2013 MLB Draft Profile: Nolan Belcher, LHP, University of South Carolina

Nolan Belcher has been one of the Gamecocks best pitchers this season and he looks to carry that success into the draft.

Summary

At 5'8" and 155 pounds, pitcher Nolan Belcher is not the biggest guy on the field but he certainly is one of the most effective. Competitor, bulldog, all the normal cliche's have been used to describe the South Carolina Gamecocks Saturday starter and he's lived up to those cliches. Finally healthy Belcher, a fifth year senior, was able to pitch a full season for the Gamecocks in 2013. In 105 innings he's posted a 2.30 ERA with 88 strikeouts and 15 walks.

Belcher missed all of the 2011 season after he had to have Tommy John surgery. That following fall he suffered a foot injury that required surgery. In 2012 he primarily pitched out of the bullpen for the Gamecocks and did so effectively with a 2.12 ERA in 29.2 innings, striking out 36 and walking 13.

Belcher's fastball sits in the mid 80s but offsets that with good breaking stuff that sits in the low 70s. He changes speeds well and tends to keep hitters off balance, however, there is potential for him to be hit hard if the hitter guesses the pitch right. He lives off his command and control of the strike zone if neither are there it could be a long day for Belcher or short one if the other team takes advantage.

He starts from the stretch and utilizes what appears to be three-quarters arm slot, it looks like he drops down to a sidearm slot against lefties but the arm slot change isn't as drastic as I've seen with Micheal Roth. His pitching motion appears very compact as he doesn't take a full stride when he throws the ball. This was pretty clear when I saw him face off against Ryne Stanek who takes a full stride.

Chris Slade contributes to the college coverage at Minor League Ball. He's also a fellow Gamecock and a baseball season ticket holder. I asked him if he would care to contribute to this profile. He was more than happy to do so:

Belcher, a diminutive 5'8 155 pound lefty, has been sensational this season as the Gamecocks no. 1 starter. Unfortunately, craft and command can only get you so far as a starter as Belcher's mediocre fastball with average life tops out at 87 on a good day and sits 83-86. His curveball, when sequenced well, can be effective at catching the hitter off guard but lacks the sharp break necessary of a swing and miss pitch. His changeup, however, impressed me the day I scouted him. He gets great arm action on the pitch and maintains his arm speed, while still being able to have an ideal 10-12 MPH velocity from his fastball as the pitch typically comes in around 71-73 MPH. The deception created by the velo difference along with the sharp late tale the changeup shows at times makes it a potentially above average pitch at the next level.

He lacks the size and stuff to continue working as a starter in my opinion, but his superb command and control along with a potential outpitch changeup give him a chance at making the bigs as a LOOGY. Not a bad upside at all for a guy I suspect won't be drafted very high unless some team looking to save money alloted for their top ten round picks cuts a deal with him to sign for cheap as a 10th rounder.

Floor

Organizational minor league depth

Ceiling

Major league left-handed relief specialist (LOOGY). A good Astros comp would be Wesley Wright with less velocity.

Projected Draft Round

He'll be selected after the 10th round if he's selected at all. He has several factors working against him but the biggest is that he's a fifth year senior. A guy like Belcher has a good chance of going undrafted.

Will He Sign?

If he's drafted, yes.

Bibliography

2012-2013 Gamecock Spotlight Video

2011-2012 Gamecock Spotlight Video

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