School: University of Mississippi
Selected 2009 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (23): An intriguing pick by the Cardinals in last June's draft, Bittle did not see any action after signing due to a shoulder injury. He possesses an above average cutter that was considered one of the best pitches of any player in college baseball. If healthy, Bittle could rise quickly through the minor leagues on the merits of this pitch alone.
The Ole Miss product came into the college season as one of the top relievers in the country but struggled with injuries and inconsistencies. The Rebels were scuffling early on, but received a jolt when Bittle was moved to the rotation. After becoming a weekend starter, he was as dominant as anyone in the nation.
Like Joe Kelly, Bittle has a lot of intrigue if he stays in the starter role. But with his history of injuries, I have my doubts that he could handle the workload of a starter. In the bullpen, he could rise rapidly and most likely be the first Cardinal out of his draft class to reach the big leagues.
Message board community (23): Scott Bittle was the community's 23rd-ranked prospect. As closer at Mississippi his junior year, he fanned 16.1 per nine innings. He has a cutter that is supposed to be unhittable. I've seen reports of it being 84-86 mph, but also 90. He also is said to have a good fastball and change, but it's the cutter that earned him becoming the Cards' fourth-round pick this year.
But will his shoulder hold up? The Yankees drafted him in the second-round after his junior year, but their doctors wouldn't clear him. He returned to college and during his senior season was diagnosed with a shoulder capsule problem and had to be shut down. (Interestingly, he was just a closer in his junior year, but got six starts among his 14 appearances his senior year. Could the longer outings have contributed?)
Bittle did not pitch for the Cards this year after being drafted. If he does pitch, he could have an impact quickly. He's pitched major college ball and has that dominating pitch. He turned 23 in August. The question, really, is the shoulder. - Gagliano
Brian Walton (22): How odd. Here we are, halfway through the countdown, and find ourselves in closest agreement yet about a high injury-risk player who has not pitched an inning of professional ball. It may not also be a good sign in terms of competition (or lack thereof) that such a prospect can consistently place so highly on our respective lists.
Now putting any negativity aside, the Cardinals deserve kudos for rolling the dice no matter how Bittle turns out. They made a nice play in the fourth round with the cutter specialist, getting his signature for a mere $75,000. Players selected around Bittle received in the $200,000 to $250,000 range, thus saving money for the Cardinals to overpay for others, such as top pick Shelby Miller.
Most importantly, if Bittle comes through, the organization will reap the benefits from a second-round talent that would have cost a half-million more to sign had his stock not been depressed by his injury history. Upside abounds as he could start 2010 at Palm Beach.
Our 2010 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
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