Hard Throwing Mike Foltynewicz to Join Astros Bullpen

Feb 21, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Mike Foltynewicz (73) poses for a picture during photo day at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With a fastball that regularly checks in at triple-digits, Mike Foltynewicz throws classic Texas hardball, so he’ll fit right in with with Houston. The Astros have promoted the 22 year old pitching prospect to the majors, where he will join the big league bullpen,

Foltynewicz was drafted by Houston out of high school in the 2010 draft. After two and a half professional seasons, he broke out last year with a 2.87 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 103.2 innings for Double-A Corpus Christi. Baseball America subsequently ranked him as the #59 prospect in the game, Baseball Prospectus had him as high as 43.

Foltynewicz has worked primarily as a starter throughout his professional career, but with his easily-plus, albeit wild, overpowering, fastball and above-average curve – he also mixes in a change up,  –  but his future could also be in the back-end of a bullpen.

His stats this season have laid credence to that notion. In 21 games (18 starts) for Triple-A Oklahoma City, he struggled to a 5.08 ERA  and a 4.6 BB/9, but he also fanned 102 batters in 102 innings. Erratic, high-octane pitchers with a propensity to miss bats often make for dominant.

Speaking to Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Astros GM Jeff Lunhow indicated that Houston’s decision to place Foltynewicz in the bullpen was not a referendum on his long term role with the ballclub.

“We looked at his innings workload and wanted to give him an opportunity in Houston to pitch on the major league team,” Luhnow told Ortiz “Didn’t want to put him in the rotation because the rotation is full right now.

“It’s a good opportunity for him to get his feet wet and try his pitches here and have success and for us to continue to evaluate him and challenge him.”

But two of the pitchers in the Astro’s “full” rotation are Brett Oberholtzer and Jake Buchanan, the former of which has a 4.30 ERA, and the latter of which has made just two career starts, and is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA between them. If Houston wanted to give the young right-hander a rotation spot, they would have.

Instead, they will put him in the pen, and while Ortiz wrote that Houston will consider him for the 2015 rotation. But if Foltynewicz does indeed thrive in the eighth and ninth innings, he may well find a permanent home there