Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2012 Top Prospects #19: Joe Musgrove

Name: Joseph Musgrove
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Acquired: 1st round (2011)
Opening Day age: 19
Height/weight: 6’5”/230 lbs
Best/worst tool: Fastball/changeup
Risk factor: Medium
ETA: 2015

Scouting Report

Musgrove is a workhorse of a pitcher and looks every bit the part. Standing 6’5” and weighing 230 lbs, he looks more like a major league veteran than the recently turned 19 years old that he is. His delivery is smooth with minimal effort, which only further adds to his “major league veteran” aura he gives off. Musgrove has a power arsenal, but his secondary pitches are well behind his fastball in terms of development. “Heavy” is the word often thrown around when discussing his fastball, both in terms of its movement and his reliance upon the pitch. More of a sinker than a true four-seamer, Musgrove sits in the low 90’s with the plus-pitch, but has been clocked as high as 98 mph. It has heavy sink, killing the loft in the swings of his opposition, and forcing them to pound the ball into the infield grass. Beyond the velocity and movement, he has excellent command of the pitch, which makes it obvious why he turns to the pitch with such frequency. His second pitch –- and primary breaking ball -– is a hammer curveball that has flashed some serious potential. Musgrove closes out the arsenal with a changeup, but he throws it so rarely it he’s basically a two-pitch pitcher at this point in his career. If he wants to flourish as a starter, he’ll need to listen to his coaches and learn to trust the pitch, as Toronto has proved to be one of the best clubs at developing changeups in young pitchers.

2011 Statistics and Analysis

9 games (7 starts), 24.2 IP, 19 H, 11 ER, 1 HR, 5 BB, 18 K
1-1, 4.01 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 6.57 K/9, 3.60 K/BB, 1.72 GO/AO

Musgrove was the first early pick in the 2011 draft to sign, allowing him to get his career started a year earlier than most first round picks. By doing so, he not only got his career in motion, but also saw time in the Appalachian League after spending a month and a half in the Gulf Coast League. The 4.01 ERA doesn’t do justice to how dominating Musgrove was. He kept the ball down, limiting base hits (19) and home runs (1), all while maintaining good control (1.82 BB/9). The inflated ERA was the result of an unsustainably low LOB% of roughly 50%. Most pitchers will fall into the 70-75% LOB range, and had Musgrove shared such luck, his ERA would be closer to 2.00, and people would be giving him more attention. Musgrove isn’t a big strikeout guy and likely never will be, but as long as he can maintain a strikeout rate over 6, he should be fine in that regard.

Expected 2012 Assignment: Rookie-class Bluefield

Future Outlook

Unlike #20 prospect Kevin Comer, Musgrove is the kind of high school pitcher who could really move quickly. Growing up in California, Musgrove pitched nearly 160 innings over his last two high school seasons, a far cry from the 90 or so innings Comer worked. When considering the innings he added in affiliated ball, Musgrove surpassed 100 total innings in 2011. Some might consider that an excessive workload, but when considering his size (6’5”, 230 lbs), arsenal (heavy reliance on fastball), and smooth delivery, it’s quite reasonable. It’s important to remember that all pitchers aren’t built equally, and some can handle what others cannot. He also has the exact mentality you want to see in a young player, as he signed early for below-slot money because "he'll make his money later". With that being said, Musgrove’s secondary pitches lack the polish to put away the full-season hitters that he’s physically ready to face. It’s probable he’ll start the season with Bluefield or Vancouver, but he should see Single-A Lansing before the year is out. Barring unforeseen circumstances, he could be in Toronto by late 2014 or early 2015.

Perfect World Projection: Middle of the rotation starter

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