PROSPECT SPOTLIGHT: ROBERT GASSER, PITCHER, MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Pitching success is notoriously difficult to predict, and we have to look beyond the top names from the draft to find players who might be solid contributors to our fantasy teams. Here’s a quick system I use to build up my watch list. I start with pitchers drafted in the second or third round who are playing in Double-A or higher, with an emphasis on players who moved up levels within a season. From that group, I start sorting by K%, BB% and K/BB%, and see what names keep rising to the top after various sorts. Last November I tweeted out a list of eight players who I noticed, and two, in particular, prompted a lot of response: Robert Gasser and Dylan Dodd. (Isn’t it obnoxious when writers refer to their own tweets?) Gasser was available in many of my leagues and quickly became a favorite target.
Gasser is a 6’ 1” left hander who was the 71st pick in the 2021 draft. He was drafted out of the University of Houston by the San Diego Padres as a Competitive Balance pick at the end of the second round. He grew up in northern California, and according to his bio on the University of Houston website, he was a member of the bass fishing club in high school. That means nothing to us in terms of fantasy baseball, but I also enjoy bass fishing so I’m going to toss this out there, avoiding the obvious “Gasser the Basser” nickname.
Gasser has spent two years in the minor leagues, and last year he moved across three levels. He was pitching in High-A for the Padres before the trade to Milwaukee, and the Brewers started him in Double-A. After five starts at that level, they promoted him to Triple-A to take advantage of the longer season and get him a few more starts. Across all three levels in 2022, he had 172 strikeouts in 137 innings, with 11.3 K/9 and 3.42 BB/9. His numbers in five Triple-A starts, including a 10.59 K/9 and 5.47 BB/9 indicate that he’ll likely need more time at that level this year. The silver lining in the Triple-A stats is that he only surrendered 0.34 home runs per nine innings.
The scouts like what they see in him. One scout described him as “an athletic, low-slot lefty with an ultra-short arm action and command of three pitches.” His fastball currently sits in the low 90s, and he possesses the ability to throw it by hitters high in the zone or keep it low and induce swings off the plate. His slider is especially effective against right-handed hitters, with good movement that dives in over the inside corner. He has been working on developing the change-up as an effective third pitch. There are also positive reports about his curveball and cutter, and he’s fortunate to be in a system with a great track record for pitcher development.
Tale of the (Video) Tape
If you watch the video available online, you’ll see what the scouts are talking about. In one clip of an 11-strikeout performance in High-A, the first few strikeouts were on sliders that fooled the hitters, followed by several strikeouts on fastballs high in the zone. He has an easy, compact motion with a quick delivery to the plate. As long as he keeps the fastball at the top of the zone and can keep hitters guessing on the slider, he’ll be successful at the next level.
The good news is that the Brewers have an excellent track record developing pitchers, so Gasser should be expected to continue his growth; perhaps with added velocity on the fastball and improved third and fourth pitches. His ceiling in the majors is probably an SP2. His major league debut may be delayed since the Brewers signed Wade Miley this off-season and still have Aaron Ashby in the mix for a starting position. This isn’t too bad since Gasser will benefit from more time at Triple-A. He’s a non-roster invitee to spring training, and I’m confident we’ll see him pitching in the majors this year.
Let’s give Robert the last word. Last year, in an interview posted on Fangraphs, he was asked his secret in getting hitters out.
“Honestly, just keeping them off balance. I think that’s the most important thing for me. Throwing all of my pitches in the strike zone consistently gives me an opportunity to miss barrels while I’m changing speeds and locations.”
This is a great strategy, and he’s shown he possesses the tools to make this happen at the next level. If he’s available in your league, make room on your roster.