BLUF: Number three profile with two strong pitches, or could fit in the back of a bullpen very quickly.
The Player: Marcus Stroman (RHP, Duke University) – Split time between starting and relief during first two years on campus. Finished freshman year with a 5.31 ERA, 6-4 record and 64 strikeouts in 57.2 innings. Dropped his ERA to 2.80 in 64.1 innings during sophomore season, allowing just 59 hits and striking out 90 batters. Struck out 17 of 27 batters faced with Team USA in 2011, working as the team’s closer. Finished his junior season with a 2.39 ERA in 14 starts for the Blue Devils. In 98 innings, allowed only 83 hits and 26 walks while striking out 136 hitters.
Basis of Report: Personal Observations – Individual Game Report (5/17/12)
Body (5-9, 185): Lacks prototypical size for right-handed starter. Appears slightly smaller than listed height. Strong legs with thick thighs. Broad shouldered and barrel chested. Muscular kid with fully developed body. Little room for projection. Moves well on and off the mound, showing above-average athleticism.
Delivery/Mechanics: Quick tempo. Sometimes too quick, getting his body ahead of his arm on occasion. Simple, short steps through windup, average leg kick and then good drive toward the plate. Lighting fast arm that works well and comes through the arm circle cleanly. Moves free and easy and the ball comes out cleanly. Follows through more consistently on secondary pitches than he does FB. Will recoil when he tries to dial FB to upper part of velocity range.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 96, Low – 90, Average – 92-93, Grade – 60/60
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 94, Low 91, Average 92-93, Grade – 60/60
Fastball (FB) Movement: Good natural life, particularly at the bottom of the zone. Smaller frame decreases angle to the plate and his ball comes in on a single plane, rarely changing the hitter’s eye level along the way.Would be aided by ability to add some sink on occasion, giving FB a small vertical component that it completely lacks right now. Grade – 40/50
Overall Fastball: FB plays more above-average than true plus throughout longer starts. Consistently gave up hard-hit balls on FB. Aggressiveness with FB can help offset some the weaker points. Showed ability to reach back for more when needed. Could play up to a true plus or slightly better pitch in short bursts where he doesn’t need to pace himself. Grade – 60/60
Slider (SL): Velocity varied from 81-87 mph. Struggled to find feel for pitch early in start. Settled in with 83-85 mph SL with sharp two-plane break. Extreme confidence pitch. Showed true plus to plus-plus breaker in middle innings. Can miss bats with ease and can move to both sides of the plate. Throws without hesitation to both LHH and RHH. Can throw for strikes or out of the zone as a chase pitch. Ability to manipulate velocity with slower (81-82) SL showing more vertical/CB break. Heavily relied upon throughout start. Potential wipeout SL with dominating potential. Grade – 60/70
Cutter (CT): Throws with same arm slot as FB and SL. Hard, darting horizontal movement that keeps it off the center of the bat. Typically thrown at 87-88 mph. Was extremely effective against LHH and rarely thrown to RHH. Helps play off FB as harder pitch with movement FB lacks.
Change-up (CH): Rarely thrown. Sat 82-83 mph. Most showed good fade and occasional sink. Plus-plus arm speed gives pitch added deception. Had hitters way out in front when thrown off FB. Used mostly to LHH. Potential average pitch with more repetition and consistency. Grade – 40/50
Control: Typically worked in and around strike zone. Had occasional bouts with wildness throughout start, typically after longer stretches between innings. Has simple, repeatable delivery that can lend to pounding the strike zone. Needs to work low more consistently. Was hit hard when elevated in the strike zone. Grade – 50/60
Command: Showed occasional feel for command. Rarely painted but could move to the quadrants with some regularity and stayed out of the center of the plate. Command of SL improved later in the game. Showed feel for burying SL in the dirt on command. CH and CT lacked command. Has average command projection with additional work. Grade – 40/50
Summation: Dynamic college pitcher. Aggressive mentality with swagger/confidence on the mound. Attacks hitters but shows ability to adjust when initial approach isn’t working. FB was getting hit and he moved off, relying heavily on SL and CT as game progressed. Has some feel for moving ball around. Potential for two plus or better pitches (FB and SL). Has just enough depth in arsenal, with addition of CT, to stick in a rotation. Number three ceiling. Could be explosive in late inning relief role. FB would likely play up to 94-97 in bursts and SL could remain hard, bat-missing pitch. Viable potential in both roles.
Relative Risk: Low. Tempted to go moderate just because of his heavy reliance on the SL, but he should reach the big leagues quickly in some capacity.
Draft Projection: Picks 10-15 in first round based on skill set and projection. I can understand the push for him to go higher given success this season and ability to move quickly.