Just over 15 games into the 2021 MLB season for some teams, and fans have gotten a quick glimpse of encouragement from some youth pitchers across the league. Now yes, it’s early, really early, but some of the performances by the players on this list are worthy of recognition for their performance early on.
2021 MLB Season: The 25 & Under Club
Drafted 13th overall in the 2017 draft by the Miami Marlins, Trevor Rogers made his debut in 2020, making seven starts. Rogers came into the 2021 MLB season with a fastball two ticks up from 2020. Through three starts, the left-handed pitcher has a 2.40 ERA through 15 innings and has been one of many young effective starters for the Marlins.
Trevor Rogers through 2021 is striking out batters at a 40% rate, despite having a walk rate of 15%, Rogers has found increased success compared to 2020 (both small samples). The increased velocity on his fastball has caused more whiffs on the pitch, the whiff rate currently sitting at 51% on the fastball from Rogers. That number isn’t sustainable but the hot start and early results are promising for the former first-round pick on a surprisingly competitive Marlins team.
Fully recovered from a torn ulnar collateral ligament, Michael Kopech decided to opt-out of the 2020 season before the season began. Now pitching out of the bullpen to start the 2021 MLB season, Kopech is off to a hot start through 10.2 innings; Kopech’s ERA sits at 1.69 with 17 strikeouts.
Kopech entered the 2021 MLB season has not thrown in an MLB game since July of 2018, But the velocity that made Kopech so intriguing as a prospect has remained post-surgery, and the walk rate for Kopech has been solid (10% BB rate). Kopech could eventually push the White-Sox hand and force his way into the rotation, but for now, the White-Sox will take it easy with the 24-year-old who came into the season with an innings limit on his season.
Freddy Peralta technically broke out in 2020 in the Brewers bullpen, where he would throw 29.1 innings en route to a 3.99 ERA, But Peralta would strike out batters at a 37.6% rate in the fourth percentile in the entire league. Peralta made one start last season before the Brewers opted to give Corbin Burnes the final rotation spot.
To begin the 2021 MLB season, Peralta over 18 innings has a 2.00 ERA with a FIP of 2.77. Batters are striking out at a 42.5% clip against Peralta (career 32.1% K Rate). Despite the impressive strikeout numbers, Peralta, in his starts, is walking batters at a 16% rate (12 over 18 Innings). The 24-year-old, in what is technically his fourth season in the league, has faced the Cubs twice as well as a start against the Pittsburgh Pirates; Peralta will look to keep the walks down while looking to keep the role of a full-time starter.
Garrett Whitlock has been a pleasant surprise for a Boston Red Sox team missing Chris Sale and lacking depth at the back end. The Red-Sox 30th ranked prospect whom they got via the Rule-5 draft from the Yankees, impressed in spring training and made the opening day roster winning a job in the bullpen.
Whitlock in 2021 has pitched nine innings over four appearances and has yet to allow a run. The right-handed pitcher has 12 strikeouts over his nine innings and has yet to allow a walk. Boston reportedly wants Whitlock to get work in as a starter at some point in the future, but until then, the Red-Sox will look for Whitlock to keep shutting the door out of the bullpen.
Pitching for a Cleveland organization known for its pitching development, Civale, at the age of 25, is finally finding some of what he had in his 2019 rookie year. Civale is off to a hot start through his first three starts; over 16.2 innings, Civale currently has a 2.18 ERA and 16 strikeouts over his three starts.
One of the noticeable changes in Civale’s game through his first three outings of the 2021 MLB season is the usages between his sinker and his four-seam fastball. Sinkers are becoming less and less common, and it’s not surprising Cleveland has Civale throwing more up in the zone four-seam fastballs with obviously fewer sinkers.
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