Scouting Cardinals Prospect Blake King

Our local reporter in Honolulu, "highrent", is attending the Sharks' Hawaii Winter Baseball games all season long. This report focuses on St. Louis Cardinals prospect, right-handed pitcher Blake King.

Following are my observations on Blake King from the Hawaii Winter Baseball league games on October 14th, 18th and the 21st. I'll try to summarize rather than give a play by play and try to point out things not in a box score.

King is a big guy with a large frame but seems fit. He seems to be a sturdy pitcher without any visible hitches in his delivery that I could see. Looks like someone who could go long time. He surprised me that he throws consistently in the lower 90s and hit 93 a few times on the gun.

He has a nice four-seam fastball with movement that people tend to swing under. He seems to be able to vary his fastball and may cut it to give a little more run. He has a kind of funky off-speed offering with some break to it that can fool hitters. It doesn't have a real sharp break to be an out pitch, but its a deceptive pitch when mixed with the fastball. He has a very good breaking ball that appears to a sharp curve. It moves from the left to the right of the plate. Sometimes the curve doesn't behave and hangs or flattens out but for the most part it seems to be a good out pitch.

In general, he has had good success while I have seen him. But he is starting to struggle with command issues. Early on, people would chase his fastball high at the shoulder. It is a nasty-enough pitch to make it pretty hard to hit outside of the zone. He could then be free to move his fastball around the zone and keep the hitter off balance to set up his off-speed and breaking stuff. When on, Blake would even throw the off-speed pitch and breaking stuff in or near the zone to get ahead or fool the hitter. When his command is working, he seems equally tough on lefties as righties.

Now they seem to be more patient, forcing him to come lower with his fastball. When King puts it at the knee or thigh, he usually finds the zone and the pitch becomes pretty hard to hit. However he is starting to miss and instead coming chest or stomach high and that's where most of the hits come from.

In his most recent game, King has started to fall behind in the count. He went 3-0 twice in a row in the 8th inning which contributed to his struggles in that inning. I am not certain if it's because he's struggling or he is trying to work on his fastball command, but he has started to throw less breaking pitches and off-speed pitches.

Thus, the hitters are getting a steady diet of fastballs and are less likely to be fooled. However this could be by design. I am a believer in working out fastball command first and foremost. If King can truly master his fastball, he is going to be very hard to hit. The fastball is good enough to serve him well in the majors but not if he continues to throw it at the letters.

If he continually to moves it where he wants, he will do a better job setting up the hitters and using his breaking stuff. He does seem to have a clear approach and I am impressed by his repertoire and his control of his secondary pitches. I think if he can get more strikes down in the zone (he doesn't need a sinker), then he will go far; his fastball seems to be equally nasty low in the zone.

Definitely he is somebody to watch, for he clearly has major league stuff. He could function in a number of roles and he appears to have good stamina. I also like his mentality it was obvious that he was continuing to try and make his pitches rather than give in and throw right down the pipe. He continued to try and stick with his game plan. I'll continue to watch him as he develops.

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