There is no doubt that the Rockies have struggled to develop pitching, but as we go through our prospect rankings, I start feel a sense of hope. They have made a point in acquiring starting pitchers with upside recently and they are changing the types of pitchers they are targeting as well. They seem to be moving off of the pitch to contact and try and induce ground ball philosophy. They have added pitchers with some helium and serious strikeout potential.
Sean Sullivan's elite strikeout ability and tremendous upside earn him the No. 8 spot in our 2024 Rockies prospect rankings
Sullivan is a recent addition to the Rockies prospect ranks, being selected in the second round of the 2023 MLB Draft out of Wake Forest (which has become an absolute pitching factory). It may have seemed like a stretch, as MLB Pipeline had him ranked as the 123rd overall player, but the Rockies saw some serious potential here. Sullivan throws from a lower three-quarter arm slot and relies heavily on his fastball but generates a lot of swing and miss with it.
"Sullivan's fastball usually ranges from 88-92 mph and peaks at 95, and hitters know it's coming because he throws it nearly three-quarters of the time. But they still can't touch it because he uses his 6-foot-4 frame to deliver it from a low release height and wide angle that produce tremendous carry up in the strike zone. It has below-average velocity yet plays as a plus pitch and is the reason he ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in strikeout rate (14.3 per nine innings, second), WHIP (0.92, fourth) and opponent average (.175, fifth)"- MLB Pipeline ahead of the 2023 MLB Draft
Sullivan has the potential to be a high strikeout starting pitcher with an above average fastball that is hard to hit. If he can develop some of his off-speed pitches further, he has the potential of a mid-rotation starting pitcher. He has a high floor as a potential high leverage reliever, but there is a solid chance that he can stick in the rotation. He has never had an issue with control (something that could help him move up fairly quickly) with just a 3.1 BB/9 in his two college seasons.
Check out highlights from Sullivan's March 11th start against Duke, going 4.1 innings, 1 ER, 3 H, 8 K's and 1 BB, courtesy of Prospects Live
Sullivan was able to make just a few appearances in 2023 after being drafted and flashed a ton of potential. He only threw four innings between rookie ball and Single-A Fresno, but in those four innings, he only walked one batter, while striking out 10. 2024 will be an important year for Sullivan to prove he has the stuff to be a starting pitcher in the professional ranks. He threw 69.2 innings in 2023 in college and will look to break the 100-inning mark this year while continuing to develop his off-speed stuff. I would expect him to start back in Single-A Fresno, but he could get a promotion quickly if he dominates at that level again.
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