On Wednesday night, Cleveland Indians’ farmhand and Carolina Mudcat left-hander Ryan Merritt pitched another gem, dominating the Lynchburg Hillcats in Class A Advanced Carolina League action:
Ryan Merritt sparkles again tonight for the Mudcats. Final line: 7.0 IP, 5H, 2R/ER, 1BB, 5K. Mudcats up 4-2 going to the 9th.
— Carolina Mudcats (@CarolinaMudcats) July 3, 2014
The 2014 season has been full of these types of performances, as Merritt has piled up nine wins, a 1.65 ERA, and a 0.91 WHIP, all tops in the Carolina League. He has allowed two or fewer runs in each of his last 10 starts, and the rest of the prospect world is beginning to take notice. MiLB.com featured the 22-year-old left-hander in a recent article, detailing his command, repertoire, and experiences in the minors. Some of the more interesting tidbits from the post include a quote from Merritt and a pitching approach:
“I’ve learned that I’m not a power guy,” Merritt said. “I’m not going to go out there and try to strike everyone out. I just found that I’m a ground-ball pitcher, and I want them to hit the pitches I want them to and in the least amount of pitches.”
Merritt’s stuck with that philosophy and said he aims at throwing first-pitch strikes and having batters hit one of the first three pitches.
And…look at pitching coach, former Indian Steve Karsay, with this:
“He’s grown so much as a pitcher in many different aspects,” Karsay said. “Calmness, presence, [the] demeanor to compete in tight situations. You can’t teach it. He’s stuck with the process.”
The former 16th round pick has certainly improved upon his career numbers in his first full season in Carolina, but having embarrassed opposing batters over his first 15 starts, perhaps a bump to Double-A Akron should be in the cards, especially after earning the starting nod in the recent Carolina/California League All-Star game.
Having not ranked within the Top 20 prospects within the Indians system prior to the start of the season on MLB.com, Merritt has certainly earned the…merit…moving forward. You shouldn’t scout on numbers, but despite not having a fastball that can touch 90 miles per hour, Merritt could likely do a fine Mark Buehrle impression, and Tommy Milone has managed to post solid numbers without a devastating fastball in Oakland. Sure, he may not be an ace, but Merritt can keep batters off balance with his stuff, and throwing strikes can’t be stressed enough for young pitchers. Watch him soar in prospect rankings with enough helium on production alone to be one of the club’s top 10 prospects heading into the 2015 season.