Pfaadt, the D-backs' No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline, has yet to pitch in the Majors, but his time is coming. If not for the fact that he doesn't need to be added to the 40-man roster this winter in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft, he likely would have already made his Major League debut.
The 23-year-old pitched at both Double-A Amarillo and Triple-A Reno this year. Neither ballpark (or league) is friendly to pitchers, which makes the numbers he put up all the more impressive.
In 167 innings over a combined 29 starts, Pfaadt had a 3.83 ERA and struck out 218 batters, becoming the first Minor League pitcher to reach the 200-strikeout mark since 2011. The 218 punchouts are the most in the Minors since Brandon Claussen fanned 220 in 2001.
"He had a tremendous year," D-backs farm director Josh Barfield said. "Especially if you consider where he pitched in Amarillo and Reno. Just the numbers and consistency he showed. It was really, really impressive."
Pitching in environments like that sometimes intimidates younger pitchers into avoiding the strike zone. Not Pfaadt, though.
"He's just so unfazed by who's in the box, where he's pitching, what's going on," Barfield said. "He goes out there and he just attacks hitters from the first pitch and it's fun to watch. He just is constantly 1-2, 0-2 on every hitter. And he gives up a solo home run, that's all right, here's another strike coming right at you."
In fact Pfaadt, who was a fifth-round pick out of Bellarmine University in 2020, actually felt like one of the reasons why he got so many strikeouts this year was because he threw fewer strikes.
"Part of it was just racing to two strikes and then expanding the zone," Pfaadt said. "For a little bit, I was throwing too many strikes. It seems like a good thing, but at higher levels it’s not a good thing, especially with two strikes. We tried to keep honing in [during] bullpens on leaving the zone with two strikes. I think that helped get more strikeouts.”
Pfaadt should be a candidate to make the D-backs' rotation next spring.
"I feel comfortable," Pfaadt said. "I feel like this is a good organization for me. Like everyone else is, I’m just taking the opportunities that I’m given and taking it one step at a time."