- Rating: 3.30
- Age: 26
- 2020 Stats: 2G, 3.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 4.86 FIP, 1.667 WHIP
- 2020 Salary: $575,000 (league minimum), $62,300 earned
- 2021 Status: designated for assignment on November 20, claimed on waivers by Boston Red Sox
If you talk about prospects that have been off the radar, Joel Payamps is a good example of them. Barely 17 years old, Payamps was an international amateur signing of the Colorado Rockies. He pitched for two years in the DSL and then was assigned to various rookie teams. He struggled a lot, looks like he was also injured a couple of months and in May 2015 it seems the Rockies gave up hope, because he was released.
In November of 2015 the Arizona Diamondbacks gave the right-handed pitcher a second chance, and assigned him to the Kane City Cougars in 2016. He pitched well in A and in 2017 he continued that trend. He rose up rapidly, starting in Visalia, a couple of months in Jackson, and by the end of the season he even pitched in Reno. He put up good numbers, even in 12 innings for the Aces.
In 2018 and 2019 he continued to pitch well in Jackson, but could not translate his success to Reno. He walked more batters and obviously allowed more homeruns in the PCL, and as a result was up and down between AA and AAA.
End 2018, a report on prospectslive.com said: “Joel Payamps is an intriguing arm. Everything I’ve seen and read about him entering 2018 was that he had a strong arm and threw in the low 90s with a slurvy breaking ball but above-average command. The reports of the changeup were that it would flash at times, but it wasn’t a pitch Payamps could rely on. Payamps creates a lot of bad swings and leaves hitters well out front. It could be due to more advanced sequencing, or the changeup could’ve taken a step forward.”
His ETA was 2019 and he did arrive in the big leagues in 2019, pitching 4 innings in mop-up duties, but wasn’t amongst the September call ups that year.
Jack Sommers mentioned in his review last year: “His command has been inconsistent, but when he has it, he strikes out a lot of batters and can dominate. He has an intriguing arm, and while I don’t think he will ever be more more than a very back end rotation option, he still has some upside as a reliever in my view.”
Like Jack mentioned, as a reliever in the MLB Payamps relied heavily on a fastball and slider, a combo he would use in 2020 as well.
Payamps was recalled 4 times this season from the alternate training site. Despite the multiple call-ups, the Dominican reliever was used in just two games.
The problem Jack mentioned in 2019 continued to harass Payamps in 2020: a lack of command. According to statcast, he threw 60.7% of his pitches out of the zone, versus a league average of 51.1%. When he threw the ball in the strike zone, they got too much of the plate and especially the four seamer was hit hard. His average exit velocity allowed was over 100mph, with a barrel% of 25%. That is playing with fire.
The Arizona Diamondbacks preferred to use other options out of the pen after September 13, so 54 pitches was all Payamps was allowed to throw in 2020.
Payamps was moved off the 40-man roster on November 20, to make room for some prospects to prevent them from being taken in the rule 5 draft. My bet is that the Diamondbacks were betting on him not getting claimed on waivers; the team had issued limited pitching instructions for his appearance in the Dominican winter league.
However, he was claimed by the Boston Red Sox on November 25 and will thus head to the AL East. It could be that the Red Sox will try to put him through waivers as well, since Payamps will have no options left in 2021 and would have to be carried on the 40-man roster the entire season or expose him to waivers during the season.
However it may be, unless he improves his command, it is hard to believe that he can stick an entire season on a team’s 40-man roster. It is very well possible that he might be up for team travelling the coming years via waiver claims.