Despite popular belief, the Indians actually do have pitchers in the minor leagues, headlined by 2012 second-round draft pick Mitch Brown.
As one of the few quality pitching prospects in an organization starving for arms, Brown may tend to be overhyped as he progresses, if he isn’t already. No, he is not an ace, and doesn’t really have the tools to be a true No. 2 starter on a contender. What Brown will be is an above-average third starter and innings eater with a four-pitch mix and at least three above-average pitches.
The Minnesota native started to fly up draft boards once the weather cooled and scouts got out to see him. Having experience pitching in the cold makes Brown perfect for Cleveland, which can still be chilly when the season starts.
Sitting in the low-90s with his fastball, he has clocked as high as 95 mph at times in high school. The fastball is merely average due to a lack of movement, but if he can hold it in the mid-90s with growth it could be a 55 offering instead of a 50. Brown’s best breaking ball is his changeup, which may not be a plus but is definitely above-average and has a tight spin to it. Brown’s cutter gives him another above-average offering, but he used that instead of a changeup in high school.
That changeup is what Brown really needs in order to set up hitters for his fastball, which will never blow anyone away. But already having two sound breaking balls gives Brown a leg up on most other prep pitchers and gives him a limited downside—he already has three developed pitches while most high school arms have only two.
With that higher floor does come the aforementioned lower upside, but any team would be happy to have an arm like Brown’s in their rotation. He doesn’t have ideal size at only 6’1″, but that won’t kill him. And he’s stocky at 195 pounds, which means he shouldn’t be very injury prone.
I’m a big Brown fan myself, but I won’t let myself get carried away just because there are no other arms to get excited about. I was all-in on Dillon Howard last year, and you saw how that turned out.
I think Brown is destined for a big-league rotation barring injury. He doesn’t have electric stuff to be an extraordinary reliever, but his stuff is sound enough that he should be at the least a solid back-end rotation option.
He could move quickly through the minors if his changeup develops well, but I don’t see a need to rush him despite the lack of depth. But when he does make it, Brown should bring some consistency to a struggling rotation in Cleveland.
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