Houston Astros starting pitching prospect Lance McCullers has gotten off to a very impressive start on the young 2015 season. McCullers, pitching for the Lancaster JetHawks at the High-A level, has not allowed a run over his first 2 starts of the year, striking out 12 against six walks and six hits in 10.0 innings. At 6′-2″ and 205 pounds, the strapping 21-year old right-hander has the build of a future ace, and is living up to his draft status so far this season.
Selected by Houston in the 1st round (41st overall) in 2012 out of Jesuit High School in Tampa Florida, McCullers signed with the Astros for $2,500,000. McCullers was a supplemental pick received by the Astros after losing infielder Clint Barmes to free agency.
McCullers, ranked #9 on Astros 411 2015 pre-season “Top Prospect” rankings, dropped from #6 in 2014. McCullers is ranked #11 by Baseball America, dropping from #5 last season. McCullers had been ranked as high as the Astros #4 by BA in 2013 and #50 overall the same year.
It is interesting that McCullers and the 21-year-old, right-hander, Mark Appel, the Astros first-round draft pick in 2013, have both pitched two games, have recorded 30 outs, taking McCullers 139 pitches compared to Appel’s 135. McCullers has struck out 12 batters and walked six, while Appel has walked two and struck out eight. Finally, Appel has given up only one run, coming off of one bad pitch, a solo HR, while McCullers has held opponents scoreless.
If Appel is the Astros top pitching prospect, McCullers can’t be that far behind. McCullers has plus-fastball in the mid-90s that can reach 98 at times and is developing one of the best sliders in the system, that he is having early success with this season.
The Tampa, Florida native is a fierce competitor and is showing signs making significant progress with his secondary pitches and delivery and mechanics, which will spell trouble for opposing batters and hope for the organization that took him as a first-round draft pick.