You will be hard-pressed to find anyone at any level of baseball who had a better 2013 season than Sonoma State senior right-hander Harmen Sidhu. Sidhu set records for Sonoma State and the California Collegiate Athletic Association in Division II with a ridiculous 0.98 ERA. And we’re not talking about a relief pitcher who didn’t throw many inning–Sidhu was a starting pitcher that just dominated every time out. Sidhu didn’t allow as many as three earned runs in a single start all year and allowed one or less in 10 of 13, going 10-1 with a 0.98 ERA and a 93-23 strikeout to walk ratio in 82.2 innings pitched. He allowed just 47 hits all year, just 5.1 per 9 innings, as hitters batted just .165 against him, and he allowed only 5 extra-base hits, 4 doubles and a triple. It was an unbelievable season, and for his efforts, Sidhu was awarded the Tino Martinez Award for Division II Player of the Year. Sidhu could not have asked for a stronger finish to his collegiate baseball career, and he culminated it by being the Rays’ 20th round selection in the 2013 MLB Draft.
Sidhu, 6’1″ and 195 pounds, will not dominate nearly the same way against more advanced competition but has an advanced three-pitch arsenal that could work as a back-of-the-rotation starter or at least in a middle relief role. Despite being on the shorter side as pitchers go, Sidhu gets solid sink on his fastball and does a good job keeping it down. Its velocity tops out around 88-89 MPH, but its difficult to square up thanks to its movement and his ability to command it. Sidhu’s secondary pitches, though, stand out more for his ability to thrown them for strikes than for their movement. His better secondary pitch is his changeup, which features good arm action and some sink, and he also throws a slider whose shorter break is more conducive to groundballs than swings-and-misses. Sidhu has thrown a curveball in the past that flashed sharp action, and we’ll have to see if the Rays go back to that to try to get Sidhu a plus breaking ball.
When you look at these pitchers who win with more polish than pure stuff, the risk is that pro hitters will figure them out as they move up the ladder. But in Harmen Sidhu, the Rays are hoping that they have found a whole lot more than a strike-thrower. His fastball may not have the velocity but its movement gives it a change to continue to be effective and you hope that his array of breaking pitches along with the potential of his curveball will be enough for him to survive. Sidhu’s confidence is sky-high after a season for the ages at Sonoma State and let’s see what he can do as his professional career begins.