I responded to what I consider to be irresponsible journalism a couple days ago and it got me interested in doing a bit of research just to see what gems I might find in the Rays farm system. After pointing out some obvious ones in that post, like Super Sam Fuld and Alex Torres, I found another who popped up on my radar this morning.
Alex Cobb was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the fourth round of the 2006 June Amateur draft out of Vero Beach High School. Cobb was a highly touted quarterback and baseball player who originally committed to Clemson but changed his mind after a stellar senior year.
What strikes me is his consistent growth as he’s threaded his way through the Rays farm system. Cobb, who is currently 3-0 with the Durham Bulls after yesterday’s whipping of the Charlotte Knights, has risen steadily even while no one has really taken notice of his peripherals.
There is reason for it of course. His signature pitch is a nasty sinking curve ball that often leaves batters flustered. His fastball is more like Andy Sonnanstine‘s, sitting between 88-92 mph, but his control of it is excellent and he uses it to induced ground balls, as evidenced by his career 0.7 home runs allowed. In 490 innings he’s given up a paltry 36 home runs…that’s pretty solid stuff.
Let’s take a peak at his career so far:
Cobb has moved up one level each year while improving his overall numbers. Since the 2007 season his strikeout to bases on balls (K/BB) ratio has gotten steadily better. When I see that in a pitcher, getting better as the competition gets better, it’s a sure sign that he is absorbing what the organization is teaching him.
Along with his K/BB, his ERA has shown consistent improvement over the same time frame. His numbers are a bit inflated this year – his Left on base percentage (LOB%,) something Ron Shandler calls his strand rate, is high at 88% and will certainly correct, just as his K/9 is at an unmaintainable level at 14.1 and will also correct itself at some point. However with the steady improvement as he rises up the ranks Cobb could be a welcome addition to the team at some point this season. My guess is he’ll be trade bait at some point, but then again you never know with the crafty talent evaluators in Tampa. While other more heralded prospects like Matt Moore get all the attention, Cobb could well get the call before any of them.