30 November 2011

2012 Top 25 Prospects: #10 Dan Klein

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Player: Dan Klein
Position: right-handed pitcher
Ht/Wt: 6-2/190
B/T: R/R
Age at 11/2011: 23y3m
2011 level(s): Advanced-A Frederick; Double-A Bowie
2011 statistics: Baseball-reference; Minor League Central

Grades - Now (Future):
Motion: 50 (50)
Fastball: 50 (50)
Curveball: 50 (55)
Change: 50 (50/55)
Slider: 40 (45)
Control: 50 (60)
Command: 50 (55)
Feel: 50/55 (55)
Overall Future Potential: 46-52
Prospect Grade: B-

*Click here for primer on Grades

Drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2010 Draft, out of UCLA, and signed for almost $499,900. Multi-sport athlete in high school and national level prospect in both baseball and football. Missed sophomore year at UCLA after shoulder surgery and pitched exclusively in relief thereafter.

Physical Description:
Broad upper-body, well developed and tapered to a medium waist. Athletic build. Durable physique but history of shoulder issues. Good athleticism and body control.

Klein utilizes a simple step-in motion, staying udner control and repeating well. He shows a quick arm with fairly easy action, though he comes close to a hard stab, dropping the ball low to his hip before entering a semi-short arm circle. There is potential for some shoulder strain with that pairing, and with his shoulder surgery in 2009, and now again in 2011, it is worth monitoring. He stays relatively quick to home, often clocking sub-1.3s on the watch.

Fastball - Klein gets good life on his fastball, running it in on righties with late action. It generally sits 91-93 mph and can come with good bore. He spots it well to each side and shows an understanding of how to use it to set-up his curve, change and slider, depending on the situation.

Curve - a 12-to-6 breaker, Klein's curve is at its best when he throws it in the 76-78 mph range, getting solid shape and depth. He can use it as a freeze pitch but is most effective at this point when he buries it. Klein shows a high level of comfort with wthe offering, and there is enough spin to project it as a potential above-average pitch.

Change-up - Klein's change is generally 85-86 mph, showing drop and even some late fade. It is most effective down in the zone and he has found some success working it under the hands against lefties. The pitch was inconsistent at UCLA, turning flat and hittable up in the zone, but he has since improved his execution. A feel pitch, he will need to demonstrate his latest trip to the surgeon has not set him back.

Slider - The least effective of his offerings, Klein's slider is an 84-86 mph breaker with below average depth and bite. It works well as a change of pace pitch with tilt, breaking opposite his change and inducing soft contact. Like his change, when he misses the pitch it is hittable, though that doesn't stop him from getting aggressive with it. His arm speed produces plenty of spin, so reps should help the pitch reach Major League average in time.

2011 started about as well as it could for Klein, as he breezed through Advanced-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie with little trouble. Throwing exclusively from the pen, Klein utilized his four pitch mix effectively in posting a SO/9 rate of 10.3 and SO/BB rate of 6.17 over 32.1 innings. Unfortunately, his season ended prematurely in June due to tenderness in his shoulder. He was shut down and underwent surgery to repair a SLAP tear in his right labrum.

Regardless of Klein's timetable for return, this setback is a major blow to Baltimore's plans to transition the former UCLA closer to the rotation. Klein has yet to surpass 52 innings in a season since he did so between his high school junior spring and summer, back in 2006. He will pitch most of 2012 as a 24-year old, and it would likely be another three years before he builds up the arm strength and endurance necessary to log 150+ innings.

When healthy, Klein is essentially ready to tackle Major League hitters in a limited relief role. He lacks the putaway stuff to make him a viable shutdown arm, but his solid pitchability and stable of average or above offerings could make him an above-average reliever with 8th inning potential. His health will be the primary determinant in how Klein ultimately develops, and his setbacks in this department are the primary discounting factor in his OFP grade of 46-52.

Ceiling: Late-inning reliever
Floor: Non-prospect
Projected: Useful middle reliever

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