Visalia, California —— Good work got him promoted out of the California League before he could enjoy it, but Ryan Halstead is a 2017 Cal League All-Star this week representing for the San Jose Giants, the San Francisco Giants’ High-A affiliate. That’s thanks to the right-handed reliever appearing in 22 games in San Jose, and earning eight saves with no record and a 1.11 ERA, along with 27 strikeouts against just two walks over 24.1 innings pitched, before he was promoted a few weeks ago to Double-A Richmond. I observed the San Francisco Giants’ former 21st round (2015) pick on four occasions in 2017 before his promotion; below is Baseball Census‘ full Ryan Halstead scouting report, including several videos.
Ryan Halstead Scouting Report — Video
Our first video of San Francisco Giants pitcher Ryan Halstead is an April 24, 2017 look at his mechanics from a road game against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes:
Our second Ryan Halstead scouting report video is a different angle look at his mechanics, from May 24, 2017 on the road against the Lancaster JetHawks:
And our third and final Ryan Halstead scouting report video is a behind-the-plate look at his repertoire during game action on May 25, 2017 against those same Lancaster JetHawks:
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Ryan Halstead Scouting Report — Notes
Ryan Halstead works 90-92 mph with his fastball, and can touch 94 mph on occasion. It’s a fairly straight pitch, but shows some late arm-side run at times and has a little more life to it when thrown down in the zone. Halstead complements it with two different looks at off-speed: a 73-77 mph breaking ball that is sweeping in action, and makes things difficult for righties to stay in on the plate when he starts it at their front elbow, and an 83-86 mph slider/cutter that is significantly tighter with shorter, later break. The two breaking balls (or, the breaking ball and cutter) can work well in tandem, giving him a few different looks that work off the fastball with good arm speed. But the slower breaking ball has a tendency to flatten out and it can stay too horizontal across the plate, allowing hitters to adjust and make contact when it never changes plane.
He’s got a quirky delivery with his front leg jutting out early to the plate in an awkward way, but that’s more noticeable from a side view and less impactful in how a hitter sees the ball out of his hand. He varies his tempos though, and with nobody on base he’ll alternately hold his balance point for a few seconds—almost like a Japanese pitcher—and then turn around and quick pitch immediately thereafter. I’ve only ever seen him throw a fastball on that quick pitch, but that is part of his game and requires hitters with no one on base to expect him at any time.
Halstead’s biggest attribute is his control. You can see it in his stats (he walked just two batters in 24.1 innings in San Jose this year, and he’s issued only 17 free passes in 112 career professional innings), but to watch him pitch in person is a sight. He fills the zone early, isn’t afraid of contact, and doesn’t hesitate to go aggressively after hitters from both sides. He is arguably throwing too many strikes, and may likely soon prove to be too hittable for an ideal late-inning reliever, but he’s got a very good idea of the strike zone.
Ryan Halstead Scouting Report — Projection
For me, Ryan Halstead is on that border line between organizational depth and fringy big league relief candidate. His fastball is fine, but it’s not dominant, and it grades out merely average to slightly above-average right now. I wouldn’t grade his off-speed stuff as anything better than average; while the slower slider is a good change-of-pace, it can get too horizontal and lack vertical depth. Similarly, the tighter cutter is often around the plate too much and hitters can still get contact when they should be put away by a pitch with more bite.
Halstead is throwing too many strikes with too little manipulation to his pitches, and while his raw stuff could still develop into the makings of a serviceable reliever, he may soon find himself hittable in short relief stints as he pitches through Double-A and later on in to Triple-A. He’s 6’5″, 220 lbs., and with that size, his control, and some raw arm strength, he’ll always have an outside shot at time in a big league bullpen, but a few tweaks and a couple miles per hour would go a long ways to solidifying his future as anything more than a fringy relief arm. To his credit, Ryan Halstead utterly dominated High-A hitters this spring… as a 25-year-old.