Scouts have rarely wavered in their general assessment of left hander Sean Gilmartin, the Braves prospect traded to the Twins this morning in exchange for catcher Ryan Doumit. He’s a soft tossing lefthander who sits at 87 MPH with three quality, but certainly not overpowering, off-speed pitches. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo described him as a “middle-of-the rotation” type with limited ceiling and Keith Law has called him a “fourth or fifth starter.” That low ceiling, however comes with a pretty high floor, as Gilmartin, 23, was already failry polished when he was drafted a the end of the first round in 2011 and looked to make the majors quickly. Impressed with his likelihood of at least becoming a back end starter Baseball America ranked him as the third best prospect in the Braves system prior to 2013.
This year’s number, however, painted a brutal picture for a kid who thought he might be in the majors quickly. In his second stint at Triple-A in 2013, the 2011 first round pick got pummelled, pitching to a 5.74 ERA and allowing 1.2 HR/9 over 91.0 innings. He allowed well over a hit per inning, had a WHIP of almost 1.6 and his walk rate – 3.3 BB/9 – is the highest its been in his professional career. Part of the increase in hits and ERA can be attributed to an inordinarily high BABIP – .333 – but his FIP was still an unimpressive 4.61.
Baseball America kept him in the Braves top ten after the season, but just barely as he snuck in with the tenth spot. Law, however, was a bit more sour, calling him a possible fifth starter who was unlikely to ever be average in the majors. Honestly, he’s never going to miss bats with his unassuming stuff (6.4 SO/9 last season), and if he’s being hit this hard while pitching to contact in the minors, he will be even worse at the show. This just seems like a salary dump for Minnesota, who were unwilling to pay the underperforming Doumit the $3.5 million he’s due next season. For that, a spot starter with a chance to be slightly better isn’t actually a terrible return.