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MLB Draft 2012 Astros Draftee Profile: Joe Bircher, LHP, Bradley

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Summary

A strike-throwing machine, the big left-hander from Omaha seems like another one ripped out of the analytics handbook. He throws four pitches for strikes, has a low 90's heater and is left handed. So what if he's a college senior?

This is a guy who could move very quickly through the system and be an effective starter for a while. That's great value in the tenth round, isn't it?

Time and again, you read about his control and the ability to throw four different pitches well. Oh, and he also lit up the Cape Cod league to the tune of 48 strikeouts in 43 innings with just nine walks.

Yes, please.

How did this guy fall? What's not to like about him? Am I missing something? He's got surprise prospect written all over him, doesn't he?

Floor

The problem here is if his strike-throwing ways are because he can paint the corners without elite stuff. At his level, that's very effective, but won't play above High-A ball, as so many of Houston's college pitchers have found out recently.

Ceiling

He may not have the pedigree of some of the other higher-profile lefties, but with a low 90's fastball and three other pitches he can throw for strikes, his upside is pretty significant. He's what Tim wants Dallas Keuchel to be, basically. Maybe J.A. Happ with better control/peripherals?

Will he sign?

Yep, senior.

Bibliography after the jump

Video

Commentary

Baseball America

Cape pitcher of the week Joe Bircher, a junior lefty from Bradley, owned the most dominating effort for the Commodores, throwing six innings of one-hit, one-earned run ball on Saturday night against first-place Hyannis. Bircher struck out nine without a walk and now leads the league in strikeouts with 25 over 16 innings.

Joe Bircher, a 6-foot-4 lefty from Bradley who has won pitcher of the week honors once already this summer, leads the Cape with 31 strikeouts over 23 innings.

Peoria Star

Just how dominant has Bradley ace Joe Bircher been during this Missouri Valley Conference baseball season?

The senior from Omaha, Neb., owns half of the Braves’ eight MVC victories and 46 percent of the pitching staff’s league strikeout total.

Being left-handed is always an advantage for a pitcher. Bircher has added to that by increasing his velocity (into the low 90s), which has made his other pitches that much more effective. Bircher also throws a slider, curve and changeup.

"He has command of three of them most nights," said BU coach Elvis Dominguez. "When he has command of four, he’s really tough to hit. I’ve never been around a kid who throws as many strikes as he does with that many pitches. Plus, he’s such a great competitor."

College Baseball Daily

Bircher struggled as a sophomore going 4-5 with a 5.67 ERA in 81 innings pitched while starting 14 games. He struck out 68 batters while walking 24 batters.

He returned to his freshman form as a junior going 6-6 with a 3.00 ERA in 15 starts. He pitched a total of 105 innings striking out 71 batters while walking 33. He was able to holding opponents to a .229 batting average against.

He pitched the summer of 2011 in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Falmouth Commodores going 2-2 with an ERA of 1.68 in a total of 48.1 innings pitched. He struck out 54 batters while walking 11 for the season