No. 7: Brian Howard from the Oakland Athletics, 25th prospect
To no one’s surprise, the Oakland Athletics have an intriguing pitcher in its farm system. Brian Howard is a 6’9″ starting pitcher that reached Triple-A in 2019 but struggled at that level. Since joining the Athletics in 2017 as an eighth-round pick, he has posted a 3.37 ERA over 56 games started.
Howard has pitched 315 innings, a 1.24 WHIP, and struck out 303 batters. Again, Howard has been a starter for the Athletics’ minor league teams but his skills may translate better as a reliever. Despite his tall stature, he is not an overpowering pitcher at the moment. He throws his fastball anywhere between 89-92 mph and mixes in a slider, an average curveball, and an okay changeup.
Howard is tall and creates a great downward angle which you do not see too often in the MLB anymore. Reminds me a little of former Mariners pitcher Chris Young who got batters out through deception. Because his fastball is on the slow end, I think he is capable of averaging a higher velocity if he throws out of the pen where he does not have to conserve his arm.
Like Parker Dunshee from the Cardinals, Howard also struggled once he was called up to Triple-A. He played very well in all the other levels except Triple-A. He started four games and posted a 13.81 ERA. Although it is a small sample size, it may be a sign of his stuff not translating as a starting pitcher at the highest level of baseball. Howard still has time to reinvent himself as a young 25-year-old who has a massive body to maximize on the mound.
No. 8: Zack Brown of the Milwaukee Brewers, 14th prospect
Zack Brown is an interesting player because he has a great track record and is the 14th Brewers prospect, which is relatively high compared to some of the other names mentioned previously. Brown was the 2018 Minor League Pitcher of the Year but has struggled in 2016 (first season) and 2019. Brown pitched all of 2019 in Triple-A and is now 25-years-old.
The 6’1″ right-handed pitcher was drafted in the fifth round, but his 2019 season does not seem like it. He started 23 games and posted a 5.79 ERA after an impressive season in 2018. Brown has a 92-95 mph fastball with a plus curveball and good changeup. According to MLB.com, the Brewers think the 14th ranked prospect in its organization can rebound, but it probably will not be with the Brewers in 2021.
The positive about Brown is that he was both a starter and reliever at the University of Kentucky so he has experience pitching out of the pen, which I think Brown should do at least in the short term. He was also a teammate of Evan White so it might be a good fit for him to join the Seattle Mariners as a Rule 5 Draft player who still has a lot of potential.