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AngelsWin Today: Angels prospect Barrett Kent blazes path towards All-Star success


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Kent.jpgBarrett Kent is a throwback to the old days of Angels pitching development; back when big bodied, durable stalwarts headed this rotation into yearly playoff contention. His makeup and build call back to the likes of Jered Weaver, John Lackey, and Garrett Richards who all solidified themselves as top arms across the league out of the Angels system. The hard-throwing 18 year old Kent comes into the organization out of Texas while very much sporting a Texas sized fastball. His go to offering already reaches heights of up to 97 mph with ease and with command beyond that of a fresh high school graduate. Kent was drafted in the 8th round despite having all the talents of a veritable first or second round pick, this sentiment being echoed by the Angels as they saw fit to pay him a bonus in line with that of a top pick in order to woo him away from his Arkansas commitment. The Angels foresight in securing his talents by any means necessary will prove vindicated as Kent develops into a league leading, front line starter for the big league club.

Kent brings into the organization all the promises of a rotation leading ace and then some. His advanced feel for his high quality pitch mix, which features both a two and four seam fastball alongside a slider and curveball/changeup, will easily earmark him for a big league role. Kent prefers to feature his fastball, which is seen as a “plus-plus” pitch thanks to high velocity and quality ride powered by an ease in command. His two-seamer is utilized moreso as a sinker given the quality sinking break on the pitch which Kent will regularly work in the bottom half of the zone. His curveball is also seen as a high-plus swing and miss offering which the young pitcher regularly throws for strikes, though by his own admission it is more of a “back pocket” type offering. His slider seems to be his go to secondary at the moment while he also continues to develop his change-up, a pitch which Kent admits has been a solid weapon against lefty hitters.

“I throw a four seam, two seam, curveball, slider and change up. I like to attack with the four seam, I throw that about 90% of the time. I like to go in and out, then come back with my slider, that's kind of my secondary pitch. I've learned a new change up that's been really playing well, especially on left handed hitters. The curveball is kind of my least favorite pitch but I'll go out there and throw it whenever they call it on it”

Inconsistency issues coming out of his senior year saw a bit of a dip in Kent's stock, mostly due to a fluctuation in velocity on his fastball, which eventually pushed him to the 8th round. Kent would admit himself that he felt “flat” on the mound and saw himself more attuned to throwing hard rather than pitching. Adjustments going forward saw Kent revitalize his draft stock through stellar Draft League showings which ultimately saw him go to the Angels on a massive steal of a draft pick. Had Barrett Kent chosen to fulfil his commitment to Arkansas he would have easily set himself up for a first round selection in the coming years with the Angels likely never having a shot at the potentially franchise altering talents of Barrett Kent. The Angels have been a historically bad drafting team coming into this decade, but with GM Perry Minasian hitting on pick after pick fortunes will soon change as prospects like Barrett Kent prove to be the difference maker in the Angels successes going forward.

s-l1200.webpThis past year saw Kent get his feet only slightly wet with experience as he threw 8.2 innings with the organization out of the draft across the Rookie and Low A levels. His short time this year saw him log 10 Ks with no runs allowed across 4 hits, and while it is as short as sample sizes get it is still promising to see such effectiveness after a long season of work through high school and draft league. More often than not you don’t see pitchers until the year after they’re drafted with organizations looking to keep their arm as fresh as possible for the first full year of work. It is extremely encouraging to see Kent hit the ground running right out of the draft as he display the levels of effectiveness he has so far. Next season will more clearly spell the story of Kent’s developmental track, but from what we’ve seen there is a legitimate high stamina power arm worth getting excited about. There is enough versatility in his repertoire to give him breathing room around his high-powered fastball, and with the quality of his secondary being as solid as it is there exists a strong promise of dynamic, Major League quality innings waiting in the future.  

“I don't want people to think of me as just a young guy. I want to be known as the guy that's gonna go out there, compete for the team and get the win whenever I need to. The team will give me the freshman jokes here and there, but they've really been a huge help. They've been huge walking me through [professional baseball], I’ve been learning a lot with (manager) Dave Stapleton. Hopefully next year when I get a full season I come out here ready to go.”

Kent's advanced feel for control will put him ahead of the prospect pack immediately entering 2024, and with the quality of his stuff he will likely be a quick riser within the system. Next season will see Kent take the beginning steps of coming into form as a professional, learning the routine and habits while familiarizing his muscle memory with the flow necessary to sustained professional success. As we’ve seen with multiple Angel prospects this past year such as Walbert Urena, the Angels are not shy about giving their teenaged pitchers Major League workloads. Urena was one of the most used pitchers across the Cal League and just one of fifteen pitchers to throw for more than 90 innings on the year, all at the age of 19. It is not unreasonable to assume that Barrett Kent will receive the same treatment as he will also be 19 heading into 2024. I don’t think he’ll be throwing 90+ pitches a start out of the gate, we’ll likely see a 2nd half ramp that will test him with those 90+ pitch outings once he proven himself in the first half. We haven’t seen enough to totally pencil him in for an MLB ETA, though 2026/2027 will likely be when Kent receives a full time starting role with the Angels. There is a shot that 2025 can see Major League work for the young star but that all depends on the quality of his 2024 season. All in all, Kent projects as a frontline starter, likely an ace, with a much needed durability and efficiency that will see him regularly pitch deep into games, and with a good bit of luck we will see him as a playoff regular for years to come as an Angel. 

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