I have decided to forgo the classic 20-80 scouting scale for these reports and make more general observations about the players for two reasons, 1) many of these players are in their first year of professional baseball, which can be a difficult adjustment for some, and 2) because these players are so young, and inexperienced professionally, a lot can change from one year to the next.
This is the fourth of five posts breaking down the State College roster. This time, we focus on the Spikes’ bullpen. Kyle Grana had an All-Star season, and Josh Lucas was dominant for the Spikes, but Nick Lomascolo and Tyler Bray have potential to make names for themselves as match-up relievers.
*Relief pitchers who have been promoted or have pitched in fewer than ten games will be discussed in the final installment of Scouting the Spikes.
** Stat summaries from MiLB.com and Baseball Reference.
|Booden, Jacob||R||6-8||235||8/14/90||Vernon Hills, IL||NDFA, 6/14/12|
|Bray, Tyler||R||6-5||200||10/3/91||Vancleave, MS||26th Round, 2014|
|Grana, Kyle||R||6-4||245||4/26/91||Wildwood, MO||NDFA, 6/13/13|
|Lee, Brandon||R||6-0||200||11/18/90||Palatka, FL||NDFA, 6/17/13|
|Lomascolo, Nick||L||6-1||185||11/5/90||Moorseville, NC||34th Round, 2013|
|Lucas, Josh||R||6-6||205||11/5/90||Lakeland, FL||21st Round, 2010|
|Rauh, Jeff||R||6-2||215||1/24/90||Lake Forest, CA||NDFA, 6/18/12|
|Scanio, Joe||R||6-4||230||1/30/90||St. Louis, MO||16th Round, 2012|
Jacob Booden had an interesting season in State College. In his second tour of duty in the New York-Penn League, Booden failed to pick up where he left off last season. In his last 19 innings in 2013, Booden allowed just one earned run, but the 6-foot-8 reliever was much more inconsistent in 2014, as he struggled with command.
With a pitcher as tall as Booden, mechanical issues are to be expected at times, but Booden’s most noticeable issue was finishing over his front half. A 6-foot-8 reliever with a mid-90s fastball, Booden will likely get one more crack next year, but he will have to work out his command issues and develop a true out pitch to keep moving through the system.
Tyler Bray posted a respectable 2.96 ERA in State College this season, while dominating right-handed hitters, holding them to just a .130 average against. While many bullpens are home to lefty specialists, Bray’s sidearm delivery and repertoire can make him a nightmare for righties.
Bray throws from a low 3/4 arm angle, varying it at times, and throws all manner of breaking balls from the lower angle. The 26th-round pick will run cutters, sliders and slurves away from right-handed hitters all day, but can back them off the plate with a solid two-seam fastball. I am a big fan of Bray’s stuff, but it will be interesting to see if he can keep hitters off balance at higher levels.
Kyle Grana dominated the NYPL out of the bullpen this year, and could prove to be a steal for the Cardinals. The undrafted free agent signed with the Cardinals last summer, and performed admirably with the GCL Cardinals and Johnson City Cardinals, but 2014 was Grana’s coming out party. The Spikes’ All-Star reliever led all NYPL relievers with 62 strikeouts and walked just 14 batters in 40 2/3 innings.
Grana possesses a solid mid-90s fastball, and has a great curveball and mixes in a split-finger fastball. Grana’s biggest asset is his attitude. He is tenacious out of the pen, and truly possesses a closers mentality.
Brandon Lee struggled in Peoria at the beginning of the year, but found his footing in State College, and posted a solid 2.63 ERA as one of the Spikes’ lesser used bullpen options. Although Lee was effective this year, he has nothing to set him apart from some of the players against whom he was battling for innings. He is not particularly tall, doesn’t throw particularly hard and doesn’t have exceptional stuff, but he does throw strikes.
One thing you see at the NYPL is that pitchers either have command of their pitches, or they don’t. Opposing batters hit .263 off Lee, but the Jacksonville, Florida native only waked two batters on the season, and kept opposing teams off the board. Lee was effective against NYPL hitters, but still has to prove himself against stiffer competition.
Nick Lomascolo may have been the only southpaw in the State College bullpen, but was actually more effective against right-handed hitters than left, and by a significant margin. Lefties batted .266 against the reliever, but righties batted just .133 against the 2013 34th-round pick. Lomascolo was consistently called upon in the setup role, and performed admirably, posting a 2.77 ERA, and striking out 44 batters in 39 innings.
Although Lomascolo was not particularly effective against left-handed hitters, I actually view that as a positive when looking at his numbers as a whole. If Lomascolo can figure out how to be more effective against lefties, even he sacrifices a little bit of effectiveness against right-handers, he could become a rather formidable bullpen force in the coming seasons.
Josh Lucas was the Spikes’ most impressive reliever this season, but struggled through his time in Peoria. Lucas dominated NYPL batters, allowing just one earned run in 28 2/3 innings, and pitched well in four games in Palm Beach, but his struggles in Peoria have me concerned.
Next year will be a make or break year for Lucas. A return to normalcy is expected, as his State College rates are unsustainable at higher levels, but hopefully his success this season can spur a solid 2015 campaign.
Jeff Rauh was the second Spike to be making his second tour of duty in the NYPL, and it would not surprise me if 2014 was his last year with the Cardinals. Rauh was decent in 2013, and returned to State College in an effort to, somewhat, reinvent who he was as a pitcher.
He was asked to learn a split-finger fastball, which took some time at the beginning of the season, but he eventually found it, and owned a sub-2.00 ERA in early July, and carried a sub-3.00 ERA into August, but it just kept climbing. Rauh, much like Lee, doesn’t really have a calling card, and his time may be up, as younger pitchers have continued to outperform the 24-year old righty.
Joe Scanio hopped all over the organization in 2014, due in part to a mid-season injury, but had a rather unremarkable season overall. Scanio, a 16th-round pick in 2012, was drafted higher than any other State College reliever, but was a rather large question mark in the back end of the bullpen.
The St. Louis native did not allow a run in his last ten regular season innings, but went through a stretch where he allowed at least one run in five straight appearances, and eight earned runs in six innings. Scanio has been pretty average at every level, and time may be running out for the 24-year-old.
TCN members should look for the final installment of this series coming this next week. It will cover those who were promoted or did not have a qualifying number of at-bats or innings pitched.
Follow Robert Davidson on Twitter @robo_tweets.
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