Time to shine a spotlight on Houston Astros’ Triple-A affiliate Fresno Grizzlies pitcher Josh James.
When a relatively unheralded prospect starts mowing down hitters at Triple-A, it’s time to take notice. Through his first five starts with Fresno, Josh James is doing just that.
The Astros‘ 30th-ranked prospect is coming off his best performance yet. The righthander struck out 13 across seven shutout innings on Tuesday against Colorado Springs. His ERA with the Grizzlies sits at 2.54, and batters are hitting just .192 against him. Astros fans might need to take note, as James is pitching like an ace.
James was the Astros’ 34th-round draft pick in 2014 out of Western Oklahoma State College. He posted a 2.72 ERA in 39.2 rookie league innings that year, making six starts and seven relief appearances. 2015 saw him post a 2.63 ERA across 18 starts and six relief appearances at Class-A Quad Cities.
He struggled a bit in 2016 at Class-A Advanced Lancaster, posting a 4.81 ERA in 110.1 innings. James stpent 2017 in Corpus Christi, pitching to a 4.38 ERA in 76 innings. The 2018 season is where he really starts to take off.
After getting some pointers from Max Scherzer in the offseason, James has blossomed. He posted a 2.49 ERA across four starts and six relief appearances in Corpus before getting the call to Triple-A. He struck out 42 batters in his first 28.1 innings with Fresno
At this point, it seems like anything is possible. If James continues to pitch so impressively, it’s not inconceivable that he could become an excellent major league starter. At age 25, he would be a bit of a late-bloomer, but that won’t stop him from making an impact.
He could also have a future in the bullpen thanks to his relief experience in the minor leagues. The Astros would be wise to see if he can stick as a starter, but he may have potential in the ‘pen if that doesn’t work out. Either way, Astros fans should take note of Josh James.
***Statistics courtesy of MiLB.com***