Preseason AA ranking: 15
2015 stats (aggregate): 3.00 ERA; 3.28 FIP; 16.8% strikeout rate; 6.8% walk rate
Season to date
Robert Gsellman made mincemeat of the Florida State League, cruising to a 1.76 ERA in eight starts. He has since moved on to Double-A where it's been a bit of struggle for him, posting a 4.31 ERA through eight starts. Gsellman has not posted elite strikeout numbers--even in St. Lucie his strikeout percentage was just 18.9--but that's in part because he hasn't needed to, especially prior to his promotion. While in St. Lucie he was generating a 58.2% groundball rate, which is exceptional considering league average is just 46.2%.
Why he ranks here
Gsellman shoots into the top 5 not just due to the dominant first half in High-A but also because the reports we have received this year peg him as a likely back-end starter. Now, a #4 starter projection might not sound sexy--especially for an organization that has produced a quintet of top-of-the-rotation starters over the past several years--but that would be an extremely valuable player, and it's not like he doesn't have upside. He features a two-seam fastball that sits 90-92 and comes from an easy delivery that makes you think he could add a couple of ticks to his velocity if need be. He complements the fastball with a curveball that Jeff Moore recently described as a "legitimate plus big league pitch". The changeup is the laggard here but if he is able to develop it further we could be looking at a potential number three starter.
Here are Jeff's closing thoughts from his recent writeup of Gsellman:
It's not a sexy profile, but Gsellman potentially offers three average-or-better pitches with the mechanics and body to handle a starter's workload. I may even be a tick low on him, but it's tough to work at 88-92 in the majors without really fine command. Gsellman could also work in a setup role if the changeup doesn't fully develop. He has touched 95 for me in the past, and the curve would be a weapon in short bursts. However, I would give him every opportunity to start.