Thursday, August 20, 2009

Postseason Prospect Rankings: Top 10 Pitchers

Here are the Top 10 pitching prospects from the 2009 Cape Cod Baseball League. With this post, all of my rankings are complete, and so is the Cape Cod League Blog. I'm still not sure what I am going to be doing in summer 2010, but in case this is it, thanks a lot for reading. Keep following me on Twitter for future blog news.

10. Kyle Blair, Brewster/San Diego. Throws R. 6'3" 200. Monte Sereno, Calif.

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: 3-1, 1.42 ERA, 51 K's, 44.1 IP

Blair has been a highly-touted prospect since high school, and he performed very well on the Cape this summer after he was limited by injury in the spring. Blair has some mechanical issues, but his stuff is very good and he could definitely be a first round pick next June with a good season at USD.

Here is what I blogged about Blair on June 30: "Righthander Kyle Blair from the University of San Diego started for Brewster and looked decent in his five innings of work. Blair has good size for a pitcher at 6'3" 200 and a big frame. He tends to open up his front side too early and his arm trails behind, leading him to often throw pitches farther outside than he would like. Blair's fastball sat in the 90-92 mph range and had good tailing action in on right-handed hitters. He threw a good 76-78 mph breaking ball with tight break that really falls off the table late. Blair also showed an 81 mph changeup with good tailing action. All in all he was pretty good, and he is considered a prospect."

9. Daniel Tillman, Cotuit/Florida Southern. Throws R. 6'1" 185. Live Oak, Fla.

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 31 K's, 22 IP, 11 Saves

Tillman had the best statistical summer of any pitcher on the Cape, and he really impressed moving up in class from a small school to the Cape League. Tillman was pretty well-known before the summer, but he has moved himself into the first-round conversation for June. He is going to be a reliever, but he can be a very good one.

Here is what I blogged about Tillman on August 6: "Cotuit right-handed reliever Daniel Tillman from Florida Southern appeared to be back at top form after his velocity was down in his last appearance. Tillman finished the regular season without allowing a run in 22 innings pitched over 16 appearances. He entered a tie game in the bottom of the eighth Wednesday with the bases loaded and one out and got a strikeout and a flyout to get out of the jam. His low 90s sinking fastball/hard slider combination makes him one of the best relievers in the Cape League. He will be a high pick next year."

8. Justin Grimm, Cotuit/Georgia. Throws R. 6'4" 195. Bristol, Va.

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: 1-4, 2.84 ERA, 47 K's, 44.1 IP

At times this summer Grimm looked like one of the best pitchers in the league, and at other times his stuff looked very flat and he got hit. People seem to think he is closer to the good than the bad, and many think he will go in the first round next year.

Here is what I blogged about Grimm on June 21: "Cotuit's right-handed starter Justin Grimm from Georgia was the best pitcher last night. Grimm has good size and an athletic build at 6'4 195. He has a sort of jerky motion that has a lot of parts to it, and he had a tendency to speed up his arm and overthrow early in the game. Once he settled in and found more consistency in his mechanics he was very good. His fastball sat in the 92-93 mph range, and he threw a very good curveball with nice overhand break that he could throw for strikes. He also showed a good changeup."

7. Alex Wimmers, Bourne/Ohio State. Throws R. 6'2" 195. Cincinnati, Ohio

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: 2-0, 1.23 ERA, 37 K's, 22 IP

Wimmers pitched extremely well for Bourne once he arrived late after Team USA tryouts, and he seemed to get better and stronger as the summer went along. Wimmers had an excellent spring season in the Big 10 and threw a no-hitter. He is going to be a good professional starter.

Here is what I blogged about Wimmers on July 14: "Bourne right-handed starter Alex Wimmers from Ohio State came to the Cape as a fairly highly-touted prospect, and he looked very good on Monday. Wimmers is average height for a pitcher with an athletic build but a slightly small frame at 6'2" 195. He throws with some effort and falls off the mound toward first. Wimmers' fastball sat in the 88-92 mph range, but his best pitch was definitely his 74-75 mph curveball with really good downward break. The curve's late break fooled a lot of Bourne hitters as it dropped into the strike zone. Wimmers also has a good 76-78 mph changeup with good downward movement."

6. Chris Sale, Y-D/ Florida Gulf Coast. Throws L. 6'6" 185. Lakeland, Fla.

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: 4-2, 1.47 ERA, 57 K's, 55 IP

Sale had a tremendous summer for Yarmouth-Dennis, and he was named the Cape League's Outstanding Pitcher of the Year and the East Division MVP of the All-Star Game, and he led the league in strikeouts. If Sale can bulk up a little he could be even better, and he is definitely a name to watch.

Here is what I blogged about Sale on June 29: " Sale didn't appear to have his best stuff Sunday but he still looked good. Sale is tall and strikingly thin at 6'6" 185, and he has a jerky, deceptive motion in which his long limbs flail toward the hitter. He throws from a low three-quarter arm angle. Sale's fastball sat in the 89-92 range and had really good sinking action. The pitch gets him a lot of ground ball outs. He also showed an average 77-78 mph slider and a good 77-80 mph changeup that also had really good downward movement. Sale needs to bulk up, but he has good stuff and has been one of the more effective pitchers so far this summer."

5. Taylor Wall, Falmouth/Rice. Throws L. 6'2" 180. Houston, Texas

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: 3-3, 2.62 ERA, 26 K's, 34 IP

Wall is one of the better rising sophomores in the country and he pitched like it at the Cape. The lefty had the best changeup in the league and did a great job keeping hitters off-balance. He is a prospect to watch for the 2011 draft.

Here is what I blogged about Wall on August 1: "Wall is certainly one of the 10 best starters in the Cape League, and he should be a high draft pick when he becomes eligible in 2011. Wall is average height for a pitcher with a thin, athletic build. He rushes through his motion but he throws with ease and with good arm action. Wall's fastball sits in the upper 80's but he spots it well. He throws a devastating changeup that is probably the best change on the Cape this summer, and is the pitch that makes him such an intriguing prospect. It is very deceptive out of his hand and floats in with big time movement. He relies heavily on the change, and understandably so as it gets a lot of swings and misses. Wall still needs to develop a reliable breaking ball to maximize the effectiveness of his fastball/changeup combination. He throws both a curveball and a slider, but both pitches are just average at this point."

4. Rob Rasmussen, Orleans/UCLA. Throws L. 5'11" 170. Arcadia, Calif.

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: 4-0, 1.80 ERA, 42 K's, 35 IP

I probably have Rasmussen rated higher than just about anybody else would, but I have been very impressed by Rasmussen two summers in a row and think he will make a very good pro. He is consistently very good and you know exactly what you are going to get out of him whenever he takes the ball. Rasmussen started the All-Star Game for the East Division. Rasmussen may not be drafted as high as some of these other guys next June, but I bet he ends up doing very well for himself.

Here is what I blogged about Rasmussen on July 30: "Left-handed starter Rob Rasmussen from UCLA started for Orleans. I saw him throw an inning during the All-Star Game, but this was the first time I watched him for an extended appearance. Rasmussen is a small-body guy at 5'11" 170, but he doesn't throw with as much effort as many other pitchers in the league with similar size. He has a tight motion and throws with good arm action, and the ball looks like it's really flying out of his hand. Rasmussen's fastball sat in the 90-92 mph range. He had good command of it early in his start Wednesday but he started to lose it later in the appearance and lost some of his effectiveness. He also throws a really good 77-78 mph curveball with sharp, tight break that he could both throw for strikes and get hitters to chase out of the zone. Rasmussen also had an 82-84 mph slider with horizontal run that gives hitters a different look to think about but which isn't as effective as the curve. His fastball/curveball combination makes him one of the better starters in the league."

3. Jesse Hahn, Chatham/Virginia Tech. Throws R. 6'5" 195. Groton, Conn.

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: 1-1, 5.28 ERA, 17 K's, 15.1 IP

Hahn was arguably the biggest story of the summer for scouts. He was dominant for his first several appearances before getting hit a few times toward the end of the season. The word is Hahn was dealing with numbness in his finger throughout the season, which must have affected his feel for his breaking pitches. Still, Hahn can be overpowering and is the best relief pitching prospect in the league.

Here is what I blogged about Hahn on July 10: "The story of this game from a scout's perspective was unquestionably Chatham's right-handed reliever Jesse Hahn from Virginia Tech. Hahn had scouts salivating and double checking each other's radar guns when his fastball sat between 96-98 mph. Hahn is tall with a solid, athletic build at 6'5" 195, and he gets a tremendously powerful drive from his lower body. He also throws a decent 75-76 mph curveball and an 83-84 mph change. Hahn subtly tips his pitches by opening up his front side a little too soon on his curveball and changeup, but his fastball is simply overpowering. If he can stay healthy Hahn could be a first round draft pick next June."

2. Brandon Workman, Wareham/Texas. Throws R. 6'5" 225. Bowie, Texas.

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: 1-1, 5.06 ERA, 24 K's, 21.1 IP

Workman was a little inconsistent once he came to the Cape after the College World Series but when he was on his game he was probably the best pitcher in the league. Workman was a third-round selection by the Phillies in 2007 and he is almost certain to be a first-round pick in June. His curveball was the best in the league. Workman was named the starting pitcher for the West Division All-Star team even though he had only made a couple of appearances before the event.

Here is what I blogged about Workman on July 24 after his All-Star Game start at Fenway Park: "Wareham righthander Brandon Workman from the University of Texas looked like an All-Star starter in his inning of work. His fastball sat in the 94-95 mph range, and his 77-78 mph hammer curveball looked tremendous even from a more distant vantage point. Barring injury I would be very surprised if he didn't go in the first round of next June's draft."

1. Jack Armstrong, Wareham/Vanderbilt. Throws R. 6'7" 230. Jupiter, Fla.

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: 4-1, 2.57 ERA, 31 K's, 35 IP

This might be an unconventional pick for the top pitching prospect because Armstrong hardly pitched at all during his freshman season at Vanderbilt, but Armstrong has the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the league. Armstrong has the stuff, the body and the pedigree to be a very good major league pitcher. His father, Jack, Sr., used to pitch in the big leagues. It will be very interesting to watch Armstrong progress over the next two years and beyond.

Here is what I blogged about Armstrong on July 7: "Armstrong had a very effective fastball-changeup combination and while he might project to a bullpen role in the future, he has a major-league arm. Armstrong has a great body for a pitcher at 6'7" 230, and he throws with good, smooth arm action. He throws with a lot of effort but his mechanics are sound. Armstrong's fastball sat mainly in the 94-95 mph range early on and he once touched 96. His velocity did drop to the low 90s by the end of his seven-inning outing, but he was still missing bats at the end of his start. Armstrong's 80-82 mph changeup was also a really good, deceptive pitch that got him a lot of outs. Armstrong also showed a decent 81-82 mph curveball. He is certainly somebody to keep an eye on as a top prospect for the 2011 draft."

So that's it. That's the list. Keep in touch, everybody, and check back next year just in case.

Catchers, First Basemen, Second Basemen, Third Basemen, Shortstops, Outfielders 10-6, Outfielders 5-1, Top 30 Position Players, Pitchers 40-31, Pitchers 30-21, Pitchers 20-11.


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