Colorado Rockies Minor Leaguer Yohan Flande is off to a dominating start this season pitching for the New Britain Rock Cats of the Double-A Eastern League. His latest outing was his most impressive yet, hurling a one hit shutout Saturday against Portland that propelled the Rockcats to their 8th straight win. Despite being 29-years old, there may be some reason to believe that Flande could still have some Major League potential moving forward.
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The left hander has been playing in the Minor Leagues since 2006, dominating early on in Rookie ball and making his Double-A debut in 2009 in the Phillies organization. He moved onto the Braves, where he played in Double-A and Triple-A for several seasons without ever cracking the Majors. He had never cracked an ERA under 4.00 in any season in either Double-A or Triple-A, but he was effective enough to stick around. Last year he moved onto the Rockies, making his Major League debut and making 10 starts. The results weren’t fantastic, leading most to believe he wouldn’t be an effective big leaguer.
This season he is already 5-0, with a 1.36 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP, with 30 strikeouts in 39 innings. One of the biggest keys to his success this year has been limiting walks, something that has hurt him in the past. His walk rate sits at 10 percent this season, compared to a career average of over 30 percent. The lack of an overpowering fastball has limited Flande’s ability to contribute to a Major League bullpen. He relies on command and control, mixing a low 90’s fastball with a quality changeup and slider. The 6 foot 2, 180 pounder has been a starter for his entire career in the Minors, and appears like he’ll have to make his way into a rotation if he wants to stick in the big leagues.
The Rockies have rarely had a solid pitching staff in recent years, partly because of Coors Field and partly because of a lack of talent. They rank dead last in pitchers’ ERA by about a third of a run. Flande could be a guy who could continue to impress and make his way back into the rotation at some point. It won’t be long before the lefty gets called up to Triple-A, where he will clearly need to impress in order to get a look in Colorado. Limiting the long ball and diminishing his walks is the best chance for the Dominican to succeed at the next level. As many other pitchers can attest to, its never too late to to become a big league regular.
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