Hey guys, I am Kirsten Karbach, play-by-play broadcaster for the Clearwater Threshers. I look forward to contributing some of my thoughts on Threshers baseball here on Phuture Phillies, and would love to hear any suggestions you may have for future articles. My thanks to Jim Peyton for welcoming me aboard.
To kick things off – a look at my picks for “Best tools” amongst Threshers players in 2016.
Best Fastball: Victor Arano
Sits mid-90’s out of the bullpen, frequently hit 97-98.
Best Breaking Ball: Drew Anderson
Good break and good command, even when he didn’t have his best stuff he was still able to use it effectively to keep guys off balance.
Best Changeup: Will Morris
Not many guys at this level relied a ton on their changeups, but Morris mixed his low-80’s change well with a low-90’s fastball and used it as a put-away pitch.
Best Control: Tyler Viza
Viza – who throws five pitches (fastball, cutter, slider, curve, changeup) – walked only eight batters total in nine starts for Clearwater. His K to BB was nearly seven in 49.2 innings with the Threshers.
Best Speed/Baserunning: Scott Kingery
Kingery by far led the team with 26 stolen bases, and was successful 83.9% of the time. In his two-year career, Kingery is 41-of-49 (83.7%) in stolen base attempts.
Best Strikezone Discipline: Chace Numata
Numata struck out just 41 times in 94 games, while his 37 walks were third-most on the team. Had he amassed enough plate appearances to qualify, Numata would have led the league in plate appearances per strikeout ratio at 9.00. The leading qualifier was Kevin Taylor of St. Lucie, at 8.44 TPA/SO.
Best Power Hitter: Kyle Martin
Martin slammed 19 home runs, which tied Art Charles for the highest single-season mark by a Thresher, and tied for fourth-most all-time by any Clearwater batter.
Best Outfield Arm: Carlos Tocci
More for accuracy than for strength. Tocci generally shows very good awareness and led the team with nine outfield assists, good for fourth-most in the FSL.
Best Defender: Kyle Martin
Martin broke the FSL record for consecutive games without committing an error (95) at first base, and tied the mark for highest fielding percentage on record for FSL first basemen (.998). He did not commit an error until August 25 – on a wind-blown, dropped popper behind first base – and fell just nine games short of becoming the only FSL first baseman on record to turn in an errorless full season.
Under the Radar Prospect: Drew Anderson
Anderson returned from Tommy John Surgery this year to make seven strong starts in Lakewood, before debuting with four no-hit innings in Clearwater’s combined no-no over St. Lucie on July 10th.
The right-hander showcased some of the best stuff of any Clearwater arm in 2016. His fastball – which sits 92-95 and hit as high as 97 mph – and curveball are both big-league caliber pitches. Anderson also has a slider and a changeup but threw them rarely because he simply did not need them to be successful in the Florida State League. Anderson is still just 22 years old, and the development of at least one of those offerings as well as his ability to stay healthy will key his rise as a prospect moving forward.