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College Baseball Weekend Five – Pitching Retrospective

A quartet of fine starts from high-end draft-eligible righthanded pitching prospects (including three future pro relievers who took the ball as starters for their college teams), a host of current relievers and non-star starting pitchers put forth solid efforts (gotta show the little guys some love every now and again), a mixed bag of performances out of highly ranked 2010’s and 2011’s, and a huge baseball star (not to mention my personal favorite player of all-time) hits in the leadoff spot for Seton Hall…wait, what? Read on, my amateur baseball loving friends, read on…

Also, a slew of new content (lists, rankings, an updated mock, and even a creative idea or two…a first for this site!) is on the way…stay tuned!

Photo Credit: Al Dia Inc

Photo Credit: Al Dia Inc

I’ll lead with this because I know there are a few Missouri fans that regularly check in with the site. On Sunday, Missouri had 9 different pitchers throw exactly 1 inning apiece. A little digging revealed that this is something the Tigers normally do during mid-week starts, but it’s the first such occurrence during the weekend. I could make guesses as to why they decided to give this way a shot, but I’m curious if anybody out there knows the real reason before I start making stuff up. No matter the reason, I think it’s a cool approach that shows a willingness to try something against the grain in an attempt to gain a strategic edge. Now as far as prospects go…

  • David Hale (Princeton, ’09): 6 IP 6 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K against Navy

The best prospect in the Ivy League upped his 2009 scoreless inning streak to 13 to start the season. Of course, in those 13 innings Hale has given up 8 unearned runs, a testament to the shoddy defense behind him and the unreliable predictive nature of ERA.

  • Ben Tootle (Jacksonville State, ’09): 6 IP 6 H 3 ER 3 BB 13 K
  • Brad Boxberger (Southern Cal, ’09): 5.2 IP 4 H 3 ER 8 BB 5 K, 116 pitches
  • Brian Pearl (Washington, ’09): 6 IP 4 H 2 ER 1 BB 6 K

I remain unconvinced that any of the three will ever be consistent professional starters, but each young man on the list is plenty talented enough to emerge as legitimate bullpen stoppers as pros. Tootle is still on the cusp of the first round and in contention with Jason Stoffel to be the first reliever off the board. Boxberger is the hottest name on the list, but I’m not sure why his stock has gone up as high as it has. I do try to not dwell on the negatives when it comes to prospects, but 25 walks in 32.1 innings pitched is not the kind of performance that warrants a first round grade. One of the big concerns surrounding Pearl this spring has been addressed with his conversion to the starting rotation; when he was closing for the Huskies, crosscheckers were anxious about having to trek out to the Pacific Northwest without the guarantee of, you know, actually seeing him pitch.

  • Kyle Blair (San Diego, ’10): 7 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 9 K against Brown
  • Michael Palazzone (Georgia, ’11): 3 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 5 K  against Mississippi State
  • Kyle Smith (Kent State, ’09): 6 IP 2 H 1 ER 2 BB 8 K against Eastern Michigan

I think we’ll look back at last year’s San Diego pitching staff and truly be amazed at the group of talent put together by Rich Hill and his staff. In addition to 2008 draft picks Brian Matusz (4th overall), Josh Romanski (4th round), and Ricardo Pecina (8th round), the Toreros ’08 staff featured future premium picks Blair (’10) and Solis (’10) as well as potential high round 2009 picks Matt Thomson and AJ Griffin (two personal favorites, especially Griffin and his monstrous groundballing ways). All told, that’s six top four round picks on one staff (Matusz, Romanski, Blair, Solis, Thomson, and Griffin), and three good bets to go in the first round (Blair and Solis, in addition to Matusz). Not bad, right?

Palazzone is still coming out of the bullpen for the Bulldogs, but his talent far exceeds the role. If teams thought him signable, he would have been a top two round pick last season. Armed with a big fastball (89-94), true plus curve, and a potentially above-average change, Palazzone should pitch himself into a bigger role before long. Smith has great size and stuff. Kent State has become a hot spot for scouts in recent years, in no small part to the recruitment and development of quality arms like Smith, a heck of an accomplishment for a MAC school any way you look at it.

Other, more random players of note:

  • Matt Price, a nice looking freshman arm for Virginia Tech, was allowed to pitch a whopping 140 pitches for the Hokies on Saturday. 140 pitches! A freshman! Not only that, he threw those 140 pitches in only 6.2 IP. To make matters even worse, the Hokies were up 4-1 after 4 innings, and 8-1 through five. Why in the world did Price come out for the sixth, let alone seventh inning? There is surely more to the story than just the score and pitch count, but I think it’s a stretch to say that there is any set of reasons out there that would explain away the risk 140 pitches can have on such a young arm.
  • Tyler Pill (Cal Fullerton, ’11): 8 IP 7 H 1 ER 1 BB 10 K against Oral Roberts

Pill, a freshman at Fullerton, was a 38th round pick of the Rockies this past year. Pill doesn’t have an overwhelming fastball, but he has that hard to define but oh so wonderful pitchability that scouts love to see. He also more than makes up for lacking high-end velocity with an outstanding change, solid curve, above-average control, and plus athleticism.

  • Seth Frankoff (UNC Wilmington, ’09): 8 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K (12/4 groundball to flyball, 110 pitches)

75% of Frankoff’s outs came via the punchout or the groundball, have to love that. Also, and I ned to be upfront about this, apparently Seth Frankoff is a very popular man around the internet. You wouldn’t believe the number of Google hits I get looking for information on him. Gotta give the people what they want, right? Frankoff has a good frame, playable stuff, and experience pitching on the national stage, so it’s not as though he is that random a prospect…just a guy with a disproportionate balance of interest to talent, that’s all.

  • Josh Spence, junior college transfer now with Arizona State, with another impressive outing on the bump for the Sun Devils: 7.1 IP 5 H 3 ER 1 BB 10 K. Good thing I couldn’t find any more data than that, wouldn’t want to know more information from his start that could be put to good analytical use…

More notes from the weekend tomorrow…including a less than stellar update on the early favorite to go number one overall in 2010, info on a gaggle of college relievers, and additional thoughts on some of the top arms from the classes of 2010 and 2011…

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