- Full name Mark Robert Worrell
- Born 03/08/1983 in Palm Beach Gardens, FL
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Florida International
- Debut 06/03/2008
- Drafted in the 12th round (360th overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Worrell led the minors with 35 saves in 2005, then topped the Texas League with 27 in 2006. As he neared the majors in 2007, he didn't get many opportunities to close games. Cast as a setup man, he no longer racked up saves but continued to produce. He was Memphis' lone Pacific Coast League midseason all-star and was consistent throughout the season. Worrell has a conventional repertoire, with a low-90s fastball, a good slider and a usable changeup. It's his unusual mechanics that continue to confound scouts as well as batters, though. He always works from the stretch, steps toward first base and keeps his front shoulder closed until his right arm swings and forces it open. His delivery virtually hides the ball until its release, and then he comes at hitters from a variety of arm angles. The Cardinals have resisted the temptation to alter Worrell's mechanics, mainly because they work. He continues to dominate righthanders (.208 average) more than lefties (.283), so he may start off as a righty specialist when he makes his first visit to the majors. That should come sometime this season after he was added to the 40-man roster in November.
Worrell recorded a minors-best 35 saves in 2005, and he followed that performance up with a Texas League-leading 27 saves last season. It's his quirky, unique delivery, however, that continues to attract all the attention. "It's unorthodox," Worrell has said of his self-taught mechanics. "But it works to my advantage." He never throws from a windup. His front shoulder stays closed to the hitter until his right arm forces it open. He throws from a variety of arm angles and uses a different fastball for righthanders than he does for lefties. Both cruise in the low 90s, offset by a wily slider. He also has a changeup with down and in action to lefties. He held righthanded hitters to a .198 average and struck out more than a third of the righties he faced. Lefties had more success, hitting six home runs while recording a .263 average. Worrell doesn't have overpowering stuff but has perfect makeup for relief and a resilient arm. He will close again in Triple-A this season, and his deception could help present him with an opportunity in the major league bullpen, which is ever dependent on situational matchups under Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan.
Worrell led the minors with 35 saves in 2005 and helped propel Palm Beach to the high Class A Florida State League championship, but any discussion about his ability always starts with his unorthodox delivery. Concerns about his mechanics depressed his draft stock coming out of high school and college, though he has thrown in the low 90s since he was a teenager. Worrell never throws from a windup, barely has a leg kick and keeps his upper body back until the moment his arm forces it to open to the plate. He also slings the ball from several sidearm angles and tends to pull off toward first base after he throws. But he has been durable as a reliever and his delivery deceives hitters, so the Cardinals have no plans to mess with it. He developed it himself with little instruction, so it's natural for him and doesn't create stress on his arm. He's also able to bounce back quickly from outing to outing. Worrell throws his fastball at 91-92 mph, using a sidearm version against righthanders and a more conventional two-seamer against lefties. He also throws a slider and occasionally mixes in a changeup against lefties. He has the makeup to be a closer and was nails in crucial situations for Palm Beach, doubling the franchise save record and adding three more in the playoffs. He needs to refine his command, but otherwise he should move quickly through the system, opening 2006 as the closer in Double-A.
Worrell pitched for the U.S. junior team and showed a 92-94 mph fastball as a high schooler, but concerns about his size and unorthodox delivery dropped him to the 11th round of the 2001 draft. After declining to sign with the Devil Rays, he spent one season each at Indian River (Fla.) CC, Arizona and Florida International before the Cardinals took him in the 12th round last June. Worrell still has a heavy fastball and he backs it up with a tight 12-6 curveball. He'll even show a decent changeup on occasion, but he won't need it much because St. Louis plans on channeling his aggressiveness by making him a reliever. His mechanics still aren't pretty, as he uses no windup, has a short arm action and works from a high three-quarters slot. While there's some effort in his delivery, Worrell somehow is able to repeat it and throws consistent strikes. After blowing through two minor league stops with ease in his pro debut, Worrell is ready for high Class A.