ROME, GA — Freddy Tarnok is an exciting young pitching prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization. Though he still has a long way to go, currently in the High-A Rome Braves rotation, there is plenty to like about his stuff and makeup for the future.
Freddy Tarnok: The skinny
Tarnok was drafted in the third round of the 2017 MLB draft. Ready to head to DII baseball powerhouse Tampa, Tarnok wound up signing with the Braves out of Riverview, Florida. His days at the plate behind him, Tarnok quickly impressed, posting a 2.57 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in his GCL debut.
The right-handed, 22-year-old is tall, listed a 6’3 and 185 pounds. It looked like he bulked up a bit since the last time he was in Rome in 2018, but he definitely has more room to grow and add some weight as he’s still somewhat wiry. His 2021 stats don’t jump off the page — 3-2 with a 5.01 ERA and 1.20 WHIP — but his stuff, when he’s on, does.
Freddy Tarnok: His stuff
Tarnok’s latest start, a July 10 outing against Bowling Green, showed a lot of what we’ve learned about him over the past couple of seasons. He is still somewhat raw, but if he can harness some consistency, he could be a very effective pitcher.
Reports were that he was tinkering with his delivery prior to the season, and thus far, it looks as if he’s taking steps to a more repeatable approach. He starts on the first base side of the mound and comes at you with a high-arm slot that looks much more consistent than in the past.
There appears to be less effort when you hear the fastball pop into the mitt, typically in the 94-96 range. The curve spins and breaks hard, though there were a few times its release looked different and was possible a tell. The changeup is vastly improved and Tarnok now has the makings of a solid three-pitch arsenal with room for more. Simply put, his stuff is electric.
Tarnok through 2. He allowed a well hit homer in the second, but has landed 22 of 36 pitches for strikes with 3 Ks. There’s no shortage of movement when he’s throwing right. Here’s the first out of the second. #Braves pic.twitter.com/6vpRB1T7yz— Wayne Cavadi (@UofDWayne) July 10, 2021
It is worth saying, when people connect on Tarnok, it seems to be hard contact, as evidenced by his trouble with the long ball this season. He’s allowed five home runs in total, two of which came in the July 10 viewing. The home run Jordan Qsar hit off Tarnok was absolutely crushed.
Tarnok went 4.1 innings, throwing 92 pitches. That’s where the consistency comes in because that is a lot of pitches. But the pitches that were on were filthy. He struck out six, and all six victims went down swinging. He uses both the fastball and curveball as effective strikeout weapons — really fooling hitters when he pulls the string on that breaking ball — and the changeup keeps hitters on edge. On the season, Tarnok is striking out a career-high 14.66 batters per nine innings.
When the Braves drafted Tarnok, most knew he was a project. Transitioning from a two-way player to a full-time pitcher was going to take some time. While Tarnok reportedly worked out in Florida during 2020, he still lost a season in that development. Throw away the stats. The improvements thus far are exciting.