Less than a year after he was the 1st-round pick by the Brewers, 23-year-old Ethan Small proved to be anything but small on the pitcher’s mound, but he did it in only 21 IP. Naturally the scouts want to see more than just a college graduate beating up on low level batters. With that proviso in mind, let’s look at his skills, shall we?
Born: February 14, 1997
Drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1st round of the 2019 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Mississippi State University (Mississippi State, MS).
His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year and then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:
Whenever you see nothing but green, you sit up and notice. Those numbers are so ridiculously good, let’s see them in the context of what he did his final two years in Mississippi State:
The only thing I like as much as a sea of green is seeing a player improve every category every year. Small took his final year of college dominance to the pros, and then showed them what true dominance looks like in Rookie and A-ball. Those poor batters never knew what hit them. Or rather their lack of hits.
I guess we can ignore the 3 IP of Rookie ball. In an also small sample size of 18 IP in Class A ball, Small made lefties look stupid, while merely dominating righties.
Hey, were’d all the hits go? You have to love it when a pitcher has a spray chart that doesn’t even include triples or home runs.
Looking in the BaseballHQ.com Minor League Baseball Analyst book, we see that Small has three pitches in his arsenal:
Small had Tommy John surgery that eliminated his 2017 season in college, then came back strong in 2018 and 2019 as we saw above. His fastball velocity, however, has not returned. Still, at 93 mph for a lefty, that’s enough to dominate batters if the pitcher gets extension from his delivery, and Small does that. And if a pitcher shows plus command to that fastball, he can get strikeouts and weak contact, and Small does that too.
In other words, he has three very good pitches already, since his mid-70s curve is also above average, and his changeup is another solid pitch. He clearly can get strikes with all three pitches.
He has a simple, repeatable delivery from a high-three quarters arm slot, and he uses his height to create angle to the plate and provide him with deception.
My friends, this is the definition of a #3 SP in the majors. With his experience, and his age, he won’t be held down long. Look for him to zoom through the lower levels and be ready to show up in Milwaukee in late 2021.
He had TJS.
He hasn’t wiped out AA hitters yet, so let’s see if he does it, but I expect he will.
The only real negative about Small is we don’t have a lot of pro experience to look at. The amount we do have is so outrageously good, you just have to put a smile on your face and enjoy the show a lot more than opposing batters will.