The Braves and the Tigers made parallel moves within hours of each other yesterday, with Atlanta promoting left handed relief prospect Chasen Shreve to the majors and Detroit doing the same for right-handed relief prospect Corey Knebel.
Shreve, 23, has yet to pitch in Triple-A, let alone the big leagues, but he had been absolutely dominant for Double-A Mississippi this season. Prior to the call up he had been 3-2 with a 2.36 ERA and 7 saves in 54 1/3 innings. More importantly for a relievers his peripherals were ridiculous – 12.6 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 and a Fielding Independant Pitching (FIP) of 1.42. To put that number into perspective, according to Fangraphs.com, only three pitchers have put up a FIP lower than that over the course of a full major league season since 2000: Eric Gagne in 2003, Craig Kimbrel in 2012, and Greg Holland in 2013.
The 6’3 190 pound reliever has the deceptive low arm slot to be an effective left handed specialist, but also brings above average stuff that could make him effective against hitters on both sides of the plate. Shreve informed the Atlanta Journal that his fastball sits between 93 and 94 MPH, and he backs it up with a slider and a change-up. The change-up, according to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, is an asset that should allow him to shut down right-handed batters.
His minor league splits seem to back that up. Shreve held right-handed hitters to a .202 average and a .537 OPS in Double-A, while lefties hit .268 with a .680 OPS off him. MLB.com ranked him as the 20th best prospect in the Braves system.
Knebel, on the other hand, already got a taste of the big leagues in May and June, when Detroit made him the first player from the 2013 amateur draft to reach the majors. The 39th pick that year was unspectacular in his first major league cup of coffee – 6.2 IP, 6.75 ERA, – but his minor league track record and raw stuff certainly offers the potential for a much greater degree of success.
Knebel, 22, has torn through the minors, posting an 0.87 ERA in Class-A last season and a 1.62 ERA between Double and Triple-A this one. He misses a ton of bats, with an 11.8 K/9 across his minor league career, but like many hard throwing relievers, is often wild (3.8 BB/9). His fastball can touch 98 with bite and his low-80’s curve is dastardly when thrown properly. He also mixes in a change-up, which is major league average. Impressed by his performance and ability, MLB.com has him listed as Detroit’s fifth best prospect.
Knebel pitched in yesterday’s 6-2 loss to the Indians, allowing two runs (one earned) and striking out three over 1.2 innings.