SoxProspects News

May 9, 2012 at 10:40 AM

Scouting Scratch: Balcom-Miller sharp



Right-handed pitcher Chris Balcom-Miller’s fastball shows excellent run and sink, but during the majority of his time in Double-A last season he struggled to reel in the pitch. Often he had trouble commanding the offering consistently the times I saw him last season. In this most recent start, Balcom-Miller showed much better feel for the pitch. Clocking his fastball at 88-90 mph for most of the outing, it displayed strong sink when he threw it across the plate and ran hard arm-side when he worked that portion of the plate. He consistently kept his arm in slot and generated solid leverage when delivering the ball. With a large majority of his fastballs in the lower tier of the strike zone or dropping out of it, opposing batters could do little but pound it into the ground as he churned efficiently through the lineup.

Balcom-Miller is an interesting arm within the system. His delivery is on the unconventional side as he stabs with his arm during his motion and is not the most fluid of throwers. Balcom-Miller can be rigid and expend extra energy generating velocity. I see him best suited slotting into a bullpen role to maximize his stuff as he progresses further with his career. He has also made strides with his 80-83 mph changeup since reaching Double-A. Balcom-Miller has gotten much better syncing his arm-speed to his fastball and producing drop with the offering as it approaches home plate. In this last scouting opportunity, there was more finish to the pitch and it did not float as much up in the zone. Occasionally he throws the change with some arm-side fade, but the pitch is more deceptive when the bottom is dropping out. It appears similar to his fastball, with the separation in velocity causing opposing batters to swing over the top of it or weakly put it into play.

His 79-81 mph slider is a fringy pitch and typically lacks sharp break. This piece of his repertoire has a ways to go to be an effective major league offering. It is likely only going to be a pitch that he just shows or occasionally tries to drop in during an appearance. With the nature of his fastball, as a pitcher working in one inning stints or tasked with getting a couple of outs, he can rely heavily on his heater and use his changeup to keep batters off-balance. The key for Balcom-Miller is consistently showing that his fastball command is taking a step forward. This past outing was a positive sign, but it is going to be constant work for him to harness the movement of the pitch. With progression in this aspect this season, I see Balcom-Miller as having the potential to develop into a sixth or seventh inning reliever at the major league level.

Chris Mellen is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisMellen

 
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