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A look at Tri-City right handed pitcher Lance Day and how he could become the next Dallas Keuchel.
Lance Day was arguably the second best pitcher in the Tri-City ValleyCats rotation according to Game Score. The leader of the staff was Aaron West with a 59.09 Game Score, following him was Day at 57.75*.
*It should be noted that Joe Bircher had a 57.73 average Game Score
Initially I ignored Lance Day while tracking Game Scores in the Minor Leagues, but that was short lived as I realized after looking at some of his box scores that he just wasn't giving up any runs. In 52 innings, 11 games total, eight of which starts, Day allowed 14 runs on 49 hits and eight walks. He also struck out 34 batters in his time with Tri-City. Unlike some of his rotation mates Day never posted a Game Score under 52 and had one of the highest Game Scores at 71. Simply put he was a very effective member of the ValleyCats rotation.
But what if I told you I wasn't the only one to overlook Day. Coming out of the University of Texas-Arlington as a senior Lance Day went undrafted in this years draft. As a member of the Mavericks rotation Day, a right-hander, finished with a 12-4 record a 3.18 ERA in 121.2 innings pitched. The very few scouting reports I've found say his fastball sits in the high 80s, he's got good breaking stuff and thrives on command.
After not getting drafted Day signed with the Grand Praire AirHogs an independent baseball team in the American Association League. In 24 innings Day had a 3.75 ERA allowing 11 runs on 23 hits and two walks, while striking out 16. He was signed by the Astros in early July and finished out the season in Tri-City.
With Tri-City he posted a strikeout per nine innings rate of 5.81 and a walks per nine innings rate of 1.37 in 52 innings. His FIP of 2.92 was only slightly higher than his 2.73 ERA. While the 4.25 strikeout to walk ratio is fantastic it does little to promote Day as serious prospect. His strikeout rate is a huge eye sore to prospectors and likely means he'll be seen as a Minor League depth more than anything. Even Dallas Keuchel, who many prospect experts had rated as a C prospect, posted a 7 strikeouts per nine innings rate.
I expect to see him Quad Cities next year with the possibility of getting called up to Lancaster if there's an injury and he's pitching well in Quad Cities.
Day is exactly the kind of prospect I like, and a prospect the other TCB writers will groan at when I bring him up, but even I have to admit he's likely not a top 30 prospect in the Astros Minor League system. That won't stop me from keeping an eye on him though. If Day can improve his strikeout rate or maintain his current rate through-out his Minor League career he may have a shot at making the big leagues, but it's going to be an uphill battle for him. In his case that's nothing new.