Peyton Battenfield hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Houston Astros drafted him in the ninth round of the 2019 draft. A couple of trades later and the pitching prospect now calls the Cleveland organization home.
I do not know much about Battenfield. We’re getting deeper into the countdown and are now encountering new and unfamiliar players. What I can tell you about Battenfield is that he pays attention, works hard, and understands what it is going to take to succeed.
Battenfield spoke to David Laurila of FanGraphs in August about developing a cutter. In the piece, he notes that he threw a slider in college but never quite figured out how to make it dance. In the Astros system, someone suggested that he try out a cutter grip. After all, the difference between a slider and a cutter gets murkier as pitchers continue to fiddle. Lo and behold, Battenfield unlocked a new trick.
“...[the cutter] does have more depth than my fastball,” Battenfield explained to Laurila. “Basically, it’s perceived movement. If my fastball is moving at 22 vertical and my cutter is at 10 vertical, to the hitters, it’s going to look like it has depth.”
This is exactly the kind of brain I want a pitcher to have. Holy smokes. If that’s not good enough for you, it gets better:
“I try to get it to spin like my four-seam. I want it to look like my four-seam out of the hand, so the hitters are… their brains are making those calculations on its way to the plate, thinking they’ve got to swing higher than what it’s actually going to be. Even though it’s carrying, it’s carrying less. If you’ve ever watched a video of Mariano Rivera throwing a cutter, he tries to get four-seam spin, but instead of straight backspin, it’s going to be inverted a little bit to the side.”
Sign me the hell up.
Jorge Burgos, OF (Age 20)
2021 (CPX): 123 PA, .353/.463/.461, 0 HR, 4 SB, 14.6 BB%, 21.1 K%, 153 wRC+
2021 (A): 100 PA, .293/.350/.446, 1 HR, 2 SB, 8.0 BB%, 19.0 K%, 116 wRC+
A 2019 international free agent signing, made an immediate impact upon his assignment to Single-A Lynchburg.
Tanner Burns, RHP (Age 23)
2021 (A+): 75.2 IP, 18 GS, 28.9 K%, 9.2 BB%, 3.57 ERA, 4.35 FIP
A second-round pick in 2019 who put up a rock-solid season at High-A in 2021 with above average strikeout totals and a reasonable walk rate. A workhorse last year.
Xzavion Curry, RHP (Age 23)
2021 (A): 25.1 IP, 5 GS, 40.4 K%, 4.3 BB%, 1.07 ERA, 2.08 FIP
2021 (A+): 67.2 IP, 13 GS, 29.6 K%, 4.4 BB%, 2.66 ERA, 3.99 FIP
2021 (AA): 4.2 IP, 1 GS, 25.0 K%, 0.0 BB%, 3.86 ERA, 6.94 FIP
A 2019 seventh-round pick who made his pro debut in 2021, Curry soared through three levels of Cleveland’s system while posting elite strikeout to walk ratios along the way.
Oscar Gonzalez, OF (Age 24)
2021 (AA): 188 PA, .330/.367/.601, 13 HR, 1 SB, 5.5 BB%, 18.1 K%, 159 wRC+
2021 (AAA): 290 PA, .269/.305/.503, 18 HR, 0 SB, 3.6 BB%, 24.9 K%, 111 wRC+
He doesn’t walk, he strikes out at a decent clip, but he mashes. Led all Cleveland position players in both hits and home runs in 2021.
Isaiah Greene, OF (Age 20)
2021 (CPX): 191 PA, .289/.421/.368, 1 HR, 5 SB, 18.3 BB%, 22.0 K%, 120 wRC+
Acquired as part of the Francisco Lindor trade last year, made his pro debut in the Guardians’ Florida complex.
Angel Martinez, INF (Age 20)
2021 (A): 424 PA, .241/.319/.382, 7 HR, 13 SB, 10.1 BB%, 20.8 K%, 92 wRC+
An advanced switch-hitting middle infielder who has the potential to be the best of Cleveland’s many advanced switch-hitting middle infielders down the road.
Tobias Myers, RHP (Age 23)
2021 (AA): 59.2 IP, 10 GS, 34.2 K%, 4.2 BB%, 3.32 ERA, 3.08 FIP
2021 (AAA): 58.0 IP, 12 GS, 26.9 K%, 7.4 BB%, 4.50 ERA, 4.57 FIP
Acquired from Tampa Bay as a 40-man roster crunch casualty, Myers already found success at Triple-A at an age where several of Cleveland’s most advanced pitchers were in Single-A.
Doug Nikhazy, LHP (Age 22)
2021: Drafted 58th overall in the 2021 MLB Draft
Lefty with a fastball-curveball-cutter-changeup mix with a higher floor, but perhaps a lower ceiling.
Who should be the No. 18 prospect for 2022?
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