Ok. Eric Brown isn’t a lefty, but I didn’t really have enough on him (nor is he a big-enough-named prospect) to warrant his own scouting report and I had also seen Chad Girodo, the Blue Jays 9th round pick this year, as well as Colton Turner who was recently promoted from Vancouver so I’m going to put them all together.
We’ll start with the lefties.
Girodo was the closer on the very successful 2013 Mississippi State baseball team that went deep into the College World Series. His 2013 season was far and away his best in college and earned him a draft pick (and well-below-slot signing bonus) in the 9th round, one round after his teammate Kendall Graveman (who I just missed seeing by a day). Although he averaged about one strikeout per inning in his sophomore and junior years, he struck out 82 in 59 2/3 innings this season making him worthy of a draft pick. I didn’t know what to expect when I saw him; there’s very little information out on the 22 year old.
Girodo’s a side-arming, left-handed reliever, pure and simple. He’s not going to overpower you with his stuff nor is he going to be a starter. I only saw two pitches: his 84-86 mph heavy, sinking fastball and a 74-76 mph slider. The fastball is his bread and butter with excellent sink when he keeps it down and even some tail on it to his arm side. The slider is a “frisbee”-type slider that doesn’t have a huge amount of depth on it but it will definitely miss the barrel of the bat. I noticed that in the appearance that I saw, his command wasn’t as sharp as it probably will have to be at higher levels of ball. He left the ball up a fair bit and was giving up a lot of fly balls and he was missing with his slider frequently. In the two innings he pitched on Friday night, he gave up two hits and a walk and had one strikeout, two groundouts and three fly-outs. That 67% groundout to fly-out ratio is actually better than his season total so far (currently 59%).
In my opinion, Girodo is probably best suited to be a LOOGY. He’s almost a mirror image of Wil Browning (now in Dunedin) except that he doesn’t throw as hard as Browning. He’ll be tough on lefties but righties may be able to figure him out fairly soon.
Turner, a 21st-round pick in 2012, began the season as a starter in Vancouver, having very good success there after a strong season in a relief role last year. He throws his fastball around 85 mph although he did creep up into the 87 mph range in his second inning of work. In his first inning, he had an 87 mph pitch that he didn’t finish and left it outside on his arm-side. I have to admit that his fastball wasn’t remarkable and looking over his numbers I have a feeling that he’s been throwing a significant number of two-seamers that probably have good sink to them this year and those were probably the 83 and 84 mph fastballs that were coming in. He throws a slider around 74 mph and a changeup in the 76-78 mph range, neither of which were particularly impressive.
He’s not a strikeout pitcher by any stretch of the imagination and but he’s able to hit his spots, not walk many and keep the ball in the park (just one home run allowed in 56 1/3 innings at both levels). Turner probably doesn’t have as much upside as some of the other arms in the Lansing bullpen but I think he can survive for a while at the Class-A level.
*Note: Turner has been sent back to Vancouver since I saw him in Lansing and actually gave up his second home run of the season last night.
Brown, a Thunder Bay, Ontario native who played his college ball at the University of British Columbia, came into Saturday’s game in Midland, Michigan to relieve Matt Boyd (see yesterday’s report). Brown was the 50th round selection of the Blue Jays in the 2011 draft (a selection that the Jays have used almost as a token pick to take a Canadian) and has spent parts of three seasons in Vancouver and Lansing. Until this year, Brown has had mixed success but dominated in Vancouver in 2013 after refining his changeup over the off season (wait for this week’s podcast to hear him talk about it).
I saw Brown throw mostly his fastball and changeup. The fastball clocked in the 88-89 mph range consistently (touching 90 a couple of times) and had some arm-side run to it. The changeup sat in the 81-83 mph range. In the appearance that I saw, he appeared to over-rotate at times and missed on the glove side. He was keeping the ball on the ground well and of the 6 hits he gave up, at least three of them were of the infield variety.
To be honest, I don’t know what to make of Brown’s future. He can be very effective and his stuff can certainly play at the higher minors. I don’t think his stuff is any better than average at this point, although if he refines his off-speedpitches more, he could certainly get guys out as he continues to rise through the system.