July 12, 2016 at 8:00 AM
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Over the course of the season, the Greenville Drive has become arguably the deepest, most interesting team in the Red Sox farm system, with several potential big leaguers both on the mound and at the plate. Over the July 4th weekend, I was able to travel down to South Carolina and take in all four games of a weekend series between the Drive and the Asheville Tourists. This entry is the final of my reports from the trip that will focus on the pitchers, taking a look at four final members of the Drive pitching staff.
- After a lost year in 2015 in Lowell, during which he lost his delivery and then seemed to get into his own head, right-hander Jake Cosart has had a revival in his first taste of full-season ball thanks to a move to the bullpen. In 40 1/3 innings, Cosart has allowed only 25 hits and eight earned runs, with 59 strikeouts and 20 walks. Cosart put together his best outing of the year on this occasion, throwing three perfect innings and striking out the last six batters he faced.
Cosart has an athletic frame with some projection remaining. He has a live, quick arm and a funky, max-effort delivery that can be disorienting to hitters. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot and barely uses his lower half in his delivery, bringing his arm back and then whipping it forward violently (see video below from Spring Training 2016). He then finishes upright with hard leg recoil and head whack, and does not get much extension. These mechanics are very unique, but put a tremendous amount of stress on his arm and as a result, greatly increases his injury risk.
Cosart’s fastball sat 95-97 mph in the outing and he was able to throw it for strikes consistently. His fastball is straight when up, but showed some tail when down in the zone. Cosart showed both of his secondary pitches in the outing, and after throwing a curveball and changeup to the backstop in his first inning, he settled down and found his release for them, especially his curveball. He threw his curveball 75-80 mph with the pitch showing 11-to-5 break. It was looser with longer break at the lower velocities and showed shorter break when thrown harder. When he snapped the pitch off, it showed tight break, and he was able to backdoor it over the outer half against a left-handed hitter for a called strike three. Overall, he got three of his six strikeouts with the pitch, and it flashed average-to-better potential.
Cosart also mixed in his changeup, throwing it 84-86 mph, though it is clearly his third pitch and something he does not have great feel for. He used it sparingly, only when ahead in the count, and it wasn’t very effective. In short-inning stints, Cosart will not really need a third pitch, and given that it projects as a below-average offering at best, it is unlikely to be something he continues to use as he gets to the higher levels.
Cosart has a big arm and a funky delivery. He has the potential to be a big league reliever, but given his past issues with control and the amount of effort in his delivery, he is a high-risk prospect, as there is a lot that can go wrong along the way.
- Coming into the year, right-hander Austin Glorius was one of the pitchers I was most interested in following. Glorius was impressive in a couple brief looks with Lowell last season, but his stuff has ticked down this year, even after a transition into a bullpen role. Glorius has effort in his delivery with a medium leg kick and stab and wrist wrap behind. He rocks back then whips his arm forward with poor posture. He has a quick arm, but looked more like a thrower than pitcher in this outing. He really struggled with his command and his stuff was down across the board.
Glorius sat 91-93 mph, topping out at 94. The pitch was straight and lacked life, and he did not miss any bats with it. He showed both his slider and his changeup, with the slider the better of the two. His slider flashed average at 84-86 mph with short, vertical break. He showed decent feel for the offering, throwing it often. His changeup was straight and firm at 83-85 mph, and he slowed his body when throwing it. It did not look like anything more than a below-average offering at best on this occasion.
- Now in his second year in Greenville and sixth with the organization, right-hander Jeffry Fernandez has some arm strength, but its still on the raw side. He has filled out his frame with a large lower half, but has a jerky delivery and recoil. His fastball sat 92-94 mph with arm-side run, and he showed a hard, short, vertical slider at 85-87 mph and a firm changeup at 86-87 mph. The changeup looked like a fastball he took something off of, but the slider has a little more potential.
- The lone left-hander who threw over my four-game look, Dedgar Jimenez has some polish and feel for pitching, but his stuff and conditioning lag behind. Jimenez has a large, soft body, listed at 6-foot-3, 275 pounds. He has a controlled delivery and his arm works, but he gets average extension and lands vertically. His fastball works 87-89 mph, topping out at 90 mph with some arm-side run. He showed feel for both secondaries he used in the outing, a changeup at 79-81 mph that he throws with deceptive arm speed and slider 79-82 mph. The slider showed sweepy, 2-to-8 break and showed the ability to bury it down in the zone to miss bats.
SoxProspects.com Executive Editor Chris Hatfield reports that Jimenez threw a curveball at 76-77 mph in an outing in Hagerstown on the last day before the all-star break in June. He described the pitch as a big breaker that was very distinct from the slider, but I did not see Jimenez using that pitch in this outing. Chris adds that the changeup was harder in that outing, coming in 81-84 mph, and that the slider was quite inconsistent, coming in at a wider velocity range that went up to 84 and 85 mph.
Jimenez works quickly and throws strikes, but his lack of stuff makes it unlikely he develops into anything more than an organizational arm.
Photo credit: Jake Cosart, Austin Glorius and Dedgar Jimenez by Kelly O'Connor
Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.