Welcome to BP Boston’s Roster Recap series! We continue to break down every player on Boston’s 40-man roster and many of the top prospects in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the roster’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as what we can expect moving forward. There’s no better time than the offseason to review the best (there was some best!) and worst (there was a lot of worst!) of the past year in red and navy. You can see previous editions of Roster Recap here.
Teddy Stankiewicz may be the most interesting pitching prospect in the Red Sox system. At 6’4, 200 pounds, with a four-pitch repertoire (fastball, curveball, changeup, slider), the 22-year-old Texan has the prototypical frame, build and makeup of a major league starting pitcher.
Entering what will be his third full professional season, the young right-hander is someone to watch, as he has the tools to soar up the Red Sox prospect rankings this year.
As a senior in high school, Stankiewicz, who was 18-years-old at the time, was selected 75th (2nd rd) by the New York Mets in the 2012 draft, but the two sides were unable to reach a deal. Stankiewicz spent the 2012 season at Seminole Junior College in Oklahoma before re-entering the draft in 2013, when he was selected 45th (2nd rd) by the Red Sox as a 19-year-old. Although the negotiations between Stankiewicz and the Red Sox went better than the one with the Mets, they did not go off without issue.
Stankiewicz was due to receive $1.1 million from the Red Sox, but the team discovered during a routine physical that he does not have a right pectoral muscle. As a result, the team and Stankiewicz agreed to reduce the signing amount by $200,000. Considering Stankiewicz has been throwing a low-to-mid-90s fastball since he was 18-years-old, this clearly has not been an issue for Stankiewicz and doctors say it never will be. The only impact it has on Stankiewicz and baseball relates to his workout routine. For example, there are certain exercises in the gym, i.e. bench press, that he avoids.
In his first three professional seasons, Stankiewicz’s strike-throwing ability has been his best attribute. He works quickly and has great control over his fastball and slider, which are his two best pitches. With more development, his changeup also has the potential to be an above-average pitch for him. There is no doubt Stankiewicz prides himself on being a workhorse and always in control of his pitches.
Although he issues very few walks, Stankiewicz also does not register many outs via strikeout. Rather, he relies on batters putting the ball in play and his defenders doing the rest.
Although he issues very few walks, Stankiewicz also does not register many outs via strikeout. Rather, he relies on batters putting the ball in play and his defenders doing the rest. In so doing, Stankiewicz limits his pitch count and eats innings for his team, and we all know how valuable that quality is and how expensive it is too. A 200-inning pitcher will cost you close to $100 million in today’s MLB (see Mike Leake), so the development of Stankiewicz is important to the team, but it is also critical to his value as an asset should the Red Sox choose to ever dangle him in trade talks.
Stankiewicz has moved up a level every year of his professional career. In 2013, right after the draft, Stankiewicz was sent to Single-A Lowell, where, as a 19-year-old, he was 2.3 years younger than the average player at that level. Stankiewicz pitched 19.1 innings over nine starts, struck out 15, walked only two and finished with a 2.29 ERA.
In 2014, Stankiewicz moved up a level to Single-A Greenville for his first full professional season. Stankiewicz, at 20-years-old, was 1.7 years younger than the average player at that level. Stankiewicz compiled 140.1 innings over 25 starts and walked only 29 batters, which is incredible. However, he only struck out 102 batters. He finished the season with a 3.72 ERA.
In 2015, Stankiewicz moved up to the Carolina League, an advanced Single-A level, where he played for Salem. Stankiewicz pitched the entire season as a 21-year-old, which is nearly two years younger than the average player at that level. You might be noticing a theme here; Stank has been young for his levels.
What Went Right in 2015
Despite receiving minimal run support and sub-par defense behind him, which is not a good thing for a pitcher who relies on his defenders for most of his outs, Stankiewicz continued to do what he does best by throwing strikes and innings.
Given his age and the issues around him, it is hard to see Stankiewicz’s 2015 season as anything but a developmental success. He started 25 games, threw 141.1 innings and handed out only 32 walks, which amounts to approximately two walks per nine innings. His 141.1 innings was fourth-best in the Carolina League in 2015. Stankiewicz finished the season with a 4.01 ERA, thanks in part to slowing down near the end of the season.
In addition to continuing to develop where he is strongest — control and durability — Stankiewicz demonstrated he is capable of being dominant when he puts all of it together. On May 25th, Stankiewicz threw eight shutout innings, permitting only three batters to reach base (2 hits, 1 walk). Then, on July 3rd, Stankiewicz flashed his strikeout potential as well, throwing seven shutout innings, surrendering three hits, zero walks and striking out nine batters, which was a season-high. On July 15th, he threw six shutout innings and in his final start of the season, Stankiewicz threw seven shutout innings, surrendering five hits and only two walks. There is nothing better than finishing on a high note, which was even more important for Stankiewicz given the struggles he had experienced in his prior three starts.
What Went Wrong in 2015
Although he pitched the entire 2015 season at only 21-years-old, Stankiewicz’s struggles cannot be overlooked and there were plenty in 2015. For example, he failed to improve in any statistical category.
Since Stankiewicz pitched nearly identical innings in both 2014 and 2015, it is quite easy to compare his numbers and the comparisons are not good. While he struck out 102 batters in 2014, he only struck out 77 in 2015, which lowered his SO/9IP from 6.5 to 4.9. Although the differences were barely noticeable, he gave up more hits, walks and home runs in 2015, resulting in an increase in his WHIP from 1.211 in 2014 to 1.281 in 2015.
As mentioned before, Stankiewicz started the same amount of games and pitched nearly the same amount of innings in 2015 that he did in 2014, which may be a bad thing. Given the fact he was fourth in the Carolina League in innings pitched, it is hard to criticize that aspect of his season, but should he not have seen a larger increase in his workload than one inning?
Outlook for 2016/MLB ETA
Stankiewicz will be moving up to Double-A ball in 2016, joining the Portland Sea Dogs, where he will once again be one of the younger players on his team. He is projected to be the ace and workhorse of Portland’s rotation, which may put him in line for a call-up to Pawtucket if a need arises.
After throwing 140 innings the last two seasons, do not be surprised if the Red Sox let him approach or exceed the 160-inning threshold. If so, it will be fascinating to watch because if at age-22, Stankiewicz can replicate his successes from 2014 and 2015 at the Double-A level, he may find himself in the top-10 of the Red Sox prospect rankings heading into 2017.
Stankiewicz needs at least another full season in the minor leagues and that is exactly what is going to happen in 2016. His best-case scenario for 2016 is finishing the season in Pawtucket, which is entirely possible given his position within the system and Portland’s rotation. From there, it depends. Beyond that, well, there are a lot of pitchers ahead of him for the Red Sox 2017 rotation, especially if Clay Buchholz’s 2017 option is exercised and Joe Kelly and/or Henry Owens breaks out as well. That’s putting the cart before the horse though; Stank needs to further develop his secondaries and prove he can miss bats before we worry about him making the rotation in Boston.
The 2016 season will tell us a lot about Stankiewicz and whether or not he can become a back-end, cost-effective workhorse for the Red Sox rotation. As we all know, the Red Sox have been searching for a 200-inning pitcher for quite some time and hope to have finally found one in David Price, which only cost them $217 million. That is what makes Stankiewicz potentially so valuable. Not everyone can be the ace of a rotation and strike 10 batters out per game. Teams who succeed need the workhorse as well, the guy you can rely on to take the ball every fifth day, start 30-plus games, pitch 190-plus innings and save your bullpen more often than not. That is who Stankiewicz is capable of becoming.
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