Hey, why are we profiling a Division II guy? He doesn't exactly whow up on any prospect lists, right? Well, like we did last year, we're taking one player off the Central Missouri Mules and profiling them. In case you don't remember, that's the college team new owner Jim Crane played for and still has a presence through.
That doesn't necessarily mean one of these guy will get drafted, but the one that I'm most intrigued in is left-handed starter Lee Stoppelman. The senior enjoyed a breakout performance for the Mules this season, earning Pitcher of the Year honors from the Mid America Intercollegiate Athletic Association. He did that by going 8-0 with a 1.25 ERA, a .215 batting average against and 75 strikeouts in 65 innings.
What's more impressive is that Stoppelman only had nine walks over that stretch. The lanky lefty works to both sides of the plate effectively and really shut down the power production of his opposing hitters. Stoppelman only gave up nine doubles all season and those were the only extra-base hits he allowed.
I've got no scouting reports on how hard he throws or what he throws, but judging from the video, there's a lot to like. I'd bet he's not a hard thrower, but even if he can manage an mid to upper 80s fastball, he'd be tough. That's because of his arm slot, which you can see from the video below the jump comes in almost sidearm. That makes his slider break in quite a bit (from what I could barely tell on the video) and probably helps contribute to his effectiveness.
It's an easy delivery that's not particularly violent or possessing many moving parts, which suggests he's at a slightly lower injury risk. All in all, he's an intriguing small-school guy who could provide some value down the road.
I don't know that a low floor is necessarily because of his injury risk (like many pitchers), but is more because of his velocity. You've seen how hard it has been for Dallas Keuchel to break through to the majors, despite posting good numbers in the minors. Keuchel's velocity will keep him down and may even be preventing him from transitioning into a LOOGY role. That's what I think Stoppelman's floor looks like, a career minor leaguer.
However, because of his funky delivery, there's a chance Stoppelman could have a nice career. Considering his relative lack of innings pitched over the past few seasons, his arm should be good to go for a while. I'd suggest his ceiling right now is that of a Chad Bradford-esque reliever. If he shows he can be durable and throw innings in the minors, we might up that to (dare I say) late-life Jamie Moyer territory, though every soft-tossing lefty gets compared to Moyer. I like the reliever comp better.
Projected Draft Round
I'm guessing if he gets drafted at all, Stoppelman will go in the final 10 rounds of the draft. Think what Houston did with Lamar starter Blake Ford last season, tabbing him in 44th round last year and having him as an arm in short-season ball. Since the draft ends at Round 40 this season, Stoppelman's draft chances should be downgraded accordingly.
Will he sign?
As a fourth-year senior, the only way he doesn't sign is if he doesn't really want to play pro baseball.
Bibliography after the jump
UCM senior Lee Stoppelman is the MIAA Pitcher of the Year after a season in which he led the conference in earned run average (1.25) and opposing batting average (.214). The Pleasant Hill, Mo., product finished second in the league with 75 strikeouts, and his 8-0 record ranked him third in the MIAA in wins. Stoppelman was an All-MIAA First Team pick as well.