Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Averill left Arizona State after only his third season, after being selected in the 20th round of the 2005 amateur draft. Erik's collegiate career was one filled with team victories and individual success. As a freshman for the Sun Devils, he was named the team's Freshman of the Year, in conjunction with being named to the Freshman All-American team. His 8-2 record and 3.66 ERA as a mid-week starter earned him the aforementioned distinctions. The success continued as a sophomore, when Averill was named 2nd Team All Pac-10 Academic, as well as Honorable Mention All Pac-10. Erik's junior campaign was arguably his best, as he finished the season with a spectacular 11-4 record and a 3.75 ERA in over 125 innings for the Devils. The list of awards for Averill in 2005 included Honorable Mention All Pac-10, Arizona State Co-Pitcher of the Year, 1st Team All Pac-10 Academic, and Tempe Regional Co-Most Outstanding Player.
While in college, Averill also pitched for Orleans of the Cape Cod League, where he sported a 5-3 record, backed by a 1.70 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Erik's pro debut was no doubt stellar, as he posted a 1.59 ERA in six appearances (three starts) for the GCL Tigers. The Tigers limited his summer workload, trying to protect his young arm. The 2006 season saw Averill skip to full-season West Michigan, where he made 28 starts for the Tigers A-ball affiliate, good enough for 1st (tied) in the Midwest League. In 171+ innings (also 1st in the MWL), Erik managed to notch a 9-8 record with a 3.73/1.28 line.
Erik is the classic "crafty lefty." He uses impeccable control of a three-pitch mix to befuddle hitters and help his team win games. His fastball routinely sits in the 85-87 range, and can touch 89 when pushed. He consistently works the black on both sides of the plate, rarely leaving his fastball available to be ripped. His change-up is a plus-plus pitch with great arm-side fade and plenty of deception stemming from tremendous arm speed. The effectiveness of his change, allows him to maintain consistent success against both lefties and righties, something many left-handers struggle with. His curveball is an average 11-5 breaker with decent late bite.
Aside from his change-up, Averill's most appealing attribute is his incredible poise and desire to pitch in the toughest of situations. Erik is a true big-game pitcher according to ASU Assistant Coach Tim Esmay. He wants the ball in big games, and does not back down from any challenge. Averill fields his position well, as he is an above-average athlete; which also allows him to repeat his mechanics with ease.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG A
Averill has proven to be durable throughout both his collegiate and professional careers. His mechanics are clean with little effort, and he should continue to eat innings as he moves up the ladder.
Averill will work out of the Lakeland rotation in 2007, teaming with the likes of Burke Badenhop, Sendy Vasquez, and Lucas French to form an interesting mix of starters. Despite his collegiate experience, Averill is still on the positive side of the age-development curve, and doesn't need to be pushed immediately. Expect him to continue making outs at Lakeland, but he could see some struggles unless he is able to induce more groundballs as he moves up the ladder. Averill likely projects as a long-reliever or lefty specialist down the road, but the Tigers will give him every opportunity to remain in the rotation.
Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.