MLB Draft Notebook: Colin Peluse, Adam Laskey and Michael Rothenberg
While Duke and Wake Forest each had draft-worthy pitching on the mound last Friday, runs came easily for the Blue Devils as they went on to win 16-2. Here are reports on the pitchers who threw and one high-upside, 2020 draft-eligible catcher.
Colin Peluse, RHP, Wake Forest
Peluse currently checks in at No. 179 on Baseball America's Top 300 Draft Prospects list. The junior righthander had some uneven starts to open the season, but he still managed to give up just five earned runs across 18.1 innings in his last three starts before taking on Duke.
In his sixth start of the season, Peluse showed solid arm strength and worked mostly with a fastball-slider combination and the occasional changeup. Duke, however, had Peluse sized up. The righthander gave up nine hits and nine earned runs in just 3.2 innings pitched before making his exit.
Peluse came out throwing his fastball in the low 90s, and he had some difficulty finding the strike zone with consistency. He throws from a mostly three-quarter arm slot but tends to rush his delivery a bit, causing him to miss on both sides of the plate. He was still able to keep his fastball down in the zone, however, and he kept going after hitters inside to help him get through the first inning.
His slider was mostly a chase pitch, set up off his fastball and registering 80-82 mph with 11-to-5 shape. While he could not land it for many strikes, Peluse was able to get some swings and misses when used later in the count. The slider has a lot of natural horizontal movement, but Peluse had difficulty disguising the pitch due to a slightly lower arm angle from time to time.
He threw a few changeups, most of which were in the mid-80s and lacked enough difference off his fastball to truly be effective. His best changeup came in the low 80s with runners on base, getting a swinging strike arm-side with some late sink. The righthander was able to navigate the second inning with ease, getting two groundouts followed by a swinging strikeout.
When under control and not rushing his delivery, Peluse was able to throw his fastball for more strike,s which instantly made his slider more effective as a chase pitch. The righthander had difficulty in the third, giving up a three-run home run before getting through the inning with a strikeout. The fourth inning wasn’t any better, giving up yet another home run before making his exit.
His pitching line wasn’t good, but Peluse did show his arm speed and the ability to have natural movement on his breaking ball. He has an idea of how to pitch and set up hitters, but he lacked the ability to execute against Duke.
Adam Laskey, LHP, Duke
The 2018 Cape Cod League Whitehouse Outstanding Pitcher currently ranks No. 181 on BA's Top 300 Draft Prospects list. Laskey was the first freshman since Trent Stewart to enter the starting rotation for the Blue Devils, and he has entrenched himself in the rotation, starting 29 of 32 appearances between the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Shoulder inflammation has kept him out of action, but he made his first appearance of the season against Wake Forest by working one inning of relief. Laskey took over in the top of the sixth inning, promptly getting a fly ball to center field. He then gave up a four-pitch walk and a single before getting the next two outs of the inning.
Laskey’s fastball touched 89 mph in the inning and had a bit of cutting action to it. The lefthander was able to throw his fastball for strikes and set up his secondary offerings. Working from a three-quarter arm slot, Laskey was able to repeat his delivery and had some downhill plane on his fastball. Although he appeared for just one inning, Laskey showed a solid breaking ball.
He threw a slider in the low 80s that had good shape and got some swings and misses from Wake Forest hitters. He finishes his breaking pitches well, and his slider benefits from a consistent arm slot. In addition, Laskey works with a sinking changeup in the low to mid-80s that has some arm-side run. He kept it down in the strike zone and didn’t tip the pitch in the inning.
Laskey will look to build up more innings and prove a clean bill of health as the season moves along.
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Michael Rothenberg, C, Duke
Rothenberg is an athletic catcher who shows excellent tools and a feel for the game. Draft eligible in 2020, Rotehnberg had three hits including a mammoth home run to right field against Wake Forest.
The 6-foot-3 sophomore is quiet at catcher and shows good balance for his size. He stays compact behind the plate, and he doesn’t have any wasted motion with his footwork. Rothenberg sets up well and shows a good target, but he needs to work on pitch presentation in order to get more strikes lower in the zone.
At the plate, Rothenberg shows good bat speed from the left side. His lower and upper half sync up well, getting his swing started with a small leg kick which helps him stay back on pitches. He makes loud contact from his ability to generate good torque as the bat comes through the zone. During the few swings he took from the right side of the plate, he looked less fluid and swung over the top of some breaking pitches.
Ben Gross, RHP, Duke
Graduate righthander Ben Gross was effective for Duke on Friday. He gave up just one hit and one run across five innings while striking out six. Gross has started 2019 by striking out 27 batters in just 16.1 innings in nine appearances with two games started. Gross was in command from pitch one, moving the ball around and staying within himself. He uses a compact three-quarter delivery that is repeatable and allows him to stay in the strike zone with his pitches.
Gross was able to dot his fastball for strikes, touching 90 mph and working it up in the zone when he needed to. He paired his fastball with a curveball in the upper 70s that had inconsistent shape but helped get hitters off his fastball just enough to navigate through the Wake Forest offense with relative ease.