Floor: Middle reliever that touches mid-90’s.
Ceiling: #2-3 starter in major leagues.
Likely Outcome: #4/5 starter in the major leagues.
Summary: Duensing checks all the boxes you want to see in a prep pitching prospect. Solid fastball with projectable growth. A feel for two off speed pitches. Coachable. Wants it, and is willing to work for it. Tall, lean frame with room for growth. When Duensing was drafted he was a bit of a bean pole at 175 lbs, but came packed with a solid 91-92 mph fastball. Since taking on a nutrition and weight training regimen, we’ve seen Duensing just up toward 195 lbs and a fastball that was regularly 92-94 mph, from a 19 year old.
Duensing attacks hitters with a hurried, high effort, yet low impact delivery. He hides the ball well and has a true three-quarters release point. His balance, release point and landing spot seem to be varied and inconsistent, so there’s definitely some refining needed.
From a numbers standpoint, Duensing struggled with control this season. While the quality of his pitches were clearly better than last year, his results were quite a bit worse and this was based mostly off the fact that hitters knew Duensing would either walk them, hit them or leave the ball out over the middle of the plate where hitters could do something with it.
Really, the mechanics, the ability to throw strikes (and balls when necessary) and the ability to spot your pitches to each side of the plate, low or high in the zone are ultimately what dictate the success of a pitcher, as well as the role. Pitchers that can’t consistently do it are transitioned to relief, and pitchers that can, stay in the rotation.
So for Duensing, all the pieces to be a successful major league pitcher are there. Now it’s just up to hi and the Angels to find a way to put it all together.
What to expect next season: Duensing spent the majority of the short season at Orem, and while typically pitchers all graduate and move on to A Ball after Orem, Duensing’s trouble with finding the strike zone could ultimately lead to a return trip back to Utah. However, if Cole shows up to Spring Training with a more repeatable delivery and can find the strike zone, there is some chance he could move on to A Ball for 2018. But when you have a pitcher as young and projectable as Cole, the best thing the Angels organization can do is remove personal expectations and allow Cole to show them when he’s ready to move up. He may suddenly be major league ready at 22, or it may take longer, you never really know. For the moment, I expect Duensing to be in A Ball, simply because he’ll be a year older and more developed, he’s better than what we saw in Orem last year, and he his second to last start against Idaho Falls looked like a pitcher ready for A Ball.
Estimated Time of Arrival: Middle of 2022, Cole’s age 24 season.