- Full name Stephen Michael Pryor
- Born 07/23/1989 in Donelson, TN
- Profile Ht.: 6'4" / Wt.: 235 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Tennessee Tech
- Debut 06/02/2012
Drafted in the 5th round (162nd overall) by the Seattle Mariners in 2010 (signed for $153,000).
View Draft ReportTennessee Tech reliever Pryor headed in the other direction this season. A junior-college transfer from Cleveland State, Pryor had a reputation with scouts for having size and velocity but little command and poor mechanics. He made significant progress this season in taming his delivery, controling his body and improving his velocity. He has tremendous arm strength and uses his tree-trunk legs well, leveraging his 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame, and he had his fastball sitting 94-97 mph all spring. In a May midweek matchup against Bryce Brentz and Middle Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech coach Matt Bragga brought Pryor in even though the team was losing, showcasing him in front of several top evaluators on hand to see Brentz. Pryor gave up a solo home run but also pumped his fastball up to 98 mph and repeated his delivery. Pryor's slider has its moments in the mid-80s, but he's fairly new to the pitch after ditching his curve. It has decent shape and projects to be an average pitch if he can command it. He dominated at times, with 75 strikeouts in just 41 innings, an amazing 16.5 strikeouts per nine innings. That's just short of the NCAA Division I record set by Ryan Wagner in 2003 (16.8), and Pryor should go high despite his 4-4, 5.71 overall mark at Tennessee Tech and despite getting hit around in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.
Organization Prospect Rankings
After signing for $153,000 as a fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft, Pryor zipped through the system and made his major league debut on June 2 against the White Sox, striking out all-star Paul Konerko as the first batter he faced. Pryor has a big, strong frame and his stuff is just as intimidating as his appearance. He loads up on his back leg and fires his fastball between 94-97 mph, topping out at 99. The pitch sometimes can get straight, but he makes up for it with premium velocity, and he keeps hitters off balance with his nasty 91-93 mph cutter. He can take a little off the cutter and make it an 87-90 mph slider with more downward break. Scouts don't love his arm action, but Pryor has cleaned up his delivery considerably every year since leaving Tennessee Tech. His control is below-average and he doesn't really have a pitch to combat lefthanders, which makes him profile better as a set-up man than a closer.
After showing one of the system's best fastballs in his 2010 pro debut, Pryor looked ready to zoom through the system. He got of to a slow start last season, missing the first four weeks with elbow tendinitis and posting a 19.29 ERA in his first nine appearances in high Class A. He rallied and was lights out from June through the end of the season, recording a 1.88 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 38 innings while reaching Double-A. Pryor has a big, intimidating build and the stuff to match. His heavy fastball operates at 93-95 mph and gets as high as 98. He worked on keeping his fastball down in the zone in 2011, though he can elevate it for a punchout. He throws a hard downer curveball at 80-82 mph, but the biggest factor in his second-half success was the addition of a nasty 87-91 mph cutter. Even with his extra-large frame, Pryor has good body control and loosened up his delivery a little bit in the second half of the season. The Mariners have a collection of power arms in front of him, but if he continues on his roll, he could join the big league bullpen at some point in 2012.
Pryor transferred from Cleveland State (Tenn.) CC to Tennessee Tech before his junior year in 2010, making a name for himself when he touched 98 mph in a game against Red Sox sandwich pick Bryce Brentz and Middle Tennessee State. Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara was in attendance, and one inning was all he needed to see to pop Pryor in the fifth round and sign him for $153,000. Pryor's fastball typically sits at 94-97 mph, and he used it to strike out 75 in 41 innings for the Golden Eagles and then 55 in 35 pro innings. He alternated between throwing a curveball and a slider this spring and is back to using a curve now. His breaking ball can get caught in between and exhibit slurvy movement, but it's a power pitch either way. Pryor has a physical body with tree trunks for legs. Despite his large frame, he shows good body control, but his delivery is a little unorthodox with a pause at his balance point as he turns his back to the hitters. He could add even more life to his fastball if he smoothes out some of the rough edges in his delivery. As a power-armed college reliever, Pryor could move quickly through the minors. He could reach Double-A in his first full pro season and challenge for a spot in the big league bullpen in 2012.
Minor League Top Prospects
Pryor made a name for himself this spring at Tennessee Tech when he touched 98 mph in a game against Red Sox sandwich pick Bryce Brentz and Middle Tennessee State. He showed some of the best arm strength in the NWL, sitting at 92-95 and topping out at 97. He dominated the league and earned a promotion to low Class A after just 11 appearances. Pryor prefers to blow his fastball by hitters because the rest of his game is raw. He switched from throwing a curveball to a slider this spring, and it's still a work in progress. There's some funk to his delivery and he'll need to keep his big body under control to improve his command.