I figured we'd attack the prospects coming back in the Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn trades like we did the draft. Next up is Jarred Cosart, where we look at his ceiling, floor and ETA to the majors. Consider this an extended take on the newest top prospect.
I don't like Jarred Cosart as a prospect, but I like that the Astros took a chance on him. Objectively, he was a great get in the Hunter Pence deal, as Houston picked up a pitcher who has a chance to be the ace of a staff for a player who's just a solid major leaguer and not a star.
Of course, the reasons I don't like Cosart overall are the reasons he was available. There are concerns about his delivery and lesser ones about his makeup. I'm not worried about his makeup, but the delivery does scare me. His mechanics and already bumpy injury history do not scream "long-term cornerstone."
That makes him a pretty classic boom-or-bust player and I don't usually like the sorts of players who carry his kind of risk. But, I'm coming around on him. Just writing the paragraph on his Ceiling got me excited about his future, so I'm not totally immune. It'll just take me time to come around.
This is where the injury concerns will hurt Cosart the most. If he can't stay healthy, his floor might never get out of the minor leagues. Even if he doesn't get injured, if he can't learn to clean up his mechanics some, he may never be consistent enough to make the major leagues.
If we can get past all those concerns about his delivery, his floor is probably at the back end of a bullpen. With his fastball and breaking stuff, he could do a very good Brad Lidge impersonation for Houston in a couple of seasons.
This is the reason Cosart became Houston's best pitching prospects (even better than Jordan Lyles). With his collection of stuff, Cosart could be a staff ace for a long, long time. He's got the stuff to be as good a strikeout pitcher as Bud Norris and can shut down opposing lineups well enough to pitch in big moments. Just look at what he did in his debut with Corpus Christi, matching San Diego's recently acquired Robbie Erlin for six shutout innings. It may take some doing for him to get there, but a Cosart-Norris-Lyles fronted rotation is pretty exciting.
ETA to majors
Let's assume that Cosart stays healthy for the rest of this season. Since he's pitching in Double-A with Houston after staying in High A with Philly, it looks like he'll probably head back to Corpus to start next season. If you look at the Astros history with pitchers, that means he's going to pitch most of next season in Double-A too before getting a late season bump to Triple-A (assuming he takes a step forward in his performance). At that point, he could be in Houston as soon as the beginning of 2013. That's a very, very positive outlook, however, and a much more conservative effort would put him in the majors in 2014.
When he’s been healthy since signing, he’s shown ridiculous raw stuff, consistently sitting in the 94-97 range, holding his velocity deep into games, and he commands the pitch well. He compliments his fastball with a sharp curveball that is a swing and miss pitch, and a developing changeup. Cosart’s number 1 issue heading in to this season was his durability.
In many ways, Cosart is the pitching version of Singleton. If you watched the Futures Game earlier this month, you saw that Cosart had the second-best stuff in a prospect-laden game after Tampa Bay's Matt More, yet, like Singleton, the numbers rarely match the scouting reports.
Right-hander Jarred Cosart will pitch with a plus fastball at 93-98 mph with a plus curveball that shows good depth and tight rotation, although the Phillies had him tinker with a spike curveball earlier this year that he couldn't command (because almost no one can command that pitch). His changeup is barely a factor at this point, although that could improve with time and usage.
Cosart has first-class stuff, featuring a 94-96 MPH fastball, sometimes higher, along with a strong curveball and changeup. His biggest problem is erratic command, and his makeup has been doubted at times.
Phillies officials have questioned Cosart's maturity in the past, and his command issues led others to believe he was likely to wind up in the bullpen. However, Cosart had the best pure arm in the system, and Singleton the best pure stroke. Those are strong players to build a trade around, and they instantly jump to the front of a painfully thin Astros farm system.
The words "electric" are not said often in conversations with contacts so I perked up when hearing his stuff described as such. Yes, Cosart has a killer fastball/curveball combination, but injury concerns linger and his mid 90′s heat and hammer curveball aren’t missing the number of bats they realistically should.
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