Rounds 21-25: Finding the Next Phil Irwin

2013 draftJust before the 24th round I was thinking about Phil Irwin. Back in 2009, Irwin was taken in the 21st round out of Mississippi. At the time he looked like he had some promise. In fact, this was my recap of the pick:

I really like the pick of Irwin, which gives us two of Mississippi’s top three starters this year (maybe we can get the top guy next year, Drew Pomeranz, who is a 6’5″, 231 pound lefty that posted a 124:37 K/BB ratio in 95.1 IP this year). Irwin is 6’3″, 215 pounds, has three average pitches and keeps the ball in the park, which is what the Pirates seem to favor. He’s not dominant, but looked effective, with a 3.84 ERA and a 73:20 K/BB ratio in 86.2 IP. I don’t think he’d be hard to sign, especially if we also signed Baker.

Of course I also went to say that Jose Hernandez looked like a steal because of his power (he wasn’t) and that the big question was whether that power could carry over to wood bats (it did in West Virginia, then he faded away after the jump to Altoona). So a guy showing promise based on college stats in the middle-to-late rounds doesn’t necessarily mean that guy will be successful going forward. Plus that was in 2009 when I was doing this for fun, and used the term “we”, which I cringe when seeing now.

I was thinking about Irwin, and then the Pirates took Carson Cross out of Connecticut. Cross has all of the same things I liked about Irwin — mostly really good numbers. He also has a lot of things the Pirates seem to like and have success with — a steep downward plane, good command and the tendency to get early groundball outs due to hitters struggling to square up on his fastball. The only problem is that Cross is a draft eligible sophomore, which means he can re-enter the draft two more times. That means he’s not a guarantee to sign. If he does, he’d be my “Irwin Sleeper” pick at this point.

21st Round, 629th Overall: Adam Landecker, 2B, USC

Landecker didn’t see full-time playing duty until his Senior year and put up solid numbers across the board, leading USC in batting average, while showing some pop in his bat that wasn’t around his first three years. He also led the team in batting as a Junior. He’s a versatile player that makes good contact. As a senior, he will likely sign quick and play regularly for one of the short-season teams. – John Dreker

22nd Round, 659th Overall: Henry Hirsch, RHP, University of New Haven

Hirsch is a hard throwing right-hander who will probably join the Jamestown bullpen as an organizational arm. He was hit harder during the 2013 season with New Haven, but keeps the walks low and has a good strikeout rate. Hirsch wasn’t rated in Baseball America’s top 20 2013 draft prospects of Lower New England, with the overall group being rated “Not up to par”. – Tim Williams

23rd Round, 689th Overall: Cameron Griffin, LHP, Stetson University

Griffin has seen limited time on the mound in his three seasons at Stetson, working mainly as a middle reliever, possibly coming in to face lefties only, judging by the low inning totals compared to games pitched. He has had some control issues, but obviously keeps the ball in the yard, going by the fact he has allowed just one homer in 91.1 total innings. He throws in the low 90’s and impressed some scouts in the Cape Cod league last Summer. Stetson tried to turn him into a starter this year, but it did not work out. His coach said before the draft that he believes that Griffin will be back for his Senior season, even if he was drafted in the middle rounds. – John Dreker

24th Round, 719th Overall: Carson Cross, RHP, Connecticut

Cross was a redshirt in 2011, and started his career in the bullpen with Connecticut in 2012. He put up some strong numbers, with a 1.21 ERA and a 28:6 K/BB ratio in 37.1 innings. He was moved to the rotation this year and continued the strong results, with a 2.44 ERA and an 86:24 K/BB ratio in 110.2 innings. He throws an 89-91 MPH fastball from a very high arm slot, and has a lot of downhill movement, throwing a lot of strikes at the knees. The height and the downward plane make him hard to square up on, and produces a lot of early ground balls in the count. He also throws a curveball and a changeup, and has good command of all of his pitches. Because he’s a draft eligible sophomore, he’s got some leverage in that he can go back to the draft in each of the next two years. If he signs he looks like he has some promise to be more than just organizational depth. – Tim Williams

25th Round, 749th Overall: Justin Maffei, CF, University of San Francisco

Maffei has hit well in his four years of college, looking like a solid player since day one. He transferred from the College of San Mateo to San Francisco before his Junior year, so the stats did drop a small amount due to the move from a small college to a big program. Maffei had good speed and has been fairly consistent on the basepaths through his college career. He batted lead-off for San Francisco and played center field. As a Senior, he will likely sign quick and play regularly for one of the short-season teams.– John Dreker