I went over the top three staring pitching prospects the Marlins possess, and ended up going with Brad Hand as my #1 selection. Part of the reason was his improvement from ’09 to ’10 – while both Chad James and Hand needed to increase their control after their Greensboro campaigns, Hand already has. Take a look at the massive difference between his two years:
His swinging strikeout rate suffered quite a bit, but he saw his total K rate rise due to a massive increase in control for called strike outs. His BB% dropped by 3.5%, and his wild pitches dropped from an incredible 22 to just 3. He also saw his OFFB% drop while IFFB% increased, though total XBH did go up and he showed he was still hittable via BABIP. Considering he was going from Greensboro to Jupiter, that is especially concerning. Still, compare the results:
He even saw some time for AA Jacksonville, starting three games (Two of which were in the playoffs); He’d throw 19 innings, with a 0.95 ERA, 6.63 K/9, and 3.32 BB/9. The still-low control is promising, but the low strikeout rates question if his stuff will translate to the higher levels. But that was only a 19 inning sample size, and two of the starts were against the best teams in the southern league. He’ll get a full seasons chance in AA next year, and might even see some time in the majors.
You can’t help but be please with his growth. Some things did regress but as a whole, Hand took a big step forward in his development. Even though it’ll go against the norm, he’s my #1 SP prospect for the Florida Marlins. Here’s hoping James (And Edgar Olmos) can make the same kind of jump in Jupiter in 2011.