Mike Piazza, RHP, Reliever/Starter
Okay, no jokes on this one. Yes, his name is Mike Piazza, the same as former All-Star catcher, but it's not him. Mike Piazza is actually one heck of a pitcher coming through the Angels farm system. The tall pitcher has become a clubhouse favorite, as well as a fan favorite, not just for his name, but his outstanding pitching. Piazza has split time being a reliever and starter over the past few seasons, but in 2013, really shined starting games from the first pitch, deep into the late innings.
He has the same body frame as the "original" Mike Piazza, which for a pitcher... is a great thing. He throws from a high slot, which is already high at his 6'4 stature, giving hitters a hard time reading what looks like a sinking fastball but is actually a standard four-seam. His off-speed stuff breaks well with his size too, giving batters a hard time at the plate. His mechanics are fine, and he is growing in to a steady, Major League style player, with very small kinks to adjust. He is old for a guy just going in to Triple-A at 27, but his pitching knowledge could excel him to the next level very early in the coming year. Stamina is no problem, as he's been pushed in to a starter role the past few seasons, particularly this last one. He has slight struggles keeping the ball away from left-handed batters.
Piazza's been getting steadily better each season. His earned run average sits right at his career 3.17, and doesn't move much higher or lower. He had just 24 appearances in Rookie ball in 2009 and 2010, before getting a call up to High-A Inland Empire 66ers.
While in High-A, Piazza dominated the hitter friendly California League with a 2.57 earned run average with a 1.079 WHIP, striking out 10.6 per nine, becoming a prominent relief pitching name in the Angels system.
Piazza took a quick jump to Double-A where's been with the Arkansas Travelers the past three seasons. In 2012, he was turned into a spot starting pitcher, and this past season in late May was put in the full time rotation where he excelled.
In 2013, Piazza kept right-handed batters to a .218 batting average. He also had a season 3.15 earned run average, that were not exactly helped by a pair of poor starts at the beginning of the season. Piazza's best performance of 2013 came on June 15th where he allowed just two hits in six innings, striking out six in a no decision against Tulsa.
EXPECTED IN THE FUTURE:
Piazza has showed that he can pitch in Double-A, so we'd expect him to pitch for Triple-A Salt Lake coming out of Spring Training. At 27-years-old, his knowledge of pitching is unlike most of the prospects that will be in the 2013 Salt Lake rotation. This could help him with a late season callup to the Big League Club, where we would imagine he would be used as a middle reliever or spot starter.
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