In his latest outing Saturday night, Sean Newcomb impressed and gave fans and the front office confidence in his future. After 7 innings of 1H, 0R, 2BB and 11K ball, he gave the Braves a boost of confidence after making the questioning trade of Andrelton Simmons to acquire him. When acquired, Newcomb was thought to be a top pitching prospect with a mid 90’s fastball and good curve that would propel him to be a future ace. Since the trade, he has been a bit more a project than expected. He has all the tangibles to be a front line starter, but like most minor league prospects, he struggles with command. In 2016 with Mississippi, he made 27 starts with 152 strikeouts, 71 walks and a 3.86 ERA. While those are decent numbers, the walk rate is his biggest issue. His inability to command his fastball seems to be the only thing holding him back from the MLB. His walk rate did improve from 2015 to 2016 with Mississippi, but the Braves are hoping he can still continue to make progress commanding the strike zone.
After his start Saturday, he lowered his ERA from 4.19 to 3.08 and gave the Braves exactly what they were looking for in the trade. His 35 strikeouts in 26.1 IP currently rank 2nd in the IL league. Newcomb is no where near a finished product, but his last two starts are encouraging signs that he is making the correct adjustments to more advanced hitters. Depending on how well he progresses the rest of this season, it is not unlikely that we can see him in Atlanta at some point later this year.
Braves 2015 first round pick Kolby Allard is another powerful lefty in the system. He currently holds a 1.36 ERA in Mississippi. So far in his 33 IP, he has been great on all cylinders. Like Newcomb, he is prone to walking batters, but so far has been able to limit his damage with a great curve and changeup. In his previous outing Thursday night, he struck out 11 batters with 3 H and 0 BB in 6 IP. At only 19, he is one of the younger pitchers in Double-A, but with him having so much success against older competition, it gives great confidence in his maturation and development. There is a lot to be excited about with Allard, he has all the tools needed to be a front line rotation piece in the future, but like with every pitcher, health is the main concern. He has had back problems in the past that required a minor procedure, so the Braves will be cautious with him going forward. However, everything seems to be going well for him as of now and there is a lot to be excited about going forward.
Max Fried is another notable mention that you will hear a lot this season. While his latest start Monday was not impressive, he is another strong lefty with a mid 90’s fastball and good breaking pitches. Left handed pitchers like Newcomb, Allard and Fried do not grow on trees and the development of these pitchers will play a major role in the future of the franchise. Not many franchises have the opportunity to have three power left handed pitchers with front line stuff in the same rotation, but depending on their development, Atlanta could have something very special here soon.