600-2,700 rpm range. His fastball movement isn’t terribly efficient, making the pitch easier to pick up than the spin or velocity would suggest. McFarlane’s best pitch is his mid-to-high-80s slider with 2,700-2,800 rpm of raw spin. McFarlane commands his slider better than his fastball and generates an above-average amount of whiffs against the pitch. His mid-80s changeup showed well in flashes and gives him a true secondary option against righthanded batters. McFarlane is another recent Phillies draft pick with eye-popping stuff. 

Nolan DeVos, RHP, Astros 

An underrated arm out of mid-major Davidson, DeVos has arguably the “hoppiest” fastball from the most recent draft class, generating well above-average induced vertical break. Devos is one of the few pitchers you’ll see hit 20 inches of induced vertical break. He does not generate elite spin rates on his fastball, but rather a strong combination of spin and spin efficiency, meaning he generates spin on his fastball that directly contributes to movement. His primary secondary, a mid-80s slider, is a high-spin pitch that generates between 2,800-2,900 rpm of raw spin. His curveball has heavier two-plane break than his slider, sitting in the 77-79 mph range. DeVos also mixes in a changeup that’s clearly a fourth pitch. His ability to generate hop on his fastball and high spin rates on his two breaking ball variations gives DeVos the ability to attack north and south, mixing in horizontal movement with his high-spin slider and changeup. 

Spencer Giesting, LHP, D-Backs 

The first lefthander on our list, Giesting spent parts of two seasons moving between the rotation and bullpen for UNC-Charlotte, generating 177 strikeouts over 127 collegiate innings. Giesting mixes three pitches, but 95% of his usage is split between his four-seam fastball and curveball. While Giesting lacks power across his arsenal, he has an innate feel for spin, allowing his pitches to play up despite subpar velocity. His fastball sits 90-92 mph, touching 93 mph at peak, with above-average ride and spin rates in the 2,400-2,500 rpm range. His curveball is his signature pitch, seeing nearly equal usage to his fastball. The curveball sits 78-82 mph with two-plane break and more horizontal movement than depth. The pitch generates spin rates in the 2,800-2,900 rpm range and is Giesting’s best bat misser, generating the highest whiff rate in his arsenal. The lefthander has also flashed a changeup but it was only thrown a handful of times in his professional debut. 

Jake Pfennigs, RHP, Athletics 

A 13th-round pick out of Oregon State, Pfennigs pitched in parts of four seasons with the Beavers. The 6-foot-7 righthander mixes four pitches, but primarily works off of his fastball, blending in his two breaking ball shapes as well. His four-seam fastball sits 91-92 mph, touching 93 mph with spin rates in the 2,400-2,500 rpm range. His fastball doesn’t miss many bats, instead it’s used to set up a pitcher’s count, allowing Pfennigs to deploy his breaking balls. His slider is a low-80s sweeper with between 2,700-2,800 rpm of raw spin and nearly a foot of sweep on average, and it works as his best bat misser. He also shows a curveball at 75-77 mph with raw spin rates in the 2,800-2,900 rpm range and plus depth. He primarily works off of the two breaking balls but did show a changeup a handful of times during his debut. He’s a later-round find with some interesting traits on his pitch mix. 

Mike Walsh, RHP, Pirates 

After missing a majority of two seasons in 2020 and 2021 due to the cancellation of the Ivy League schedule during the coronavirus pandemic, Walsh finally got an opportunity to show his innate feel for spin in 2022. After making 11 starts for the Bulldogs in 2022, Walsh headed to the Cape Cod League where he showcased some of the best stuff in the league prior to the draft. While Walsh lacks power, his ability to spin the baseball puts him in rare company. His four-seam fastball sits 91-92 mph on average, touching 94-95 mph at peak, with spin rates that average between 2,600-2,700 rpm, hitting as high as 2,850 rpm on the Cape. While Walsh’s fastball is unique, it’s his low-80s sweeping slider that generates over a foot and a half of horizontal break on average that is his signature pitch. Much like his fastball, Walsh generates good spin rates on the slider, with readings falling within the 2,500-2,700 rpm range. He’s the rare raw college starter looking to make up for lost time in the coming years. While the results have not been great, Walsh has the type of stuff to take a sizable step with professional instruction and player development. 


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