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Posts Tagged ‘appalachian state

Know Your Prospects: Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, Citadel Bulldogs

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It’s more difficult to spell than the longest name in baseball, Saltalamacchia. And its pronunciation is even more mind boggling than Duchscherer.

For baseball writers everywhere, there’s a new brain aneurysm causing name on the scene.

Wojciechowski. First name Asher.

Prounounced Woah-jeh-how-ski, I have the name copied so I can simply press Apple+V whenever it comes up. When I started this blog, I didn’t know I’d have to become proficient in the study of Polish linguistics.

But, it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to avoid the name for any duration. Currently ranked 23rd in Baseball America‘s April Draft Preview, Wojciechowski has established himself as a first-round talent while pitching for the hometown Citadel Bulldogs.

I’ve had the opportunity to see Wojciechowski pitch on numerous occasions. Early in the season, it was easy to temper expectations for him. He was raw, his aggression unbridled, and maybe he was trying a little too hard to replicate his success from 2009. His fastball command was inconsistent, so hitters sat on his curveball and routinely laced it for hits. During more than one early season outing, Wojciechowski yelled “FUCK!” into his glove as hitters fed on his secondary pitches.

Wojciechowski has progressed steadily since then and has, by a large margin, become the Southern Conference’s best pitcher. As of April 30, Wojciechowski¬†lead the league in earned run average (2.47), strikeouts (98 through 73 innings), batters struck out looking (68) and wins (8).

A 6’4″, 230 pound, righthander out of Beaufort, South Carolina, Wojciechowski is one of the more advanced pitchers I’ve seen at the college level, both physically and stuff-wise.

His tall, but stout body is perfect for his leg-driven motion. His frame is surprisingly compact and moves quickly when he drives off the rubber with his large quads, meaning he gets all of his weight behind every pitch.

As a result, Wojciechowski is a power pitcher in the purest sense. His fastball resides in the low-to-mid nineties. During the Citadel’s game against Appalachian State on March 26, he sat at 91-93 with the pitch. As the season has progressed, however, he’s actually sustained that velocity and his fastball now sits closer to 93-94, even late into games.

Wojciechowski also possesses a good slider. The action on the pitch looks more like a power curveball, but I’m assuming he’s told scouts that it’s a slider because on nearly every outside scouting report, they call it a slider. Still, I’m sticking with my guns and calling it a power curve. Whatever it really is, the pitch sits at 89-91 miles per hour and has also shown positive development as the year has worn on.

Even though it’s not his best pitch, Wojciechowski shows absolutely no hesitation throwing his breaking ball, no matter the count. In several outings, I’ve actually felt he was throwing it to a fault, like he refused to accept that it’s not an out-pitch. Now, however, the pitch isn’t a pitch you can really sit on. It’s got good, sharp lateral movement and when he can command it, he uses it to expand the plate well.

His changeup, like so many young pitchers, is almost non-existent. He’s only thrown it a handful of times in the three games I’ve seen. It needs work.

Wojciechowski has a lot working for him, though. His success in the Southern Conference has made him an imposing figure. When he toes the rubber, opposing batters feel like they can’t win, like they can’t hit, like they can’t do anything.

Wojciechowski¬†begins his motion upright and holds his glove over his face so the batter can only see his glaring eyes. Looking in my notes, on more than one occasion, I’ve recorded something along the lines of: “Looks like he’ll rip your face off when he’s on the mound.” When he goes from the stretch, he begins by expanding his whole body, just showing the opposing team how physically dominant he is.

And when he’s at his best, he doesn’t let up and pounds the strikezone, over and over, with his boring fastball. With that coming at you at 95 miles per hour and a sharp breaking pitch, he’s been nearly unstoppable in the Southern Conference.

Some scouts say he’s a bonafide number two or number three starter at the major league level. Others say he’s a flamethrowing reliever.

Like that offspeed pitch, there’s some thrash over what Wojciechowski is, what he will be, or where he’ll end up.

Either way, his dominant 2010 has been a fun ride. And no matter what the future holds, I’ll be watching.

College of Charleston vs. Appalachian State

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C Of C Scoreboard.

I love going to College of Charleston baseball games. Patriot’s Point Stadium is right down the street, it’s Division I baseball, and there’s a few bonafide prospects to boot.

Today, the Cougars faced the Appalachian State Mountaineers in Southern Conference action. It was a solid game through six innings but once the noseums came out and the sun retreated, I decided to leave prematurely.

There were really only two guys I was keeping an eye on during this one: the Cougar’s second baseman Brandon Sizemore and Appalachian’s outfielder Rand Smith. Sizemore was recently named to the Golden Spikes watch list, the top honor for a college player. While he won’t win when there’s dudes like San Diego’s RHP Stephen Strasburg on the list, it’s still an extremely amazing honor for a player of Sizemore’s caliber. Check out this video of Strasburg to see what Sizemore is up against:

Appalachian’s Rand Smith could break some team and conference hitting streaks this weekend so I decided to watch out for him, too.

Charleston’s RHP Jesse Simpson toed the rubber tonight as the team’s “ace,” which is really a moniker for the best a mediocre pitching staff has to offer. Throwing a mid-80’s fastball, a high-70’s curve, and a 79 mile per hour change, Simpson struggled through the first inning, allowing three singles and a run in the process. As the first batter of the game, Smith didn’t waste any time extending his hit streak to 25 games, singling and scoring.

Simpson’s nemesis on the mound was Appalachian’s RHP Matt Andress. Andress, who stands at 6’4″ and 225 pounds, looked to throw a high-80’s two-seamer or straight fastball and a change with an occasional curve thrown in. His fastball was biting early, but thanks to some shoddy defense and poor command, Andress also gave up one run in the bottom half of the frame. Sizemore reached base safely on a hard hit liner to short. The play should have been ruled an error, but was scored a hit.

Simpson made me pay attention in the second, striking out the side on 12 pitches and making Appalachian’s batters look absolutely foolish. He breezed through the third frame too, initiating a double play and grabbing another strikeout.

Andress faltered in the fourth and fifth frames, becoming preoccupied with base runners instead of trusting his stuff and his defense (which at this point in the game was iffy anyways). Final line for him was 5.0 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 3 SO.

Simpson finished 7.0 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 9 SO and got the win.

Jesse Simpson looked good on the mound for Charleston, moving to 6-2.

Jesse Simpson looked good on the mound for Charleston, moving to 6-2.

Sizemore finished 1-3 with an RBI and a BB. I was impressed by his plate appearance in the fourth. He showed great plate discipline by driving in catcher Austin Morgan with a sacrifice fly instead of trying to rocket the ball out of the park or score a hit. Rand Smith went 3-5 with no signs of slowing down at the dish.