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2010 Draft Preview Part Two - College Lefties

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You'll have to forgive the late, and probably somewhat rushed, post today. Work has conspired against me this week. I blame the abstract concept of money.

First things first; before I jump into a couple scouting reports, I have two missives from the Department of Credit Where Credit is Due I feel I should pass along.

Just to prove to everyone out there that no great comment will ever go unappreciated, I bring you this gem. (Also, you get bonus points for Leonard Cohen references, always.)

With the news MLB is considering a radical realignment in which they would allow teams to move from division to division based largely on their willingness to compete in any given year, I couldn't help but think back, back, back to the days of yesteryear. I'm sure the old-timers will recall Larry going on vacation a couple years ago and giving Solanus a chance to front-page it; the result was a very curious series on realigning baseball in the matter of the Premiere League, in which teams which are competing rise to the top division and those who are rebuilding fall to the bottom of the tank with their fellow scrub squads. We all laughed at the time, but who's laughing now?

Okay. Credit given, onward to the meat.

Oh, wait. Before we get to that, a moment of silence for Corey Haim. As of press time, Corey Feldman has been placed in protective custody.

 I'm doing three college left-handers this week. Onward and upward.

Drew Pomeranz, LHP, University of Mississippi

6'5", 230 lbs.

DOB: 28th November, 1988

Player Page

So, what's so great about this guy?

 I received two outstanding scouting reports on Pomeranz from VEB members Cardball and bmorgan; thanks to both of them for their efforts. It is greatly appreciated, fellows.

As for the reports on Pomeranz themselves, both agree with what is generally the book on Pomeranz: he's a big, physical lefty with good stuff who should pitch in the front half of a major league rotation one day. Cardball specifically said Pomeranz reminded him a bit of Mark Mulder, and I can certainly see that. He also reminds me a bit of Mike Minor, another big lefty taken out of Vanderbilt in last year's draft.

Pomeranz starts his repertoire with a fastball that cruises pretty easily in the 90-92 range consistently. Both my scouts on the scene reported he touched up to 94, especially after getting a bit rattled later in his outing and seemingly throwing a bit of frustration with each pitch. One noted he looked to be feeling for his command early in the game, and actually threw much better, more oomph and less effort, after giving up a home run and getting a bit angry. (That actually does remind me of Mulder a bit. I recall an outing, against whom I don't know, where he was nibbling the outside corner all day long, and gave up about a three run rally in the sixth inning. Suddenly the next batter was a righty and Mulder came inside on the guy, hard. He looked pissed, and added a couple ticks to his fastball, jammed the shit out of three righties in a row, and just generally looked like a different pitcher. Weird.)

The question of Pomeranz' secondary stuff is an interesting one. I've read conflicting reports on it, with many reports stating his changeup is his best offspeed offering, while what little video I've seen and the eyewitness reports seem to contradict that. Both called his changeup his weakest pitch, while talking about two speeds of breaking ball. This jibes fairly well with what I've seen of Pomeranz; he seems to throw two different breaking balls, one with more tilt and a little faster and the other slower and larger that's more of a true curve. I honestly don't know if they're two different pitches or if he just wobbles with his curve and lets it get a bit slurvy at times.

Pomeranz's curve is a bit further on at this point than his other offspeed pitches in my opinion, and it's a pretty good one, although occasionally a bit loopy. It should be easily tightened up, though, and I think his overall package of stuff will play well at the next level. He has a big, mature frame that is a bit similar to Mulder's, though he carries a bit more bulk. At the very least, Pomeranz just flat-out looks durable. Of course, that doesn't mean anything, but when I look at him he just screams workhorse. His delivery looks fine in full speed, but he does seem to get mechanically out of whack, leading him to struggling with his command at times. Again, not something which would require an overhaul, just some tightening.

The thing is, I would be very surprised if Pomeranz is still available when the Cards pick. I would love it if he were, because a big lefty with his kind of raw stuff would be a great add to the farm system, but he's been too highly rated for too long now for me to think he'll last very long come draft day. I haven't seen quite the kind of polish from Pomeranz many scouting reports tout him as having, but I still think he's got a nice ceiling and a strong chance of reaching it.

James Paxton, LHP, University of Kentucky

6'4", 220 lbs

DOB: 6th Novemember, 1988

Player Page

So, what's so great about this guy?

The James Paxton Saga is a long and winding one, and most closely resembles the very similar case of Andrew Oliver, the lefty from Oklahoma State who fought and won against the NCAA just two years ago, but then accepted a settlement, voiding the decision against college sports' governing body. If you want to read more about the legal finaglings of either pitcher, I'll direct you here for Paxton and here for Oliver. Paxton was selected by the Blue Jays in last year's supplemental round, but decided to return to school in order to graduate.

I'm not really all that interested in the legal side of James Paxton's story, though. I'm only interested in what he might bring to my team on draft day. And what he brings is mighty impressive.

James Paxton throws hard. Really hard. As in he can get it up into the 96-98 range hard. He sits lower than that, of course, with an average velocity of about 94, but 94 from a lefty is nothing to sneeze at. Paxton's fastball also has excellent sinking life to it, allowing him to generate plenty of weak contact. His slider gives him a second plus pitch, as it has hard late break, though it's a shorter sort of break; almost a cutter, really.  Regardless, his fastball/slider combo is one of the best 1-2 punches of any pitcher in the draft.

The rest of Paxton's package, though, is somewhat less impressive. He lacks polish, as his control is often spotty and doesn't seem to be helped much by his long, slingy sort of arm action. His changeup is a long way from being usable, though he is capable of throwing one and would occasionally show it to hitters, particularly early in the game. (Probably largely due to the number of scouts in attendance at his starts.) The wobbly control and lack of a third pitch have hurt Paxton, whose results have never quite matched his talent. He struck out 115 hitters in 78 innings for Kentucky in 2009, but had a 5.86 ERA and allowed better than a hit per inning.

Paxton will reenter the draft this year as one of the best pure arms on the market, though one that comes with some definite baggage and notoriety. Personally, I think that's unfair, as he was caught up in the NCAA's ridiculous policies, but MLB clubs may view things in a completely different light. I just don't know. Regardless, he's a hugely talented pitcher whose raw stuff puts him up there with absolutely anyone. With his slingy arm action and powerful fastball/slider combo, you're going to hear at least one Randy Johnson comparison along the way. While his stuff certainly isn't quite that off the charts nasty, Paxton does bring an impressive repertoire to the sinister side of the pitching world.

Any team taking Paxton is probably looking at a bit more long-term of an investment, as opposed to someone like Pomeranz, who just needs some tweaking to fly through the ranks. More importantly for us, though, there's a very good chance Paxton will be available later in the draft than his talent level would seem to dictate, due to the various issues he's dealing with in regards to the NCAA.

The Cards' track record of developing pitchers with control problems is not a particularly impressive one, and their record with lefties in general isn't sterling. That being said, Paxton's upside is substantial, and he would certainly make an outstanding pick if the Cardinals were looking to add a high-reward sort of arm to bolster their system.

Sorry, folks. I would like to do a third of these, but I'm running short of time. Apologies again for the truncated posting.

The Baron's Playlist for the 10th of March, 2010 -- Forever Drone

"Sorry for Laughing" - Josef K

"Get Up and Use Me" - Fire Engines

"Swan Lake" - Public Image Ltd.

"Eating Noddemix" - Young Marble Giants

"She's Lost Control" - Joy Division

"Rocket USA" - Suicide

"At Home He's a Tourist" - Gang of Four

"Bloodsport" - Killing Joke