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Jun 06, 2013 - Jun 08, 2013   
  

TBD - ,
Chris Stratton
RHP 6-3 180   R/R

60yd
40
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1B
C
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FB
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10yd
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FB
4/19/12: Stratton stamped himself as a legitimate first-round candidate for this year’s draft when he went head-to-head with Louisiana State righthander Kevin Gausman in the opening game of the Southeastern Conference schedule, and actually outpitched one of the three leading candidates to go No. 1 overall. Both pitchers worked 8-2/3 innings in what may have been one of the best pitching duels of the 2012 college season, with Stratton striking out 17 and Gausman countering with 11. Each allowed four hits, with Stratton walking two and Gausman four. Neither pitcher was ultimately involved in the decision as they both exited the game in the ninth with the score deadlocked at 1-1. Mississippi State looked like it might win the tightly-played contest by scoring a run in the top of the 10th on a home run by catcher Mitch Slauter, but LSU rallied with two in the bottom half of the inning against Bulldogs reliever Caleb Reed for a 3-2 victory. The 17 strikeouts recorded by Stratton were the most by a Mississippi State pitcher in 20 years—or since lefthander B.J. Wallace, the third overall pick in the 1992 draft, fanned 19 in an NCAA regional encounter. A large contingent of high-level scouts took in the Stratton-Gausman showdown, in what was Stratton’s first start of the season after four relief appearances, and many came away talking him up as a legitimate first-rounder. His fastball was a steady 92-94 mph, peaking at 95, but the difference-maker in his dominant showing was a nasty swing-and-miss slider that Stratton has added to his repertoire and was his primary strikeout pitch. He threw the pitch consistently from 85-87 mph. Stratton has also resorted this spring more to a two-seam fastball vs. a four-seamer, and has responded by going 7-0, 2.98 with 78 strikeouts in 57 innings. He has walked 16 while allowing 45 hits. His performance to date has been a significant upgrade from his first two seasons at Mississippi State, when he served as a weekend starter but went only a combined 10-10, 5.25 with 152 strikeouts in 154 innings. As a sophomore, he was an unimpressive 5-7, 5.21—hardly a tipoff that he might become an elite-level prospect for the 2012 draft. Even last summer in the Cape Cod League, pitching for champion Harwich, Stratton was regarded as no better than 10th-best prospect on a very deep Mariners staff after going 1-1, 2.18 with two walks and 16 strikeouts in 21 innings, but he may have provided a sign of things to come in his final outing of the summer when he shut down Cotuit for eight innings on just 85 pitches. His fastball was mostly in the 88-93 range on the summer. Stratton has always had a good feel for pitching and adapted well in the fall to changes in his style and approach to his craft. Not only did he add a deadly slider to his mix and resort to getting more movement on his fastball by emphasizing a two-seamer, but he also changed his delivery when working from the stretch. The payoff has been quite dramatic, and has already elevated Stratton from a potential third- to fourth-rounder at the start of the 2012 season to a potential first-rounder. The addition of a slider not only provides him a second dominant pitch, but essentially has solidified his case to be a starter down the road as he now has four solid pitches for the role, including a curve and changeup as his No. 3 and 4 pitches. He uses his changeup, an 83-mph offering, mainly to counteract lefthanded hitters. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Stratton has an ideal pitcher’s frame. He also has a quick arm and a very easy, clean delivery that he repeats consistently. If anything, he just needs to work on the command of his fastball.