|Potential Red Sox draft picks: Marcus Stroman||06.03.12 at 5:56 pm ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said he was going to target the best players available when the Sox pick in the 2012 MLB draft, which starts Monday. When the Red Sox pick for the first time at 24th overall, there is at least a chance that the best pitcher remaining on the board could be Marcus Stroman, a hard-throwing 5-foot-9 right-handed pitcher from Duke University.
Stroman, who was drafted in the 18th round (532nd overall) of the 2009 draft, will undoubtedly hear his name called much earlier this time around, as he developed into the top pitcher in the ACC. After being named All-ACC on May 21, Stroman earned second-team All-America honors Thursday, after leading the nation in strikeouts with 136.
In his time as closer for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, Stroman did not allow a single hit in his 8 1/3 innings pitched, converting all four save opportunities. The Medford, N.Y., native struck out 17 of the 27 batters he faced, only surrendering one walk in the process. He was viewed as one of the top picks in this year’s draft class, but Baseball America suggests that he is sliding down the board (perhaps because of his short stature), and in a mock draft on Friday, the publication pegged Stroman as the Sox’ pick in a mock draft.
Various reports praise Stroman as one of the most polished pitching prospects of this year’s draft, possibly even capable of pitching in the major leagues as soon as this year, as he utilizes three MLB-ready pitches to give hitters fits. He can throw some serious heat for his size, with a fastball that tops out at 98 mph and sits in the mid-90s serving as the most impressive of the pitches in his arsenal. Stroman also has a changeup that is 10-12 mph slower that he can mix in with his fastballs and keep hitters off balance.
Stroman uses a hard, overpowering slider as an out pitch, and he has developed a cutter that he throws in the low-90s to give him a selection of four legitimate pitches. Many project Stroman as a closer because of his fastball-slider combination that is so common at the position. However, he has the changeup at his disposal as well (especially effective against lefties), as well as a cutter, a mix that would almost certainly leave the Sox inclined to develop him as a starter.
The knock on Stroman is his height. If he were a few inches taller, Stroman likely would be projected as a top-five pick as a starting pitcher instead of a mid-to-late-first round pick. Still, for a pitcher that is as close to MLB-ready as he is, Stroman represents a tantalizing prospect if he is still around when the Red Sox pick in the first round.
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