2015 Perfect Game College Baseball Preview Index | Top 200 Junior College Prospects
of Southern Nevada righthander Phil Bickford pitched in the Phoenix
area on Saturday facing local program South Mountain Community
College. For perspective, South Mountain is a solid to above average
Division I juco program, but not quite viewed as being on the same
level of perennial national powers like Central Arizona and Iowa
important to keep in mind is that the junior college conferences in
the Southwest corner of the country use wood bats, and many hitters
use less explosive but unbreakable composite wood bats because of the
cost. Advantage pitcher.
plus professional scouts were in attendance for the outing on a
perfectly sunny 68-degree day. The heat in attendance was not
disappointed, at least not in Bickford himself.
fastball sat in the 90-92 mph range, touching 94 on some guns.
Without question this pitch plays much better than the number
typically would indicate. The four-seamer explodes on hitters due to
his outstanding extension which we’ll touch on shortly.
also threw an occasional two-seamer that touched 90 mph and mixed in
a couple of changeups late in the outing. South Mountain’s lineup
included just one lefthanded hitter so the two-seamer was a less
favorable option. The changeup was a different matter altogether.
struggled mightily in the bullpen with the changeup and he and his
pitching coach seemed to come to a consensus to scrap it for the day.
There was very little feel for the pitch today and he had trouble
slider was very effective all day, mostly because his fastball was
dominant from the get-go. The slider is an average pitch on its own,
a little slurvy at times but most often a strike. It sat around 80
mph but didn’t have great depth.
a results standpoint, Bickford punched out nine in 5 2/3 innings and
didn’t give up a hit until the sixth. Of the three hits he did give
up, only one was hit hard, but it was a three-run bomb off of the bat
of Sebastian Zawada on a fastball up and in.
is a lot to like with Bickford and it begins with his fastball and
ends with his natural born talent to pitch. The frame is every bit of
6-foot-4 and he has the legs of someone 6-foot-8. One scout
commented that the uber-athletic Bickford almost “prances off the
mound.” The arm swing is short and the arm itself is lightning
fast. It is an easy delivery with an outstanding combination of
balance and explosion. All of this contributes to a special fastball,
with the four-seamer well ahead of the two-seamer at this point in
fastball is naturally down in the zone with late life. He located in,
out and up today with very little difficulty. Because the arm swing
is so compact, his extension out in front is elite, thus the
giddy-up, as the pitch virtually jumps into the strike zone. While
the swings and misses were minimal today, he consistently locked
hitters up with location and the electricity of his fastball.
aforementioned disappointment from the scouting community was not in
Phil Bickford the pitcher, as this is a special talent with an easy
arm and live fastball. The challenge is that Bickford represents a
very tricky draft profile.
fastball is an overwhelming pitch that could easily run him into the
top half of the first round. However, matters are complicated when
you factor in that he was the 10th overall pick of the
2013 draft and chose to not to sign, instead enrolling at Cal State
if he is in fact a “one elite pitch” arm with serviceable
secondary offerings, doesn’t that make him a reliever at the
highest level? His mid- to upper-90s velocity from the Cape last
summer did in fact come in short busts. However, Bickford’s
fastball has the “wow” factor and it speaks to an arm talent that
might lead one to believe that he could and should be able to develop
a more well-rounded arsenal.
work ethic and aptitude will ultimately determine his big league
future. For the scouting community, is the first half of the first
round too steep a price to pay for a current reliever profile? Or do
you see a special talent with an elite pitch who may have more in the
this turns out, Phil Bickford is worth seeing in person. The fastball
is a special pitch that made me giggle at one point today.
Witnessing elite natural talent like Bickford’s in person never
gets old and reminds us why we love this great game so much.