Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Debuting in the GCL after being selected in the 26th round of last year's draft, the Pitt Community College product turned heads almost from the first moment he stepped on the mound. Ferrell started eleven games for the Tigers, tossing complete game shutouts on two occasions, and finishing the summer in the GCL with a 5-5 record, 3.14 ERA, and nearly a strikeout per inning, while holding opposing hitters to a .242 average.
Ferrell capped his season by making two appearances with the Connecticut Tigers in the New York-Penn League, as they made their last minute push for the playoffs. In those two outings, Ferrell yielded seven hits in 6-1/3 innings of work, walking three and striking out seven.
The Tigers popped Ferrell after a season of relief work at Pitt CC, where he appeared in 14 games and amassed a 3-3 record. His 4.97 ERA seems a bit lofty, but he allowed just 30 hits in 29 innings, walked only six batters, and fanned 41. Jeff also picked up four saves on the year.
Ferrell is a projectable right-hander with a good frame and room to add additional bulk and possibly see increased velocity. His arm is quick and he easily generates a fastball that works consistently in the 89-91 range, and he will touch 93 at times. His fastball lacks significant life, but he throws on a good downward angle and his ball can be tough to lift at times. Some scouts that saw him this summer in the GCL believe he could work regularly at 91-93 once he maxes out his frame.
Behind his fastball, Ferrell's curveball is a solid 11-5 breaker with good downward bite and some promise as a solid-average or better pitch. He can routinely start the pitch in the strike zone and have it break down and away, but he must develop the ability to locate it more than just starting it in the zone. When he stays on top of his breaker, the pitch can be a swing-and-miss offering.
Ferrell will show a change-up at times, though most scouts felt he lacked confidence in the pitch throughout the summer, and he will have to gain improved feel of the offering to make it a viable third pitch.
His delivery and lanky frame evoke some comparisons to Bronson Arroyo from scouts, but most admit that is largely due to the extension and height of his leg kick out of the windup. With the moving parts in his delivery, Ferrell's command can come and go on occasion, but he is athletic enough to project for roughly average command as his overall game matures.
Ferrell is still very raw and he has quite a bit to learn about the finer points of the game such as fielding his position, holding runners, and mastering the "art of pitching," rather than just understanding the proverbial book. Each of these things should improve with more experience.
Though there are several viable pieces to work with, Ferrell is still a lot of projection, and he requires some imagination to see what he could eventually become. With added velocity on his fastball, consistency on his curveball, and some semblance of a fringy change-up, Ferrell's ceiling could be that of a number four starter; though that future is far from a sure thing.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG R
After both a college and summer professional season, Ferrell continued to pitch in the Tigers Fall Instructional League in Lakeland. Reports indicated he experienced some soreness in his shoulder this fall, but after missing limited time he was back on the mound and throwing well. Given the extensive workload Jeff experienced in 2010, soreness from fatigue shouldn't be surprising. At this point, there are no significant injury concerns going forward.
Ferrell will certainly enter minor league spring training in the running for a spot in the West Michigan rotation. After just a couple of appearances in the New York-Penn League to end the 2010 season, the organization may view the jump to full-season ball as a bit aggressive. However, if he comes out in the spring and continues pitching as he did last summer, he could force his way onto the roster. If Jeff is not in the opening day rotation for the ‘Caps, it is still easy to see him getting some time in the Midwest League next summer.
Given his projectability and the early results in the GCL, Ferrell warrants some attention as a pitcher that could continue developing into a viable big league prospect. He currently lacks the polish to move quickly through the system, but he is still young and a year at each level wouldn't be detrimental to him.
TigsTown has gone social! You can now follow TigsTown.com and the TigsTown staff on Twitter and Facebook! For all the latest stories and forum updates, follow @ScoutTigers. For the latest from Managing Editor Mark Anderson, follow @TigsTownMark, and you can follow Executive Editor Paul Wezner @TigsTown. You can also find TigsTown on Facebook, just seach for TigsTown.com!