Chicago Cubs Top 10 Prospects
By Jim Callis
1. Mark Prior, rhp
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Southern California, 2001 (1st round). Signed by: Steve Fuller.
Strengths: Prior has everything scouts dream about in a pitcher. He throws his fastball at 94-97 mph, and his uncanny command of the pitch may be more impressive than its considerable velocity and life. Scouts say theyve never seen a 20-year-old pitcher locate his fastball at will like Prior does. He also can overmatch batters with his 12-to-6 curveball, another potential plus-plus pitch. Though he had little reason to give college hitters a fighting chance by throwing a changeup, Southern California coach Mike Gillespie insists Prior has a pretty good one. Prior has a classic pitchers body at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds; his mechanics are flawless. Hes intelligent, poised and dedicated to his craft.
Weaknesses: Priors main need is experience. The Cubs wish Prior had headed to instructional league or the Arizona Fall League after he signed, but he returned to college to finish his degree. Hell have to throw more changeups and get acclimated to throwing every fifth day as a pro.
The Future: Prior will be in big league camp and make his pro debut at Double-A West Tenn. A true No. 1 starter, hes an obvious candidate for a September callup if he hasnt reached Wrigley Field already. Scouts look at him and see the next Roger Clemens.
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