Saturday, January 17, 2009

Jack McGeary-Prospect number 5

            Rounding off the Nationals impressive 2007 draft, Jack McGeary is another potential first round talent that the team snagged in later rounds due to signability concerns.  But while McGeary fits into the Nats 2007 brand of late round steals, nothing about the young lefties road to the majors will be normal.

            The six foot three, two hundred pound starter excelled at Roxbury Latin high school in Massachusetts, both in and out of the classroom. Often described as an absolute perfectionist, its not surprising that the young man would be able to set up an agreement to have his cake and eat it too.

            You see, McGeary had earned himself admission to Stanford University, one of the best colleges in the country. He earned it not only on the baseball field, but in the classroom as well. Many clubs saw McGeary as a lock to go to sunny California in the fall, which is why he fell so far in the draft. The Nationals leadership knew what a great talent McGeary was however, and gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse.           

            The deal reached by the two parties, minutes before the deadline gave McGeary first round money (1.8  million dollars) and a 200,000 dollar scholarship to attend Stanford. The unique deal not only gave a sixth round pick first round money (much to the dismay of other clubs in the league), it allowed the young lefthander to study four years at Stanford while working out daily and pitching for the club’s minor league affiliates in the summer.

            Today McGeary spends his time in his dorm room like many other 19-year-old Stanford students. But instead of going out to the frat party Friday night or sleeping in Saturday morning, he is waking up at 6 A.M to drive to Santa Cruz University to workout on their facilities. Stanford won’t let him use their varsity complex anymore, not after the stud recruit decommited from Stanford, but still decided to attend the university. On some weekends he will spend 12 hours on a plane just so he can get 8 hours of instruction at Vieira Beach, Florida from Nationals minor league scouts. So far the young man has been impressive in his ability to handle both the classroom, and the professional baseball life.

            It is however, yet to be seen whether this deal will hurt his development. Almost all young players play year round, on a team. There is a lot to be said for pitching in actual games, playing alongside teammates, and having a coach push you harder than you can push yourself. McGeary wont have that experience, at least not during the school year anyways. I don’t know if workouts alone will be enough to develop the young player, in fact, no one does. It’s a true experiment to say the least, but as Jacks mom said, “If anyone can do it, he can.”

            The lefty combines an outstanding curveball with excellent control, and a fastball that shows natural movement. That fastball only reaches about 89-90 right now, but has the potential to be improved as he matures. His large frame (6-3, 200 LBS) suggests that he has the body to be a big league starter and his personal coaches all say he understands the mindset needed to be successful on the mound. Baseball America named him as having the best curveball and the best control in the organization.

            So far his performance has been mixed. At the age of 19 he only has 14 professional starts. He’s been hit around a little bit, although not hard. In 66.1 IP he has allowed 70 hits, but only two home runs. He has only let up 21 walks and has struck out 73. Overall he is 2-3 with a 4.48 ERA.

            Despite the amounts of hits and runs he is letting up, his high K/BB ratio shows promise. He knows how to get hitters out when he gets deep in the count, he probably just needs to improve his fastball to get ahead early. McGeary could be a major league starter someday, but I believe with his stunted development with his arrangement, it wont be until he is about 26 or 27.

No comments: