Peoples, the Indians’ 14th-rounder in the 2012 Draft, and has been steadily building innings as a starter since 2014, reaching 27 starts and 165 innings this year for the Tribe. The 6’5” righty has a thin, athletic build with good coordination and some room to get stronger in his upper half.
He has the most success when he is spotting his four-pitch mix down in the zone and pitching to contact, but he struggled with his command in my view on October 11, tossing 2.2 innings and giving up five hits and three runs, pairing two walks with four strikeouts.
Peoples’ delivery has a high leg kick with an inverted W when he separates with some shoulder tilt to help generate solid downhill plane. His fastball was a sitting 88-to-90 mph and it showed some moderate arm side run, but it was hit hard when left up in the zone. (It should be noted that he’s been up to T94 during the season, so there may be a fatigue factor playing into that velo after his solid 165 IP this year). His sinker is average and plays up a bit because of the downhill plane he gets, sitting in the 86-to-89 range. He gets some good downer action on it and he showed average command to both sides of the plate. When both offerings are kept down, there is enough variance in the movement to be effective, and both offerings are coming from the same ¾ slot to give some deception out of hand, but any lapses in command can lead to a big inning, as it did in this start.
His curveball was a fringy offering, in the 78-to-81 mph range, showing more of a gradual, rolling break that at times lacked teeth in the zone, but he did show some feel for the pitch in snapping off a tighter-breaking version for a called strikeout. He also flashed a changeup with some late tumble that played well when following his sinker, getting some swing and miss on the offering, but he threw just four of them in this view and had some potential.
Peoples controlled the running game well, flashing a quick-turn pickoff move to first base that caught Ryan O’Hearn in the first inning, and had solid 1.2-1.25 second delivery times with runners on.
Zeroing in on commanding his repertoire in the lower third, developing his secondaries and improving his sequencing of the four-pitch mix is probably why he’s getting some extra work this fall. End-of-season fatigue aside, the Indians likely want to see if Peoples is bumping up against his ceiling, or if there is more to come. He’s a good bet to get an early test at the Triple-A level to start 2017, hoping that the change or the curve will grow into an average pitch and that he can take that next step.