With the Fresno Grizzlies having already qualified for the Low-A West postseason, it’s clear that plenty has been working right for the Low-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.
While the names of Zac Veen and Drew Romo are well known to Rockies fans because of their place on the top 10 list of Rockies prospects, it takes more than just hitting from top prospects to put a team like Fresno in contention to win a championship. It also takes contributions on the pitching side, including late in the game.
With that in mind, we’ll be taking a look at some of the pitchers who are making a difference in Fresno this year in upcoming articles. That includes Tanner Propst, who has established himself as one of Fresno’s go-to options in the later innings.
A 23-year-old southpaw out of Delta State (Miss.), Propst spent his time away from baseball developing his changeup pitch and the results have shown the work was worth it. Entering into a big series for Fresno against second-place San Jose on Tuesday night, Propst this season is sporting a 3.08 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and has struck out 59 betters in 38 innings of work.
There are two splits of particular interest to note for Propst. First, in 17 innings this season where the game was in the eighth or ninth inning, Propst has allowed just nine hits and one earned run. Second, in August, Propst worked 11 innings and allowed just five hits and one earned run. That’s good enough for a 0.82 ERA as opponents hit just .139 against him.
These numbers are especially intriguing after seeing how Propst struggled just the month before with a 6.35 ERA in nine outings.
So what made the difference for Colorado Rockies minor league pitcher Tanner Propst coming out of the Fresno Grizzlies bullpen?
Propst has not allowed a run since August 8 (10 innings pitched over 10 games) and he credits his success, in part, to a changeup he developed while Minor League Baseball was halted last season due to COVID-19.
You can see him in action below.
“I think being able to throw a 2-0 changeup has helped me get back in certain counts,” Propst said. “I’ve matured more this season than I think I ever have during a season.”
Prospt described his changeup as having “my own unique grip” and says he has developed the confidence to land any of his pitches (four-seam fastball, slider, and changeup) to throw any of them for strikes in any count.
“In college, I didn’t have a changeup. I really started messing around with it during quarantine,” Propst said. “I was fiddling around with some grips and, for like two weeks straight, I would play straight changeup catch. While doing that, I found a grip that I could connect with all seams. I felt comfortable with it and I stuck with it.
“Whenever I saw I had a lot of success with it, I got more and more confidence in it. It just took off for me from there.”
Propst has been part of a Fresno pitching staff that has logged five shutouts and allowed three runs or fewer in a game 25 times (with the Grizzlies holding a 23-2 record in those games).
“For me, it’s about having the same mentality every day and trying to be as consistent as possible,” he explained. “I think the entire bullpen is kind of the same way. We’re all laid back and having fun, but when our number is called, we all lock in. It’s go time.”