Game Report: Staumont, Swanson Show Tools

At this time a year ago, Josh Staumont was pitching for Division II Azusa Pacific. He was ranked No. 80 on the BA500, so he knew his draft prospects were solid as he struck out 109 batters in 69 innings as a junior.

Still, he also walked 54, and after being drafted 64th overall by the Royals, the command issues followed him as he walked 7.2 batters per nine innings. Despite that, he ranked No. 15 in the Royals’ system because of the easy, top-scale velocity.

On Wednesday for high Class A Wilmington, the 6-foot-3 righthander showed some of that exceptional raw stuff. Staumont struck out nine in five innings at Carolina (Braves), giving up just three hits and a run. He also walked four.

“He’s still working on a lot of different things, but for his experience and where he is at this particular time in his career, he’s starting to grasp things and he’s moving along fine,” Wilmington manager Jamie Quirk said.

On Wednesday night, Staumont showed flashes of command. At times, he was able to locate his fastball down and to either side of the plate. Through the first time through the batting order, Staumont struck out four batters, walked none and allowed just one well-hit ball—when he elevated a fastball against Braves top prospect Dansby Swanson, who punched a double to the wall in left field.

Staumont’s fastball sat at 93-98 mph and showed consistent, late sinking action. Hitters struggled to time Staumont’s fastball throughout the outing, often fouling it off or making weak contact.

Early on in the game, Staumont showed a hard slider, thrown at 84-87 with powerful vertical break and tight spin. As the game progressed, he began throwing more of a true curveball at 79-81, with deeper top-to-bottom action and late 12-to-6 or 11-to-5 snap. He also mixed in a handful of changeups, locating the pitch down in the zone. His changeup was more of a feel pitch, and it did not show exceptional fade or tumble.

The timing of Staumont’s delivery varied, as he struggled to repeat his stride. At times he would cut off his front side early, with his front foot landing before his arm could catch up. This resulted in Staumont sometimes getting underneath his breaking pitches, and elevation of his fastball. In addition to his struggles to repeat with his lower half, Staumont has another barrier to control in his somewhat long arm action, which starts with a deep plunge in the back.

The righthander appears to have made some progress in terms of control and command, though. At Azusa Pacific last season, he walked seven batters per nine innings, and so far this season he’s walked 11 batters in 18 innings, a rate of 5.5 walks per nine. It’s still an issue, but he appears to be headed in the right direction.

Swanson’s Impact

Braves prospect Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, had himself quite a night. After doubling against Staumont in his first at-bat, Swanson drew a six-pitch walk in his second trip to the plate, taking a few close pitches near the outer half of the strike zone. Staumont intentionally walked Swanson in his third trip to the plate, and Swanson drew his third walk of the night against Wilmington reliever Ashton Goudeau.

Defensively, Swanson had several chances to show off his skills. He showed off a quick first step and range, though he misplayed a couple balls hit to him. On a ground ball to his right in the fourth inning, Swanson attempted to scoop the ball and failed to glove it, and he knocked it even further to his right, allowing the runner to reach safely.

In the fifth inning, Royals prospect Austin Bailey hit a line drive up the middle, and Swanson reacted in time, diving to his left and getting his glove up, but he didn’t make the grab. Then, with two outs, Swanson ranged deep into the six-hole for a backhand grab. He fired to first, throwing off his back foot, and threw a one-hopper to first to beat the runner by a few steps.

Swanson was well-suited to the Braves pitching prospects who threw on Wednesday night. Righthander Ryan Clark showed a late-sinking fastball at 89-92, touching 93 early in the game. Clark showed excellent feel down and to his arm side, and was able to generate many ground balls in the middle of the field. Clark also showed a sweeping 10-to-4 breaking ball, though he was able to snap it off early for a more 12-to-6 shape to keep hitters guessing.

Carolina closer Evan Phillips sat 92-94, showing excellent pure arm strength and also generating late life. Phillips is a bit of a short strider with a simple, well-coordinated lower half. He threw mostly fastballs, but he spotted one tumbling, 86-mph changeup down and away from a lefthanded hitter. Phillips, a 17th-round pick out of UNC Wilmington in 2015, showed excellent progress late in his draft year, and that success has carried over to his professional career early on.

Swanson ended the game, a 3-1 Carolina win, with an outstanding defensive play. On a ground ball hit up the middle, Swanson ranged deep to his left, outrunning the second base bag. He reached out, made the grab, spun, and threw a rope to first base.

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone