Joshua Sborz

Position: RHSP
Level: High A
Affiliate: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Age: 22 yrs, 6m
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 225
B/T: Right / Right
Acquired: 2nd Rd. (CBB), 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft (LAD)

Prospect Spotlight

The Dodgers’ farm system is loaded with high-quality arms, and Sborz is no exception. Sborz split time between the bullpen and starting, showing success in both roles at Virginia, before being drafted as a second-round supplemental pick last year. In his first year of pro ball, Sborz switched between the bullpen and starting, but has worked only as a starter this year and is thriving (72/18 K/BB, .208 BAA, 2.58 ERA, 0.99 WHIP) while making the Cal League All-Star Game.

Sborz has a strong frame, with wide shoulders and long legs, and he could still add some strength to help him go longer in games. He showcased a high 3/4 ‘s release point from a compact delivery, though it’s unique – he starts by taking a deep breath and doing a short “squat” over the rubber before starting his motion. His motion starts with his hands at his chest before dropping to the waist and lifting simultaneously with his front leg. He gets a full circle behind him while using his glove arm to hide the ball and drive towards the plate, getting plus extension down the hill. This delivery and extension helps create deception, and the ball jumps on hitters. With as many moving parts as there are in Sborz’s delivery, he does a good job of repeating the motion and having a consistent release point, allowing him to attack the zone.

Sborz pitches aggressively with all four pitches, looking to get ahead early and inducing weak contact. He has a plus fastball, working 91-to-93 mph (T94) with extra life out of the hand and it played well when up in the zone. Sborz has better command of the pitch to the arm side, and will cut the pitch when going glove side, giving it an added dimension. Another scout mentioned that he had seen the fastball sit 94-to-96 mph (T97) in a previous start, so there could still be more to develop as a starter, or to play up in the bullpen.

His slider sat 85-to-87 mph, and works well off the fastball by having late and tight downward cut. The pitch showed some above-average movement and was utilized off the plate to miss bats. Sborz flashed a plus curveball in the 77-to-80 mph range with the ability to control the big 12-to-6 shape for strikes early in the count, or speeding up into a power curve that disappeared when he was looking for strikeouts. Sborz also had a fringy changeup that flashed better than it performed. The changeup was 80-to-83 mph (T85) but it didn’t get much work, though it flashed some arm-side run when not overthrown. Sborz flashed some average ability with the changeup, but overall he lacked feel, and did not find a consistent release point.

In my viewing, Sborz only pitched five innings. This may be an attempt by the Dodgers to limit his innings as he grows into the starter’s role, or the fact that two of the Dodgers’ starting pitchers were rehabbing, and they needed to get the bullpen work. In either case, Sborz was effective (four Ks, just three base runners) and had a good idea on setting up hitters while changing the pitch sequences to keep them off balance. I like the versatility that Sborz provides, and I can see him being successful either as a #4 starter, or in a top bullpen role. With the quantity of arms in the Dodgers’ farm system, I would let Sborz continue to develop as a starter, knowing that if you needed a bullpen arm he could make the transition quickly.