In case you missed the news, earlier today the Cleveland Indians turned Brandon Moss (or Joey Wendle if you want to go further back) into former first round pick Rob Kaminsky. In trading with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Tribe now have their top pitching prospect, and third overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He currently sits behind outfielders Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier, and ahead of the Indians own 2015 first round pick, Brady Aiken.
The 20-year-old left-handed pitcher was drafted 28th overall by the Cardinals in 2013 and has cracked top 100 prospects lists and top 10 LHP prospect lists. A high ranking is nice and all, but what do the Indians actually get with Kaminsky? If some scouting reports turn out to be accurate, this trade could end up a robbery by the Cleveland front office.
Kaminsky was a highly sought after arm coming out of St. Joseph Regional High School for the 2013 draft. He was originally committed to play for the North Carolina Tar Heels, who were even going to let him play as a two-way player as a switch-hitter on offense. College scouting reports noted his excellent curveball, and a changeup that needed some work – two things that still hold true two years later.
This acquisition also stays in line with the Indians draft strategy this year of stockpiling High School lefty pitching. Granted, Kaminsky is not coming out of high school obviously, but he fits the profile of what the Tribe were looking for early in this year's draft, just a few years more developed.
MLB Pipeline has Kaminsky as a three-pitch pitcher, with a fastball that can reach 92 mph, a curveball and a changeup in his repertoire. On the 20-80 scale of baseball scouting, Kaminsky’s fastball is a 55, his curveball is a 65, his changeup is a 55 and his overall control is a 50. Kaminsky has "one of the best curveballs" in the minors, according to MLB Pipeline, but one negative that I have seen across several scouting reports is that he relies a bit too much on his curveball at times which can get him into trouble.
Whether it is with his fastball or fantastic curveball, Kaminsky is a heavy groundball pitcher. So heavy, in fact, that 63.5% of his balls in play are groundballs. There is no telling how the Indians roster will change between now and whenever Kaminsky makes his debut with the team, but the idea of a groundball machine like Kaminsky pitching with Giovanny Urshela and Francisco Lindor behind his right shoulder is a dream scenario.
As the graphic below from MLBFarm details, a large majority of his balls in play are groundballs, and most of them are hit to the third base side of the diamond. Right into the yearning gloves of Urshela and Lindor in a few years, perhaps?
In his three-year Minor League career, Kaminsky has made it as far as High-A ball, but he is expected to excel through the ranks quickly and potentially be ready as early as 2017. In 17 games pitching for the Cardinals High-A team, Kaminsky has a 2.09 earned run average with 7.51 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.66 walks per nine. The most impressive stat from this year is the fact that he has not given up a single home run in 94.2 innings of work. Of the 393 minor league pitchers who have thrown at least 90 innings, Kaminsky is one of only two pitchers to not allow one to be hit out of the park.
Jeff Moore over at Baseball Prospectus has a great in-depth eye-witness scouting reporting on Kaminsky that details some of his potential mechanic issues, as well as how he effectively uses his curveball early and late in games. Despite some issues that Moore has with Kaminsky's delivery, he is not shy in saying that Kaminsky has potential in the future.