- Full name Mark William Prior
- Born 09/07/1980 in San Diego, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 230 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Southern California
- Debut 05/22/2002
Drafted in the 1st round (2nd overall) by the Chicago Cubs in 2001 (signed for $4,000,000).
View Draft ReportAll the superlatives come out when Prior's name is mentioned in coaching and scouting circles, including "best college pitcher ever," and "could be a No. 3 starter on a lot of big league clubs right now." The 6-foot-5, 220-pound righthander has been dominant from his first pitch and led the Pacific-10 Conference in wins, ERA and strikeouts entering regional play. That he could reach 200 strikeouts before walking 20 batters says it all about his stuff and command. He dominated hitters with a 94-97 mph fastball with exquisite location on both sides of the plate, and outstanding command of his quality breaking ball. And it all happens with a free, easy, effortless delivery. His success this season is a culmination of hard work, maturity and experience. Prior, a supplemental first-round draft pick of the Yankees in 1998, struggled with command in his first two years in college. He put it all together last summer with Team USA. He has significantly improved his control and his breaking pitch. He also has a solid changeup, but rarely threw it this year. For all his physical attributes, Prior's makeup is one of his greatest strengths. Those who know him say he wouldn't be intimidated by going directly to the big leagues--a feat that has happened only 18 times in draft history.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Flirting with a no-hitter against Louisiana State at the 2000 College World Series and starring that summer with Team USA's college squad positioned Prior as the top pitching prospect for the 2001 draft. By the end of the season, several scouts called him the best college pitching prospect they had ever seen. After going 14-15 in his first two college seasons, Prior went 15-1, 1.69 with a Pacific-10 Conference record 202 strikeouts and just 18 walks in 139 innings. Baseball America's College Player of the Year passed Georgia Tech third baseman Mark Teixeira as the consensus best player available. Drafting first overall, the Twins opted for Minnesota high school catcher Joe Mauer. Picking second, the Cubs had determined in March they'd take Prior if they got the chance. Negotiations began in earnest in August, when Prior signed a four-year major league contract with a guaranteed worth of at least $10.5 million, a draft record, including a $4 million bonus. In December, Prior won USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award, the baseball equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. 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. Some scouts say they've 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. Southern California coach Mike Gillespie insists Prior has a pretty good changeup, though he had little reason to give college hitters a fighting chance by throwing it. Prior has a classic pitcher's body at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds; his mechanics are flawless. He's intelligent, poised and dedicated to his craft. His only real 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. He'll have to throw more changeups and get acclimated to throwing every fifth day as a pro. Prior will be in big league camp and make his pro debut at Double-A West Tenn. A true No. 1 starter, he's an obvious candidate for a September callup if he hasn't reached Wrigley Field already by then. Scouts look at him and see the next Roger Clemens.