POSITION: Right-handed relief pitcher
BORN ON: April 14, 1986
AGE: Turns 22 this April
LIVES IN: Dayton, Tennessee
WEIGHT: 200 pounds
SCHOOL: Mercer University
ACQUIRED: Selected by the Braves in the 4th round of the 2007 draft
SIGNED BY: Al Goetz
STATISTICSClick here for Gearrin's 2007 minor league stats
SCOUTING REPORTA high school infielder, Cory Gearrin played his first two seasons at Young Harris Junior College in the North Georgia Mountains. After an impressive showing in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2006 (41 strikeouts in 27 innings), Gearrin enrolled at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where he really took off as a prospect. Gearrin had a 2.44 ERA in 26 games, with 65 strikeouts in 44.1 innings pitched for the Bears.
The Braves then drafted Gearrin in the fourth round of last June's draft and placed him in Danville. The sidearmer struggled in his first ten games, posting a 10.19 ERA. But then he settled down a bit and allowed only one earned run the final month of the season (eight games). Gearrin finished with a 4.44 ERA, 21 hits allowed in 26.1 innings pitched, 16 walks, and 37 strikeouts.
Gearrin really surprised the Braves with his early struggles. They attributed it to the layoff between the end of his season with Mercer (late May) and the beginning of his pro career in late June. It just took Gearrin time to relax and settle in and regain his mechanics, which he lost a bit when he first got to the Appalachian League.
The Braves knew he had thrown a lot at Mercer, so they were careful with Gearrin early on. But they were also worried that he was thinking too much about why he was struggling, instead of going out there and just having some fun. His delivery would slow down too much causing him some control trouble.
Gearrin has a very good fastball that can reach into the mid-90s. Since he seemed tired at times last season, the Braves usually saw him in the low-90s somewhere between 90-93 mph. Gearrin's got a slider that can get flat at times, but it can move. When he gets tired, his slider seems to almost be more effective and it has more sink to it.
The Braves want Gearrin to throw a changeup, and so far he's resisted that just a bit. They believe if he gets the feel for the change, lefty hitters will not have a chance with his delivery and it will get them off his fastball.
When Gearrin would relax and let his arm flow, he was very effective. The Braves were happy at how Gearrin kept working to get through his early season struggles, and he was very impressive in the Instructional League.
Gearrin drew some comparisons to Joe Smith, the college reliever the Mets drafted in 2006 that made the jump to the big leagues in less than a year. While Gearrin won't make that timetable, the Braves do believe he has the chance to jump through the minors quickly. But he needs to get off to a good start in Rome so he can have the confidence to carry him through his first full season.
2008 OUTLOOKGearrin will start out the 2008 season in Rome, but there's a very good chance if he has some success he could be in Myrtle Beach before the end of the season. The Braves like Gearrin's upside, as long as he works on keeping his mechanics sound and consistent (as most sidearmers have to do). Gearrin could be an interesting bullpen prospect for Atlanta in two years.
ADDITIONAL STORY LINKSThe Braves Show: Gearrin radio intervew
The Braves Show: Gearrin thrilled to be picked by ATL
The Braves Show: Mercer's Cory Gearrin ready for the draft
Chattanoogan.com: Rhea County's Cory Gearrin, Living His Dream
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.