3/4/2012 9:40:18 PM
Friday offered an exciting matchup between two college Friday aces in TCU's Andrew Mitchell (RHP) and Oklahoma State's Andrew Heaney (LHP). Mitchell isn't draft eligible until next year when he's likely to be considered a likely first round pick.
I had seen Mitchell last summer pitch for Team USA in Omaha. The appearance was very brief, but I liked his size, fastball and bulldog approach. Those three points are still very evident, as the broad-shouldered Mitchell has a strong, square build with a high waist and plenty of strength throughout to sustain the rigors of long innings. Physically he reminded me of Jay Rainville, who to most may sound obscure, but to those that remember Rainville can likely paint a pretty good picture of Mitchell's build.
He throws mostly fastballs, but did start to throw more and more breaking balls that ranged somewhere between a curve and a slider the more he threw them. He has the velocity to throw his fastball by batters, but the pitch usually tops out around 94 and is fairly straight, although not telegraphed. He pitches very aggressively, and pulled the string on a few promising changeups starting around the third inning. He was pulled in the third after giving up a RBI double and a 2-run HR, but wasn't pitching terribly enough to get the hook in my opinion. Just another aspect of the college game that drives me crazy.
Heaney pitched incredibly easy. He looks like he's warming up, and was up to 92 in this game throwing from a low three-quarters delivery. As Allan Simpson profiled in his report of Heaney earlier this week, he is known to drop his already low arm slot on occasion, making him that much tough on LH hitters. I remember his curveball being bigger than what he showed, as it had a shorter albeit still sharp break. He's very smooth, has good tempo, creates natural deception, changes speeds well and commands three pitches. He also showed good composure on the mound, and clearly knows how to pitch. He reminded me somewhat of former Arkansas and current Tigers top prospect LHP Drew Smyly, and like Smyly Heaney is a near lock to pitch in the big leagues some day if he stays healthy, even if his ceiling isn't that of a staff ace.
I was happy to also catch Oklahoma State RHP Chase Stevens in this game, who I followed last summer in my coverage of the Northwoods League and is enjoying a very good season so far this year. Stevens reminded me a little bit of Chris Marlowe, another juco transfer to OSU that enjoyed a big season out of the bullpen a year ago thanks to a big bending curveball. Stevens' curveball doesn't have quite the depth or break as Marlowe's, and he also doesn't throw as consistently hard, but he's a smaller yet compactly built RHP with strength and an aggresive approach.
While I was focusing on the pitchers in this game, Josh Elander had a good day at the plate for the Horned Frogs. He hit a booming triple over the centerfielder's head to straightaway center off of Stevens, and he also hit a solo HR and a single in his 3-for-3 effort at the plate. He too played for Team USA last summer, and while he has obvious pro potential, I'm a little skeptical of his ceiling and ability to catch long term. He has a broad shouldered, strong build with obvious strength throughout.
Next up, I need to watch Sunday's Florida/Miami game. I caught the game off and on throughout the day, as the Gators rallied late to beat the Hurricanes and sweep the series. Austin Maddox, who Kendall Rogers profiled last week, pitched again in this game, and threw one of the nastier breaking balls I have seen all years. Maddox, as well as Nolan Sanburn, are two current relievers for promising college programs that I have a feeling could be drafted early and developed as starters early in their pro careers.