Confession alert! I’m not the only one deciding who to write up for the fantasy baseball rookies. Prospect Itch is puppeteering me into writing about guys who he thinks will be making 2022 impacts. Let’s not discuss where Itch’s hand is to puppeteer me, but let’s just say it doesn’t itch, per se. Joe Ryan? Well, I might’ve wrote up Joe Ryan even if I were parasailing on my own down the cliffs of 2022 fantasy baseball rookies, looking for a place to land, but Itch is puppeteering–Hey, that’s my lower intestine, Itch. Yes, right there. Geez. Okay, first, let’s see what I’ve already said in The Hunt for No October starring Joe Ryan:
In a deep Scottish accent, the Twins’ Triple-A manager said, “You’re comin’ up tae join th’ club, Joe Ryan. Ur ye excited?”
Joe Ryan paused, then asked, “What are you saying?”
“Aam Sean Connery an’ aam daein’ a Scottish accent. Ur ye excited, certainly, Jack Ryan?”
He scratched his head, then, “Huh? Oh. My name’s Joe Ryan.”
So, Joe Ryan was called up to start on Wednesday, and I settled in to watch. He was one of the pieces the Rays sent to the Twins for Nelson Cruz. Since the Rays sent him away, I expect he’ll spontaneously combust during his next start or suddenly lose command of his pitches and return in 2022 as a middle infielder in Rookie Ball. If that doesn’t happen, we should all be super interested. I’m intrigued, y’all! He looks like every great command pitcher, who can also induce strikeouts. Prospect Itch said of Ryan, “I have high hopes for Joe Ryan, another dynasty trade target if you can get a decent price. His 30+ K-BB percentage across three levels in 2019 was pretty loud, but some of the clamor might’ve died down since Ryan was kept under training site wraps for all of 2020. His best trait is a true-spin four-seamer he can command across the zone, and that’s a great base from which to build an arsenal in today’s game. Tampa’s coaches have praised Ryan for his aptitude for new pitches and approaches, particularly his feel for spin. I get giddy just thinking about him and punching Grey.” Okay, not cool! Ryan continued to carve up hitters in Triple-A this year while maintaining elite command: 11.8 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 in 57 IP. This is potentially as good a prospect arm call-up as we’re getting the rest of the year.” And that’s me quoting me quoting Itch! So, what can we expect from Joe Ryan for 2022 fantasy baseball?
Guys and five ladies, I’m supercharged up about Joe Ryan. I kinda secretly hate rookie pitchers, but Joe Ryan, who is surprisingly not from the Crimson Tide, is pure filth, and filth is good, to misquote Guy Frieri. Ha, just had a thought, imagine Guy Frieri in some grimy diner, saying, “This place is pure filth, and filth is good!” Any hoo! Let me show you some Joe-lan Ryan clips:
Joe Ryan, Filthy Sliders. ? pic.twitter.com/5gkRFDECKv
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 9, 2021
You’ve seen the slider, now let me show you the gas ball:
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 2, 2021
The fastball registers there at 94, but that might’ve been 1st-inning-in-the-majors adrenaline, because he usually registers around 91-92 MPH on his fastball. As you can see, it’s deceptive — hidden well, and coming out “low.” Has 2.1 inches of horizontal break more than average on the 4-seamer. No special amount of spin. That pitch though, that four-seamer accounts for most of its success coming from his three-quarters arm angle. Twins’ pitching coach Wes Johnson said, “One of the things we’ve found through science is hitters anticipate an arm slot or hand movement. If a guy throws sidearm, they anticipate arm-side run and sink. Any time they see that slot that’s lower, innately, they’re going to anticipate some sink and run. … His actually doesn’t.” I lean more as an East Johnson guy, but Wes makes sense.
In the big picture/pitcher, he’s about the command, and it’s as beautiful as advertised. The zone% on his pitches would’ve been 45.9%, or 5th in the league if he qualified. Obviously, he didn’t qualify because he only was in the league for 26 2/3 IP. By the way, in those MLB innings, he had 10.1 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 0.79 WHIP (!!!), and a 3.43 FIP. Bit too in the Zone% because he gave up a few homers, but those numbers are ace-like. I wouldn’t expect better peripherals from Shane Bieber as far as K/9 and BB/9. 10+ and 1+ absolutely works. And by “works,” I mean it f*cks. Rookie pitchers are the devil incarnate with their blowups, but Joe Ryan has the makings of a ‘safe’ rookie starter, due to his command. He just needs to avoid giving up some three-run homers. Since he was up (waaaaaaaaaaas upppppppppppp) already, I’m just going to assume he starts the year with the Twins. For 2022, I’ll give Joe Ryan projections of 8-9/3.81/1.12/166 in 152 IP, which are excellent rookie pitcher projections.