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Rockies Draft Report #2: Ross Detwiler

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David's Opening

The next player we'll take a look at is another projectable college player, though size, and not youth is the focus here.  At 6'4" and 175 lbs. Ross Detwiler's slender frame offers plenty of projectability despite already solid present stuff.  A left-handed pitcher, Detwiler's long frame plays up a fastball that sits between 90-92 mph, and can run up to 94 mph, as noted by this scout's take at Baseball America.  Along with good velocity for a left-hander, Detwiler also flashes a big breaking curveball and a change-up that is at least usable, and according to some, is still developing.  Thus far, Detwiler has had no problem striking out college hitters, with 70 strikeouts in just 57.3 innings, good for a strikeout rate of 11 per 9.  As with most young left-handers with good strikeout potential, Detwiler has some command issues, with 25 walks, a rate of 3.9 per 9.  Outside some struggles with control, Detwiler has been close to unhittable, surrendering only 34 hits for a rate of 5.3 hits per 9.  OF those few balls put in play, even fewer do damage, as he's only surrendered 5 doubles and just 2 homers, a rate (again) of .31 per 9 (in comparison, Aaron Cook surrendered .71 per 9).  

Though we don't have present groundball percentages (to my knowledge) for Detwiler, the home run rate suggests he does enough to keep balls in the field of play, and the dearth of extra base hits would support a belief that he likes the ball on the ground.  Detwiler's projectability is supported by Patrick Ebert's report at Brewerfan.net.  Ebert currently ranks Detwiler 12th, which puts him within range of justifying his selection here.  Baseball America recently slotted him behind three other lefties, though two, Price and Moskos, could be gone by the time Colorado selects based on rankings, and the third, Savery, has had velocity questions early this year, and I think his hitting ability has some overrating his pitching ability.  Detwiler may lack the big time exposure of Savery and Price, but not the arm, and he spent last summer on Team USA, where Baseball America ranked him the ninth best prospect on the team (seventh draft eligible).

As far as big league projectability, Detwiler could be a similar pitcher to Marlin's slender left-hander Scott Olsen, who has a long frame, plus fastball, and occasionally dominate breaking pitch (in his case a slider) to succeed without an extended repertoire.  Like Olsen, Detwiler will need time to fill out his frame, and adjust his mechanics accordingly.  Because of this, Detwiler likely cannot be pushed like Reynolds, and likely would start under a limited pitch count in Asheville.  Though the Rockies are already stocked with high upside talent, most have reached a threshold where they must start to show major improvements in command or be subject to relief duty.  In addition, after Chaz Roe in high A, there may not be another arm in the low minors that can match the stuff, projectability, and present ability of Ross Detwiler.

Rox Girl, your thoughts?

Rox Girl's Take

First, I will say that Detwiler is the type of pitcher that I could get behind easily if Bill Schmidt thinks he's worthy of the pick. As the Brewerfan profile David links points out, there's some inconsistency with his delivery, but he's got the two quality pitches in his curve and fastball and has a developing change-up. There are some points of hesitation for me, however, in that his control is shaky at this level -he's allowed 28 baserunners via HBP or walk in just over 57 innings-  indicating that he could still be too much of a project for the eighth selection with his lack of refinement. Even Detwiler himself recognizes his inconsistent control holds him back as the linked interview with Royals Corner indicates:

RC: More specifically, what adjustments do you need to make to take the next step, and become an even better pitcher than you are now?

RD: I think just getting ahead in the counts early, and throwing all three pitches for strikes. If you throw all three pitches for strikes, they'll start chasing out of the zone.

That said, this recognition of his own weakness is a plus in make-up. Still, a pitcher of this type will typically not be a safe pick given the gap between our first selection and our second, and I'd rather have more confidence that our selection will at least contribute at the MLB level given what we will wind up paying. Again, if Bill Schmidt and our scouts say that we can bring him close to his potential, then I'll buy it, but right now I'm pretty skeptical. Given the work that he needs, I think Asheville might be pushing too far, and would rather see him start at Tri-City. I'd want him to get comfortable with the system, and a pitcher friendly park might be better for him than the hell that McCormick Field could be on left handers. I'd also like to see if he could get a fourth pitch, maybe a different fastball or a slider to have one more option to draw on to keep hitters off balance, and the Northwest League would be better suited to that.  

Russ' Whatever You Want to Call It

In Keith Law's latest installment (4/4) of top prospects for the upcoming draft, Detwiler (11th overall) is the second-highest rated lefty in the draft (behind Price), the third highest college pitcher and the sixth best pitcher available. So certainly there is a consensus out there that Detwiler is a highly sought-after talent and one I would take as a top 10 pick.

However, for the sake of making an argument I'll make one. Aside from his control issues, I want to question his level of playing competition in college. There are times when you shouldn't get caught up in what league the guy is from, and this is certainly one of those times, but, again, I'll continue with this train of thought. He plays in the Missouri Valley Conference and it is a league that has turned out quite a number of bit players in the big league, including our own Clint Barmes in the past decade. The only major pitchers to come out of the MVC recently to the best of my research have been Darren Dreifort, who falls into the injury category, and Mike Pelfrey, both from Wichita State. Pelfrey has all the makings of a great pitcher but we'll have to wait it out with him. In the non-conference games against Arkansas and Missouri he pitched in neither as they were mid-week games. He's been able to perform well against mediocre or worse teams the past three seasons (but that's why there are summer leagues and scouts going out to watch these guys pitch).

If Detwiler finds himself a top 18 selection in this draft, he'll be the highest drafted Missouri State Bear in school history only one year after Brett Sinkbeil set that mark (at 19).

David's Final Take

It's hard to contend with the command issues brought up by Rox Girl, but both Goldstein and Baseball America staffers have suggested that lefties generally take longer to correct command flaws, and they could be a result of his long loose frame having yet to be filled out.  As for his level of competition, it's a fair question, but Detwiler was reported by Baseball America as being dominant in his outings with Team USA, both in international competition and inter-squad games, so he has some experience against prime hitters, though not at the same level of a Price or Moskos.  He's certainly not a safe pick, but we haven't gambled in a while, and Detwiler could be a special pitcher around the top of a home grown rotation.

Poll

Where should Detwiler fit on the Draft Board?

This poll is closed

  • 91%
    Ahead of Kyle Russell
    (11 votes)
  • 8%
    Behind Kyle Russell
    (1 vote)
12 votes total Vote Now