A pair of pitching prospects in the SF Giants farm system received some praise from one of the biggest publications covering the minor leagues on Tuesday. Geoff Pontes of Baseball America wrote a piece highlighting five lesser-known pitching prospects with impressive curveballs and Giants pitching prospects R.J. Dabovich and Landen Roupp each made the list.
Roupp was highlighted by Baseball America earlier this month for having the best breaking ball in the California League. However, the Giants 12th-round pick in 2021 has shown the ability to shut down opposing hitters well above Single-A this season. Roupp pitched at Single-A, High-A, and Double-A this season and was effective at all three levels. He finished the year with a 2.60 ERA with 152 strikeouts and just 37 walks in 107.1 innings pitched.
"The pitch has tremendous depth, getting both heavy horizontal break and vertical drop with an elite level of raw spin, averaging 2,900-3,000 rpm," Pontes wrote about Roupp's curveball. "Despite heavy usage the pitch still generates whiffs at an elite rate, as Roupp generated misses on over 40% of swings against his curveball this season. His ability to generate whiffs out of the zone was particularly notable as opposing batters chased the pitch on over 40% of swings. Hitters did very little damage overall against Roupp’s curveball, and he used it consistently to drive swinging strikes and weak groundball contact."
Pontes called Dabovich "one of the most notable relief-only prospects in the minor leagues." Drafted by the Giants in the fourth round of the 2020 draft out of Arizona State, Dabovich relies on a mid-90s four-seam fastball and a power curveball. In just two minor-league seasons, Dabovich has already reached Triple-A, where he has been an effective reliever for the Sacramento River Cats. On the season, Dabovich has a 3.19 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 48 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Command remains a work in progress for the righty. He walked 19 batters in his first 21.1 innings since reaching Triple-A.
Pontes highlighted the velocity of Dabovich's curveball as a key reason the pitch stands out. "The pitch sits 84-86 mph on average and has been clocked as high as 89 mph," he wrote. "Its combination of velocity and late vertical drop as it approaches the plate makes it incredibly difficult for batters to hit cleanly." Pontes later noted that batters have whiffed on more than half of their swings against Dabovich's curveball while consistently chasing the pitch outside the strike zone. It sure seems like a future big-league putaway pitch.
The SF Giants farm system has some exciting arms throughout the minor leagues. While neither Landen Roupp nor R.J. Dabovich is one of the top prospects in the organization, they both have been impressive in 2022. Posting above-average numbers in the upper minors, it might not be long until either one is helping the Giants at Oracle Park.