26. Brooks Pounders, RHP
2009 Season: Pounders was a surprise selection by the Pirates in the second round of the 2009 MLB draft. The Pirates took Tanner Scheppers the previous season, leading many to believe that the team would again select a talent that fell to them with this second round pick. Instead they selected Pounders, who was off the radar as far as the second round went. Pounders was drafted out of high school, with a commitment to USC for college. The Pirates signed him away for $670 K, which was $3,200 below slot for the number 53 pick in the draft.
In his senior year with Temecula Valley, Pounders put up a 1.96 ERA with a 91:20 K/BB ratio in 64.1 innings pitched. He also hit for a .400/.547/.750 line in 80 at-bats, with seven homers, and a 16:24 K/BB ratio at the plate.
Pounders signed quickly, and went right to Bradenton where he played for the Pirates in the Gulf Coast League. In 23.2 innings with Bradenton, Pounders put up a 3.04 ERA, and a 20:11 K/BB ratio. The walk ratio was high, although the strikeout ratio was acceptable. The K/BB ratio is skewed by one bad outing on August 15th, in which Pounders allowed five walks and struck out none in two innings of work.
The strange thing about that particular outing was that Pounders had that outing against the GCL Tigers, one start after pitching four innings and allowing one run against the same team, with four strikeouts and one walk. Without that bad outing, Pounders had a 20:6 K/BB ratio in 21.2 innings pitched with Bradenton.
Information: Pounders is a big pitcher, at 6′ 5″, 240 lbs, but is not a hard throwing pitcher. He works in the 88-90 MPH range with his fastball, topping out at 91. His frame also doesn’t have any projectability, which means he isn’t a candidate to improve on that velocity. Pounders does have three good secondary pitches.
Pounders throws a tight curveball and a hard slider that ranges around 80 MPH with a late bite. Both pitches have plus potential. He also throws a changeup, which is currently a plus pitch, serving as a solid out pitch.
His fastball is straight, and he doesn’t command it on a consistent basis, although he has above-average command when it’s on, and he could eventually develop plus command. One thing the Pirates stress at the lower levels is fastball control and command, which should help him in this area. A good thing about his fastball is that he manages to keep it down, which leads to a low home run ratio.
Pounders doesn’t throw the fastball hard, but he has the potential of a three plus pitch arsenal, with plus fastball command. He won’t need a mid-90s fastball if his breaking balls develop in to plus pitches, or even to above average pitches. Pounders also works fast, repeats his delivery, and throws strikes.
In order to achieve success, Pounders needs to improve his breaking pitches, keep his command consistent, and watch his weight. He probably won’t improve on his velocity, but he could be an excellent finesse pitcher.
2010 Expectations: Pounders will likely spend the 2010 season with State College, where he should make some good strides on improving his fastball command.
Optimistic Projection: Pounders has the ability to be a rare pitcher in the majors: a number two starter who only throws 90 MPH, but gets by with his secondary pitches and excellent command. That would kind of make him the right handed version of David Wells, although I’m not sure if Pounders will ever pitch a no-hitter while drunk.
Conservative Projection: A 3-5 starter who doesn’t record a lot of strikeouts, but has an ERA around 4.00 thanks to his control and command. Kind of like Zach Duke.
Check back late Sunday night/Monday morning for prospect number 25…