- Full name Jason Thomas Berken
- Born 11/27/1983 in Green Bay, WI
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 210 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Clemson
- Debut 05/26/2009
Drafted in the 6th round (175th overall) by the Baltimore Orioles in 2006 (signed for $155,000).
View Draft ReportBerken, recovering from Tommy John surgery, won nine games and showed good heat early by throwing his fastball at 88-92 mph, but lost velocity as the season progressed while working deep into counts. Berken could become one of the state's better prospects with added arm strength that figures to come in 2007.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Berken has made a habit of going through high peaks and low valleys. He was Clemson's top pitcher as a sophomore in 2004, then had Tommy John surgery in 2005 before bouncing back to help the Tigers reach the College World Series in 2006. He looked good after the Orioles drafted him that June, but then had a subpar 2007 as his velocity dipped, a problem that has bothered him ever since his elbow reconstruction. Berken put himself back on the radar in 2008 as part of a strong Bowie staff, showing more consistent velocity and a sharper slider. More important, he displayed much better fastball command and an ability to work the pitch down in the zone. He's a bulldog on the mound who can throw strikes with four pitches. His main two offerings are his fastball and slider, and he also owns a changeup and hard curveball that he's willing to throw in any count. None of his pitches is overpowering but when all four are working, he can be quite effective. He has good control but will have to sharpen his command in the zone because he doesn't have swing-and-miss stuff. His velocity can still waver at times, from 88-90 to 91-93 mph, but he maintained it in games much better in 2008. If Berken can pitch consistently as he did last July, when he went 3-0, 1.53 in five starts, he could be a nice back-of-the-rotation starter. He'll pitch in the Triple-A rotation this season.
Berken became the No. 1 starter at Clemson as a sophomore in 2004, but his career took a detour when he had Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2005. He returned to action in 2006 and helped the Tigers reach the College World Series. He showed inconsistent velocity, but the Orioles took him in the sixth round, signed him for $155,000 and were pleased with the results in Berken's first full summer back in action. He showed better control and feel for his pitches than the typical player returning from surgery, but his velocity still isn't back to its previous 94 mph peak. He sat at 88-92 last summer. His changeup is the best of his secondary pitches, which also include a curveball and slider. Baltimore probably will have him focus on the curve. Berken is a leader who was voted as one of Clemson's captains in 2005 even though he couldn't play, and his feel for pitching is another strength. He proved his durability last season, and now the Orioles hope his stuff will improve a tick in 2007. He'll likely open in low Class A, and he could move up quickly if he performs well.
Minor League Top Prospects
Berken had Tommy John surgery in 2005, but returned healthy this season to help Clemson reach the College World Series. His velocity isn't all the way back to the 94-mph heat he showed prior to his elbow reconstruction, but he has shown enough stuff and feel to profile as a middle-of-the-rotation starter. He also proved his durability by throwing 127 innings overall between Clemson and Aberdeen. With the Ironbirds, Berken pitched at 88-92 mph with average life on his fastball, but he was consistent at keeping it down in the strike zone. He also threw his curveball, slider and changeup for strikes, and his changeup was his most effective secondary pitch. He had a 46-5 K-BB ratio and limited lefthanders to a .155 average. "He didn't throw as hard as Beato," Etchebarren said, "but he was very consistent. I mean, five walks--that tells you he knows how to pitch."