After starting the year on the injured list after a 2020 elbow injury, this 26-year old former top 10 prospect never quite looked like his 2019 self and will need a bounce back to prove his #18 prospect ranking is not too high.
Age (as of Jun 30th) : 26
2021 Level: AA/AAA/MLB
Pitches (current/future value)
Most Likely Future Role: Multi-inning reliever
Ceiling: 5th starter
What we know: In 2019, Michael Baumann looked like he was on a verge of becoming a top 100 prospect in all of baseball. He threw a no-hitter in which he was throwing 99 MPH in the 9th inning. During 2020, COVID hit and Baumann was sent to the alternate site where he was shut down with an elbow injury that required rest vs surgery. In 2021, he got a late start due to that elbow and unfortunately, never looked quite the same as he was in 2019.
His fastball sat between 92-95 MPH in most outings with a high 80’s-low 90s slider, curveball and changeup. His slider was clearly his best pitch flashing plus at times with good hard late break in the upper 80s to low 90s. He never really gained much feel of his changeup that comes in too hard at times and he doesn’t finish the pitch leaving it up too often. His curveball can occasionally flash average but he rolls it too much.
In his major league debut in September, he looked like a tired arm averaging just 93.8 MPH on his fastball and mostly throwing sliders with inconsistent break. He doesn’t have a ton of difference between his fastball (93.8) and slider *89.5) velocities, and his curveball and change are way too inconsistent to be pitches he uses often. All of his pitches have below average movement in one dimension and while his slider can be his best strikeout pitch, he just wasn’t able to consistently find it in 2021.
What we don’t know: After an offseason of rest, can he come back to the guy he was in 2019 or is he what he is after the elbow injury? Can he ever find a feel for the changeup or will be able to use the curveball more as an offset to his fastball. If he focuses on just the fastball and slider for short durations as a reliever, will the velocity tick up on the fastball giving it more a velocity difference with the slider?
What we think: The guy we saw in the big leagues last September is not even a major league reliever, but the hope is with another offseason under his belt he can get back to a power arm fastball and slider guy out of the pen. Can he still be a starter? With what he showed last year no, but if the stuff rebounds, it’s not out of the question. Most likely though he settles into a multi-inning reliever.