Draft : : Prospect Scouting Reports
Thursday, January 17, 2013

Draft Focus: Robert Kaminsky

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Perfect Game
Every weekday leading up to the 2013 MLB Draft, Perfect Game will be providing a scouting profile on a notable draft-eligible prospect.  Stay tuned to Perfect Game and be sure to visit the Draft Page for all of the latest info and reports pertaining to the draft.

Rob Kaminsky Perfect Game profile

Position:  LHP
Height:  6-0
Weight:  190
Bats/Throws:  B-L
Birthdate:  Sept. 2, 1994
High School:  St. Joseph Regional
City, State:  Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
Travel Team:  Tri-State Arsenal
Commitment:  North Carolina
Projected Draft Round:  1

Much like their fellow Class of 2013 high school position prospects, there is no clear cut favorite to the first high school pitcher selected in this year’s draft. The top ranked left hander, New Jersey’s Robert Kaminsky, certainly has a chance to capture that distinction in June. He is currently No. 7 in the Perfect Game class rankings.

But there is one distinction among the Class of 2013 pitchers that most would agree that the Perfect Game All-American clearly holds. If you needed to win one game today, you’d want the 6-foot, 190-pound Kaminsky on the mound for your team.

Most top prospect pitchers dominate their high school competition and Kaminsky is certainly no exception. He was named the New Jersey State Player of the Year as a junior, going 8-2, 0.20 with 103 strikeouts and only 12 hits allowed in 52 innings. The only two earned runs he allowed all spring were in the bottom of the sixth inning of his final game of the season in the state semi-finals; prior to that he’d thrown 51 consecutive innings without an earned run. On the season, Kaminsky threw six shutouts, three no-hitters and three one-hitters.

It’s worth noting that recent New Jersey first rounders Mike Trout and Rick Porcello, each of whom were Major League regulars as 20-year olds, didn’t win the New Jersey State Player of the Year award until they were seniors.

But Kaminsky’s keynote performance in front of the scouting community came at the Perfect Game National Showcase in Minneapolis in June. He struck out all seven hitters he faced (one reached base on a dropped third strike) in a dominating two inning performance that ranked among the most impressive in Perfect Game showcase history. Some of the most talented hitters in the country simply had no chance to make contact.

Kaminsky pitched in the 90-92 mph range with his fastball that day, topping out at 94 mph. His fastball gets on hitters quickly because he hides the ball very well in back during his delivery and his arm action is compact, quick and smooth, creating multiple levels of deception for the hitter to work through.

But what makes Kaminsky’s fastball even more effective is that his curveball is the single best pitch among the Class of 2013 pitchers and one of the best high school level curveballs one is ever likely to see. It makes him the most dominating pitcher in this class.

Four elements make Kaminsky’s curveball a present plus pitch. The first is that his release point on the pitch is very consistent with his fastball release point, so hitters aren’t tipped off about what pitch they are about to see. Secondly, Kaminsky throws his curveball, and it is a true curveball and not even close to a slider in release or mechanics, at an exceptionally hard 78-82 mph. Third, it has equally exceptional hard tight spin and sharp biting action. Fourth, Kaminsky has the ability to throw his curveball for strikes to both left handers and right handers, something that even he admits is a skill that is still occasionally in the development stage.

Kaminsky added one extra twist to his performance at the National Showcase. After establishing his complete dominance with his fastball/curveball combination, he dropped a perfect 76 mph change up on the last hitter for strike three. There was an audible gasp among the huge gathering of scouts and college coaches behind the Metrodome plate, something that is rare but not unheard of at major scouting events. One scout close to the Perfect Game staff remarked in a loud voice, “Now that really wasn’t very fair.”

Later performances during the summer, such as when he struck out eight hitters in four innings at USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars, showed that Kaminsky uses his changeup far more often, sometimes more often than his curveball, in true game situations. That is a very positive sign for his development.

Kaminsky’s personality and demeanor on the mound contributes to his overall package. He has a prototypical 'New Jersey' attitude and confidence about him; glib, talkative and pleasant off the field and intense, competitive and focused on the mound, with an unmistakable “I really don’t care if you get embarrassed trying to hit this” glare at hitters.

The obvious comparison for Kaminsky is former American League strikeout leader and New York Mets 2002 No. 1 draft pick LHP Scott Kazmir, now attempting a comeback with the Cleveland Indians. Like Kaminsky, Kazmir was an athletic 6-foot left hander who was more of a primary center fielder early in his high school days before evolving on the mound. Kazmir’s breaking ball, which was usually called a slider but had similar velocity and shape to Kaminsky’s curveball, was a dominating plus pitch. Kazmir did throw consistently 2-3 mph harder than Kaminsky does at present, although Kaminsky’s changeup is much more advanced than Kazmir’s was.

Kaminsky will face some of the same questions from scouts this spring that Kazmir did; he’s a 6-foot left handed power pitcher with a plus curveball as his best pitch and limited physical projection. But that is very unlikely, just as it was with Kazmir, to keep him out of the discussions in the upper reaches of the first round.

Perfect Game events attended:

    2009 WWBA 2013 Grads or 14u National Championship
    2010 WWBA 2013 Grads or 15u National Championship
    2010 WWBA Underclass World Championship
    2011 16U BCS Finals
    2011 WWBA 2012 Grads or 17u National Championship
    2011 WWBA 2013 Grads or 16u National Championship
    2011 17U BCS Finals
    2011 WWBA Underclass World Championship
    2011 WWBA World Championship
    2012 National Showcase
    2012 WWBA 2013 Grads or 17u National Championship
    2012 17U Perfect Game World Series
    2012 Perfect Game All-American Classic Presented by Rawlings

Kaminsky throws the first two innings of the game for the Red Team (No. 5) in the video below at the 2012 National Showcase. His appearance begins at the 00:19:45 mark.

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