A sixth round pick of the Astros in 2021, Spencer Arrighetti finished his college career at the University of Lousiana after starting at TCU, with a stint at Navarro JC in between. At all of those stops, he was able to pile up swings and misses, primarily thanks to the intense riding action on his fastball that his low release point facilitates. His ability to locate his stuff has always been a bit on and off, but with the Ragin Cajuns he started showing some significant progress in that regard, at least until a huge workload caught up with him a bit late in the season, eventually forcing a move to the bullpen down the stretch.
The Astros did debut him right after signing, but kept him in short relief for the entire remainder of the season out of sensitivity to potential fatigue. While brief, the debut was successful- across 13 and 2⁄3 innings between the FCL and Fayetteville, he struck out 22 against just 2 walks, with 4 earned runs allowed in total. His plan of attack to similar what we’d seen from him at Lousiana- fastball dominant with a smattering of three secondary offerings, a slider most often. He had always shown some ability to spin it, but it wasn’t the most efficient breaking stuff, and played up due to the threat of his nasty heater. Nonetheless, he was obviously very effective, and the fact that Low-A hitters were no better a match for his four seamer than his previous competition in the Sun Belt was a welcome sight.
The front office was impressed enough by the debut to push him straight to Asheville in 2022, where he’d immediately showed an arsenal that had improved on a couple of fronts. For one, some time to recuperate along with some minor mechanical tweaking had him regularly touching the mid 90s, after living in the low 90s prior. The already bat-missing life on the pitch became even more pronounced, and was lethal whenever it was located, be it for a swing and miss up in the zone or a called strike down. His slider also began to really stand out among the secondary mix, reportedly thanks in large part to a new grip that gave the pitch more horizontal action. The four seam/sweeper combo is a bit unique, but when locating he was able to tunnel the two decently and pick up plenty of strikes with the breaker.
Spencer Arrighetti faced 1 over the minimum thru the first 3 frames, striking out 6. pic.twitter.com/dn4Fj6KBdw— Corpus Christi Hooks (@cchooks) September 18, 2022
While the stuff, which wasn’t really a question mark coming into the year either, looked markedly better, location continued to elude Arrighetti periodically in 2022. While he did manage plenty of 0-2 walk starts, there were some large numbers in that column more often than you’d hope to see from a starting pitcher. While his overall walk rates remained reasonable for much of the season, it was an issue early on, as he walked 18 in 20 2⁄3 during the month of may, which led to something of an overcorrection in June, when he walked just 6 in 16 and 1⁄3 but missed over the plate more frequently, allowing 21 hits and 3 home runs. He was able to dial things in thereafter, though, putting together a very solid July during which he allowed more than 2 runs in an outing just once and walked 7 against 28 strikeouts in 20 frames.
As the season wound down, Arrighetti showed no sign of the fatigue that affected him in Lafayette, likely simply a product of better-managed pitch counts than what was asked of him in college. His last two starts for Asheville in mid-August were strong, with 14 strikeouts and 4 walks across 10 innings, and the Astros rewarded him with a promotion Corpus Christi for the stretch run. He needed a bit of time to get his feet wet there, allowing three home runs across his first two appearances, but reeled off a very impressive run to end his campaign, striking out 20 across 14 innings in his three September starts, walking just 4 and and allowing just 7 hits, none of which left the yard, lowering his overall Double-A ERA to a tidy 3.43 and earning him team pitcher of the month honors.
While there were some bumps in the road, it was all in all a very positive campaign for Arrighetti. His stuff, already intriguing, made a real jump in 2022, and we got a chance to see it against upper minors competition, where it performed very well. While the command looks questionable on the season line, he struggled with it most early in the season and actually improved as the year went on, eliminating any concerns about his ability to handle larger workloads that might’ve lingered after his college tenure. He still has some development to do in that regard to stick as a starter, but should continue to get leash in that role in 2023 as he doesn’t need to be added to the 40-man until after the following season. The bullpen may end up being the best spot for him in the end, but if he can continue to improve the consistency of his location, and continue developing his tertiary changeup, there’s room for a strikeout-minded back end starter projection here. He has the look of another nice RHP find in round six.