Peoria, Arizona —— Even though he didn’t quite touch 100 mph with his fastball, St. Louis Cardinals right-handed pitching prospect Jordan Hicks impressed on Tuesday afternoon during Arizona Fall League play in Peoria. Pitching for the visiting Surprise Saguaros, Hicks worked two innings in relief during the club’s Tuesday afternoon victory at Peoria Sports Complex, and in doing so, touched 99 mph twice with his fastball and hit 98 mph three more times.
Across his two-inning stint, Hicks sat 94-99 mph with that impressive heater — which also showed late and at times very violent arm-side run — and coupled it with a sharp 83-85 mph slider, and a very nice change of pace in the form of a 73-75 mph curveball. You can watch that full outing on video right here:
A few anecdotes and things of note about Jordan Hicks after Tuesday afternoon’s relief appearance: I was sitting with Seattle Mariners pitching prospect and fellow AFL participant Art Warren while Hicks was pitching. Warren, who was charting the game on his day off, couldn’t stop marveling at how much of a differential there is between Hicks’ fastball and curveball — ironic (but telling), considering Art Warren knows a thing or two about spinning a curveball and backing it up with heat.
On a funny note, you’ll notice in the video above that Mariners outfield prospect Eric Filia reaches base on a barreled opposite-field single against Hicks’ 99 mph fastball in the reliever’s first inning. A scout sitting behind me, who had earlier been complaining about Filia’s pre-at-bat shimmy, was singing a different tune after the single.
“Huh,” the scout said, pausing until Filia rounded first base. “That kid rakes. Maybe that’s why they let him do the dance.”
As for Jordan Hicks, it’s an impressive outing for a prospect already very impressive before reaching the Arizona Fall League. This is my first time sitting on him, so I can’t fully comment considering I haven’t seen how he sequences his stuff as a starter in the minors with the St. Louis Cardinals, but Hicks has the look and attitude of a really, really serious power reliever. I wonder where he’ll wind up and what role he eventually fills (he started 19 games this summer), but coming out of the ‘pen on Tuesday really, really fit him, and he made some hitters extremely uncomfortable in the batter’s box on Tuesday.
In a fall circuit where everybody’s pressing and overthrowing to show off and blow it out, Hicks was free, easy, and absolutely pumping with little max effort and a repeatable delivery. Is there a power relief future here? Guessing that remains to be seen; Jordan Hicks is still just 21 years old, and may prove exceptionally valuable as a starter for the St. Louis Cardinals even as his relief alter-ego flirts with triple digits.