Another trade! Out of nowhere on this Monday evening, the Royals flipped 1B/DH Brandon Moss and left-handed reliever Ryan Buchter to the Oakland Athletics for RHP prospect Heath Fillmyer and RHP Jesse Hahn. Let’s get to know the Royals newest prospect, Heath Fillmyer.
Fillmyer started his professional career after being drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the fifth round of the 2014 draft out of Mercer County Community College. After pitching a small 9.2 innings in 2014 for the AZL Athletics, he made his full-season debut the following season, appearing 23 games (22 starts) for the Athletics Low-A affiliate.
Fillmyer started to move swiftly through the system, putting together his best season in 2016 across A+ and AA (134 IP, 3.29 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 2.6 BB/9). He ended up spending all of last season in AA, piecing together another decent season (149.2 IP, 3.49 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 3.1 BB/9).
These results led to Fillmyer finding himself on the prospect radar, most recently ranking as the Athletics #18 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.
Fillmyer works with a pretty slow, straight-forward, over-the-top delivery. Doesn’t feature a lot of moving parts and it seems easy to repeat. The arm speed looks really good, allowing for a sneaky mid-90s fastball that holds some good sinking action. From what I’ve seen, he commands this pitch really well, having a good feel for both sides of the plate.
Fillmyer also possesses some good secondaries. The curveball has a nice look to it, high spinning and working inside with a lot of movement. The changeup made strides last year, adding deception and fade. I like both of these secondaries and I think they both can mix well with his fastball.
Fillymer has typically been a pitch-to-contact guy throughout his career (career K/9 of 7.3), doing most of his work through weak-contact (44.1% GB% in 2017). I wouldn’t be surprised to see the K-rate start to trend upwards though as he finishes up with his development, working with three above-average offerings that all have above-average movement.
I’d expect Fillmyer to find himself in Omaha to start the year, but with their crowded pitching staff, I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts the year in the Northwest Arkansas rotation. Nonetheless, I like the chances that he ends up as a 4/5 starter in the major leagues. If not, I think his sinker along with his plus-secondaries can probably play in the bullpen.
The Royals landed themselves a pitcher that will already rank high among the other arms in the organization. As mentioned above, Fillmyer was ranked the #18 prospect in a deeper Oakland Athletics farm system, so if we had to pin an early ranking on him post-trade, he’d probably find himself in the 10-15 range.
Photo Credits: Chris Lockard