Hi, LSB, it’s Coylio again with an update from the farm, this time shining a spotlight on Rangers’ large pitcherman prospect Connor Sadzeck.
Sadzeck was ranked #8 on LSB’s Community Prospect rankings in the offseason and the 25-year-old was sent to AA Frisco for his third stint with the RoughRiders to start the season. The 6’7” righty was tapped as the Opening Day starter.
By now you might have heard about how that Opening Day start went. Sadzeck threw 12 strikes on 30 pitches and failed to get an out, and was yanked after his 4th walk of the inning. It was pretty excruciating to watch, especially since 48 hours earlier he’d talked with the media about wanting to work deeper into games and be more efficient. He was better over his next couple of starts though, allowing 5 hits and a run in 10.2 innings with a 13/3 K/BB.
The 4th start of Sadzeck’s season was a home start against the Astros-affiliated Corpus Christi Hooks. Sadzeck threw 7.2 innings and was dominant for the first 7 of those innings. Like, really dominant. Sadzeck had a no-hit bid going into the 8th….and then he came out and had the second-worst inning of his season. He gave up a single to break up the no-hitter, hit a batter, walked a guy, then hit another batter and was pulled. Mix a little bullpen wonkiness in there and a 5-0 RoughRider lead featuring a possible no-hitter going into the 8th was about five feet away from turning into a gut-punching 6-5 deficit, but a blast off the bat of Jon Singleton (he’s in AA; Sadzeck struck him out 3 times) fell short at the track and the RoughRiders hung on to win. Prior to that inning, Sadzeck had been fantastic. He struck out 10 and flashed some straight overpowering stuff at times, striking out the side in order in the 4th, all swinging and missing at high-90s fastballs.
He followed that up with an iffy road start, then started a game I was at on the 3rd. Sadzeck showed some gumption in this game, I thought, when he loaded the bases with no outs in the 4th inning then threw an extremely wild pitch to score the runner from third. I was worried at the time that we were about to see another Sadz implosion, but he buckled down and struck out the next three batters, again all swinging and missing. That was the only inning he faced more than four batters. Another solid start.
It was in his next and most recent start that the Sadzeck implosion came to pass, as Connor was pitching well through 4 but blew up in the 5th, allowing five runs, three on a bomb to J.P. Sportman. I was actually stunned to see him come out for the 6th, where he promptly allowed a double to score another run and was pulled. A rough final line of 5.1 IP, 12 hits, 7 runs, all earned.
On the year Sadzeck is rocking a 5.08 ERA and a 3.05 FIP. He’s striking out just under 11 batters per nine and walking just over 4. In 33.2 innings he’s allowed 29 hits and 20 runs. He’s been bedeviled by the big inning: 12 of those 20 runs came in 3 individual innings.
It’s been a very up and down year for Sadzeck through the first month plus of the season, sometimes great to watch and other times frustrating. In some spots he’s shown overpowering stuff and a steely reserve, other times he’s lost command, quibbled with himself or with the umpire, or simply left straight fastballs right over the plate. He’s at his best in short bursts, like his aforementioned pair of dominant 4th innings. In both he was working 97-99 with the fastball and was throwing that big, looping curve for strikes, and when he’s on he’ll commonly drop that bad boy in for backwards Ks. In his less impressive outings he’ll be up around 80 pitches or so after four innings.
There was a scout at his most recent start that had some thoughts: “He’s strong enough to make delivery work in short bursts; not ideal for logging innings, despite arm strength. Below avg FB command; average CB but it’s more command than intensity of break. 7th inning type if he tightens up FB command. Major league hitters can hit velo and his CB won’t be big swing/miss at that level.”
Not exactly a glowing review. Another scout that was in Midland the other night was a little more positive, saying that he liked Sadzeck’s growing aggressiveness with the fastball, but ultimately tagged him as a late-inning reliever as well.
I think the switch to the pen for Sadzeck is inevitable, and I think he could be a fun, effective, gas-throwing late-inning guy, but I’m of the stance that he should be given the opportunity to be a starting pitcher until he proves otherwise. Maybe that change would be in order if the big league team was winning games (but in that alternate timeline, they probably don’t need BP help as much), but for the foreseeable future I fail to see how a rookie bullpen righty is going to help the Rangers put their finger in the dike of the organization’s long-term needs. He still shows some upside as a starter. He’s got a handful of things to work on though, and for a 25-year-old in AA it starts to make less and less sense for the org. to try and wait it out.
Sadzeck will go again Sunday in San Antonio vs the Missions, and he’ll have a home start sometime late next week in Frisco. You’re all encouraged to go out and take a look at him.