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With Dominant May, Arrighetti Cemented Atop Organizational Pitching Rankings

2021 6th round pick Spencer Arrighetti got out of the gates a bit slowly this season after a dominant 2022, but has righted the ship in a big way with his recent performance.

Syndication: The Corpus Christi Caller Times Angela Piazza/Caller-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

Spencer Arrighetti was arguably mismanaged by his University of Louisiana coaching staff, who saddled him with a larger workload than was likely advisable, which led to uneven performance. This worked to the Astros’ benefit, as if he had had his best stuff more frequently with the Cajuns, it is improbable that he would’ve been available for the Astros at 178th overall, where he was eventually selected. The Astros got him on a more regulated workload and his trademark breaking arsenal became more consistent, as did his top-end velocity, which quickly turned him into one of the foremost bat-missers in the lower minors when his pro career began in earnest in 2022.

Assigned to Asheville somewhat aggressively to begin last season, Arrighetti struck out 124 batters in 85 and 23 innings, and while he did walk 46 batters, the BB% trended down as the season progressed, enough so that the Astros decided to give him a late summer promotion to Corpus, where he was equally impressive, striking out 28 against 9 walks in 21 innings. While there was room for improvement, Arrighetti smashed expectations with his 2022 performance, and was ranked as high as the top 15 in the system by some national outlets despite relatively humble beginnings and a rapid rise, training plenty of eyeballs his way entering 2023.

Arrighetti would open this season with the Hooks, and was expected to resume his dominance after a highly successful debut at the level, but he would take some time to get going initially. In his first four 2023 starts, Arrighetti allowed 18 earned runs in 14 and 23 innings, putting his season ERA at 11.05 when the calendar turned over to March. This was a bit alarming, but encouragingly he only allowed one home run over that stretch, indicating that some bad luck could be at least partially responsible for his struggles. Whether or not that was the case, the results improved in a hurry this past month, starting with 5 shutout, 2-hit frames on May 2nd. He would allow 1 run in his next outing before following that with an outright dominant 7 inning performance in his next turn, striking out 9 against 2 walks and 2 hits. His most recent start came last night, and was a bit delayed, falling 10 days after his previous outing, but was similarly strong- he struck out 6 against 1 walk in 5 shutout frames. For the month, his ERA is a miniscule 0.41, with a 25/7 K/BB ratio in 22 innings and just 10 hits allowed.

The tape from this stretch has been similarly impressive- Arrighetti’s fastball looks explosive, frequently hitting the mid-90s with obvious, bat-missing vertical life. His pair of breaking balls have had consistent shape- sweep and subtle two-plane action in the case of his slider, and big drop in the case of his curveball, which comes out most often against left handed hitters. The diverging shapes make for a balanced arsenal, and limit the need for significant changeup usage. There is still room for him to improve his location- it would be nice to see him hit the edges- particularly the inside edge- with his fastball a bit more consistently, and while his breaking stuff can be effective in the zone, most of the strikes he picks up with spin come on swings and misses out of the zone. He generally lives around the plate at a minimum, though, and that combined with the breadth and quality of his arsenal allow him to continue to project as a potential mid-rotation starter. The Astros have seen a few of their past pitching prospects make late leaps with their command, and if Arrighetti is able to follow that pattern, he could end up a rotation fixture as early as next season. With so many system arms struggling out of the gate, his turnaround has been a hugely positive development for the organization.