2019 Level: A+/AA
Pitches (current/future value)
Most Likely Future Role: #4 Starting Pitcher
Ceiling: Mid-rotation starter
What we know: Baumann should be the poster child of the new player development regime. A year ago, he was 90-94, touching 95mph with a fastball he couldn’t command, an inconsistent slider that would flash plus, a firm change, and a loopy curveball. He didn’t miss bats and wasn’t as good as his stats. Flash forward and he was 94-96, touching 98mph with improved fastball command and more hop. There are mixed opinions on whether he scrapped the slider for a cutter (he seemed to be throwing both early in the year) or whether it’s a tweaked version of slider. Regardless, later in the season it solidified into a 88-91mph pitch with more vertical drop than is common in a cutter. The pitch is excellent and is probably my favorite pitch in the system as it generates both whiffs and weak contact. I was really tempted to throw double plus on it, but the pitch was in such flux that I want to be sure the best version is here to stay. His curve and change both made strides later in the year, flashing above average, but lacking the feel to throw them for strikes regularly. The curveball was sharper than it’s previous incarnation and the changeup may be a whole different grip because this one has big tumble when located down in the zone.
What we don’t know: Baumann throws strikes but doesn’t have great command. His long arm circle doesn’t lend itself to a consistent release point. Combine that with his age and it’s hard to project more command improvements. So what we don’t know is whether his fringe command and the inconsistency of his third and fourth pitches will push him to the pen. The relief risk is real and most scouts I’ve spoke to think that’s his future role.
What we think: I think he’s a starter. He’s got the prototypical starter’s frame and has a desirable high 3/4 release and vertical spin axis on his fastball. His fastball and slider are going to miss MLB bats. The ceiling is mostly limited by the fringe average command, but the stuff is good enough, he just needs directional command, which he can do. He’s going to have MLB value one way or another with a chance to be a late inning option if he does end up in the pen.
Another Take: Baumann is a 4-pitch right-hander who took major steps in his development in 2019. He’ll sit 92-94 early in games but increase velocity as the game goes on sitting 94-96 while touching upper 90s. In his no-hitter he was hitting 98-99 MPH in the 9th inning. Despite the velocity, his strikeout pitch is his 86-89 mph slider and his improved curveball (77-78). the slider can flash plus at times. His changeup improved but he still struggles to command the pitch consistently. I’d like to see more swing and miss on his fastball, but his improved secondaries give him a good chance to stick as a starter now. He’s got a mid to back of the rotation most likely, but he’s got a chance to be more if he can locate his fastball a bit better and his change comes around. He’s got a power reliever floor. (Tony Pente)