Saturday, April 6 - 5:05 p.m.
Lexington Legends (0-1)
RHP Miguel Almonte, Christian Binford
Augusta GreenJackets (1-0)
RHP Chris Stratton, Joan Gregorio
The 5:05 p.m. opener of the doubleheader is perhaps one of the best pitching matchups of the season: Chris Stratton and Miguel Almonte.
Almonte has been described as one of the top prospect sleepers in baseball this season. He's a thin right-hander at 6-2, 160, but he reportedly has a repeatable delivery and throws easy gas in the low-to-mid-90s. As is often the case with a 20-year-old, Almonte's secondaries are still developing, but reports say he throws a solid changeup and curveball at this stage. His changeup flashes plus potential with good separation and action. His curveball is a little more inconsistent and can spin early out of the hand at times. But for his age, Almonte is said to have above average command and could take a significant step forward in prospect circles this season.
Stratton is well-known already as the Giants' 2012 first-round pick, making his full-season debut in Augusta. His fastball runs in the low-90s while reportedly touching 95. He also has a solid slider, while his curveball and changeup are still a work in progress. The plus to Stratton's game is his pitchability, as he shows an advanced feel for sequencing and hitting spots. He has the potential for four average to above average pitches, while the slider shows plus potential.
It's not often that fans are treated to two top-10 arms in their respective systems in one game. Almonte is ranked 10th by Baseball America and ninth by Baseball Prospectus in the Royals system, and Stratton is ranked third in the Giants system by both publications.
Binford is another ranked in the Royals system at 26th by BA. His stuff is a little more fringe-average than what you would see in the first game of the doubleheader, but he has the potential to stick as a starter with three pitches. His fastball runs 89-93 with boring action, and his curveball is a fringe pitch but shows good control. His changeup is still developing but flashes potential. Binford underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011 and is seen as more of a project pick, but he has good control and makes hitters earn their base hits.
Gregorio could be an intriguing arm for the GreenJackets this season. He's 6-7 but only 180 pounds, and watching him walk around the field, one wonders what his body projects like. His Augusta debut will be closely monitored by me in order to get more information on his stuff and mechanics, because there isn't much out there on him. But any time you have a 6-7, 21-year-old arm come through, he's worth watching.