The Yankees will open up a three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles today at Camden Yards. Much has been said about the Orioles’ rebuild, but the truth is that the franchise is taking steps forward, even if at a relatively slow pace.
Everyone has heard the names of Grayson Rodriguez and Adley Rutschman by now. One could easily argue their case for being the best prospects at their relative position in the minors, and over the last few years. FanGraphs has Rodriguez at a 65 FV grade, and Rutschman at a whopping 70 — a grade only reserved for the Wander Franco level prospects.
The great thing about baseball is that your ability to contend isn’t primarily based on the quality of your high-end players, the Angels can fill you in on that. Every franchise needs something that even slightly resembles quality depth. The Rays are a perfect example of how you can never have enough positive contributors. Even if Rutschman and Rodriguez live up to the hype, the Orioles will still need help elsewhere to return to their glory days as a threat in the AL East. The consistent development of that next tier of prospects is crucial for the success of the rebuild.
Players like Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle are already providing a solid foundation for the next wave, and there’s a particular prospect that’s flashed some potential that the Yankees will see for the first time this week — his name is Kyle Bradish. The right-hander out of New Mexico State was selected in the fourth round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Angels, and he came over to the Orioles as part of the package in the Dylan Bundy trade in December 2019. Bradish showed promise heading into the year, but didn’t frequent the upper echelon of Orioles prospects.
For context, FanGraphs had him as the seventh-best prospect in the Orioles with a 45 FV, and outside their top 100. Bradish will make the fourth start of his major league career against the Yankees on Monday, and although three games are hardly enough to provide a full picture of what to expect moving forward, in that short period, Bradish has flashed signs that he could be a staple of this rotation for the foreseeable future.
Let’s learn a little more about him:
This will be the fourth start of Bradish’s career. The young righty already has a couple of quality starts in his belt, those came against the Boston Red Sox and St Louis Cardinals, sandwiched in between them was a poor outing against the Twins.
Over his first 17 major league innings, Bradish has a:
- 4.24 ERA
- 25.0 K%
- 4.6 BB%
- 1.06 WHIP
The sample size is small, and that’s always something to be reiterated, but despite the somewhat inflated ERA, his ratios show some promise.
Bradish has a pretty standard four-pitch mix, he’ll pump that heater in about half of the time, it’s complemented by the changeup and two different breaking balls, and the slider is a little sharper at 85-86 MPH, while the curve sits in the low 80s. Bradish’s attack plan is simple — he’ll work righties with fastballs, and sliders low and away like you can see below in a strikeout against Tyler O’Neill in his last start:
Against left-handed batters, you’ll see the slider also, but he’ll complement the fastball with backdoor curveballs and the changeup.
Here’s an example on a called strike curve against Trevor Larnach ...
... and also a changeup whiff that made Rafael Devers conduct a meeting with himself in between pitches:
Bradish has been able to generate whiffs with all three of his secondaries after three starts. The path to success against him in this small sample size has been the fastball. To be successful, Bradish needs to earn called strikes with that heater consistently, and that wasn’t something he was able to do as the Twins jumped him for four earned runs over four innings in his second start.
The Yankees’ offense needs to be alert to punish that heater and get on Bradish’s level. It’s far too early to know the type of pitcher that Kyle Bradish will ultimately be, but the young righty has shown promise, and the success of the Orioles’ rebuild and their return to contention goes through the development of young players like him.