Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): Electric arm with a chance to impact the big leagues as either an All-Star starter or dominating closer.
The Player: Jarred Cosart (RHP, Houston Astros) – Cosart, along with Jonathan Singleton were the two marquee pieces in the trade that sent Hunter Pence to the Philadelphia Phillies. A 38th round pick of the Phillies in 2008, Cosart dominated the GCL as a 19-year old in 2009 and then pitched very well in limited innings in the South Atlantic League in 2010. He reached a career high in innings (144.1) in 2011 with most of those coming at High-A where he posted a 3.92 ERA, walked 3.6 batters per nine innings and struck out 6.6 batters per nine. The Astros promoted him to Double-A following the trade and he was solid but unspectacular in seven starts.
Body: Lean, athletic body with proportional limbs and natural strength through his core. Moderately broad shoulders tapers through torso to the waist. Needs to add strength to frame and has the room to do it.
Makeup: Diligent worker between starts and reportedly during the off-season. Continues to seek ways to improve. Very competitive on the mound with an almost arrogant belief in his ability to be overpower the batter.
Delivery/Mechanics: Lightning quick arm and an easy release of the ball from his hand make the arm action look easy. Explodes toward the plate from the balance position atop his windup, frequently landing very hard on a stiff front leg that causes his body to jolt as he releases the ball. Could stand to smooth things out to help improve his command.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 99, Low – 92, Average – 94-95, Grade – 70/80
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 98, Low 92, Average 94-95, Grade – 70/80
Fastball (FB) Movement: Explosive velocity with some deceptive life as it approaches the plate. Will bore in on right-handed hitters at times. Grade – 60/60
Overall Fastball: Elite pitch in short bursts with a chance to sit there with added strength and stamina. Very tough to square up when he maintains a good angle to the hitting zone. Can miss bats with just his fastball, even when hitters know its coming. Grade – 70/80
Curveball (CB): Consistently thrown in the 77-78 mph range. Pitch has good 11-5 shape with swing-and-miss potential when it’s on. Doesn’t always finish the pitch and will leave a spinner up in the zone. I have seen the pitch at its best and it can be a true out-pitch in the big leagues with added consistency. Grade – 50/70
Change-up (CH): Deceptive pitch because he maintains his arm speed. Lacks significant movement in any direction and relies purely on change in speed. Needs increased confidence to throw the pitch in critical spots. Could be a valuable piece against left-handed hitters even if it is only a fringe-average pitch. Grade – 40/50
Control: Worked in the strike zone more in 2011 and showed significant improvement as a strike thrower. Throws strikes more consistently from the stretch than the windup where the jolt to his upper body is exaggerated. Grade – 40/50
Command: Athleticism allows for some command projection but the second half of his delivery mitigates that hope. Likely will never locate his fastball that well. Big step would be consistently working low and elevating when needed during an at-bat. Grade – 30/40
Summation: I have had the opportunity to personally scout Cosart extensively over the last three years, giving me a very good feel for his present and potential future abilities. His fastball-curveball combination gives him an outstanding foundation to be an impact MLB pitcher. Though his raw upside stands at the front of a rotation, his battles with command and consistency could leave him as more of a number three starter with maddeningly electric stuff. If the Astros become concerned over his long term durability, he could play up as an elite level two-pitch closer. His extreme competitiveness should allow him to pitch in either role with success.
Relative Risk: High. The 2011 season was a huge innings jump for Cosart and there are still concerns about his ability to handle the rigors of the starting rotation. He is a high risk, incredibly high potential reward prospect.
Future: The Astros intend to send Cosart back to Double-A to start the 2012 season. How he performs there will be the sole determinant in his advancement to Triple-A and possibly the big leagues. He should arrive in Houston for good in 2013 with a role that is still to be determined though the club would prefer he remain in the rotation to maximize his value.