Profile of Astros RHP Nick Tropeano
Nick Tropeano is a confident young man with an easy laugh and a winning personality. And based on what I was told by his pitching coach and his teammates, he has a very bright future.
Tropeano was drafted by Houston in the fifth round in 2011 out of Stony Brook University where he was the first player in America East Conference history to be named Pitcher of the Year twice. In 12 starts with the short season New York-Penn League Tri-City team in 2011, he was 3-2 with a 2.36 ERA, a 1.181 WHIP and 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
In six appearances (five starts) thus far in 2012 with the LoA Lexington Legends in the South Atlantic League, he is 2-2 with a 1.87 ERA, a 1.010 WHIP and 11.0 strikeouts per nine. He has absolutely dominated at times.
I talked at length with Legends Pitching Coach Dave Borkowski about Tropeano, “He is good. There’s no question about it. And he’s really opened some eyes with his start this year.”
The biggest change for Tropeano is that he has come to rely more heavily on his fastball. “You cannot pitch at higher levels without trusting your fastball and hav[ing] the confidence to throw it in situations. He’s throwing 65-70% fastballs and having success which is really nice to see,” said Borkowski. Trusting his fastball serves to make his change up (his best pitch and reportedly one of the best change ups in the Astros system) more effective since he can rely on that pitch to get him out of a jam or put away a hitter, according to Borkowski.
Not only is Tropeano using his fastball more, his fastball has become one of his best pitches. Dave Borkowski indicated that Tropeano’s fastball ranked a close second to that of teammate Mike Foltynewicz (currently ranked as the Astros #5 prospect by Jonathan Mayo).
When I asked LF Jordan Scott and 1B Zach Johnson, two of the Legends best hitters, which of their teammates they would least like to face on the mound, they both immediately replied, “Trope.” According to Scott, “He throws pretty hard and he mixes everything up and he can throw everything for strikes.” Johnson faced Tropeano in spring training and declared, “Trope in a game would be tough.”
I talked to Dave Borkowski about his entire pitching staff. Before we finished up, I asked him which of his pitchers was the most projectable as making it to the major leagues based on what he is seeing now. “I’m going to go with Tropeano. He’s a little more polished,” he said, specifically citing his fastball command and the quality of his off-speed offerings.
It’s not hard to see why Nick Tropeano is such a confident young man. He certainly has the confidence of others.