The Cleveland Indians are hosting a major league debut of their own tonight, showcasing their No.9 prospect Triston McKenzie as starting pitcher against the Detroit Tigers.
The 23-year-old answered the call to replace starter Zach Plesac, who’s absent from the pitching rotation. Plesac, along with fellow pitcher Mike Clevinger, is serving a suspension for breaking COVID-19 protocols.
Signing for a hefty $2,302,500 in 2015 (the biggest payday for a pitcher in that draft class), the high school grad was a steal for the Tribe, boasting a 0.79 ERA as a high school senior. Throwing over 91 innings that year for Royal Palm Beach High, McKenzie recorded 157 strikeouts against 16 walks.
That same year the 6'5 walking cannon became the 2015 Perfect Game USA first-team Pre-Season All-American, leading the Wildcats for the first time in 15 years to the Class 7A state tournament.
Fast forward to the Indians' farm system, throughout 60 games, McKenzie posted a record of 26-16, with a 2.68 ERA in four seasons.
Unfortunately, McKenzie missed last season due to forearm soreness and a strain in his upper back.
This absence leads Detroit fans to ask, what can we expect from the rookie on Saturday?
Well, speed-wise McKenzie's fastball sits around 91-93 mph, grazing 95. According to his scouting report, "It projects as a plus pitch because he still has room to add more strength and velocity and because of his command, extension, angle and high spin rate."
McKenzie pairs well against lefties with his fading changeup and has an above-average curveball scratching the high 70's. He may not look like much with his skinny build; however, he shows promise for packing on muscle. McKenzie's past already guarantees consistent strikes.
It’s still up in the air how his minor league stats will translate into the majors. However, during his time in Double-A, it is notable that he provoked plenty of infield fly balls. According to SB Nation, “almost 40% in the lowest levels of the minors, and 26.3% of the time in Double-A. That number will come down, and could turn into more dangerous fly balls, in the majors.”
McKenzie takes the mound at 7:10 PM EST for the Cleveland Indians. With the Tigers revealing their red-hot bats the night before, beating the Tribe 10-5, viewers will be in for an eyebrow-raising matchup.