- Full name Aaron Steven Laffey
- Born 04/15/1985 in Cumberland, MD
- Profile Ht.: 5'11" / Wt.: 190 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Allegany
- Debut 08/04/2007
Drafted in the 16th round (468th overall) by the Cleveland Guardians in 2003 (signed for $363,000).
View Draft ReportLaffey pitched better every time out this spring and became a possible early-round selection. He has a quick arm with clean mechanics and can locate all three of his pitches: an 85-87 mph fastball that reaches 91, a changeup and slider. He has a good feel for pitching, though his 6-foot, 180-pound build doesn't leave room for much projection. He's a good athlete who plays shortstop when he doesn't pitch and averaged 15-20 points for his high school basketball team. His father is a former teammate of Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone, which might put him higher on the Braves' draft board. The Braves are targeting lefthanded pitching. Laffey has committed to Virginia Tech and his pitching style reminds area scouts of Virginia Tech lefty Joe Saunders, a first-round pick in 2002.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Laffey fell to the 16th round in the 2003 draft because of his commitment to Virginia Tech, but the Indians took a gamble on him and signed him for $363,000. After bouncing between the bullpen and a starting role throughout his career, he moved back to the rotation for good in 2006 and hurried to the big leagues after just 22 starts in 2007. Laffey wound up winning four of his nine starts in the majors. A groundball machine, Laffey pounds the bottom of the strike zone with three quality pitches. His 86-89 mph sinker has outstanding downward movement and his mid- 80s slider has developed into an out pitch with late break. His changeup also improved significantly in 2007, with much better fade and command to both sides of the plate. Lefthanders hit .322 with power against Laffey in the majors, which doesn't make sense because he has the platoon advantage to go with his nasty slider. The Indians think it was more a fluke than anything and aren't concerned. His velocity is below average, but his slider and changeup help his fastball play up. Laffey has surpassed fellow lefties Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers in Cleveland's plans. A future No. 3 or 4 starter, he'll compete for a rotation job this spring.
Laffey didn't allow an earned run in 44 innings as a high school senior, but he had a commitment to Virginia Tech and area scouts perceived that he wouldn't sign if he didn't go in the top 75 picks. The Indians took a flier on him in the 16th round (468th overall) and signed him for $363,000. Laffey was on the fast track after his debut at Rookie-level Burlington, where he was more overpowering than more heralded teammates Adam Miller, Rafael Perez and Nick Pesco. But Laffey struggled the next two seasons, particularly with the command of his secondary pitches, before bouncing back in 2006. When he's on, Laffey is a groundball machine. He had a 2.4-1 ground-fly ratio last year, working mostly with an 86- 89 mph sinker and an improving slider. He's still trying to find a consistent release point with his slider. Laffey's changeup is also a work in progress. He has a feel for it, but needs to find a comfortable grip in order to command it more effectively. If Laffey can harness his changeup, he could remain in the rotation. If not, he'll be a bullpen lefty. He could open the season in the Triple-A rotation as a 21-year-old.
Laffey's father is a former teammate of Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone. He didn't give up an earned run in 44 innings as a high school senior, but he plummeted in the draft when his agent told area scouts that he'd have to go in the top 75 picks to sign. He had a commitment to Virginia Tech, and some scouts said his style was reminiscent of former Tech lefty Joe Saunders, a first-round pick of the Angels in 2002. The Indians took a flier on Laffey in the 16th round, and when fourth-round choice Ben Harrison insisted on first-round money, they used the money earmarked for Harrison to sign Laffey for $363,000. He responded with a dominating debut at Rookie-level Burlington, where he averaged 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings and held opponents to a .183 average--both better numbers than more celebrated teammates Adam Miller, Rafael Perez and Nick Pesco. Laffey has a well-above-average slider. Though he's just 6 feet tall, he's able to pitch down in the zone with his 86-88 mph fastball because it has good sink. He throws strikes and has good command within the zone. He's a good athlete who played shortstop when he wasn't pitching for his high school team, and he was a standout for his high school basketball team. He controls the running game by keeping basestealers off balance with varied looks. Laffey's build doesn't leave room for much projection. He relied too heavily on baffling Appalachian League hitters with his slider. He'll have to use his fastball more and develop his changeup at higher levels. He'll pitch in low Class A this year.
Minor League Top Prospects
Laffey needed just six games at Double-A before making the jump to Buffalo in mid-May and to the majors in early August, where he got starts down the stretch ahead of more experienced lefties Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers. While not overpowering, Laffey commands three pitches down in the zone. Laffey spots his lively 86-90 mph two-seam fastball to both sides of the plate, and he isn't afraid to pitch to the inside corner or to contact. His slurvy breaking ball is an even better offering than the sinker at times, because of the deception he gets by slinging the pitch from a high three-quarters arm slot. Laffey's changeup has come so far that he was actually slightly more effective against righthanders than lefties with Buffalo.