- Full name Thomas Stephen Gorzelanny
- Born 07/12/1982 in Evergreen Park, IL
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 218 / Bats: R / Throws: L
- School Triton College
- Debut 09/20/2005
Drafted in the 2nd round (45th overall) by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003 (signed for $775,000).
View Draft ReportThe White Sox drafted Gorzelanny in the 18th round out of an Illinois high school three years ago, and then he all but disappeared from the baseball map. He redshirted at Kansas in 2001 and went 3-7, 5.90 as a freshman in 2002. He started to make major strides with the Jayhawks in fall practice but also flunked out of school, prompting his transfer back home to Triton JC. Gorzelanny threw great at the beginning of the year, reaching 91-94 mph with run and sink to both sides of the plate. He didn't maintain his arm slot or his mechanics throughout the year, which cost him velocity and effectiveness at times. He's not just a 6-foot-3, 195-pound lefty with a strong arm. His low-80s slider will be a plus pitch if it becomes more consistent, and he also has shown an average changeup. The White Sox have shown interest in Gorzelanny, and he'd be an option if they wanted to go cheap in the first round and spend more money on later picks. Most likely, he'll be a third- to fifth-rounder.
Organization Prospect Rankings
After starting his college career at Kansas, Gorzelanny turned into a high-round pick after academic woes prompted him to transfer to Triton Junior College near his Chicago-area home. He made his big league debut in September, barely more than two years after being drafted, and set a Double-A Altoona record by striking out 13 in an Eastern League playoff game. Gorzelanny throws hard; his fastball sits at 90-92 mph with excellent movement and reaches as high as 95. His slider can be unhittable at times, and he really took a step forward in 2005 after he dramatically improved his changeup. He also has good mound presence and refuses to give in to hitters. Gorzelanny needs to tighten up his breaking ball because it gets slurvy at times. He can solve that problem by developing a more consistent arm slot. Though he got a major league look, Gorzelanny needs to spend the majority of 2006 at Triple-A Indianapolis to become a finished product. He has the chance to become a fine No. 2-3 starter.
Gorzelanny began his college career at Kansas before academic difficulties led him to transfer to Triton, the alma mater of Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett. He moved quickly in his first full pro season, allowing two earned runs or fewer in 15 of his 16 starts in low Class A. He spent the second half at high Class A Lynchburg, then turned in two strong relief outings in the Double-A Eastern League playoffs. Gorzelanny throws hard for a lefthander, reaching 94-95 mph and sitting at 91-92 with his fastball. He also has an above-average slider that's tough on lefthanders. Like Pittsburgh's other top pitching prospects, he's a battler who refuses to give in to hitters. Gorzelanny doesn't maintain a consistent delivery, dropping his arm slot and losing command of his slider. His changeup lags behind his other two pitches. He sometimes has a hard time shaking off adversity and needs to have a shorter memory. Gorzelanny will begin the season in Double-A. If he polishes up his mechanics, he could see the major leagues by 2006 and become a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.
Gorzelanny began his collegiate career at the University of Kansas but encountered academic difficulties after his redshirt freshman season, causing him to transfer back home to Illinois and powerhouse Triton. The move paid off as he wound up being a second-round draft pick. Gorzelanny scared some scouts off because of his loss of velocity late in the junior college season but he made mechanical adjustments at Williamsport and got his fastball back to the 91-94 mph range. His heater also has nice run and sink, making it difficult to hit. Gorzelanny also has a good variety of complementary pitches with a splitter, changeup, curveball and slider. There were questions about Gorzelanny's maturity in college, but he showed great enthusiasm and aptitude in his first pro season. The Pirates plan to eventually ask him to drop a pitch, so can concentrate on honing a narrower repertoire. He'll get his first taste of full-season ball this year in low Class A. Based on his pro debut, Gorzelanny looks like he could move fast and challenge for a major league rotation spot by 2006.
Minor League Top Prospects
Like Sowers, Gorzelanny was among the league leaders in ERA when he was promoted to the majors. But that's where the similarities end. In terms of pure stuff, Gorzelanny had the best of any lefthander in the league. He pitches at 91 mph, but his above-average fastball can range anywhere from 90-94 with life, and he locates it to both sides of the plate with deception and downhill plane. Gorzelanny's sharp, late-breaking slider is his out pitch, and he's still learning to locate his straight changeup. "He's one of those guys who can throw 90-plus and locate his breaking balls. He's as good as anybody in the league," Charlotte manager Razor Shines sad. "He's not afraid to throw his fastball in a fastball count, and it shows me he has conviction. And I like pitchers with conviction." Scouts thought Gorzelanny's could become a dependable No. 3 starter or a top lefthanded reliever. He was shut down with elbow soreness in August but returned by mid-September.
Gorzelanny spent three years in college--two at Kansas (one as a redshirt) and one at Triton (Ill.) Junior College--so he was a bit older than many of his SAL peers. He also threw harder than most of them. In a one-inning stint at the all-star game, Gorzelanny touched 96, and Hickory manager Dave Clark said he consistently kept his live fastball in the low 90s while also showing the ability to spot the pitch for strikes. Gorzelanny also throws a power slurve that needs to be tightened up to a slider, and a changeup with split-finger action. Managers liked his toughness and competitiveness as well as his command. "He topped out at 94 for me, but it was lively," an AL area scout said. "The breaking ball was a power slurve that is a future plus pitch with refinement. He showed solid feel and command for the change and had a very solid mound presence."
Gorzelanny started off the season dealing at low Class A Hickory, going 7-1, 2.38 in 87 innings. He earned a promotion to Lynchburg, and he had mixed results--losing four of his first five decisions. But he finished strong, striking out 35 in his final five starts. The 22-year-old lefthander features a fastball in the 91-94 mph range, and has a good variety of complementary pitches with a splitter, changeup, curveball and slider. He got hit hard on occasion in the CL, mainly because of elevation on his pitches--most notably the breaking stuff. "He's one of the top pitchers in this league," Gardner Jr. said. "He's got a good repertoire of pitches and throws all of them for strikes. He's got a good frame and throws an easy 94. If he can sharpen up his secondary stuff, he's going to be a force."
Gorzelanny did little in two years at Kansas before flunking out, then blossomed at Triton (Ill.) Junior College last spring. A second-round choice in June, he impressed managers and scouts more than first-rounder and teammate Paul Maholm did. Gorzelanny has a 91-94 mph fastball that sinks and has nasty cutting action against righthanders. He has a fluid three-quarters arm action with fair extension and good arm speed. He occasionally rushes in his delivery and throws uphill, but he has a plus 79-83 mph slider with good bite when he stays on top of the pitch. He complements those offerings with an 80-82 changeup.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Fastball in the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006
- Rated Best Slider in the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2005