Heading into the 2014 season, Texas Rangers righthanded pitcher Connor Sadzeck was on the same tier of pitching prospects as Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher. The 2011 11th rounder out of Howard College had just put up a 2.25 ERA in Hickory in the 2013 season, and seemed to be positioning himself to ascend up the ranks.
Unfortunately, Sadzeck was diagnosed with a torn UCL in the spring of 2014, and Tommy John surgery cost him all of the 2014 season and much of the 2015 season. Sadzeck split the 2015 season between high-A High Desert and AA Frisco as he worked his way back from his injury, and ended the year with an ugly 5.82 ERA in 60.1 IP. While Sadzeck struck out 64 batters, he walked 41, hit 7 batters and threw 10 wild pitches, as he struggled to re-gain his control.
Still, Sadzeck showed flashes that encouraged folks watching him, and landed a spot in the Arizona Fall League, where he definitely turned some heads with a triple-digit radar gun read:
#Rangers RHP Connor Sadzeck just did this: pic.twitter.com/hxkAKFhn9O— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) October 16, 2015
Sadzeck is a big guy who can throw hard, and at the age of 24, he's at an age where he seems like he could be a contributor out of a big league bullpen quickly. Sadzeck is Rule 5 eligible this offseason, and he had been generating enough buzz that it was starting to look like the Rangers would need to add him to the 40 man roster to protect him -- big, hard-throwing pitchers like Sadzeck are the type of player teams will target in the Rule 5 draft, seeing him as someone who could potentially contribute immediately as a middle reliever.
And if Sadzeck has a strong AFL campaign, and keeps throwing 100 mph, he seems likely to turn into a lock to get a 40 man spot. He logged two scoreless innings yesterday, with 4 Ks, a walk and a hit, so he's off to a good start.