The Guardians will turn to right-handed pitching prospect Xzavion Curry to start the second game of today’s doubleheader, manager Terry Francona announced (Twitter link via Cleveland.com’s Joe Noga). He’ll need to have his contract formally selected to the 40-man roster, which is currently at capacity.
Curry, 24, was Cleveland’s seventh-round pick back in 2019 and has enjoyed a strong season between Double-A and Triple-A, working to a combined 3.48 ERA, 27.5% strikeout rate and 7.3% walk rate over the life of 101 innings (17 starts, two relief appearances). Curry didn’t post dominant numbers in his college days at Georgia Tech and was listed at “just” 5’10”, which might’ve contributed to him landing in the seventh round of his draft. However, he’s had little to no problems adapting to professional ball, posting strong results at every minor league stop — culminating in a career 2.90 minor league ERA.
FanGraphs tabs Curry 12th among Guardians farmhands in an absolutely stacked system, and he lands 18th on Baseball America’s midseason rankings. Scouting reports on Curry note that even though his heater sits in the low 90s, its huge spin and his deceptive delivery help it play up as a plus pitch that can miss bats in bunches. His secondary offerings don’t garner as much praise, though his slider is regarded as a potentially above-average pitch — and Curry’s outstanding command helps all of his pitches exceed expectations at times. He’s walked just 46 off the 795 hitters he’s faced as a pro (5.8%).
Curry will give Guards fans their first look at the latest rotation option to step out of the organization’s pitching factory. Cleveland seems to grow viable big league starters on trees, with both Curry and righty Peyton Battenfield (drafted two rounds after Curry) the latest unheralded prospects to surge through the system and position themselves as potential big league contributors. The Guardians’ five-man rotation is presently full, thanks to the presence of Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac and Cal Quantrill, but both Curry and Battenfield have seemingly pitched their way to the upper levels of the organization’s depth chart.
Success in routinely turning out promising arms is one of the many reasons the Guardians have regularly been able to trade from their Major League pitching staff to keep the minor league system stacked without needing to dive headlong into a tedious, years-long rebuilding effort in recent seasons. Cleveland was reportedly open to trade offers on some controllable arms prior to the deadline — Plesac’s name was most commonly speculated upon — and promising late showings from arms like Curry who make their debuts this season will make it easier for the Guardians to renew any of those conversations this winter if they choose.