AFL Scout's View: James Simmons
The Athletics' 2007 first-round pick James Simmons was UC Riverside's ace since his freshman season in 2005, and wore that tag until this spring when Oakland took him 26th overall.
After he signed for $1.192 million, the A's sent Simmons straight to Double-A Midland to work as a reliever after he carried a heavy workload for the Highlanders, where he pitched 124 innings and posted 11-3, 2.40 numbers.
Simmons went 0-0, 3.94 with 28 strikeouts in 30 innings for the Rock Hounds, and the A's sent him to the Arizona Fall League to continue to get innings against more experienced pro hitters.
Simmons is 0-0, 3.94 with 23 strikeouts through his first 30 innings of work for the Desert Dogs.
We caught up with a veteran National League scout to provide us with a breakdown of Simmons, who could move extremely fast if he remains in the bullpen in the Athletics' organization, but is continuing to work on his overall arsenal:
"This is a guy that accumulated a lot of innings last year in college as a starter and the A's moved him straight to Double-A, worked him out of the pen and he had a lot of success," the scout said. "It's a tremendous accomplishment for him to go right into that level, have success and then go straight to this league to see elite hitters.
"His biggest asset is exquisite fastball command. He can put it where he wants to, and out of the bullpen he's been 93 to 94 (in the Fall League). As a starter, I see him going back to that 89 to 92 (mph) range where he was in college and maintaining that velocity throughout. He's got a very sound delivery with good mechanics. He's a strike-thrower that seems to have a great idea of what he wants to do. He understands situations and has a plan.
"His two-seamer can be a weapon at times and has a chance to get a lot of ground balls from lefthanded batters and can chew up righties at the same time.
"He's got an above-average changeup. Really, the question with him remains the breaking ball. That will be the pitch that determines where his future will be. He's shown a slider out here, but he gets around it at times and he has trouble locating it. But again, he's experimenting and this is the atmosphere to do that. It's gotten a lot better from where it was just earlier this year in college, but the development of that pitch will dictate what kind of role he'll have."