2017 IBI Top 75 Prospects: #31 Tim Cooney

The 2017 countdown continues with a newcomer to the organization who was once a highly rated prospect with the Cardinals but a string of injuries over the past few seasons - including this spring - leave some questions as to whether he will ever be able to achieve his potential...

31. Tim Cooney – Left-handed Pitcher

Born: 12/19/1990 – Height: 6’3” – Weight: 195 – Bats: Left – Throws: Left

Facts & Info: Cooney was selected by the Cardinals in the 3rd round of the 2012 Draft out of Wake Forest University, and signed for $404,400. The Indians acquired him in November 2016 after claiming him off waivers from the Cardinals.

Stuff: Cooney is not someone who is going to impress with stuff; instead it is the complete package where he owns a deep four pitch mix, knows how to pitch and commands the ball well. He features a solid average 88-91 MPH fastball that can top out at 92-93 MPH when he lets it loose, and shows some good, late downward movement. He shows excellent command of his fastball and does a nice job of locating it to both sides of the plate, is not afraid to pitch with it inside and consistently pounds it to the lower part of the zone. He has a deep arsenal of secondary offerings led by an above average cutter that is regarded as his best pitch and is a good weapon with two strikes to put hitters away. His changeup has come a long way and become a solid average offering for him and flashes plus with its good late fade and some swing and miss he creates with it against right-handed hitters. His fringy mid-70s curveball is a clear fourth pitch for him but shows the potential to be an average offering for him.

Delivery & Intangibles: Cooney is a tall, skinny lefty with a mature frame and some strength and athleticism to it. He throws from a high three-quarter arm slot with some clean arm action, and really does a nice job of repeating his delivery thanks to a consistent release point and some good mechanics. He is a strike thrower who shows some very good pitchability and some deception where he keeps hitters off balance because of the way he mixes all four of his pitches well and changes speeds on all of his offerings. He is not afraid of contact and uses an aggressive mindset to attack the strike zone and get ahead of hitters quickly. He shows an ability to make quick adjustments, is a good makeup guy and has a good mental approach to his work.

Focus: The biggest question mark surrounding Cooney at this point is health as he brings a bit of an injury history over the past few years. His first three-plus seasons as a professional went without a hitch and he got high grades for his durability, but an emergency appendectomy in July 2015 which prematurely ended his season ruined his prospect momentum and put him on a path of injury setbacks ever since. Last year he came down with a shoulder injury in spring training and after a Bennett lesion was discovered in his left shoulder he had an arthroscopic procedure performed to remove the lesion in July and missed the entire 2016 season as a result. He was expected to slowed some to start this coming season as he worked his way back from his shoulder issue, but he suffered a strain of his left flexor digitorum superficialis muscle (mid-forearm) in February which is expected to sideline him until at least May or June – if not longer. If he can find a way to get back on the mound with some consistency, the next step will be to continue to refine the effectiveness of his secondary offerings – particularly his curveball which lacks consistency.

Future: Cooney is Major League ready and is about as finished a product as you will see in the minors, but his injury history over the last two years has had a devastating impact on his prospect status. Just a few years ago he was a top two or three prospect in the Cardinals organization, but after missing all of the 2016 season they gave up on him because of his questionable health status moving forward. The Indians swooped in and took a chance on a former hot commodity and feel there is still some upside to him and he can help them as a back of the rotation starter or in the bullpen if they can get him healthy. The Indians never expected him to be completely healthy to open this season, but felt he could help them as the season progressed and he got back on the mound on a regular basis; however, that is a serious question considering his latest injury. The Indians will be very cautious with his return as his arm injury is one which raises some concern as it could be an early sign of a potential need for Tommy John surgery, so the hope is the time to rest and rehab it will allow him to get back to 100% so he can go out and potentially get back into a game setting and pitch in games in the second half of the season. In the meantime he will open the season in extended spring training and if he gets the all clear he should go up to Double-A Akron or Triple-A Columbus later in the year.

Ranking History: Unranked, not in organization

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