After what seemed like a long wait for any action as the major league trade deadline approached, the Detroit Tigers finally made a move, sending Robbie Grossman to the Atlanta Braves for LHP Kris Anglin.
Grossman was not a popular name on the rumor mill leading up to the trade. Frankly, it was difficult to see any team being interested given his struggles at the plate this year. All things considered, his trade value was extremely low. That means the return wasn’t going to be a flashy prospect. The Tigers were probably lucky to find a buyer for him at all. However, there can be value in the lottery tickets occasionally.
It’s important to know going in that Anglin comes with a skillset the Tigers have been searching for. His data profile is interesting. However he is still a lottery ticket. There’s a chance he could be a big league relief pitcher down the road, but there is a long way to go to get to that ceiling. It doesn’t mean Anglin lacks talent. You’ll see in the video that there are some ingredients, but there’s plenty of development needed.
Anglin is a left handed pitcher selected in the 16th round of the 2021 draft out of Howard Junior College in Texas. The 20 year old is listed at 5’11”, 175 pounds. He started the year in Single-A where he put up a K/9 of 10.68. His walk numbers were high, and his ERA followed suit. Once Complex League play began this spring, Anglin was sent down to that developmental level. That’s where he was assigned at the time of the trade.
He works with a four pitch mix of a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. Anglin is undersized and still a project both physically and developmentally. However he’s young enough to expect some growth. We’ll see how far he can take it in an organization that has made a habit of finding undervalued pitchers and helping them maximize their potential in recent years.
Right now his fastball is his best pitch because it has some tough characteristics for hitters, and Anglin knows how to use it. Based on limited velocity readings from A-ball broadcasts, he sits in the mid-to-upper 80’s. Generally in his shorter relief outings, it would register higher, when he started it sat in that mid-80’s area. Despite the low velocity he was able to get whiffs at the top of the zone as his low arm slot appears to produce a tricky riding fastball. Those whiffs hint that the rest of the data is likely fairly strong. Hence the Tigers interest in picking up Anglin in a deal where they weren’t really giving up much of anything. They hunt for good data.
This pitch dominates his usage, as it should. He locates it well and sequences it well with the rest of his arsenal. When he does miss, he misses well above the zone trying to hit the top third. From the outings I’ve seen, he will work east to west in that upper third, not wanting to bring the pitch lower very often. When he does, it generally gets hit.
For Anglin to develop it’s fair to say finding more velocity will be the biggest factor. If his fastball plays this well at the top of the zone at it’s current velocity, then finding a way into the low-90’s would be huge for his overall profile. Even if he’s sitting 89-90 MPH, his ability to play to strength of the pitch will make it play up even more. He’s still young enough to hope for more velocity to arrive, though his slight frame isn’t particularly projectible.
Anglin’s most used secondary weapon is his slider. For me, it’s his fourth best pitch. He leans on it fairly heavily against both righties and lefties. It’s a sweeping slider, which means it’s basically all horizontal movement with little depth. It can garner a decent amount of sweep at times, depending on the location. Historically, sweeping sliders don’t generate many whiffs, they tend to generate more groundballs. Adding some depth to the slider will lead to more swing and miss, especially if he reaches the higher levels of the minors.
Whether intentional or not, he mostly throws it to his armside, which would be inside to a left handed hitter. That gives it a drastically different movement profile because it tends to back up. When that happens, it shortens the movement and makes it act more like a cutter with low velocity. The speed change can sometimes be effective, but many times it leads to contact. Overall, it’s inconsistent. It will flash the sweep across the zone, but more often than not he gets the shorter break.
A look at Anglin’s SL. This is the first I’ve seen it go to the outside corner. Every other offering has been arm side where it backs up a lot with little movement. pic.twitter.com/6bWzCt0P1r
— Trevor Hooth (@HoothTrevor) August 2, 2022
This breaking ball has higher potential than the slider. Anglin’s curveball is a bit loopy right now. This, again, goes back to a hopeful bump in velocity that will effect the rest of his pitches. Unlike his slider, the curveball plays very well to his arm side, which is where he throws it a lot. It looks to have a soft 11-5 shape, but it, too, lacks the vertical depth to really appear that way. Right now between the horizontal and vertical movement, it appears slurvy, though still quite distinct from his slider.
What gives this curveball more upside is that it’s more consistent in movement. Anglin does an excellent job of locating it to the arm side corner of the plate and will even have it drop off the table in two strike counts. While it doesn’t get a lion’s share of use among his secondary offerings, it’s generally more successful when he does go to it.
Anglin rounds out his arsenal with a firm changeup. I don’t have much to say about it because he really doesn’t throw it much. It took three outings just to get a glimpse at one of them. Based on that short glimpse it’s value is in it’s velocity separation off the fastball. There isn’t a ton of movement to it. Basically, it’s just a slower version of the fastball with a little arm side run when he throws it well.
Kris Anglin is a project, and not likely to come to fruition. You weren’t going to do any better than that for Robbie Grossman. It was noted last night that Tigers’ pitching coach Chris Fetter had recruited Anglin while still at the University of Michigan. That familiarity presumably made Anglin the most appealing option in the depth of Atlanta’s farm system.
Right now his command is very limited to working armside. Other than his fastball, it’s rare to see anything cross over into the area that would be inside to right handed hitters. That’s part of what makes him hittable because batters can sit to one half of the plate and be right most of the time.
Beyond that, his walk numbers are high. He does a good job commanding the fastball to the top of the zone, but he misses the zone quite a bit with everything else. Often times he will release the secondaries early out of the hand and miss in the left handed batters box. Whether that be because he’s slowing his arm up or lack of conviction while throwing them, it happens fairly often.
Mechanically Anglin does hide the ball well, adding some deception to the delivery. He stays closed with his front half for a long time. His arm does appear to be a little late, meaning it’s not in the ideal position when his foot lands, but it’s nothing too severe. He also has good shoulder mobility and what appears to be decent hip mobility. Both of those can be helpful in the quest for more velocity. There is effort in his delivery. That’s a sign of relief risk, though not a definite bullpen sentence.
When you factor in the cost to acquire Anglin, this is about the profile you would expect. The return for Grossman wasn’t going to be a slam dunk future rotation arm, or even a raw power arm of any sort. His ceiling is a middle reliever, but he’s still a very raw talent. The fact that the Tigers were able to get any player in this deal should be considered a win. You won’t find Anglin on any top 30 prospect lists for the Tigers, and probably never will. There are some interesting ingredients to this profile and ultimately it will probably come down to adding velocity. Still just 20 years old and without much of a workload to date, it’s not impossible that he can be built up over time. If so, he’ll be well on his way on the path to his bullpen ceiling.