HOUSTON—As usual, the Houston College Classic is a feast for scouts, with six teams stocked with plenty of quality prospects. No fewer than eight major league scouting directors numbered among the dozens of scouts in attendance Friday at Minute Maid Park, and the first game of the day gave them a look at a pair of potential top-three-rounds picks in Baylor junior righties Logan Verrett and Brooks Pinckard. Both pitched well in Baylor's 5-2 win against Houston.
Verrett admitted he was feeling some jitters taking the mound in a big league park, and he worked at 87-90 mph in the first inning. Soon he settled into the 89-91 range and topped out at 92. He located his fastball well and mixed in an 82-85 mph slider, and a few changeups later.
"I was pleased with the start after the first two innings—I kind of settled down, got in my groove, and just played catch with Joey (Hainsfurther)," Verrett said. "The first time through the lineup, we started everyone off with fastballs, trying to get ahead. They caught onto that, and started putting balls in play, so we started mixing it up, just to keep them off balance."
Verrett improved to 2-1, 4.02 by allowing just two runs (one earned) on seven hits and a walk while striking out seven over 6 2/3 innings. But he still has not truly found his stride, according to Baylor coach Steve Smith.
"He threw good. I don't think he's throwing as well as I've seen him throw," Smith said. "He threw better last week than he did the first, and I thought today was very similar. He made a few mistakes with his slider that cost him some base hits. I think if you've got the kind of ammunition he's got, you don't give up too many two-strike hits. His fastball is not straight—it's got some late armside run to it and he's pretty downhill. The middle part of this game he was up a lot, but the sixth inning he got down, and that's why I let him go back out there for the seventh."
Smith said Verrett is not throwing his changeup with enough conviction, and he is not throwing his curveball at all.
"Two years ago he was the best four-pitch guy that I thought we'd ever had as a righthander, and the curveball has become non-existent," Smith said. "I think it's a feel thing, and right now he doesn't have a feel for it."
Pinckard, who trotted to the mound from center field in the eighth, is still working on developing feel for his secondary stuff, but he said he's making progress with his slider and his changeup. He struck out three in a 1 2/3 scoreless innings Friday, using fastballs at 94 and 95 mph for two of them, and a 78 mph slider to strike out David Murphy. He seemed capable of blowing away the Cougars with his 93-95 heater . . .
". . . Which would cause you to ask, why were you throwing changeups and sliders? But they were," Smith said. "I think he gave them chances with what he was throwing. You're out there—I won't call it experimenting, because it wasn't that—but you're in a save situation and you're using your second or third best pitch a bunch, not just occasionally. That's why I'm less than effervescent about the whole deal. It's good to see—hopefully he can mix it up, because that will be important for him. He's never been a big strikeout guy; he's really been a hard, heavy, sinking fastball, so I thought this year with the bat change that would really help him, and I think it will. If he does continue to develop either a slider or a change to the point where I am effervescent when he throws it, then he'll be very difficult to deal with. He's got good, live stuff."
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