Down On The Farm: Chris Stratton

ChrisStrattonSFGChris Stratton attended Mississippi State where he was the SEC Pitcher of the Year in 2012, his senior season. After a transition from the bullpen to the rotation, Stratton posted an 11-2 record, 2.38 ERA, and 127 strikeouts. Scouts loved his arm strength, four-pitch repertoire, and projectable frame; though he wasn’t considered in the same tier as other college righties like Mark Appel and Kyle Zimmer, he was projected to be drafted near the end of the first round, which is exactly where the San Francisco Giants took him.

 
Stratton sports a low-to-mid 90′s fastball with a sharp slider and an average curveball and change up. It was reported that Stratton attracted the Giants’ attention pitching in the Cape Cod League, which has a reputation for generating Major League talent, where he managed a 2.18 ERA and 12 strikeouts to only 2 walks in six appearances. The Giants loved his diversity of skills, and Stratton was very excited about getting drafted by San Francisco.
 
“That’s the kind of organization I want to be a part of, one that puts an emphasis on pitching,” Stratton said (link).
 
Sadly, after just 16.1 innings in short-season ball at Salem-Keizer, Stratton was struck in the head during batting practice, resulting in a concussion and overnight hospital stay. This injury kept Stratton from participating in the fall instructional league, slowing his development somewhat. Fortunately for the Giants, Stratton is a polished college power-pitcher, so he was able to pick things up quickly at Single-A Augusta this year, winning his first four starts.
 
Up to this point, Stratton has posted a 7-3 record with a 3.66 ERA. He’s been plagued with a bit of inconsistency as he further develops as a four-pitch hurler. But after a rough start at the beginning of June in which he gave up 6 runs on 11 hits in 5 innings, Stratton went on to give up only 6 hits and 1 run in each of his next two starts. Oddly enough, Stratton finished June with the same stat line he began the month, giving up 6 runs on 11 hits in his June 30th start. He fared much better in his next two starts in July, giving up only 4 runs in 13 innings.
 
Stratton currently has a solid 9.1 SO/9 rate, though he’d do well to cut down on his 3.2 BB/9. The high number of hits that he has allowed (70 in his last 10 starts) and poor walk rate have contributed to a WHIP score of 1.319. Currently, hitters are batting .294 against Stratton, and he posses an inflated ERA of 4.12 against right handed batters. It stands to reason that getting righties out with runners in scoring position and cutting down the walks (9 in his last 3 starts) will be Stratton’s focus to finish the season at Single-A. 
 
There remains an outside possibility that Stratton could be promoted to Double-A Richmond before the end of the year, but the Giants may opt to let him develop further in Augusta due to the time he lost to injury last year. He remains one of the bright starting pitching prospects that may join Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner in the big league rotation someday.
 
Check out what Mississippi State State coach John Cohen told SF Giants Rumors about Stratton.
 
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~Paul Ghiglieri
 
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