As with previous installments of KYF, I have made acquaintance with the SBNation gurus of our divisional foes to profile an up-and-coming player. This week is Arizona RHP Max Scherzer. So what is the best part about Scherzer?
DBacksSkins: The most exciting thing about Scherzer is that not only does he kick [butt], but he's also heterochromic.
Jim McClennan: The coolest thing about him is that he has two different colored eyes: it's quite striking.
Well....other than the fact that his creepy picture makes him perfect for pitching for the Serpents, what do we know? (Disclaimer: Jim and Phil had more enlightening things to say too...just offering a friendly jab). Certainly High Heat!!! and Ubaldo TryHairBThere will want to know what to expect from their recent fantasy draftee.
Scherzer went to high school in a St. Louis suburb, where the heterochrome caught the attention of scouts with not only his success but also his very violent delivery; he once told the St. Louis Dispatch "I used to have the worst head jerk, my hat would fly off sometimes." Still, Max earned enough praise to be drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003 in the 43rd round; instead, he enrolled at the University of Missouri.
After overhauling his balance and mechanics with the help of Mizzou head coach Tim Jamieson, Scherzer blossomed in his sophomore year, earning honors as Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, second-team All-American, Team USA starter, and the second lowest opponent batting average in the country. Arizona made him their first overall pick in the 2006 draft, nine spots below Rockie Greg Reynolds.
Scherzer raced through the minor leagues. After starting in Single A to start 2007 in Visalia, he found himself in AAA Tucson to start 2008 and was pitching with the big club before April was out. His debut on April 27 of last year actually broke a major league record: he retired 13 batters in a row in relief (the only 13 he faced), breaking a 46-year old record, on his way to seven strikeouts.
Scherzer was able to amp up his fastball to 99 in college, but his average fastball falls around 94mph now. He also boasts a change-up and slider, to which Bryan Smith at Baseball Prospectus spoke to a couple weeks ago:
He's really improved his secondary stuff over the years -- remember, he was mostly a fastball guy at Missouri. I think he probably throws 140 innings or so, and I think they'll be pretty good. A good sleeper for you fantasy players.
Baseball America listed Scherzer as the 66th top prospect in going into 2008, which seems quite low now. Will Lingo listed "Mr. Electric" as the #4 Arizona prospect going into 2008 - Rockies fans should note Arizona's number one prospect and top power prospect on the list. Armed with the best organizational fastball, Lingo has Scherzer projected as the 2011 closer.
Scherzer is aiming to be in the D-Backs rotation to start 2009, but as Jim McClennan at AZSnakepit notes:
Opinion's somewhat split on whether he'll be a starter or a reliever. His stamina is somewhat suspect.... The Diamondbacks are treating him with kid gloves right now...had some arm issues over the winter that caused him to be shut down. Nothing major, but they are being very cautious...If he *has* to go to the pen, it will be a disappointment.
As of this writing , Scherzer has yet to appear in a Spring Training game, but the shoulder soreness has apparently subsided and he should be ready for Opening Day.
What does DBacksSkins think? How about "~150 innings, 130 ERA+, up to 10 wins, and 2000 strikeouts. (That might be a little high, though)"
Yeah...the strikeouts might be a bit optimistic, but the rest is certainly attainable.
Pecota: 155 IP, 10-8, 3.93 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
AZ SnakePit: 151 IP, 12-9, 3.80 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
Verdict: It can certainly be disappointing when a live arm gets relegated to the bullpen when he could have contributed over 200 innings as a starter. For that reason, Arizona fans hope Scherzer's arm can carry a starter's load, but I would suspect (as Lingo did) that he will eventually find his home in the bullpen. The probability of injury due to his still atypical motion and injury history is one part of it, but his repertoire as a flamethrower with increasingly developing secondary pitches and good control profiles very well for a closer.
OF Luis Gonzalez is open to returning to the desert. However, the most celebrated player in franchise history would likely need more complications in Eric Byrnes' recovery from a left hamstring injury. Byrnes figures to make his Spring debut tomorrow Tuesday.
MLB.com's Steve Gilbert evaluates the competitions for Arizona's final roster spot on the bench. Ryan Roberts seems to be the favorite even though the club took James Skelton in the Rule 5 draft from the Tigers. Alex Romero is out of options but reported to camp with a broken hand. Other competitors are Josh Whitesell and Josh Wilson, a former infielder of the 2006 Sky Sox.
Los Angeles (9-7, 4-1 last week)
Manny Ramirez made his LF debut Sunday against the Rockies, but an injury cut it short in four innings. Ramirez was lifted after feeling tightness in his left hamstring, the same injury that scratched him from Thursday's lineup. He will re-evaluate today.
After the game: "Age is catching up to me. Maybe [the contract] is a bad investment"
GM Ned Colletti admits to being "interested" in Pedro Martinez, who is fresh off of a strong showing in the World Baseball Classic against The Netherlands. Tony Jackson of the L.A. Daily News reports that is there is nothing more than interest to report.
San Diego (4-9-3, 1-3-1 last week)
Signed former Dodger and Met RHP Duaner Sanchez to a minor league contract. Sanchez was a strong part of the LA bullpen in 2005 and Met pen in 2006, but a taxi accident before the 2007 season necessitated two shoulder surgeries. His return to MLB in 2008 just wasn't the same, as his velocity dropped. This is a great pickup for the Padres, as it involves no risk but rests on the hope that the extra year since the surgeries will help bring the Sanchez of old back.
The Padres are no longer interested in LHP Joe Beimel, likely for the same reason the Rockies have reportedly moved on: his financial demands. Ed Eagle at MLB.com maintains the Rockies are still in the running.
San Francisco (8-11, 3-3 last week)
The Giants are reportedly interested in C Ivan Rodriguez. Interestingly, he would be used as a backup to Pablo Sandoval and Travis Ishikawa in the infield as well as the backup backstop behind Bengie Molina. McCovey Chronicles discusses.
Michael Schwartz of MLB.com features former Rockie Jeremy Affeldt in a recent column.
Giants scout John Cox said that Frisco would be interested in signing Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish if Darvish were interested. The 22-year old has impressed in the WBC and can throw in the upper 90's. Don't be worried though....he won't be a free agent for five years....