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Draft Prospect Retro – Northeastern’s Adam Ottavino

Busy, busy, busy week ahead. To get things started, a blast from the past in honor of Adam Ottavino’s Saturday big league debut. Ottavino will always have a special place in my heart because he was the starting pitcher of the only no-hitter I have ever witnessed in person. 18,431 baseball games watched in person (estimated), and only one no-hitter. Good story, huh? Anyway, here’s something originally published June 1, 2006 because a) it’s topical, b) it’s an excuse for me to put up that sad excuse for the above live action baseball photo taken by yours truly, c) it’s a holiday and this took me 10 minutes to put together, and d) an easy post like this buys me another day to finish up working on my rankings of top college outfielders and pitchers. Sneaky! Anyway, here it is…

There is a lot to like about Northeastern righthander Adam Ottavino. He’s got a major league body already, throws with a loose and easy arm action, is capable of hitting 93/94 MPH with his fastball (sits at 89-92), and mixes in a plus slider along with an emerging curve. His 6’5”, 215 pound frame and imposing presence on the mound make him look like a major leaguer and his workload this year at Northeastern shows he is capable of becoming a big league innings eater.

One of my big concerns after watching him pitch is the way his throwing motion differs when he going from his fastball to any of his off-speed stuff – the Hofstra hitters completely sat on his curve in the top of the sixth at the May 5th game I was at. I realize this is an obscure reference and an extremely small sample size, but it is an example of the larger problem I noticed in the three games I scouted him. This is his May 5th six inning breakdown (from the Northeastern website):

Hofstra 6th – Caputo singled to left field (2-2). Caputo advanced to second on a passed ball. Kougasian struck out swinging (3-2). Caputo stole third. Walsh singled up the middle, RBI (1-1); Caputo scored. Stern doubled down the lf line (0-1); Walsh advanced to third. Oliveri singled to right field, 2 RBI (2-2); Stern scored; Walsh scored. Panzarella grounded into double play 3b to 2b to 1b (0-0); Oliveri out on the play. 3 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

In that Hofstra-NEU game, I was able to stand with the scouts behind home plate and get a first hand look at their radar gun readings and pitch charts. His breakdown in that game (again, this is just one game, but it is reflective of Ottavino’s bigger picture as a pitcher):

  • Fastball: 89-92 early on in the game, but he was able to hit 93, 94 when he really needed. The majority of the game he was sitting between 89 (his low point) and 91
  • Slider: 77-81 – very good pitch already, sharp break, gets flatter as the game goes on
  • Curveball: 71-74 – he rarely used his curve (threw it less than 10 times in this game in the game) and when he did, it wasn’t all that impressive to me
  • I’m as high on Ottavino as almost any other righthanded college arm in this draft – he’ll be a major league pitcher someday. Whether he becomes a back of the rotation workhorse innings eater, a late inning setup man, or something bigger and better (maybe a 2/3 starter or closer) remains to be seen. If I was a betting man, I’d say he reaches that high end projection and becomes one of the first few pitchers to reach the major leagues out of this draft.

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