BRISTOL, Va. – Braeden Ogle joins Bristol with the highest pedigree of anyone on the roster, drafted in the 4th round of 2016 draft and signing for $800 K out of the verdant Florida high school ranks. I saw him twice—July 4th and July 9th—and he showed excellent feel for pitching, a plus fastball, and projectable secondary pitches.
Although his stat line was not pretty in the first start (5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR), Ogle showed why he is an exciting young pitching prospect, with a healthy reminder that this is his first full year as a pro and he’s still a teenager. He was sharper in my second look, going five strong, giving up four hits, one run, while walking two and striking out six.
As expected, the foundation of his repertoire is his fastball, a live 90-94, 95 MPH four-seamer that has late run and slight sink away from righties. He’d previously been up to 97 MPH in the first inning, tantalizing considering the action. Command wavered some, but the pitch is good enough that there is some margin for error, and I have no doubt it will play in the bigs. He is still building up his arm strength, this his first full year of a pro routine, but Ogle feels good about his fastball development.
“I’ve been locating the [fastball] up a lot better, and in and out. A couple times I wanted to go up and get a guy to chase, and I nailed those,” said Ogle of his July 4th start.
He mixes in his 81-83 MPH slider and mid-80s changeup, the latter employed primarily to right-handers. The slider is better now, a pitch he’s thrown more regularly, but I believe the change has the best chance to be his MLB out pitch. He already locates it away from righties, and right now it’s a weapon against free-swinging, fastball hunting Apply leaguers. It’s also his fundamental developmental focus for 2017.
“They really want me, and all of our pitchers, to develop changeups, so that’s more of a focus right now,” said Ogle. “It’s gotten a lot better lately. It’s a consistency thing, and sometimes I’ll choke it a bit or spike it or slow my arm-speed down. When I stay behind it, and I’ve got full arm speed like my fastball, it’s pretty good.”
Pitching coach Joel Hanrahan agrees, noting the staff’s emphasis on Ogle’s changeup.
“With Ogle, we’re trying to get him to use it at right times,” Hanrahan said. “It’s going to be a good pitch for him especially with the fastball he has. The arm speed and action are good, it is just getting that trust in it and belief in it.”
The slider shows promise, particularly in a free-swing rookie league, and was better his second outing, inducing swing-and-miss in the dirt. He’s comfortable throwing it in any count, and likes to backdoor and backfoot it to right-handers. In my initial view, as a scout suggested, when the slider wasn’t tight but was in the strike zone, it was quite hittable. I think this sort of feel and command inconsistency is quite normal for a 19 year-old, and ultimately it’ll be a good enough third pitch to keep him in the rotation up the ladder.
Ogle’s listed at 6’ 2,” 170 pounds; while slender, he has above-average athleticism and generates his velocity with a lightning quick arm. His delivery has minimal violence, largely due to leg engagement that stabilizes his path to the plate. The look was limited, but the delivery appears repeatable despite a little upper body stiffness.
My lone execution concern is his slingy, wide ¾ quarters release. He will have few problems with lefties as a result, but the slider is easier to pick up sweeping in to righties from a wide angle (particularly if it’s up at all), and he’ll need it to play to remain a starter. That he showed feel to backdoor and backfoot it is a positive sign, but the hangers (in the first outing) hurt him.
Overall, Ogle is a prospect to be excited about and dream on. His plus fastball is a foundation for success as a future big leaguer. With an athletic delivery and continued changeup development, I see #4-5 starting pitching upside with a swingman/relief pitching floor. His three-pitch mix, with some fastball projection, would play quite well out of the pen, but if he’s durable and good enough to start, he should and no doubt will given the Pirates’ approach.
1. In the first at-bat, Ogle shows his ability to move his fastball around. Kingsport’s Juan Uriate hangs until he’s fooled by a change-up for a called strike three. This change actually cuts a bit, something Ogle vocalized he needs to avoid, but even with less movement, the pitch is effective after the fastball barrage.
2. Ogle takes advantage of Pulaski’s aggressive left-handed hitter (Bryan Emery) with a dose of sliders away.
3. Against Pulaski’s Andres Chapparo, Ogle sets him up with fastballs away before backfooting a slider for a swinging strikeout.
4. After throwing a fastball strike in, Saul Torres rolls over a good change-up away for an easy ground out.
5. Open-side looks; the arm speed and stability in his delivery (due to leg engagement) are clearly seen from this vantage.