Sometimes, scouts can get nervous when a young pitcher finishes the college season in shaky fashion. That's what happened with Andrew Cruse, who was originally figured on to be a pick in the top five rounds of the draft, but because he was inconsistent over the last couple months of the season, he slipped much lower in the draft. There was talk that once Cruse went past the fifth round, he might return to the University of South Carolina for another season to try to improve his draft spot, but instead, he signed quickly with the Phillies and was sent to Batavia.
The Phillies believe that they got Cruse at just the right time since he wasn't over-used in college and would seem to have a lot of miles left on his arm. They inserted him into the Batavia rotation and the results were pretty impressive.
Andrew Cruse's career stats
Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the 9th round of the 2006 Draft out of the University of South Carolina.
Pitching: Cruse has been both a starter and reliever throughout his college career and has a slight preference for starting. The Phillies wanted to get him a lot of work last summer so they put him in the rotation and got close to 70 innings out of him. Cruse has a full compliment of pitches and uses them all, moving them around the zone. He has just average velocity right now and isn't a high strikeouts-per-inning pitcher, but will likely gain some velocity as he continues to develop.
Projection: Cruse isn't the typical college pitcher. He was red-shirted in his freshman season and was used sparingly as a sophomore. It wasn't until his junior season when he was used in a regular role and threw 54.2 innings at South Carolina, followed by 66.2 innings at Batavia. He threw a total of 85.1 innings in his college career. The Phillies like his value as a starter and believe that he has all the tools to move quickly through the system since all the natural talent is there. Remember, this is a kid who was projected as a top five round pick. It's likely that he'll stay in the starting rotation and move along to Lakewood in 2007 and it's possible that he'll move a level-per-season in his minor league career.