BLUF: Athletic right-hander that oozes projection and risk but owns a number two ceiling.
The Player: Joe Ross (RHP, San Diego Padres) – The Padres first-round pick that received a $2.75 million signing bonus in 2011. He pitched just one inning after signing and then struggled in six starts with Low-A Fort Wayne before a bout with shoulder tendinitis and a demotion to the Northwest League. Posted a 2.03 ERA in the NWL after his injury, allowing just 16 hits in 26.2 innings and striking out 28 batters.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Industry Contacts
Body (6-3, 185): Long, lean and projectable body. Extremely athletic. Great frame to start from and build. Plus-plus body.
Delivery/Mechanics: Easy, smooth arm action; the ball just jumps out of his hand. Footwork and approach to balance point are not consistent and keep him from commanding the ball. Good extension on the follow through with good balance at the finish. Potential for picturesque delivery but needs work with consistency. Has to find what works for him.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 96, Low – 90, Average 92-93, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 96, Low 91, Average 92-93, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Movement: Jumps out of his hand and has plus life that can deceive hitters. No consistent sink or cut but could develop that as feel improves. Natural life is at least average. Grade – 50/50
Overall Fastball: Really promising pitch; potentially dominating. Has velo projection thanks to easy arm action, extreme athleticism and projectable frame. Combination of velo and life could push pitch to plus-plus range down the line. Fastball will be feature pitch throughout career. Grade – 60/70
Slider (SL): Showed progress in 2012. Tight spin and sharp bite at times. When on, SL shows two-plane break with good tilt. Can miss bats but it lacks consistency. Shows confidence in pitch and will throw regularly. Mechanical inconsistencies work against pitch. Fringy pitch right now with plus potential as mechanics get ironed out. Grade – 40/60
Change-up (CH): Needs work. Well below-average pitch but has average potential long term. Has plenty of arm speed on FB but slows arm on CH, rather than trusting his trip to gain velo separation. Could be quality pitch that plays off electric FB but has two-grade jump to make it to average level. Tough to see average without an initial step forward first. Grade – 30/40
Control: Typically throws strikes but can lose delivery and release point, causing him to lose the strike zone. Generally average control now with projection because of how the arm works and his overall athleticism. Just kind of throws it toward the plate without regard for where it’s going. Needs to mature as a pitcher before control profile will really step forward. Grade – 50/60
Command: Command is a long way off because of crudeness and inconsistencies. Has command projection with athleticism and arm action. Tough to project better than average given how raw he is right now. Future scores could make a jump down the line. Grade – 30/50
Summation: Extremely crude and in need of significant development. FB is tremendous pitch with projection remaining. Great natural life. Can miss bats with FB and could have plus-plus velo at physical peak. SL flashes plus and has potential to really take a step forward as mechanics are cleaned up. Good two-plane breaker that could pair with FB to pile up plenty of strikeouts. CH is hard to see right now but he will occasionally show some feel for the pitch; mostly when he trusts the grip and lets it fly with his plus-plus arm speed. CH could see biggest developmental gains over the next two years. Control and command have projection because of athleticism and general looseness of arm. Needs big steps and must evolve past being a thrower. Flashes raw ingredients to be a number two starter.
Relative Risk: High. Enormous risk profile with tons of development required.
Future: Ross needs to demonstrate that he’s ready to handle a full-season assignment in 2013. With success in Low-A he could take off and become more of a national name on the prospect scene. He has the athleticism and raw tools to be a standout prospect and he could be a breakout candidate in 2013.