Lefthander Stephen Tarpley was one of the biggest recruits to wind up on campus last year. After being selected in the eighth round of the 2011 draft by the Indians, Tarpley honored his commitment to Southern California and ranked as the No. 37 college freshman in Baseball America's 2012 College Preview issue.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound southpaw pitched well for the Trojans, going 5-3, 3.22 with 67 strikeouts and 29 walks over 78 innings, but returned closer to home to pitch for Scottsdale (Ariz.) CC for the 2013 season. The move to juco ball makes Tarpley eligible for the 2013 draft and he projects as a second- to fourth-round pick.
So far this season, Tarpley has helped the Fighting Artichokes to a 5-0 record by going 1-0, 1.23 with 10 strikeouts and three walks over 7.1 innings.
"The stuff has been really good," Scottsdale head coach Alex Cherney said. "I was told his fastball was 91-94 (mph) the other day. His command has been OK. It could always get a little bit better, but he's pitched well so far. Obvioulsy we expect him to get a little bit sharper as the season goes along, especially with his command, but so far he's been as advertised."
Cherney said Tarpley's curveball has been really sharp with good depth to it. He uses a slider, mostly against lefthanders, and his changeup is also coming along nicely.
But it's not just Tarpley's ability on the mound that has Cherney excited.
"Stephen is a great teammate," he said. "When he comes to the ballpark, he always has a smile on his face and when it's his turn to pitch, he's always ready. He's a high-energy guy.
"He's an interesting kid. He taught himself how to play the guitar, he speaks Japanese, so there's some depth to his character."