Scott Kazmir is making quite a name for himself and he?€™s just 22 years old. Last night he threw 7 innings against Seattle in the D?€™Rays 1-0 victory. Kazmir struck out 9 hitters and walked one in the 7 innings he pitched and he limited the Mariners to 3 singles, 2 which were infield hits. Kazmir?€™s record went to 5-2 with a 2.94 ERA. He?€™s striking out an average of over one per inning. He?€™s young, but he?€™s has already pitched in 48 big league games with a 17-14 overall record for the perennial last place D?€™Rays. I
t seems like only yesterday that we watched a young high school sophomore from Houston pitching on the championship team in the WWBA Championship in Jupiter. Some of his teammates included Delmon Young, Jeremy Sowers, Landon Powell, and several other future first rounders. The coaching staff included Jim Morris ("The Rookie") and Dmitri Young. Kazmir was probably the most valuable player in the tournament, but we gave it to an upperclassmen. The following year Kazmir was named the MVP, for real, of the same tournament. Here is a link from that event.
Top Prospects Jupiter
At the 2001 Perfect Game National at Tropicana Field, Kazmir was once again named the #1 prospect. No easy task because there were a large number of first rounders at the event. In fact, this year?€™s AL Rookie of the Year candidate Prince Fielder, didn?€™t make the top 50 list that year. Here is some interesting reading from the National in 2001.
PG national 2001
Top Prospects 2001 National Showcase
The first day we laid eyes on Scotty he became our top ranked player in his 2002 class. He held that position right up until the 2002 draft. Oddly enough he was selected by the Mets with the 15th pick that year. Even stranger was the fact that another pitcher on Kazmir?€™s same high school team, RHP Clint Everts, was the 4th overall pick that year.
The thing that separated Kazmir from the rest was very simple. Sure, he had that electric arm and mid 90s heater, but most of all he had championship caliber makeup. Not the super nice, squeaky clean kind of makeup, but the ?€?blood in his eyes?€? big game type of makeup. Kazmir not once gave a thought about avoiding the Big Stage.
If there was a big game anywhere in the country that was going to challenge him, you could count on Scott and Mom and Dad showing up ready to have some fun. Eddie Kazmir, we hope, has learned to settle down. One of the nicest guys in the world, but a complete bundle of nerves whenever Scott would take the mound. I don?€™t think Eddie drank a lot of coffee, but he looked like he was filled to the brim.
Great family, great talent, championship makeup, yet there were still rumors floating around. Some of the points made sense, like those who talked about Kazmir?€™s lack of size. Others were spread wildly by people who had agendas and jealousy as a motive. It?€™s tough for players who are recognized as the very best. People seem to spend every waking moment trying to find something wrong with the best. If they can?€™t find something wrong, they invent something. Guess we never went out looking and just saw the ?€?real?€? Scott Kazmir. The one you want on the mound in the biggest game of your life!
The Mets are looking very strong, but there is one trade they would like back. The D?€™Rays have drafted well over the years, they?€™re stockpiled and it?€™s just a matter of time. Dan Jennings (then scouting director) loved Kazmir, but took the concensus (except us) #1 guy in BJ Upton with the 2nd pick in 2002. BJ is outstanding and very worthy of that pick. However, Kazmir was the true #1 guy that year.
For those who like to see how Major League pitchers throw in High School read this report from a Cy Falls game in 2002.
For those who are interested, here are the final PG rankings that appeared 2 months before the 2002 draft. Interesting stuff!!!!
PG Top 100 2 months before the 2002 draft All Perfect Game Team 2002
Not to confuse people into thinking Perfect Game is 100% accurate, one only need check out where we ranked Prince Fielder at the 2001 PG National Showcase. Sometimes we are right, sometimes we are wrong. We nailed it on Kazmir!