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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 59: Blake Battenfield

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One of the big surprises for Kannapolis last season is climbing the ladder with the Dash in 2019

Sneaky good: Battenfield doesn’t blow you away with any one skill — he just keeps winning
Kannapolis Intimidators

Blake Battenfield
6´3´´
220 pounds
Throws: Right
Age: 24
SSS rank among all right-handed starting pitchers in the system: 12

Battenfield, a resident of Tulsa, remained in his native state to play collegiately with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. His first three years were primarily spent in the bullpen, where he crafted for a respectable 2.60 ERA and 1.35 WHIP over 97 innings. During that time, he allowed 86 hits while posting a mediocre K/BB ratio (1.47), with 45 walks and 66 strikeouts. He split time evenly with the Cowboys as a senior (2017) between the rotation and bullpen, posting middling results: 4.91 ERA and 1.49 WHIP over 69 2⁄3 innings, while walking 31 and striking out 58. These results obviously weren’t spectacular, which explains why Battenfield slipped all the way to the 17th round of the 2017 MLB draft.

Battenfield served exclusively out of the bullpen in 2017 for Great Falls, where he posted mediocre ERA (4.88) and WHIP numbers over 31 1⁄3 innings in the high altitude, but some of his peripherals stood out. Opposing hitters batted .271 against his offerings, but he punched out 40 hitters (28.6 K%) while walking only eight (5.7 BB%). Partly based on those numbers, the Sox decided to convert him to a starter for 2018.

Battenfield pitched outstandingly for Kannapolis this year in his 13 starts: 2.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 52 hits (.210 OBA), 16 walks (6.0 BB%), and 69 strikeouts (25.8 K%) over 67 2⁄3 innings, earning a promotion to Winston-Salem on June 21. As expected, Battenfield’s numbers declined a bit in nine starts (53 1⁄3 innings) for the Dash, but were still respectable: 4.22 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 50 hits (.248 OBA), 13 walks (6.0 BB%), and 46 strikeouts (21.1%). He was placed on the DL on August 15 due to an undisclosed injury, after pitching a total of 121 innings in 2018, far more than he’s ever thrown; it was likely a matter of being cautious and shutting him down for the year.

Battenfield has an impressive repertoire that includes a natural sinking fastball, a rising four-seamer, an effective slider, a big-breaking curveball with good spin and depth, and a changeup that has improved dramatically since his college days. He doesn’t appear to throw especially hard. I haven’t seen any projections, but we’re probably looking at the low 90s, as he was in the mid-80s as a varsity athlete according to Perfect Game and has gotten stronger since then. But the righthander’s movement and speed variations help his fastball play up. His changeup has yet to be mastered, as Carolina League lefties have batted .299 against him compared to .200 versus righties. Success with the changeup may dictate how Battenfield will progress going forward.

Battenfield is back at Winston-Salem this season, off to what appears to be a hard-luck 0-2 start, with four walks and 12 Ks in 17 innings (three starts), for a 3.71 ERA. If he continues to be successful, a promotion to Birmingham would be likely sometime around June.


Take a look!

Video courtesy of our friends at 2080 Baseball.


2019 South Side Sox Top 100 Prospects

59. Blake Battenfield, RHSP
60. Caberea Weaver, CF
61. Matt Foster, RHRP
62. Tate Blackman, 2B
63. Hunter Schryver, LHRP
64. Romy González, CF
65. Carlos Perez, C
66. Trey Michalczewski, 3B
67. Taylor Varnell, LHSP
68. John Parke, LHSP
69. Mike Morrison, RHRP
70. Zach Remillard, 3B
71. Luis Martinez, RHSP
72. Zach Lewis, RHSP
73. José Nin, RHRP
74. Colton Turner, LHSP
75. Jhoandro Alfonso, C
76. Ramon Beltre, 2B
77. Charlie Tilson, CF
78. Hunter Kiel, RHRP
79. Jason Bilous, RHSP
80. Nick Johnson, RHRP
81. Danny Dopico, RHRP
82. Harvin Mendoza, 1B
83. Logan Sowers, RF
84. Maiker Feliz, 3B
85. Brayan Herrera, RHSP
86. Craig Dedelow, LF
87. Wilber Pérez, RHSP
88. Kyle Kubat, LHRP
89. Johan Dominguez, RHRP
90. Mitch Roman, 2B
91. Ty Greene, C
92. Tanner Banks, LHSP
93. Jake Elliott, RHRP
94. Kevin Escorcia, LHRP
95. Luis Rodriguez, RHSP
96. Ian Dawkins, LF
97. Victor Diaz, RHRP
98. Travis Moniot, LF
99. Will Kincanon, RHRP
100. Brian Clark, LHRP


More information on South Side Top Prospects.