Duke SO RHP/SS Marcus Stroman | 13.01 K/9 – 2.80 BB/9 – 2.18 FIP – 64.1 IP
A lazier man than I might make a post-surgery, non-curve throwing Tom Gordon comp here. True, the Tom Gordon comp that has followed Stroman around since his high school days makes a lot of sense in some valid ways (undersized, athletic, dynamite fastball/slider combo), but I think we can do better. Somebody who has seen a lot of Stroman over the years told me recently that he saw a little bit of Kelvim Escobar in Stroman, with the caveat that the young Duke righthander doesn’t have a third pitch anywhere close to either Escobar’s changeup or splitter. Speaking of which, how about that Kelvim Escobar? The Angels and Blue Jays righthander threw both a four-seam and a two-seam fastball, a slider, an occasional curve, and, as mentioned, a change and a splitter. I could be totally out of my mind here, but I can’t think of too many pitchers that threw both a change and a split. A quick check of Fangraphs invaluable leaderboard page shows that of the sixty-five active pitchers listed as having thrown a splitter so far in 2011, only fourteen have also thrown a changeup. Hardly conclusive evidence one way or another, but I found it all very interesting. I could be alone on that, of course.
Two other comps that I really, really like for Stroman: Al Alburquerque and Fautino De Los Santos. I know comps can be dangerous, but I’d really like to think the comparisons here are instructive. It comes down to repertoire (plus fastball, plus slider), body type (Alburquerque might actually be smaller than the 5-9, 180 pound Stroman), and arm action/delivery. Stroman’s arm works really well and his delivery is mostly clean, especially when he throws from the stretch. He’s maybe a little stiffer than you’d like to see in his landing leg, but good pro coaching and/or more reps on the mound should fix this and, with luck, could even unlock an extra mile or two to his fastball. As is, Stroman’s fastball (sitting 93-95 MPH at his best) is already a legit weapon. His tight slider (81-85 MPH) is another big league pitch, above-average even on his worst day and a mesmerizing plus-plus offering at his best. What separates his slider from so many others at the amateur level is his outstanding command of the pitch. Stroman is capable of using his breaking ball in a variety of effective ways. He’ll go to the slider as a chase pitch on occasion, but more often throws it knowing he can get swings and misses on pitches around the strike zone, or, at worst, called strikes on either corner of the plate.
Stroman is a high level relief prospect follow who has done nothing but produce on the biggest of stages. His timeline since entering school – excellent freshman season, perfect (literally) summer on the Cape (35 K – 3 BB – 0.00 ERA – 27 IP), another great season as a sophomore, and now a breakout summer pitching for the Collegiate National Team – shows his track record of dominance is on par with any pitcher in the 2012 college class. The present stuff is enough to warrant early round consideration, and the possibility of a third pitch — he’s shown a change, but He is also a tremendous all-around athlete who plays a mean defensive shortstop on days he doesn’t pitch. In what may or may not be considered ironic (Alanis Morissette has me forever confused on the word’s definition; I’m almost positive coincidental would be the better word choice, but it was two syllables too long), I’ve heard a Dee Gordon, Tom’s son, comp on Stroman as a fielder at short. That’s what we call coming full circle.