Freddy Tarnok gives me a chance to wax philosophical about prospects.
- Born: November 24, 1998
- B/T: Right/Right
- 6’3″, 185-lbs
- Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft from Riverview HS (Riverview, FL).
His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers. But before I do, since this is my 150th in-depth report on MiLBAnalysis.com, let’s step back and talk prospect philosophy for a moment.
I’ve made no secret that I put scouting above numbers — but acknowledging that we don’t always get the scouting reports in timely enough fashion for all of the prospects we are interested in. Thus the analysis of the numbers.
There is another way of looking at it though. Sometimes a scout will get an accurate look at a guy, and he or she puts him in a bucket in their mind. Maybe several looks in a single season all put that prospect in the same bucket. In the scout’s mind, that player belongs in that bucket.
Sometimes prospects play their way out of that bucket.
It may take a while for the scout to get over their earlier bias toward that bucket to fully realize this prospect no longer belongs in that bucket. To the scouts’ credit, they will move them, but — again — not always fast enough for it to be actionable for the trigger-happy managers in our leagues.
Now let’s analyze Freddy Tarnok’s numbers, and you’ll see what I’m driving at:
If you’ve been paying attention to what I like to look for, that chart is a thing of beauty. After a 2018 and 2019 where he put up quite pedestrian numbers, in 2021 he came out of the gate strong, and he just kept getting better.
Not only did his strikeout rate practically double, his xFIP showed steady progress into Excellent territory. Yes, we want to see him walk fewer batters, but a 25% K-BB% is great. Full stop.
This is a pitcher who is not the same guy he was back in 2019 and 2018. He should be viewed as being in a different bucket now. A shinier bucket.
EDIT Dec. 13, 2022: In light of the Sean Murphy trade, let’s update Tarnok’s numbers through 2022, though ignoring his very brief MLB appearance:
In 2022 his strikeouts and walks regressed a bit at Double-A, and then he spent the second half at Triple-A where he struck out just over a quarter of the batters he faced while continuing to walk almost 10% of them. It was a step backward into an earlier bucket for Tarnok.
He walks more lefties, and his WHIP is higher, but he struck them out just fine, and his overall WHIP is great cuz he wipes out righties. Double-A batters only hit .212 against him. That’ll work.
- Rotowire: #167 on their Top 400 [EDIT Dec. 13, 2022: Now it’s #113]
- Fantrax: Not on their Top 400 [EDIT Dec. 13, 2022: Now it’s #183]
- RotoProspects: [EDIT Dec. 13, 2022: #299]
As you see, not all the scouts are in on Tarnok yet. As is typical, James Anderson at Rotowire is high man, but James is the kind of guy who sees change and rapidly adjusts. Have a cookie, James, you deserve it.
He has a fastball that reaches 99 mph at times, and he holds it deep into starts, and it has a high spin rate. He throws a good spin curveball in the high-70s. He has a changeup and a slider too, so he’s a four-pitch starter prospect.
He’s also 6’3″ while only weighing 185, so he has a frame to grow even more.
He just needs to work on his control, get those walks down, and then he’s ready to play in the majors.
Remember, how a player grades out in one year is not necessarily how he will grade out a year or two from now. These are growing young men, and that growth means change.
So when you see a player has outgrown his bucket, get ready to catch him in his shiny new bucket. The scouts will agree, just as soon as they can.
EDIT: Dec. 13, 2022: He did not get his control improved in 2022, unfortunately. However, he did rise in the scout’s rankings, and that’s because he held his own at the highest levels and even reached the majors briefly. So while he may not grade out as much more than a back-of-the-rotation arm, he showed he could do just that, even if it means a mid-4 xFIP instead of a nifty mid-3. If he improves his control, the numbers will be better.