Two pitchers needing to make strong comeback statements did so to varying degrees on the first day of the SEC tournament on Wednesday.
Ole Miss lefty Drew Pomeranz may have gone in the top five picks regardless of how he pitched this week, but enough people thought he was sliding that there were at least a dozen scouting directors in Hoover, Alabama to see his outing.
His velocity bounced back to 89-93 and his curveball was significantly sharper than it's been in recent weeks, coming in mostly at 76-78 with good depth. He has an unusual arm action, separating his hands high but then bringing his pitching hand straight back, showing the ball to the centerfielder, before quickly pronating and bringing his arm forward quickly. I'm not sure he'll ever have above-average command, but he's got a workhorse build and projects to have two plus pitches in the fastball and curve, which makes him the best college starter on the board.
LSU right-hander Anthony Ranaudo hadn't been the same since taking three weeks to recover from a minor, non-structural elbow injury earlier in the spring, but for the first two innings of his start on Wednesday evening he was back to his old self, mostly 92-94, touching 95 to strike out the last hitter in the first inning, and driving his fastball down in the zone. His curveball was inconsistent but flashed plus, 79-83, and he even threw it to left-handed batters, going at their back feet as if it was a slider with good depth. He also showed a solid-average changeup at 79-84 with good arm speed, although it was clearly his third pitch in his mind. After the second inning, he settled in at more of a 90-92 clip, but held that through the seventh inning before finally tiring in the 8th.
When he was struggling, Ranaudo was leading with his elbow and couldn't extend his arm out in front as he finished his delivery, but he looked cleaner and freer on Wednesday, getting on top of the ball better and repeating his arm action in back well. The hitch with Ranaudo will be with his medicals, as it's never been entirely clear what was bothering him; even if it's no longer an issue, teams will still want to know the full history before giving him a major-league deal and a large bonus -- but they're not likely to get it.
The Buzz As Of May 27, 2010
I heard Philadelphia-area prep lefty Jesse Biddle has been up to 94 in a few recent outings and is throwing more strikes after some wildness earlier in his season, and he's attracting strong interest late in the first round, including the Philadelphia Phillies at 27 and the Los Angeles Dodgers at 28. I've also heard that the Boston Red Sox are big on Ball State infielder Kolbrin Vitek, the Minnesota Twins covet Ohio State starter Alex Wimmers, and the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals are interested in Ohio prep righty Stetson Allie.