The Astros have specialized in finding diamonds in the rough, and a recent Sugar Land Space Cowboys promotee has all the makings of being another one if everything breaks right.
In this week’s Cowboys Corral, we’ll be profiling the arsenal and projections for 24-year-old Jimmy Endersby, who made his Space Cowboys debut on July 12.
Endersby was promoted to Sugar Land on July 12 after compiling a 3.48 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 67.1 innings over 12 starts with Double-A Corpus Christi.
Endersby is probably relatively unknown to those aside from the most diehard fans out there. He originally signed with Cal State Fullerton as an infielder, but then transitioned onto the mound. However, he only threw 16.2 innings in two seasons with the Titans before transferring to Division II Concordia University (Irvine), where he threw just 28.2 innings in five starts due to the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
However, the Astros still saw enough to sign him as an undrafted free agent in 2020. He quickly impressed during his first season in pro ball in 2021, posting a 3.90 ERA between High-A Asheville and Double-A Corpus Christi while striking out 110 batters in 97 innings of work. And on the heels of that performance, he entered the 2022 season as the Astros’ No. 23 overall prospect.
There might not be a lot of things that jump off the page about Endersby. At 6-foot-1 and 194 pounds, he might be a little slight. And the arsenal, while good, doesn’t necessarily wow the casual fan as much as that of say, a Forrest Whitley. But it’s not always about the raw arsenal – it’s what the pitcher does with that that determines whether he’ll be effective.
Endersby has a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s, with scouting reports saying he likes to work north and south in the strike zone to keep the hitter’s eye level changing. He comes off that with a high-70s curveball and a slider. If that sounds like a current Astros starter, it should – it’s a very similar pitch mix as Cristian Javier, currently excelling in the starting rotation after a couple seasons pitching out of the bullpen.
That arsenal, however, has been a little hit-or-miss as far as the consistency and command goes. He is striking out a batter per inning, but is also at nearly 5 BB/9, which is far from ideal. When he does find the zone, Endersby is a heavy fly ball pitcher – not surprising given that he likes to work up in the zone.
He has induced a popup rate (one of the least effective batted ball events) of more than 20 percent each of his first two seasons. The line drive rate of around 20 percent is also an encouraging sign that he’s not allowing great contact, despite a career 4.19 minor league ERA and a rough start (9.64 ERA in two starts) in Sugar Land.
When he stays in the zone, Endersby has proven he can be an effective pitcher. It’s just a matter of honing it a little more consistently before he truly takes the next step in his development.
As with a lot of Astros pitchers, there’s a lot of variation as to where they could end up. The bullpen is pretty full, and the rotation is even more crowded with the impending return of Lance McCullers Jr., who began his rehab assignment in Corpus Christi on Friday. So it’s probably not likely that we will see Endersby cracking a big league roster in 2022.
That being said, Endersby has an intriguing arsenal. And while obviously no two pitchers are the same, the fact that Javier has had early success so far, proves there is a path forward for Endersby as an effective major leaguer even though he’s not a flamethrower. And that makes him an interesting candidate to come out of the bullpen beginning next season.