Notable Arms

Here we go with the tenth essay about the talked-about arms, with one, um, notable exception, tend to skew older. Unfortunately, this is often a last hurrah for most guys. For every Jackson Rutledge, who not only pitched his way back to the regular category, but made his MLB debut, there are several guys who are out of affiliated baseball within a year or two.

This year, we lead off with a guy who seems to get all the chances but none of the breaks…

Orlando Ribalta
It’s hard to believe Ribalta is only turning 26 in March because it feels like he’s been around forever. “Thanks” to a stint on the 60-day I.L. and a rehab tour, Ribalta pitched at every possible level in the minors – including the AFL.

Franklin Marquez
For most of the season, Marquez seemed cordero his way out getting charged with the damage he caused, registering two (2) clean outings out of 27, allowing 23 runs of his own (14 earned), on 37 hits and 37 walks for a robust 2.114 WHIP but an ERA of “only” 3.60. The FIP tells the true story: 6.53, which is why we list it and highlight it though it’s usually when a guy has a high ERA that belies how well he pitched. Well, guess what? It works both ways.

Erik Tolman
The Nats, in their never-ending quest to find gold by gambling on injured pitchers, drafted Tolman in 2021 after he had had Tommy John surgery. He did not pitch until June 2023 – more than two years after the UCL replacement. He made three appearances in the FCL before five serviceable starts for the FredNats before breaking his ankle in a freak accident while taking the mound in the third inning of his sixth start.

Jared Simpson
Likewise, Simpson debuted in Low-A, though that’s about right for a 23-y.o. drafted in the 8th Rd. out of the Univ. of Iowa. Unlike ↓this guy↓, he performed as someone that age should: 1.59/2.03/1.24 with 17K in 11⅓ IP.

Travis Sykora
We’ve covered the first two kinds of pitchers – old and hurt, natch – so now we come to the third: young. Well, kind of: He turns 20 in April despite graduating HS last June. It took $2.6M to convince the 19-y.o. and his high-90s FB to take his talents to West Palm Beach instead of the Univ. of Texas. He was assigned to the FCL but did not appear in a game. BA ranked him the #14 prospect in its preseason Top 30.