Pittsburgh Pirates Top 50 Prospects: 17 – Colton Cain

To cap off the end of the 2009 season, I’m going to be counting down my list of the top 50 prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system. I’ll be counting down one prospect per day, with an extensive recap on each player, until I reach number one. Check out the previous installments:

17. Colton Cain, LHP
2009 Season: Cain was drafted by the Pirates in the eighth round of the 2009 draft, as part of their plan to sign several quality high school arms who fell due to signability issues. Cain was coming off a senior season with Waxahachie High School where he posted a 2.17 ERA in 58 innings, with a 118:18 K/BB ratio.
That performance, and his potential, was good enough to rank him as the 109th ranked prospect in the draft, according to Baseball America. Cain fell to the Pirates with the 235th pick due to his commitment to the University of Texas.
Cain signed late, getting $1.125 M at the beginning of August, and didn’t get a chance to make his professional debut with the Pirates in 2009.
Information: Cain is a big left hander at 6′ 3″, 225 pounds. There were some points in the Spring where he looked like a first rounder, and other points where he was trying to overthrow in order to pitch to the radar gun and impress scouts. Cain also split his time between pitching and playing first base, where he had a lot of power potential. Now that Cain is with the Pirates, he can focus on his pitching, and doesn’t have to worry about impressing scouts.
Cain has a fastball that touches 94 MPH, and has sink. His curveball is currently an average pitch, and projects as a plus offering in the future. Cain also has a changeup, which could be a good pitch down the line due to his arm speed. Cain was good enough to star with the US youth and junior teams while he was in high school.
Cain’s control is good, but he does leave the ball up in the air at times. He pounds the zone with his fastball, and if he develops his secondary pitches, he could be a very effective pitcher. He has a feel for the other pitches, so it’s not inconceivable that he could improve those pitches to the level of his fastball.
I’m sure there will be calls for Cain to play as a two way player, since he projected as a two way player for Texas, and since he has power potential from the first base position. Right now it looks like the Pirates are only going to try him as a pitcher, which is a smart call. Cain needs to devote all of his time in to mastering his fastball control, and improving his secondary pitches.
2010 Expectations: Cain will start his career next season, either in State College or in West Virginia. He could take the Quinton Miller approach of a brief stay in State College, followed by spending the final two months of the season in West Virginia.
Optimistic Projection: Cain has the potential to be a very good left handed starter, possibly a number two or three pitcher in the rotation. He already has the fastball to his advantage. He just needs to improve his curveball to add effectiveness to his fastball, and his changeup to get right handed batters out.
Conservative Projection: Zach Duke
Check back tomorrow for prospect number 16…
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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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