Today we wrap up TCB’s review of the Oklahoma City Redhawks, and perhaps appropriately end with starting pitcher Jarred Cosart who was the Astros highest ranked prospect to see time with the Redhawks this season. Cosart, 22, did not do anything to raise his stock significantly this year, but he also did not do anything to hurt his stock as well. He is still arguably the top pitching prospect in the Astros system just ahead of Mike Foltynewicz and Lance McCullers Jr. The only real disappointing part of Cosart’s season is that he was plagued with a blister issue on his throwing hand that caused him to miss time throughout the season and did not allow him to compile as many innings as he did in the previous season. The Astros have chosen to send Cosart to the Arizona Fall League so hopefully he can make up some of those innings this fall against top competition.
The first thing that really jumps out at you about Cosart is his ability to induce groundballs. According to minorleaguecentral.com Cosart compiled a groundball rate of 57.80% (league average 45.50%) in 87 innings pitched in Corpus Christi this year, and followed that up with a 52.50% (league average 42.20%) rate in Oklahoma City. He was more than 10% above league average in this category at both levels, albeit a very small sample size in Oklahoma City. By definition groundballs go for hits more often than fly balls do, but they don’t go for extra base hits as often and a pitcher with a good defensive infield behind him can benefit immensely by being a groundball pitcher. This is one area where Cosart excelled at this season.
Some will point out Cosart’s mediocre strikeout rate (7.03 K/9 at Corpus, league average 7.48; 7.81 at Oklahoma City, league average 7.14) as a reason for concern but it is still possible that given his stuff he can increase his whiffs as he further matures and develops. It’s impressive that 75% of at-bats against Cosart in 2012 ended in either a groundball or a strikeout. Another interesting stat is that of the 109 hits that he allowed this year only 26 of them went for extra bases. He also had an above average line drive rate of 14.90% combined between Corpus and Oklahoma City. In his 114.2 combined innings this season Cosart only allowed three homeruns. In short, batters just didn’t square him up all that often and hit him hard.
The biggest area of his game that could use improvement is his control. 10.20% of the at-bats against him ended with a base on balls which is not very good to say the least. Given that he has the ability to induce groundballs at a high rate he may be able to turn some of those walks into double-plays more often than another pitcher could (he induced 18 double plays in 2012), but he will most likely not be able to continue to find success with a walk rate of 4.0 BB/9 as he progresses.
Cosart carried an earned run average of 2.60 (2.98 FIP) at Oklahoma City this season, and an ERA of 3.52 (3.64 FIP) at Corpus Christi. His SIERA was almost identical at both levels with a 3.94 at OKC and a 3.97 at Corpus. His batting average on balls in play was almost exactly league average (.325 at OKC, and .303 at Corpus) this season, and his left on base percentage was only slightly above league average. The only real outlier here is his three homeruns allowed this year and he could see negative regression in that aspect next season, but otherwise what you see is what you get.
Splits wise Cosart has actually had more success against left-handed hitters than he has had against right-handed hitters throughout his career. In 132 innings pitched against lefties Cosart has posted a 3.58 FIP with a groundball percentage of 55.90% and a strikeout rate of 18.10%. In 127 innings against rights he has posted a 4.09 FIP, 49.30% groundball rate and a 16.40% strikeout rate. His walk rate has been about the same against both righties and lefties throughout his career.
To sum everything up Cosart had a good season this year and it was nice to see him experience a little success with the Redhawks this year towards the end of the season. There’s a good chance that he could see some time with the Astros at some point during next season. His biggest area of improvement would be his control, and if he could get his walks down to a more susceptible level than he could really take a big leap forward. However as Subber10 has pointed out in the past that may be tough for Cosart to do as he has a lot of moving parts in his delivery and it’s not very repeatable. How often he is able to stay on the mound will also be something to watch since he missed a few starts off and on throughout the season due to a reoccurring blister issue. It will be interesting to see how he performs in the Arizona Fall League against other top prospects this fall.