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AngelsWin Top 30 Prospects: #29 RHP Joe Gatto



Prospect: Joe Gatto           Rank: 29
2016: 23                                    Position(s): Right Handed Pitcher
Level: Advanced A Ball         Age: Entering Age 23 season in 2018.
Height: 6’3”                       Weight: 220 lb.

Present                    Future

Fastball          55                     60
Curve             55                     60
Change          50                     50
Mechanics     60                     60
Command     50                      60
Control         45                     50
Overall         45                      55
Floor: Long reliever in AAA/MLB.   Ceiling: A mid-rotation, workhorse.
Likely Outcome: A back-end starter that can go 180+ innings.
Summary: If you know anything about Joe Gatto’s unusual career arc, you may have watched him pitch in 2017 and thought to yourself, “Well it’s about freakin’ time!”.  Maybe that was just me.  Still, Gatto was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft (aka forever ago) and the belief at the time was that Gatto was not raw like other prep pitchers.  Gatto had a matured body and just needed little tweaks here and there as well as experience before he was in the major leagues. Initially his ETA for the major leagues was going to be the 2018 season.  Well things didn’t happen that way.Gartto ended up spending a couple more seasons in Rookie Ball than we would’ve thought, but he was clearly primed to breakout back in 2016, his first year at A Ball.  Gatto instead was one of the most tortured pitchers in minor league baseball before the Angels finally pulled the plug on that season.  An ERA over 7.00 over more than half a season in a pitching friendly environment.  Ouch indeed.

It actually took a lot for Gatto to return to the scene of the crime in 2017.  There had to be some psychological affect to being back on the same mound.  But return he did, and Gatto as it turns out grew a ton from the experience.  21 starts, a 3.46 ERA and a solid K/BB ratio.  Hitters were making contact on Joe, but they weren’t squaring him up like before, which speaks to Gatto’s growth in pitching efficiency and getting his pitches to move around a little more in the zone.

Upon being promoted to the Cal League, expectations were tempered.  Gatto can strike guys out, but he’s more willing to get a quick groundball out instead.  And pitchers that pitch to contact have traditionally really struggled in the Cal League.  Gatto didn’t.  6 starts, a 3.34 ERA and more of the same as far as batted ball profile.  So now we’re left to wonder, has Gatto truly turned the corner, and if he has, how aggressively might he be promoted?  There’s a chance you’re seeing a pitcher that goes 200 innings with a 3.50 ERA in the major leagues.  There’s also a chance that his ball just doesn’t move enough to be effective in the majors.

2018 should tell us a lot.

What to expect next season: I’m guessing the Angels will have Gatto return to the Cal League to start the season at least.  I don’t expect Gatto will spend the entire year there though.  Truthfully, I’d really like to see what he can do in AA and I think myself and other fans will get that chance in 2018.  The biggest knock on Gatto has always been that he leaves the ball up in the zone too frequently and that his fastball, while it is firm, it doesn’t tend to move, which professional hitters are good at handling those.  We know his two-seam fastball and off-speed pitches improved a lot over the past couple years, but once Gatto reaches AA, we’ll be able to better understand exactly what we are looking at here.  By this time next year, Gatto could be knocking on the door to the major leagues and part of a wave of exciting pitching prospects that have matured through the system (Jaime Barria, and Jesus Castillo included).  Gatto has the talent to do that.  At the same rate, we could still be talking about the same issues.
Estimated Time of Arrival: 2020, Gatto’s age 25 season.
Grade as a prospect: C
Grades are given from the 20-80 scouting scale.  20-being non-existent ability, 80-being the best I’ve ever seen.  MLB average is 50.  A 92 mph fastball generally would be a 50.  A 97 mph fastball is a 65.  A .260 hitter is a 50.  A .300 hitter is a 70. 

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