Gage has progressed quickly through the Giants’ system after being drafted in the 10th round of the 2014 draft, and he’s proven himself a worthy pick. His first full pro season in 2015 was split between Class A Augusta, where he made 15 starts, and a late season bump straight to Double-A Richmond, where he made an additional 7 starts to total 116 innings. For the combined season, he showed plus control (1.8 BB/9) and struck out a solid 7.8-per-nine innings, though he did give up his share of contact (1.284 WHIP) due to some in-zone command issues.
Now starting his third pro season and back with Richmond, the command issue remains, though the sample size is still limited. In two separate viewings on April 25 and May 5, he showed above-average control of his 50-grade fastball and was consistently commanding it to all quadrants with arm-side run. The pitch was sitting 87-to-88 mph early, but the velo bumped to a more consistent 90-to-92 mph as the games progressed. His 50-grade slider sat 77-to-80 mph and showed solid depth and bite. This was a swing-and-miss pitch for him, and he flashed a second effective version of the offering that showed more strike-to-ball sweep. His command of the pitch was inconsistent, however, and it would back up on him at times into the fat part of the zone and lead to hard contact. His third pitch is a 50-grade changeup, a pitch he can really sell thanks to solid arm-speed replication, and coming in with late tumble in the 80-to-84 mph range. It was more effective when his fastball velo was up in the higher range, but again, command was inconsistent.
Through his first six starts this season, he has thrown 26 innings and given up 35 hits, for a 1.65 WHIP and .324 BAA, so command, especially of the secondaries, remains an issue, as his mistakes are being left in-zone and are getting slapped around. It’s also not helping that his SO/9 and BB/9 are trending in the wrong direction (career low 1.89 SO/BB ratio in 2017, versus 3.12 in 2016 and 4.39 in 2015), so he’s working with a lot of traffic on the bases.
To keep a starter’s profile intact, he’ll need to improve command of his secondary pitches and keep his mistakes in the lower third of the zone to keep the ball in the park, and prevent advanced hitters from waiting him out for an in-zone mistake – otherwise he may start to see some time out of the bullpen, where the fastball/slider combination may play up in shorter stints.