- Full name Steven Zachary McGuire Putnam
- Born 07/03/1987 in Rochester, MI
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 220 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Michigan
- Debut 09/13/2011
Drafted in the 5th round (171st overall) by the Cleveland Guardians in 2008 (signed for $600,000).
View Draft ReportWhen Putnam is going well, he can be very good. In the NCAA super regionals last June, he no-hit eventual national champion Oregon State for 8 2/3 innings before suffering a 1-0 loss. He'll use five pitches, and they'll all have their moments. His fastball sits at 91-92 mph with heavy sink, and he can get to 95 mph with riding life on a four-seamer. His splitter can be devastating and his slider can hit the mid-80s. He also uses a curveball and changeup. Putnam's mechanics aren't the prettiest--he doesn't incorporate his lower half much and powers through his delivery--but they don't prevent him from throwing strikes. He has been a valuable hitter for Michigan, and he has the arm strength and power to profile as a right fielder at the next level, but pro teams want Putnam on the mound. They just aren't sure exactly what to make of him. His secondary pitches are inconsistent, and shoulder soreness cost him two starts at the beginning of the season. He also showed little desire to pitch or play the field in the Cape Cod League last summer, preferring to DH. Putnam's future is likely as a reliever, though it's also possible that his splitter and slider will become more dependable once he's a full-time pitcher. The Yankees are a possible destination for him with the No. 44 overall pick.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Like Austin Adams, Putnam was a two-way player in college and focused on pitching once he turned pro. Signed for an above-slot $600,000 as a fifth-round pick in 2008, he pitched in Triple-A for much of the last two seasons before making his big league debut last September. Putnam has effort in his delivery but his athleticism helps him repeat his mechanics and throw strikes with a 90-93 mph fastball that touches 95. He pitches off his fastball and can put hitters away with an above-average splitter, a combination that helps him miss bats and get groundballs. He throws a below-average slider, which puts him in the difficult situation of being a righthanded reliever who can be vulnerable against righthanded hitters. His splitter helps him attack lefties, whom he held to a .547 OPS at Columbus last year, but he's still searching for a weapon against righties, who tagged him for a .712 OPS. Putnam projects as a middle reliever. He should get a chance to fill that role in Cleveland in 2012, possibly as soon as Opening Day.
Putnam was a two-way player at Michigan, but scouts always considered him a better prospect as a pitcher. The Indians signed him to an above-slot $600,000 bonus in the fifth round in 2008 and he began his career as a starter, but he has been mostly a reliever since advancing to Double-A in May 2009. His stuff has played up a notch since he moved to the bullpen, with his fastball sitting in the low to mid-90s and touching 96 mph with plus sink and occasional cutting action. Putnam can keep the ball on the ground with his fastball and his plus splitter, another pitch with big sink. His splitter is his best weapon, and it became more of a swing-and-miss pitch with late tumble when he became a reliver. Putnam also throws a straight changeup and a slider, though the latter is mostly just a spinner. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot and has a herky-jerky delivery, but he's able to throw all of his pitches for strikes and attacks hitters aggressively. He's on the verge of helping the big league club and should be in Cleveland's bullpen at some point in 2011.
Putnam was a highly touted prospect in high school, then starred for three years as a two-way player at Michigan. Always considered a better prospect on the mound, he came out college with polish and a wide array of pitches. One of several over-slot signing for the Tribe in the 2008 draft, he received $600,000 as a fifthrounder. After opening last season in Kinston's rotation, Putnam advanced to Double-A in May and pitched out of the bullpen. He throws a heavy low-90s fastball that touches 94 mph. He generally commands the pitch to both sides of the plate, and the sink on his heater helps him get grounders at a high clip. His out pitch is a plus splitter with late tumble, and he has the ability to throw it for strikes or get hitters to chase it out of the zone. He'll also mix in a solid changeup with sink and fade, and a developing slider. At times his slider has cutter action, but it needs more depth to become an average pitch. Putnam has a strong, athletic body, though he still has inconsistencies with his delivery. He'll get another chance to start in 2010, but many scouts see his future as a power arm in the back of the bullpen, where his stuff plays up in shorter stints.
Another of Cleveland's over-slot signees from the 2008 draft, Putnam received $600,000 as a fifth-rounder. He flashed a first-round arm at times at Michigan, but he was inconsistent with his secondary pitches and sent out mixed vibes about his signability, which is why he was available with the 171st overall pick. Putnam throws a 91-92 mph fastball with heavy sink, and the pitch peaks at 95 with riding life. His splitter is a plus pitch at times and his slider can reach the mid-80s. He also has a changeup and a curveball, though the curve is mostly a show-me pitch. He pulled double duty as a DH for the Wolverines, and its possible that his stuff could improve and get more consistent now that he's a full-time pitcher. Despite his deep repertoire, Putnam may wind up as a reliever. His secondary pitches aren't always reliable, and the consensus among scouts is that he'd be most effective pitching primarily with his sinker. A thick, full-bodied pitcher, Putnam doesn't use his legs enough in his mechanics and tends to power through his delivery. If the Indians use him out of the bullpen, he could move quickly and get a taste of Double-A in his first full pro season.
Background: Like Austin Adams, Putnam was a two-way player in college and focused on pitching once he turned pro. Signed for an above-slot $600,000 as a fifth-round pick in 2008, he pitched in Triple-A for much of the last two seasons before making his big league debut last September. Scouting Report: Putnam has some effort in his delivery but his athleticism helps him repeat his mechanics and throw strikes with a 90-93 mph fastball that touches 95 mph. He pitches off his fastball and can put hitters away with an above-average splitter, a combination that helps him miss bats and get groundballs. Putnam throws a below-average slider, which puts him in the difficult situation of being a righthanded reliever who can be vulnerable against righthanded hitters. His splitter helps him attack lefthanded batters, whom he held to a .547 OPS at Columbus last year, but he's still searching for a weapon against righthanded hitters, who tagged him for a .712 OPS. The Future: Putnam projects as a middle reliever. He should get a chance to fill that role in Cleveland in 2012, possibly as soon as Opening Day. Otherwise he will return to Columbus.