When Jake Stinnett was drafted in the second round of 2014 MLB draft, he had logged a total of 200 innings at the collegiate level. That’s it. He didn’t become a full-time starter until his senior year when he put up 118 innings. So in reality, 2015 was only Stinnett’s second year as a starter. His 2015 season was filled with a lot of ups and downs as the young right-hander searched for his identity.
Six months ago, I wrote an article for Cubs Insider about the mysterious splits of Jake Stinnett. At home, he had a 3.15 ERA and on the road he had a 6.75 ERA. When you look at his last two months of the season, they were his best. In August, made five starts where he pitched 31.2 innings, had a 2.81 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.01, while opponents only hit .230 against him. He struck out 28 and walked only six the entire month.
Sometimes, I think that because of Stinnett’s “youthful” arm, his stats should be taken with a grain of salt. I think in 2016 at Myrtle Beach that he’s really going to make a jump in his development. Of his 22 starts last year, I probably got to see about 16 of them on MiLB.TV. The first thing you notice about Stinnett is that most every pitch moves…a lot. If it doesn’t it, gets hit. I think the key for him moving forward is finding the happy medium where he can control the pitch, control the movement, and still have good velocity.
At Myrtle Beach, Stinnett will be in the Carolina League – a well-known pitcher’s league as it is at sea level. It should be interesting how his balls move at that level. Stinnett normally throws in the low 90s. His best pitch is a slider and I think we will really get better glimpse of the kind a prospect he can be.
I think at his age, 23, he could move a little bit faster if he begins to control his arsenal of pitches. Fan Graphs said the following about Stinnett:
Already 23 years old, it’s important to point out he’s only been pitching since his junior year of college in 2013, so needing to develop some of the finer skill work is completely expected. In his case, I really believe in the athlete and the stuff working out in the end.
This season will give us a better picture of what he can be, but I think he ends up jumping up prospect lists in short order by next offseason. He won’t be rushed through the system despite his age, being treated as a younger arm due to lack of experience. I am holding his middle projection down a bit for now, but his ceiling may be as high as the top pitchers in the system.
In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me for Stinnett to have one of the best years in the Cubs’ system now with two full years of starting under his belt.
In a recent article on the South Bend Cubs’ web site, Stinnett said he is working out this winter with Justin Grimm, NeIl Ramirez, and Josh Conway. From that same article, Stinnett explains his off season program:
[…] my workout routine consists of throwing every morning and strength and conditioning every afternoon of the week. I am working on cleaning up my pitching mechanics by learning to use my lower half more efficiently. I think this will help improve my command and overall consistency, which is my main goal for this offseason.
A lot of times, patience in a prospect is rewarded. And with pitchers, development takes a little longer. A lot was expected from Stinnett when he was drafted in the second round. This year, I think he begins to deliver. Working with Anderson Taverez, who was the pitching coach last year in Eugene, it should be exciting to see Stinnett pitch and see how he has developed over the winter. Hopefully, he can begin the year just like he ended last year.