29 November 2011

2012 Top 25 Prospects: #9 Clayton Schrader

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Player: Clayton Schrader
Position: right-handed pitcher
Ht/Wt: 6-0/200
B/T: L/R
Age at 11/2011: 21y7m
2011 level(s): Class A Delmarva; Advanced-A Frederick
2011 statistics: Baseball-reference; Minor League Central

Grades - Now (Future):
Motion: 35 (40/45)
Fastball: 50 (60)
Slider: 45 (55/60)
Curveball: 40 (45/50)
Change: Not scouted
Control: 25/30 (40)
Command: 20/25 (35/40)
Feel: 35/40 (45/50)
Overall Future Potential: 46-52
Prospect Grade: B-

*Click here for primer on Grades

Drafted in the 10th Round of the 2010 Draft, out of San Jacinto College(Texas), and signed for overslot bonus of $300,000.

Physical Description:
Broad build, wide hips. Strong, especially in core and trunk. Some room to firm up physique and improve conditioning.

Schrader throws from an elevated three-quarters arm slot and matches it well with his fastball and breaking balls. Because he doesn't pair the slot with a corresponding tilt, there is some concern for future shoulder injury (though that is off course dependent on the structural specifics of his joint). His delivery, which produces mid-90s velocity, comes with a lot of effort, including a rigid landing and extreme head whack and arm recoil to finish. The result is well below average control and a limited number of pitches in his arm per appearance. While he will be able to smooth out his landing some, much of his mechanics "are what they are," and Baltimore will likely take the good (loud stuff) with the bad (control and limited profile).

Fastball - Big plus offering that runs low- to mid-90s with some life. Schrader will spray the strikezone with the pitch, but has little command to spots.

Slider - Mid-80s offering with hard bite and tilt. Arm slot deception and true swing-and-miss ability. Potential plus offering down the line.

Curve - Downer 78 to 82 mph offering utilized more at San Jacinto than in 2011. Serves as a useful counter to his harder offerings due to velocity delta.

Change-up - Not scouted.

"Clay Shray" is a big arm with big control issues at present, though a slightly softer landing can help him keep his momentum more consistently to home and prevent some off his swing-around. While his arm angle raises some potential red flags from a biomechanical standpoint, it helps him to create a solid downhill plane, even with his listed 6-foot frame. He does an adequate job of hitting his slot consistently and just needs to find a way to stay in the zone with a little more frequency.

While the walk rate is the critique most likely to be touched upon in internet reports, he should be able to survive with 4+ BB/9 at the Major League level due to his ability to minimize baserunning threats by missing bats. That said, he will walk hitters and, like Fernando Rodney, may actually fit better in the closer role than as a 7th or 8th inning arm. This would allow him to enter the majority of his games with clean bases and would help to minimize the potential damage resulting from his inevitable base-on-balls.

Perhaps most important, Baltimore will need Schrader to work on his endurance. While the effort in his delivery causes control issues, the drain on his energy is perhaps more impactful. He is noticeably less effective the more pitches he hangs on his arm per appearance, and as a result Baltimore endeavored to keep him from appearing on back-to-back days. Double-A Bowie will represent his first true pro challenge and will help to ground his projection. If he is able to maintain his power stuff on back-to-back days, and can clean-up his mechanics enough to get his BB/9 down between 4 and 5, he could be a useful bullpen piece in Baltimore as early as the second half of next year. He has the upside profile of a Jorge Julio.

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

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