Updated: Dec 16, 2018
Prospect #28: RHRP, Seth Elledge
Wasn't in organization in preseason and was ranked 32nd at July reranking.
Acquired from the Seattle Mariners for Sam Tuivailala
WHY TO GET EXCITED
Elledge possesses the skill, velocity, and repertoire to potentially be a viable option at the back end of a major league bullpen.
His fastball is mean. He uses it to bury hitters. I'll wager everything that it has one of the highest spin rates in the Cardinals organization right now.
It's appropriate that he was traded for Sam Tuivailala because the velocity, command, and secondary offerings all profile similarly to Tui. The good news is, I don't think that Tui was ever this developed while in the minors. Think of Elledge as a more advanced and developed version of Tui at that same point in his career. Elledge's ceiling easily tops Tui's.
His slider is very good, as well. He doesn't command it so well, but the command is coming. Watching footage of him throwing it last year as compared to this year, he definitely has a way better feel for it.
His motion is what I would describe as "heavy." We'll get more to it in a little bit, but the one thing that I love about it is that he uses his torso to disguise how he is gripping the ball in his glove. He also uses his big torso and body to disguise the ball all of the way through the throwing motion. With a more repeatable and sustained delivery, the work that Elledge does to disguise the ball should really pay of.
WHY TO BE CAUTIOUS
As most of you know, I hate putting minor league relief pitchers on this list. I HATE IT. If I make an exception to that rule it's usually because the pitcher has recently been moved to the pen and there's a chance that will get him to the majors more quickly. Elledge is a pure relief pitchers. Until now, those players, minor league relief pitchers, have the most narrow window for error in their pursuit of a major league debut. The landscape appears to be changing, but I still hate putting a minor league reliever on the list.
I hate his throwing motion. I hate the way that he comes set. It just looks painful and full of effort. He's a big boy and it looks like he using every muscle in his thick frame to throw the baseball. That's probably good for the health of his arm but it's worrisome because I could see his command going quickly as he fatigues out.
Elledge has a command issue. He's walking about 3.5 hitters per nine innings this season and that's not going to work. It's really tough to watch him when he isn't dealing.
Elledge doesn't repeat his throwing mechanic as well as you'd like, either. That's probably a product of the effort he employs to throw the ball. He often over throws his fastball and his slider and his slider usually comes out of a little different arm angle.
Not so much an endictment or something worth being concerned about, but Elledge has dominated the lower levels of the minors. The Cardinals sent him to AA upon his entrance into the organization. That's where a player of his talents should be, but the real challenge is about to come for him. He's gotten off to a good start so far.
BLAH. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. I mean, how do you compare or gauge a player that has only thrown a fraction of the pitches and innings as a starter would have at the same point in their career? F-it. Let's just say Carson Smith. Why not?! All of this is meaningless anyway, right? His ultimate ceiling, with a 5% chance of reaching that ceiling, is Carson Smith.
Thanks to Fangraphs for supplying the stats.
Thanks For Reading!!